Puppies are one of the sweetest creatures on earth. They are adorable without even trying and irresistible enough to make anyone fall in love with them. Delightful as puppies are, they can fall into unsuitable habits like chewing and unwarranted barking. These behaviors cannot be tolerated in the home, especially when visitors often come by. As worrying as such behaviors may sound, they are fairly easy to control. In fact, the puppy stage is the perfect time to begin training for good habits.
One of the most common pet owner’s peeves is their puppy’s tendency for chewing. Come to think of it, who has never seen a puppy who didn’t like to chew? Chewing is simply part and parcel of a puppy’s growth and development. The chewing usually starts when puppies begin teething and are now able to start on solids. Having something to gnaw on at this stage eases the teething process and relieves any soreness in the gums they may be going through. Puppies also get into chewing because they use their mouths as a means of exploring the world around them, much like human babies do.
Chewing can also be due to a lack of stimulating activities. Anyone who’s ever raised a puppy will know that chewing can be thoroughly engaging for them. If not, a puppy may be feeling anxious, and having something to chew on calms it.
All this chewing can lead to puppies gnawing on things they ought not to.If left to their devices,puppies can chew through their humans’ things or worse, get their intestines blocked or their teeth damaged. Thus, owners should know how to properly redirect this ruinous behavior.
An effective rule of thumb to go by to control chewing is to teach a dog what can and can’t be chewed. This rule requires two things: puppy-proofing the house and approved chew toys.First, an owner should impose a tighter rein over general housekeeping during a puppy’s training period. Anything that should not go into a dog’s mouth should not be left lying around or exposed. Toxic plants, human food, household cleaners, and electrical cords should all be relocated, kept out of reach, or made chew-proof.If the house can’t be made completely puppy-proof, the pup should be kept within acceptable areas or in a secure enclosure if left unsupervised.
Chew toys are essential to curbing a puppy’s desire to chew.When the puppy starts to chew on something, it should be reprimanded immediately and given the toys as replacement or diversion.An important note owner should keep in mind, toys should be easily recognizable from other items in the house. Old items like old shoes, socks, or clothing are inappropriate as chew toys since these resemble items in the house. If a dog has begun chewing on inappropriate items, taste deterrents like bitter apple can be applied.
In addition, chew toys should be ensured safe and not pose choking hazards for the puppy. While rawhide and big beef bones are often recommended, a determined chewer will gnaw through these materials, creating occasions for choking.Toys should be large enough not to be swallowed or get stuck in the puppy’s mouth.
Since chewing is a potentially destructive behavior, a puppy should learn to associate chewing with positive experiences. The puppy should receive praise, physical fuss, and even a treat when it shows interest in the appropriate chew toys. An owner should also let the puppy have fun with the preferred play things to further affirm the positive association. After a set time, the owner should collect the toys to train the puppy that chewing is still just a special treat.
Another puppy behavior that owners complain about is excessive barking. Barking is a natural behavior and means of communication among canines. Dogs tend to bark for various reasons, including excitement, distress, frustration, aggression, or just for attention. Among puppies, the common causes for barking may usually be due to distress, frustration, or for attention. Puppies tend to feel insecure if left alone and resort to barking to demand attention or express their distress. Sometimes though, they bark when they are bored.
The owner needs to recognize the reasons for barking and teach the puppy to learn when barking is acceptable and when it isn’t. For this purpose, an owner should get to know his/her puppy and the situations that trigger it to bark.
Barking is one of a canine’s ways of communicating to its owners. Thus, the goal is not to completely prevent barking, but to allow it as needed. A few methods can be used to control barking, depending on the reason for the barking. The first thing an owner should do is to understand why the puppy is barking in order to apply the appropriate measure.
When a puppy barks to get attention, the owner should ignore it completely, no matter how long it takes, until the puppy stops. The owner should not give in even when the puppy is persistent to avoid instilling the wrong kind of behavior. The puppy should know that if it wants food, attention, or play, barking is not the way to get it.If the puppy barks during play, the owner should stop the activity abruptly, resuming only when the barking stops.
If a puppy barks because of boredom, it probably lacks activities to do or toys to play with. Like the saying goes, a tired dog is a good dog. When a puppy is sufficiently exercised or amused, it will more likely display good behavior.
Like people, puppies can also experience separation anxiety and resort to whining and barking. What an owner can do is train a puppy to calm down by leaving it for a while and then return before it begins barking. Gradually, the length of time can be increased, but the owner should always return before the puppy becomes anxious. Eventually, the puppy will learn to relax without its human companion.
Whenever a puppy exhibits potentially problematic behaviors, the best course of action is to learn to correct it in the most effective way as soon as possible. What usually happens is, the longer it takes to correct a behavior, the tougher it will be to correct. This especially goes if the puppy is of a large breed, what with all the physical effort that will now go into the needed corrections. However, if a now older dog is involved, all is still not lost. The truth is you can teach an old dog new tricks. But that is another story for another time.
In any pet issue, a behavior professional or a well-informed vet should always be consulted. They should be able to provide sound advice on most anything a puppy is going through and guide pet parents towards the best approach to raising a well-behaved pup.
Author: Jordan Walker
Jordan is the lead content curator for Coops And Cages as well as a couple of other pet-related blogs. His passion for animals is only matched by his love for 'attempting' to play the guitar. If you would like to catch him, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @CoopsAndCages.