How to Train a Crazy, Chewy, Nippy Puppy
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 housetrained and past all of the teething and nipping issues might be your best choice.
If you defintely want a new puppy, though, here are a few of the things you need to deal wtih. Even when you have dealt with the issue of housetraining, 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?
The Puppy Crazies
The “puppy crazies”: Tearing around the house, begging from the table, and counter surfing.
Running through the house: 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.
Begging: 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.
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.
Puppies Need To Chew
Puppies need to investigate and they do so with their mouths. Anything you leave down is likely to be chewed.
To control the chewing:
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!).
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.
Puppies DO 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.
To control the 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 reccomend 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".
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.
© 2012 Dr Mark