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Puppy Problems Part Two - Digging, Straying, Pulling, Chewing And Climbing

As the proud owner of a new puppy, it's important to teach your little dog the appropriate behaviours and responses to situations while they're young and still reasonably easy to manage. Trying to train learned bad behaviours out of an older dog can be much harder down the line, and a little extra time spent addressing developing problems when your puppy is little can make things much easier for you later on, as well as making your puppy more responsive to learning new things and keen to please you, their pack leader. One of the most important aspects of training a new dog or puppy is to make sure that the whole family and anyone else whom the pup comes into contact with regularly are all on the same page about training, and what is and is not allowed. While it's always a good idea to designate one member of the household as the person in ultimate overall charge of your puppy's training and development, making sure that the whole family is on board can save your pup from a lot of confusion which can occur from receiving mixed signals and different responses to the same situations from different family members. Here are a few of the challenges and training issues you might face with your puppy, which the whole family can work together on in order to help you to raise a happy, well trained dog.

Digging

Many dog owners find themselves faced with the problems and challenges of a dog that loves to dig! Be it in the garden, out on walks, or even trying to burrow under the rugs or carpets in the house, a digging dog can be a real pain. Dogs commonly start to dig as a result of boredom and not receiving enough stimulation, and this can soon become habitual behaviour. Make sure that your dog is adequately entertained, and has plenty of toys to play with whenever they are left alone. Some dogs such as terriers were bred to dig in their original working roles pursuing burrowing animals such as rabbits, rats and foxes, and so you may find that when faced with a long genetic memory of digging being the thing to do, you will end up simply having to manage the digging behaviour and minimise any damage. Consider giving over an area of the garden to your dog where digging and burrowing is acceptable, and make the rest of the garden and home off limits for this behaviour. Reinforce this by rewarding digging in the right place, and teaching your pup that digging outside of their given zone is not allowed.

Straying and running away

As with digging, some dogs are much more prone to running away and straying than others. The Siberian husky is one such breed, being used to running for long periods of time and covering great distances. Huskies are also generally keen to make friends, and might be more than willing to go off with friendly passers by and people they come into contact with on their walks, so you may find that you have to keep an eye on them at all times when outside of the home, and make sure that your home and garden are carefully escape proofed. Teaching your pup good recall and to come when you command him to are vital to avoid storing up problems for later on down the line. Un-neutered dogs are much more likely to stray or run off than neutered dogs, so neuter your puppy as soon as he is old enough unless you are intending to breed from him.

Pulling on the lead

To try and avoid the problem of pulling on the lead from developing, get your pup used to the collar and lead while he is still young. An important part of training your dog to walk on the lead involves training your dog to heel and encouraging him to walk alongside of you and not pull ahead. If your pup starts pulling, pull him back with a short jerking movement. Don't jerk too hard, and never get into a tugging match with your pup, as he will come to regard this as a game. Head halters, harnesses and choke collars can all be useful for dealing with a pulling pup- be prepared to experiment to find the appropriate lead and harness or collar that works for your dog and makes training easier for you. Make sure that your dog is not simply over exuberant due to not receiving enough stimulation or exercise. A pup that is not walked enough may become hard to manage when out on walks, leading to the handler being reluctant to take them out often and causing a vicious circle of bad behaviour, so make sure that your dog is walked and played with enough to stave off boredom and excess energy.

Inappropriate chewing

Most dogs love to chew, and this is especially true for puppies when they are teething, to relieve the pain and pressure of the adult teeth growing in. Make sure that your puppy has enough safe toys of his own to play with, and can differentiate between what is yours and what is his. It can be useful to keep a specific box or area of the home for your pup's toys, to help him to learn that what comes out of his box is his, and fair game, and not to pick up other things lying about the household, such as your slippers. If you catch your puppy chewing on something he shouldn't be, take the object off him and tell him 'no,' before replacing the removed object with one of his own toys and praising him for using it.

Climbing on the furniture

In some households, dogs are allowed on all of the furniture; in some households, they are allowed on specific items of furniture only; and in some households, they are not allowed on the furniture at all. Decide what the situation is going to be in your own home before you bring your new pup into it, and make sure that all of the family is aware of what is and is not allowed. Even if you intend to let your pup up onto all of the furniture in the home including the beds, it's important to teach them to get down when told to, in case you have visitors over or are visiting another person's home where dogs on the furniture are frowned upon. As is so often the case with puppies, it can be all too easy to say 'oh, just this once' or encourage your pup onto your lap when they are little. However, remember that when they are fully grown, they will be much harder to shift and also find it hard to learn why something which they were allowed to do before is now forbidden. Continuity is the key to all successful puppy training- do not send mixed signals that your pup will find hard to interpret. This is why it is so important to involve the whole family in training and socialising your new dog!


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