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How to Train a Crazy, Chewy, Nippy Puppy

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

A crazy, chewy, nippy puppy can be sweet and calm one minute, then...

A crazy, chewy, nippy puppy can be sweet and calm one minute, then...

Puppies Are Cute . . . But a Lot of Work Too

I love puppies. But then again, almost everyone loves a new puppy before dealing with all of the work involved. So, before you adopt a little one, remember that it can be a lot of work. An older dog that is already house-trained and past all of the teething and nipping issues, might be your best choice.

Although, if you definitely want a new puppy, here are a few of the things you need to deal with. Even when you have dealt with the issue of house training, there is still nipping, chewing, and that wonderful puppy behavior that can only be termed the "crazies." Are you ready to handle all of them?

A puppy on a "crazy"!

A puppy on a "crazy"!

What Are the Puppy Crazies?

The “puppy crazies” involve tearing around the house, begging from the table, and counter surfing.

Why Do Puppies Run Through the House Excitedly?

Have you ever seen an excited puppy run around for almost no reason? It is great to watch, and if it is in the yard good exercise for the puppy. Puppies that have been banished to the back yard, however, will be excited and want to run around the house as soon as they are let in.

This is quite normal, but when your excited puppy runs around and knocks over your end tables it is quite upsetting. The solution is easy. You need to exercise your puppy more. Take your puppy for a long walk and when she is tired bring her in the house, on the leash. Walk her around a few minutes, until she has sniffed her new environment and you are sure she is calm, and then “down” her next to the chair where you will be sitting.

Even a puppy who exercises might be rambunctious at times, though, so just enjoy it while you can.

Training a Puppy Not to Beg

This is easy to prevent, but in some puppies, it is difficult to control. To prevent begging, do not feed your puppy from the table. Don’t even bother telling her “no,” just ignore her, never give her anything, and she will give up.

If you have already trained her to beg, though, (or if you have kids that are passing her food from the table) the best way to stop this habit is by sending the puppy to a “down” area while you are eating. This requires you to teach her “go lay down”, of course, but this should be one of your basic obedience exercises.

Training Puppies Not to Jump Up on the Counter

This puppy habit can be prevented before it even starts. Do not prepare her food where you prepare your own, do not keep her treats on the kitchen counter, and do not leave food out so that she wants to get up and smell. She will be a lot less interested in getting up on the counter.

If your puppy is already interested in the counter, though, the best tip I have used is to put some food on the counter next to a mirror, and then leave the kitchen where you can still see the reflection of the food in the mirror but the puppy cannot see you. As soon as she moves to grab the item she is smelling you will see her (but she won't see you”!) so when you say “no,” it will have more effect.

All puppies love to chew.

All puppies love to chew.

Puppies need to investigate and they do so with their mouths. Anything you leave down is likely to be chewed.

How to Train a Puppy Not to Chew:

  1. Don’t forget to provide lots of exercise. A bored puppy will chew, a tired puppy will sleep. Walking your puppy is good for her health and good for you too.
  2. Make sure there are not a lot of objects around to be chewed on.
  3. If you cannot watch your untrained puppy put her in a playpen where she will not be able to chew on your furniture.
  4. Provide an alternative for your puppy to chew on. This should be a toy that she knows is hers. It should be durable, like a Kong toy.
  5. Anytime you catch your puppy chewing on something she should not, tell her “no” but be sure to give her the Kong toy she should be chewing on.
  6. When you think she will always go for her own chew toy, you can test her by leaving a pair of shoes or something equally delicious in the room where you both are resting. If she goes for the shoes tell her “no” and give her back her own toy. Try this exercise every day until you can trust her to go for her own toy, not something you need to protect (like your shoes!).
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I do not recommend you give your puppy an old sock to chew on. Your puppy is not able to distinguish between “correct” old socks and useful socks. The next time she might go through your clothes hamper and chew up every sock she can find.

Sometimes puppies will chew fingers.

Sometimes puppies will chew fingers.

Why Puppies Nip

Puppies like to chew, and if they are excited when you are convenient they will do their chewing by using your hand. Even if you think it is cute, it should not be encouraged as the puppy will not learn bite inhibition and may end up biting someone by accident when older.

How to Control a Puppy's Nipping

  1. When you want to play with the puppy do not wrestle around; play fetch instead. (I enjoy wrestling with my adult dogs but do not recommend this activity for an untrained puppy.)
  2. If she puts her teeth on you while you are caressing cry out so that she thinks she is hurting you. Most puppies will stop when they realize that nippings stops the fun. If she does it again her tell her “no”, give her a toy that she likes to chew on, and walk away.
  3. Stop playing with your puppy if she nips. This will let her know that nipping has negative side effects.
  4. If your puppy likes to nip every time you interact with her then you need to exercise her more.
  5. If you have tried all of the steps I have listed and your puppy still likes to nip you, do not even play with her before putting on her collar and leash. If she nips, stop playing with her and put her into a "down".
A s.t.a.r. puppy.

A s.t.a.r. puppy.

Puppy Obedience Classes

For more obedience instructions you should attend puppy obedience classes. There are several different training styles available, but even classes at a pet food superstore will provide your puppy some with some valuable socialization with other dogs.

If you can find classes in your area, the AKC also has a program for puppy owners to socialize and learn good basic care. It is called the s.t.a.r. program and all puppy owners who want to let their dogs gain this honor take a pledge to take care of their puppy´s health needs, be responsible for their puppy´s safety, be responsible for their puppy´s quality of life, and for not allowing their puppy to infringe on the rights of others. Followers of the program learn how important it is to provide veterinary care, control their dog with a leash when needed, and clean up after their puppy´s waste wherever they may go.

To gain the s.t.a.r. certificate (that stands for socialization, training, activity, and responsibility) both the owner and the puppy need to meet some basic requirements. The owner needs to follow the pledge, the puppy needs to be non-aggressive, and the puppy also needs to learn to obey some basic obedience commands (sit, down, come, and stay, for example).

Even after you finish puppy classes and earn a s.t.a.r. certificate, you will need to teach your puppy several other commands. After mastering the basics, though, every new command is easy and a lot of fun for you and for the dog.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2012 Dr Mark


SueCarls on February 25, 2017:

Good advice. Thank you.

I call them puppy "Zoomies" when they run full speed all over and sometimes try to nip at anything in their way!

As an obedience instructor, I've heard lots of ways people try to control nipping. The worst is when I have someone tell me "my vet said to squeeze their mouth shut" or squeeze their cheek or put your thumb on the roof of their mouth.. This advice also comes from a friend, family member or outdated article/book. Those vets need to stick to medical advice and recommend they seek a class or trainer. These puppies are Always the ones that nip harder and longer because those techniques do not show them what they should do and it also makes our hands reaching for them a bad thing. You also never want to use your hands to wrestle with your dog. Grab a toy instead.

Yelping, redirecting and ignoring if the first two don't work are the most successful.

carolyn reese on March 03, 2015:

I find the articles to be very helpful for the puppies, I'm a new owner and I love my little dog couture, she's a shitzu/maltese .a and I find your articles to be very helpful. Thank you so much I enjoy them.

Emir on February 23, 2015:

Oooh, I have a beagle too! Mine is named Charlie Brown Bagel! I had a rellay hard time with a name, but my brother threatened to name him Javier when I left him there to be babysat if I didn't hurry up and name him, so I just did it and when I came back he was already responding to CHarlie, so that's what we've got! He wasn't a puppy when I got him though, he was probably around 2- 2.5 years old. I found him running in traffic, around 14 pounds, full sized with a severe flea infestation. I tried for about 6 weeks to locate his owners but without tags or a microchip, and no responses to the 40+ notices I posted online and in the shelters that was difficult. No one ever claimed him and I fell in love with him. So he's mine now! I love him SO much!

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 29, 2012:

Hey Moonlake it sounds like you need a Maltese that you can call your very own!

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 29, 2012:

But fpherj48, which one? They are all so cute?

Allison on December 28, 2012:

I love the idea of using the mirror to catch your puppy in action. I will have to try that with Lily - she is a little angel until I leave the room =)

moonlake from America on December 27, 2012:

I miss having small dogs. Our dog is larger and he loves my husband but he's not sure about me. I just look at him like he's doing something wrong and he takes off. It sure wasn't because I did anything to him but I think one of his many old female owners must have. Good advice. Enjoyed the video.

Suzie from Carson City on December 27, 2012:

That puppy is soooo cute...simply adorable!! I want that puppy!!!

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 27, 2012:

I miss that nipping at my ankle (my Maltese died last year and my current dog, a Pit Bull mix, is calm in comparison). I hope you have another 9 (at least!) to enjoy him.

Thanks for sharing!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on December 27, 2012:

Gosh, that video is so cute! Those pups remind me of my guy. He's 9 now but has similarities to a Maltese even though he supposedly is a shih tzu/pekingnese/terrier mix. I remember how he would nip at my ankles, and I would think, Oh, God, what have I done by getting a dog (had many cats!). He also bit very hard when playing. Thank goodness that does pass. I love how puppies are with cats. Fearless! The video captured that. Very helpful hub for puppy owners. Sharing this one!

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 09, 2012:

I bought my first Maltese at 7 weeks so he was not trained, very different than Binky. You missed quite a battle. I really enjoyed the little guy but my Pit Bull mix was a lot easier; she seemed to understand the concept and was trained in a few days. She does like to chew though, and still goes through those "puppy crazies" when she is loose on the beach!

Debbie Pinkston from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas on August 08, 2012:

Thanks for some great tips for new pet owners! When I adopted my Maltese, "Binky", he was already 5-6 years old (we guess) and he was already trained. I can imagine that a new puppy can be a big headache if a person doesn't know how to go about it, so your Hub will be helpful to many people I'm sure!

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