I met up with an old time friend from University a few days back after a long period of absence. It was good seeing him again but he looked like he has been to war and back.
I casually asked him if he just had a baby or triplets.
“No” came the worn-out reply. “We just got ourselves a 9 week old Labrador. I love her to bits but my puppy is a raging nightmare”.
Suffice to say, I could empathize with this man’s exhaustion and frustration. I adopted my dog when he was close to a year old and boy, did he test my patience every single day back then.
If you have a puppy at home and it’s giving you a hard time, you’ll be relieved to know that such behavior is normal. Puppies are difficult to handle and can get into a lot of trouble with their biting, bad toilet habits or just bad behavior in general. Puppy owners need to dedicate a large amount of time to training their dogs in order to instill good habits and behavior.
In this article, we will be looking at the typical puppy behavior that can drive their dog owners up the world and what can be done about it.
What On Earth Is Wrong With My Puppy?
If you think that the puppy that you currently have at home has got to be the worst dog in the world, you’re not alone.
Many puppy owners around the world as thinking the same thing about their puppies too. And as much of a troublemaker as your dog is, it’s just doing what a dog would do.
Nothing personal just doggie business.
To get yourself in the right mindset, you must first come to the conclusion that puppies are a pain in the ass, regardless of how cute it is.
That amazingly well behaved dog that you see in the park was once like your puppy too or even worse.
So it’s time to get rid of negative thoughts about getting the wrong dog or getting a dog at all. Lower your expectations and expect what puppies do best, which is to create trouble.
Here are some common behavioral problems that many dog owners face with their puppies.
Everything to a puppy is new and interesting regardless of how mundane it might seem. I’ve seen my dog become so enthralled with a flower pot in my garden when he was still young.
Puppies and toddlers explore their environment rather similarly, by putting objects into their mouths. They learn a lot from biting other bogs, inanimate objects and even their owners.
This teaches the puppies about what they are biting such as the taste, texture and how much force they should use when biting.
I call such dogs a ‘land shark’.
As toddlers get older, they will start using their hands more for exploration. But your puppy doesn’t have that ability as its paws don’t convey the same kind of feedback like our hands and fingers do.
This is why it is common to have your puppy biting things and people all the time even as it gets older.
Another common cause for biting is teething.
From 3 -6 weeks of page, your puppy will start growing out its baby teeth, 28 in total. By 6 months of age, all these baby teeth would have fallen out and been replaced by permanent adult teeth.
During these phases, your puppy’s mouth and gums will feel rather uncomfortable, painful and sore. Some puppies can even vomit while they are teething.
Biting objects helps to relieve some of this discomfort and pain.
How Can I Correct This Behavior?
I don’t see anything wrong with letting your puppy bite things as long as it is safe for the dog and owner.
You do not want your pup to bite items that are toxic to dogs or sharp objects that can cause internal injuries.
When you see your dog about to bite or in the midst of biting something that it shouldn’t, immediately tell your dog to “Leave it!”. Even if your dog is new to this command, that firm and stern tone in your voice is enough to let your dog know that what it is doing is unacceptable.
If your dog refuses to let go of the object, you will need to remove it from your dog and say the command again.
When your dog is focused on you, give it a treat.
For puppies that are going through a teething phase, get a couple of toys for your dog to bite. You can redirect its attention to a toy if it bites something that it shouldn’t.
Squeaker toys are common items in a dog’s toy box but squeaker toys can be dangerous for dogs if they are strong enough to tear it apart and swallow the squeaker inside.
Barking All The Time
Did your parents ever tell you that you were that kid that just couldn’t stop yabbering and talking? Mine did.
Well, you might have a puppy that loves the sound of its own voice too.
First of all, there’s nothing wrong for dogs to bark. It is their form of vocal communication just like how speaking is for humans.
A dog’s bark has many meanings behind it which range from friendly to aggressive. Barking can be a form of greeting, a cry for attention or an alert.
But it can be a massive headache and inconvenience to you and your neighbors if your puppy just doesn’t know when to shut it.
How Can I Correct This Behavior?
Don’t expect your dog to be as quiet as a church mouse but you need to put a lid on its barking once it starts to get out of hand or it will become a bad habit.
First of all, you will need to identify the triggers that set off your puppy’s barking. Does it bark excessively when the doorbell rings or when there are guests in the house? Or does the barking only happens when it sees another dog?
The most important thing that you have to do here is to get your dog to remain calm. You can practice by getting someone to ring your doorbell or act as a guest. Or go by the window and see other dogs walk by.
Every time your puppy stops barking, immediately give it a treat and say “Quiet” in a calm voice. Keep doing this until your puppy associates the command to stop barking.
A lot of dogs bark out of fear, excitement and anxiousness so getting them to a state of calmness first is crucial.
When your puppy is barking its head off, don’t comfort your dog. If your child is shouting and screaming all the time, showing love and affection isn’t the right move. you are nurturing and reinforcing the bad behavior.
Don’t feel sorry or bad for your dog and tell your puppy that is a good dog when it isn’t.
Peeing And Pooping In The House
Having your puppy poop and pee inside the house can be a very frustrating experience. Especially if it is on your favorite carpet or new bedsheets.
But chances are it will happen while the puppy is still going through potty training.
I’ve had a number of accidents with my dog when he was still young. There was once when he did it on my bed while I was still sleeping and the stench woke me up.
The good thing is that potty training can be easily taught to your dog with some effort and consistency. Being puppies, they do tend to forget about their potty training from time to time so you have to start from the basics when that happens.
How Can I Correct This Behavior?
The best time to start potty training your dog is when it hits 12 weeks old. This is when it has more control over its bowel and bladder. However, there are many dog owners that have started getting their dogs used to doing it outside at a much younger age.
One thing to note is that puppies are peeing and pooping machines. This is because of the amount of food that they have to eat to fuel their growth. However, make sure that you are not overfeeding or it can give your puppy green poop.
For every month old that your puppy is, it can hold for an hour. This means that a 4 month old dog can hold its pee or poo for 4 hours.
Take your puppy out for more frequent toilet breaks when it’s time even when it doesn’t show the need for one. Tell your dog “Potty” when it is outside so that it knows it’s toilet time.
Potty training might not come naturally for some dogs. There are 7 month old puppies that are still not house trained due to certain factors.
There are puppies that just prefer doing it inside the house or in their crates. If your dog happens to go inside the house, just clean it up and don’t make a fuss about it.
One thing that puppies have an endless supply of is energy. They can play and run around for hours without needing a break.
This can be problematic for many owners who don’t have the energy to keep up or when the puppy starts engaging in destructive behavior.
A puppy that is too hyper can be difficult to train, calm down or put to bed when the situation calls for it.
The type of dog breed also influences the dog’s energy levels. Breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labradors, German Shepherds and Border Collies have a lot more energy as compared to a Bulldog or Chow Chow.
How Do I Correct This Behavior?
When you plan to bring a puppy into your life, you will have to expect your dog to be a ball of energy regardless of breed.
You will need to be able to commit to the kind of lifestyle that will suit your dog. This would mean a lot of playtime and training.
Taking your little dog out for walks is also a good idea but make sure to not walk your dog too far and long as that can impact its young and tender joints.
One good way to make your dog less hyper is to tire it out with some physical activity and mental stimulation.
There’s only so much exercise that you can give your dog if you have a busy schedule so doing mental games indoors is a great way to tire your dog out.
How Long Are Puppies Awful?
The majority of puppies will start getting into trouble and being a headache during their teenage years which is from 9-18 months of age.
Some might even start younger.
Most dogs tend to mellow out once they mature and become adult dogs.
But an adult dog is only as well behaved as the training and boundaries it was given as a puppy. If you have been spoiling and being too relaxed with your puppy’s trainer, you will have a much bigger tyrant on your hands as it gets older.
Don’t beat yourself up when things seem bleak.
Lots of people go through the ‘puppy blues’ when they’re tired and frustrated and see no light at the end of the tunnel.
You should make it a point to give your puppy a solid foundation for the next two years and have a wonderful dog once it is an adult.