Your Puppy's Behaviors ---
Your Puppy Can be an Enjoyable Companion
Always Remember: A tired puppy is a good puppy -
make sure your puppy receives enough exercise.
Do not chase or grab your puppy when he is into mischief
- instead, when supervising leave a light line tied
to his collar. Use the line to get his attention, then praise
him for paying attention to you, and redirect his behavior.
Keep your puppy safe and secure and give yourself
some time free from actively supervising your puppy by crating and/or
gating your puppy when you cannot watch.
My puppy chews my
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Keep your puppy in a puppy-proofed area and do not leave your
belongings in the puppy's reach within this area. Use gates to
gate off the puppy-proofed room (long gates can be purchased that fit
wide doorways). Crate training your puppy also helps so he is
comfortable resting in his crate (note that a crate can be abused by
leaving a dog in the crate for long periods of time. A puppy
cannot live in a crate and needs exercise and social interaction).
Provide your puppy with his own safe chew toys (if you are not sure
that a new toy is safe, supervise at first). If your puppy
seems to tire of his toys, get enough toys that you can divide them
into three groups. Put two groups away and leave the third
group with your puppy. Rotate the toys every week. Also,
with each group of toys have several toys that can be stuffed with
peanut butter or spray cheese. There also are toys such as the
Buster Cube where the dog has to work to get treats to drop out.
Make sure that the puppy's toys do not look the same as your
belongings or the kid's toys. Do not use old shoes or stuffed
animals as dog toys if it will cause confusion over whose is whose.
When you are supervising, attach a cord to your puppy's buckle collar
(the cord must be long enough so you can grab it without appearing to
be grabbing at or chasing the puppy). With your puppy out of
the room so he does not see, place three of his toys in the room in
the general vicinity of each other, then place one of your or the
children's possessions on the other side of the room. When you
first start teaching this lesson, you could spray your possession
with bitter apple spray to make it less appealing. Bring your
puppy into the room and calmly sit and watch him. If he goes to
one of his toys, praise him, and go over to the toy and start playing
with him. If he is busy with the toy he has, you could start
enticing him and playing with a second toy and toss it and then when
he has that one, start playing with the first toy. Make sure
that all sorts of fun happens when he chooses his own
toys. If your puppy goes over to your belonging which you
planted on the other side of the room, calmly, but meaningfully
say "Ah Ah" and if your puppy turns away from your
belonging, praise him and immediately get him interested in one of
his toys. If he does not turn towards you when you say "Ah
Ah", use the cord and give him a light tug towards you, then
praise him and get him interested in one of his toys. As soon
as he is focused on one of his toys, put the forbidden item away (do
not test him to see if he will try to check out your possession again
at this time - wait until another separate training session to set it
up again). If you have trouble getting him focused on one of
his toys on the floor, either wriggle it around to make it more
interesting or have a marrow bone or Kong stuffed with cheese or
peanut butter tucked away and bring it out after he responds to
If you ignore your puppy when he plays with his own toys (because
that is what you want him to do, so you just let him be) and if you
always overreact, grab at, and chase your puppy when he gets
forbidden objects, you are teaching him to enjoy getting the
forbidden objects more than he enjoys playing with his own
toys. He will like the extra attention even if it is negative.
Repeat step #4 with many different objects (at first using bitter
apple on the forbidden object if that makes it easier to distract his
attention from it). Do this set-up once or twice a day for as
long as it takes. Always manage in between time so your puppy
is not running unsupervised and free in the house with access to the
things he should not have. Also, when supervised leave a cord
attached to his buckle collar so you can calmly control his behavior
without grabbing at him or chasing him. As your puppy is
growing up and getting better and better, then you can gradually give
him more freedom. At first, supervise closely. If he
backslides at any time, do not be hesitant to move back in his
training and to move back in the freedom you allow him. You may
have to reattach the cord to his collar and supervise more closely,
keep your items out of his reach, or leave him in the gated and
puppy-proofed room when you can't watch him. If your puppy
should backslide after having done well, diligently repeat the
training of step #4 above.
Finally, make sure that your puppy is getting enough physical
exercise and mental stimulation. A tired puppy is, indeed, a
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My puppy is mouthing me in play or is grabbing my
hands, arms, feet, or
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IN MOST CASES, MOUTHING IS NORMAL PUPPY BEHAVIOR. Some
individual puppies are mouthier than others. Also, some breeds
are mouthier than other breeds (for example, retriever breeds often
tend to be mouthy as puppies).
If you feel that your puppy is mouthing abnormally viciously, please
consult your veterinarian and/or a behaviorist or a professional
trainer who has experience with aggression and a good understanding
of aggression. Most young puppies just mouth because that's
what puppies do - on rare occasions a young puppy may actually have a
temperament problem or a health problem leading to non-puppy-like
vicious behavior. A puppy such as this usually will not
let you touch them and/or will guard food or objects from you.
I have seen a puppy such as this on a video tape and it looks much
different than even a very rough puppy mouthing in play.
Thankfully, aggression such as this in a young puppy is RARE.
Remember, with normal puppy mouthing, it generally stops in due
time. Use the below instructions to help.
MOST COMMON REASONS PUPPIES MOUTH
1. The puppy does not know better.
Teach your puppy to inhibit his
bite. Leave a line on your puppy's collar when
supervising. If he has the habit of running past you and
grabbing you on the way by, the line can be used to calmly stop him
without chasing him (if you chase him, he will take this as a game
and get more excited). If once you stop his rapid approach, he
wants to gnaw on your hands, arms, and legs, hold his collar so he
can only gnaw on one of your hands. Let him gnaw on one hand
without yanking your hand away. People often flail their hands
and overreact around mouthy puppies. Rapidly pulling your hand
away and overreacting will excite the puppy and make the mouthing
worse. Do your best to stay calm and hold your hand still as
your puppy mouths it. You are initially letting your puppy
mouth your hand so you can teach him the difference between gentle
mouthing and mouthing too hard. When the mouthing causes you
pain, emphatically screech "OUCH!", as you do this gently
move your hand further inside your puppy's mouth and then
slowly out again as you calmly tell him "gentle" or
"easy". Praise your puppy when his mouthing is more
gentle. You could play the "kisses" game to
encourage him to lick instead of mouth. At first say
"OUCH!" only when his mouthing causes pain. Once he
knows to mouth more gently, start saying "OUCH!" when you
feel any pressure at all. Finally, say "OUCH!"
anytime he mouths your skin. If after you say "OUCH!"
he starts mouthing again, repeat "OUCH!" and leave him
alone for 60 seconds - a crate may help if it is not safe to leave
him alone or if he occupies himself by having fun when left
alone. After the 60 second "time out", the learning
will not take place unless you return to the room and try again.
The "time out" teaches the puppy that if he is too rough,
you won't play and coming back and trying again gives your puppy the
repetition of this consequence needed for learning. You
may have to say "OUCH" and leave the room several times
before he gets the point.
2. The puppy is teething.
Provide your puppy with toys that he can chew on to help his teeth
feel better. If he chews on your hand, replace your hand with a
toy. Have enough toys available so a toy is always in your
reach when you are where your puppy has access to you. Toys
that often work for a teething puppy are rope toys (sometimes it
helps to soak the rope toy in water and stick it in a plastic bag and
freeze it), marrow bones, Nylabones, and Kong toys. Marrow
bones and Kongs can be stuffed with peanut butter or spray cheese to
keep the puppy interested.
3. The puppy is exploring with his mouth.
Teach your puppy to keep his mouth away from your hand. I teach
this with a treat and the word "wait",
meaning do not touch my hand to get the treat until I say OK.
You may also try treating your hands and arms with lemon juice or
bitter apple to discourage the puppy from gnawing on your hands and arms.
4. The puppy is underfed.
Your puppy may mouth more if he is hungry. Consult your puppy's
breeder, your veterinarian, or dog trainer if you have any questions
about how often, how much, or for a recommendation of what type of
food to feed your puppy. Caution: while underfeeding your
puppy is not good, neither is an overweight puppy.
5. The puppy is over-stimulated.
Work on being calmer around your puppy. This is especially
important in households with young children who have trouble staying
calm. Give the puppy some time to himself to quietly rest.
If he is overstimulated, calmly give him a 5-10 minute "time
out" in his crate or resting area (do not act as if he is in
trouble when you give him a "time out"). Teach your
puppy to accept smooth, calm stroking and massage. Talk quietly
and calmly and pet him under his chin, at the base of his ears, and
on his chest and tummy. Do not pat him on the top of his
head. When your puppy has settled, instead of ignoring
him, calmly praise him (if you train with a clicker, click when he
has settled and toss him a treat). He may get up when you
praise or click him for settling, but the praise or click will ensure
that he chooses to settle more in the future. Do not flail your
hands in front of the puppy's face and do not place yourself on the
floor at the puppy's mouthing level. If you or any of your
family members are on the floor with the puppy and he is becoming
overstimulated and lunging at you and grabbing you, stand up, fold
your arms, look at the ceiling, and gain control. If necessary,
leave the room for 60 seconds before coming back and trying again
(when you return, be much calmer and don't get down on the floor with
the puppy). If he is still overstimulated, calmly give him a
5-10 minute "time out" in his crate or resting area.
6. The puppy is under-exercised.
I can't stress enough that a tired puppy is a good puppy.
Retrieve is a wonderful game that can wear a puppy out. If he
won't bring the retrieve item back to you, either sit in the place he
naturally wants to bring it, play with two retrieve items and trade
back and forth, or play with a rope dragging from your puppy's buckle
collar. Hide and seek is another fun puppy game. Have
someone hold your puppy while you hide and call his name to help him
find you. Only hide in fair places: on the ground and not
behind closed doors. At first hide in really easy places and
let your puppy actually see you hide. Another fun game is scavenger
hunt. Have someone hold your puppy and allow him to watch while
you scatter small treats in the grass in an area about the size of a
hula hoop. Say OK and release the puppy to hunt for the
treats. Gradually increase the distance the puppy has to run to
get to where you have scattered the treats.
7. The puppy was taught to play rough games.
Do not play chase games or wrestling games with your puppy.
Also, do not allow these games to intentionally or accidentally
happen with your kids. When the kids are playing these games
among themselves give the puppy crate-time, take him on a walk, or
find something else for him to do. Tug games can help teach
your puppy not to mouth if you play by strict rules - don't let your
puppy start the game (store the tug toy out of your puppy's reach,
invite your puppy to play, and put the tug toy away when you are
finished playing). If the puppy mouths you or accidentally
touches you with a tooth, give him a time-out. Young kids
should not play tug games.
8. The puppy is bored.
Bored puppies need more exercise, need obedience classes, need to
practice obedience exercises, need to learn tricks, need to play
games (the games mentioned in # 6, not rough
games), need everyday jobs, need more variety in their lives
(socialization, walks, hikes, visiting different places), and would
benefit from dog sports such as agility.
9. The puppy is tired.
Does your puppy get a chance to get enough rest? Is someone
always disturbing your puppy's rest? Make sure your puppy is on
a schedule that allows him to rest peacefully. Make sure he has
a place that he can call his own for rest. Crate-training is
highly recommended so your puppy has a cozy place to rest that is
off-limits to kids and other humans that like to disturb a puppy's
resting time. Enjoy the time that your puppy is asleep!
10. The puppy is unrewarded for good behavior and seeks (and
receives) attention for bad behavior.
This is similar to the problem of an overstimulated puppy - see
#5. If your puppy has settled, remember to reward
him. If your puppy is causing trouble, calmly attach a line to
his buckle collar so you can have calm control instead of
over-reacting. Puppies that seek attention through bad
behavior also tend to not be getting enough exercise - see
#6 - and are suffering from boredom - see #8.
Crate-training will help you not overreact to a trouble-making
puppy. If you need a break so you do not overreact,
calmly place your puppy in his crate for a rest.
11. The puppy is irritable (this could be due to being tired, hungry,
teething, in need of exercise, or due to a health problem).
You need to figure out just why your puppy is irritable. Make
sure he is not tired or hungry. Give him something to teeth
on. Make sure he is not ill by taking him to the
veterinarian. Make sure he is getting enough exercise.
Follow the pertinent advice in #'s 1-10 above.
EXERCISES THAT YOU CAN TEACH YOUR PUPPY THAT HELP HIM DO SOMETHING
OTHER THAN MOUTH YOU
Teach kisses - rub some meat juice or margarine
on your palm and say kisses as your puppy licks it off.
Practice this until your puppy licks your hand on command without the
meat juice or margarine (as you practice, use less and less meat
juice or margarine on your hand).
Teach your puppy to wait to take a treat from your
hand until given the OK. Also teach your puppy to take small
treats from your fingers gently. Contact a trainer to learn how
to teach this. Click to find a trainer.
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My puppy is having accidents in the house
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click here for house training.
As long as the accidents are not due to a health problem, old age, or
involuntarily piddling, it does not matter why your dog or puppy is
having accidents, you need to follow the house training procedure
diligently. The house training procedure works for all
"reasons" (other than a health problem, old age, or piddling).
If your puppy or dog was doing well in house training, or already
completely house trained and is back-sliding, take a urine sample to
your veterinarian to make sure it is not a health issue.
If your puppy piddles when greeted or when reprimanded, this is
involuntary. You can manage the problem by greeting the puppy
in an area with a tiled floor or outside in the fenced yard or by not
yelling at the puppy (If the puppy is getting into mischief, instead
of yelling at him in a way that makes him piddle, when supervising
leave a line on the pup and say "Ah Ah", get the pup's
attention using the line if necessary, praise, and then divert the
pup's attention to something else). If the pup does piddle, you must
ignore it and calmly clean it up. Reacting to a puppy who
piddles involuntarily only makes it worse. Fortunately, most
puppies do grow out of this.
For an old dog that is having accidents, this too is due to
health. Sometimes there is treatment that can be provided and
sometimes not. Get your old dog examined by your vet to make
sure there is nothing that can be done. For an old dog my
advice is to be understanding and at the same time use management to
protect your house. For example, gate your dog in a room with a
tile floor (supply easy to wash throw rugs and comfortable bedding
for the dog so he does not have to lie on the floor). Another
solution is to have him wear a doggy diaper to protect your
carpets. An old dog will also have to be taken outside more often.
If your puppy is continuing to have accidents in his crate, and you
are not leaving him in the crate for too long, and he does not seem
to mind a dirty crate, and his health (including a urine sample) has
been checked, please get the advice of an experienced trainer.
If your dog has been checked for health problems, is not old, and is
not involuntarily piddling, follow the house training procedures
(even if your dog is peeing on your pillow, or on the couch, or
lifting his leg to mark, or sneaking off and eliminating in an out of
the way area - house training is the solution).
Click here for house training
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My puppy does not settle
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Is your puppy getting enough exercise? A tired puppy is a good
puppy and a tired puppy tends to settle down when in calm
surroundings. Having enough physical exercise will help your
puppy settle down. Physical exercise may include a walk, a game
of fetch, calling the puppy from one person to another and rewarding
Mental exercise can work just as well and sometimes even better than
physical exercise. Mental exercise can include a game of
hide-n-seek (one person holds the puppy and another person with yummy
treats hides and calls the puppy or one person holds the puppy and
another person hides the puppy's favorite toy in an easy-to-find
spot), a scavenger hunt in which one person holds the puppy and the
other scatters small treats on the ground so that the puppy has to
hunt them up, practicing puppy obedience exercises (lure the puppy
into position with a treat), and interactive toys such as those the
puppy has to work at to get food out of such as a Buster cube or a
hollow marrow bone stuffed with peanut butter or spray cheese.
Taking your puppy to new places or to visit new people for
socialization also qualifies as mental exercise.
Does your family allow your puppy to settle? Puppies need alone
time to rest - they also have to learn how to be alone and to
rest. Have an area for your puppy to rest, such as a crate,
that is off-limits to humans - especially children. Sometimes
puppies that do not settle have never learned to settle because every
time they settled, they were disturbed by another member of the household.
Make sure that your puppy is rewarded for settling. Many people
react to the puppy for being excited. They may constantly talk
to the puppy when he is excited or reprimand the puppy when he is
excited. These same people may tend to ignore the puppy when he
settles down, "Shhh!!! the puppy is resting." When
your puppy settles, calmly praise him and toss him a small treat (if
you clicker train, you could click and toss him a treat). You
do not have to do this each time your puppy settles, but if you do it
once in a while, randomly, when he settles, he will begin to settle
more in the future since he has gotten rewarded for settling.
How is your puppy's health? Could a health issue cause your
puppy to be unsettled? What do you feed your puppy? I
once worked with a client who had a Cocker Spaniel that would not
settle down. Turns out that the dog always licked out his
owner's coffee mug (the owner left enough coffee in the bottom of the
mug that the dog was reacting to the caffeine). Also, if you
are feeding your dog a high-energy working-dog type of food and all
your dog does is hang around the house and go on short walks, the
food may be providing too much energy for you dog to be able to settle.
Some puppies have trouble settling when being held, when crated, or
when toys are involved. Practice handling exercises with your
dog so he is used to being touched gently all over. Touch where
he enjoys, such as behind his ears, and reward him, then briefly
touch a place, such as his foot, that he enjoys less and reward him
even more. Teach your puppy to accept gentle restraint - to
settle when your hands are on him. If he struggles, continue to
gently restrain him. Only let go of him if he ceases to
struggle. This teaches him that struggling does not earn him
his freedom, but settling immediately earns release.
If your puppy does not settle when crated, put him in the crate when
he is tired and does not have to eliminate, and totally ignore any
unsettled behavior such as pawing, whining, or barking. Once he
settles, do a 3-second count in your head and then go and open the
crate door. It does not matter if he chooses to stay in the
crate or not. You are teaching him that settling gets the crate
opened, fussing does not. If necessary, buy ear plugs so you
can more easily ignore him until he settles in the crate.
Finally, teach your puppy to be more settled around toys. If
you have children, you may not want your puppy chasing and grabbing
just any fast moving toy. Right before you play with your puppy
consistently use the same word to tell him it is okay to chase the
toy, such as "GET IT" or "PLAY" or
make up your own word to use. Say the word and then move or
toss the toy so your dog can chase it. When you move the toy
without saying the word, don't allow your puppy to chase it (say
"AH AH" and put the toy away). When you are playing
with the puppy, teach him a word that means to stop playing (for
example, "ALL DONE", "GIVE",
"FINISHED"). After you tell your puppy to stop playing, he
must settle until you again give him the play command.
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My puppy tries to dash out the
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By dashing out the door, your puppy can end up in traffic. This
behavior needs to be prevented from the start.
To make sure that door-dashing does not become a habit,
Every time before you let your puppy out the door, put his
leash on, position yourself between the door and your puppy and tell
him to "wait" prior to opening the door (at first put some
steady pressure on the leash, then work until you can tell him to
"wait" with the leash slightly loose - the leash being
slightly loose, will allow him to start to go before the leash
surprisingly stops him short). Remind him to "wait"
and open the door (you can gradually increase the amount you open the
door and the speed with which you open it). If he starts to
move towards the door, say "Ah Ah" and block him by moving
your body and feet towards him. Then close the door and try
again, but this time put some pressure on the leash to help him hold
his position. If he holds the wait position, tell him
"OK" and let him go out the door. After saying
"OK", you can go out with him on leash, let him drag the
leash behind him as long as you supervise, or unsnap the leash and
release him to go (only if your yard is fenced!). Practice
"wait" even when you are releasing him through a door into
a fenced area. You want to make "wait" a habit before
your puppy goes through any door.
If you have young kids in the house who open and close doors in such
a way your puppy can dash out, gate your puppy in an area where he
does not have access to the outside door. You cannot expect
young children to be able to open and close doors in such a way that
keeps your puppy in.
If your puppy or grown dog has learned to dash the door, use a two
door system, or a door plus fence/gate system to make sure that
random door-dashing doesn't allow your dog to run loose. If
your dog dashes only rarely, that rare occasion of running loose is
highly rewarding. An example of the two door system (or it
could be a door and an inside kiddie gate) would be a house with a
porch or foyer. Keep the internal door closed so if your dog
dashes, he just ends up on the porch or in the foyer. If your
house is not designed in this way, you may be able to put up a
decorative fence and gate around an outside porch or stoop so if your
dog dashes the door, he just ends up in this gated area. The
important thing is that you never leave your puppy in the safety area
(that is, never leave him on the porch, foyer, or the fenced area
unless you are with him and have him on a leash). Making a
fenced area so that door-dashing cannot be successful is different
than having a fenced yard for your dog to play in. Maybe your
dog's fenced yard is in back of the house. After you tell him
to "wait" at the back door, you can let him out in the back
yard to play. At the front door, to make sure that he cannot
successfully dash out, you have a porch with a decorative fence and
gate. This is not the puppy's place to be unless you are
holding him on leash. This fence is only a "vapor
barrier" so your puppy does not learn that dashing the front
door leads to fun running free.
Anytime your puppy accidently gets loose, your job is to safely get
him back and to reward him greatly as soon as you get him back.
Remember the parable of the Prodigal Son. Give your puppy
petting, praise, cookies, and games as soon as you get him back.
Never punish him after he comes to you, or after you catch him, or
after the neighbor brings him to you. If he accidentally gets
loose you need to think about what you can change so this accident
does not happen again.
You do not want your dog to value running loose! Your dog will
not recognize the value in running loose, if 1) he has enough
exercise - a tired dog is a good dog, 2) he has been neutered, 3) if
his relationship with you, his owner, is a good one (harsh, unfair
corrections do not make for a good relationship), 4) if you never let
your dog loose to run unattended (Note: most communities have leash
laws making this illegal. Besides your dog will eventually be
hit by a car, lost, or stolen if you do this. This type of
freedom is not a wonderful thing.), and 5) if you practice
recalls in a safe, but large open area, with a 40 to 50 foot long
line dragging from your dog and teach him that "come" means
he has to check in with you long enough for you to praise him, hold
his collar, scratch his ear, and give him a treat or several
individual treats (to keep your dog from wanting to dash off after
the first treat reward, count to three seconds between treats keeping
your dog with you by stepping on the line). After he has
checked in with you and you have held his collar and rewarded him,
either release him to go play again or you play with him prior to
releasing him. Come and Go Play Again is a very
important thing for your dog to know. You do not want your dog
to learn that "Come" means that it's time to go home or
that the fun is over. If you release him to Go Play Again
a large percentage of the times you call him, he will never know
which time you call him will result in going home (it's even best to
separate the "Come" from going home completely. When
it's time to go home, you may be able to just walk up to him and put
the leash on if he has played long enough to just be hanging out and
not running around). Work hard to teach your dog to not feel
loose when he is "loose" (remember to only teach him in
*** there are other exercises and methods that can help you teach
your puppy or dog to not dash the door. Contact a qualified
obedience instructor to learn more. Also, if you have tried
everything and your dog continues to escape, contact a qualified
obedience instructor. Click to find a trainer.
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My puppy grabs objects he is not supposed to have
and runs. Return
Start by puppy-proofing the area of the house where your puppy is
allowed. He cannot grab objects he is not supposed to have if
they are not available for him to grab.
When your puppy does grab something that you forgot to keep out of
his reach, do not make a big deal of it. If you do, your puppy
will learn that when he grabs something that you find valuable, you
will give him tons of attention and play fun chase games with
him. You need to figure out a way to get the object back
without chasing him or making a big deal of it.
You need to provide items for your puppy to chew and play with that
do not resemble your valued items. For example, do not allow
your puppy to play with old shoes if you expect him to leave your
good shoes alone. Do not count on him to tell the difference
You need give your puppy attention for choosing to play with his
toys. For example, when he chooses one of his toys, start a
game of retrieve with him. You can start the game with a second
toy and then switch back and forth between the two.
Make your puppy's toys more appealing by stuffing them with treats or
smearing a little liverwurst on them. Playing games with your
dog and his toys will also make the toys more interesting to
him. Finally, dividing his many toys into three sets and
putting two of the sets away, and rotating them each week will make
the toys always seem new to your dog.
If your puppy has an object that he is not supposed to have, it's too
late to scold him for grabbing it because he already has it.
Instead, you want to encourage him to "come" with the
object. Do not chase him or he will enjoy a game of
keep-away. Instead call him to you with a happy voice.
Running away from him while calling him may also help. Once he
comes to you, do not immediately grab at the forbidden item.
Instead, ignore the forbidden item that's in his mouth and praise and
pet him. After some petting and praising, tell him
"give" and praise him if he releases it. Never tug at
the object to remove it from his mouth. Instead, try gently pressing
his upper jowls against his side teeth causing him to open his mouth.
It helps to, at the same time, offer him a treat to give him further
reason to release the object. Praise him for "give"
and then replace the object with one of his favorite toys. Play
with him with the toy to make it even more worthwhile. It's
important to immediately place the forbidden object out of his reach.
If your puppy continues to try to grab forbidden objects, you need to
continue to keep things out of his reach. You can set the
situation up to teach him to "come" to you with things in
his mouth by having him on a cord. When you are supervising,
attach a cord to your puppy's buckle collar (the cord must be long
enough so you can grab it without appearing to be grabbing at or
chasing the puppy). Never leave a cord on an unsupervised
puppy. Set the situation up to teach him to come to you
with his own toys in his mouth. Trade the toy for a yummy treat
and immediately give him back the toy. See also chewing.
You can also teach your puppy to leave forbidden objects alone by
using a set up situation. Place some of your puppy's toys on
the floor on one side of the room. Place one forbidden object,
that does not resemble any of his toys, on the other side of the
room. If he grabs one of his toys, praise him, give him a
treat, and play with him. If he grabs the forbidden item,
sternly say "Ah Ah" and call him to you (if he will not
come, you should have put a house line on him at the start).
Tell him to "give" and trade for a treat or his own
toy. If he continues to fail this set up by going for the
forbidden item, you can set the forbidden item up by spraying a
product such as "Bitter Apple" on it. Even if you use
the "Bitter Apple", say "Ah Ah" as he approaches
the item. See also chewing.
The following is a list of basic obedience commands that will help
your puppy not grab things in the first place or help him come to you
if he accidently does grab a forbidden item:
"come" on command, "leave it", "take
it", "give", and the retrieve game.
"Sit", "wait" for treats, and the "stay"
command will also help with general control. To teach your
puppy these commands, either attend an obedience class geared to
puppies or contact an in-home obedience trainer. Click
to find a trainer.
If your puppy is possessive of a particular item that you have given
him, for example a steak bone or pig's ear, and not possessive of
other items, I suggest that you do not give him those type of
items. You do not want to give him the chance to practice the
If your puppy ever shows any aggressive behavior over relinquishing
an object, you need to contact a qualified obedience instructor or a
behaviorist. Click to find a trainer.
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My puppy barks when left alone. Return
When I purchased my first Golden Retriever years ago, I knew that I
had to take her out and socialize her so that she would be
comfortable with all sorts of people and situations, and I did
so. I knew I had to socialize her since I wanted to show her in
obedience. Many people are successful in socializing
their puppies due to the fact that it is hard to leave a new puppy
alone. Puppies are so cute you just want to be with them all
the time and you want to show them off to your friends and
family. Many people take vacation time when they first
get their puppy. This is a good thing. However, a puppy
can come to rely on its owner being there all the time, which is not
a good thing. Click here
for information on your puppy's first few nights at home.
As I mentioned, when I got my first Golden Retriever, I was with her
all the time - I was able to bring her to work with me. When
she was around eight months old, I was no longer allowed to bring her
to work and she had to remain home alone. Well, this was a
major problem for her since she was never taught how to be
alone. Dogs really like to be with their pack (including their
human pack) and it takes effort to teach them that alone is
okay. What my first Golden did when left home alone was
out-and-out panic. She barked and whined, dug at the carpets
and the doorway, dug up potted plants, and chewed items that
contained my scent. Some dogs with separation anxiety get so
upset at being left alone they have accidents in the house, get
diarrhea, throw up, drool, shed excessively, lick or chew their feet,
legs, or other body parts, try to escape confinement, scratch at
things until their paws bleed, and won't eat when alone. If you
believe that your dog is exhibiting separation anxiety, please
contact a qualified obedience instructor or a behaviorist.
It is unfair to let your dog continue to experience the high level
of anxiety and it cannot be good for his health to be anxious
whenever you leave him. Click to find a trainer.
It is typical for a young puppy to bark when left alone. He has
been separated from his mother, his littermates, and now from
you. In order to prevent separation anxiety, you have to
put forth an effort to teach your puppy how to be alone and how to
handle your departures and arrivals. I tell my dog
training clients to treat "here and gone" and "coming
and going" as gray areas, not black and white. You want to
make it less clear for your puppy whether you are home or not and
whether you are leaving or not. Start out by
crate-training your puppy and having a gated area where the puppy can
remain at times. Teach your puppy to run into the crate on
command by tossing a treat in the crate. Most of the time
let him run into the crate and then back out. Randomly close
the door with him inside. Sometimes close the door only briefly
and immediately re-open it so he can come right back out.
Sometimes close the door for a longer period. If your puppy
should bark to be let out of the crate, ignore him completely.
Do not tell him quiet or anything. As soon as he settles and
stops barking, open the crate door so he can choose to come
out. Teach your puppy that being settled and quiet gets
the crate door to open.
Also, it is extremely important to sometimes have your puppy spend
time in his crate or in his gated area when you are home, but
otherwise occupied. This will serve to make "here and
gone" a gray area. You want your puppy to have the same
experience when you are home as when you are gone. Interactive
toys help a puppy from becoming anxious when you leave the room or
leave the house. Examples of these are stuffed marrow bones,
stuffed Kong toys, Buster cubes or similar toys that the puppy has to
solve a puzzle to get the food. Be sure to make sure that such
toys are safe for your puppy prior to leaving him alone with
them. Also, since dogs that have serious separation anxiety
often will not eat when their owner is not present, it is important
to introduce your puppy to these toys and to get him used to solving
the puzzle when you are present at home, but not in the same room as
To make "coming and going" a grey area, do not give your
puppy attention or treats just before you walk out the door and do
not give him a big greeting when you first arrive home. Instead
ignore him for 15 or so minutes prior to leaving and after arriving
back home. Go ahead and take him out to do his business, just
have an impersonal attitude about it.
In addition to teaching your puppy that it is okay to be alone, the
following will also help to prevent your puppy from developing
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My puppy barks and/or cries for attention.
Return to Index
You are very proud of how smart your puppy is the first time she
barks to get you to do something, get her something, or pay attention
to her. You think that it's so cute for such a young puppy to
be this smart, so you go ahead and provide what she wants.
Besides, what harm could come out of it? --- she's so young and brilliant.
Wait a minute! Yes, she is brilliant and cute, but do you want
to teach her that barking at you gets her what she wants? For
how long do you want to put up with that behavior? As she gets
older and bigger that bark could become quite annoying, especially
when you are preoccupied and do not have the time to give your dog
the attention that she has learned to demand.
So, to have a well behaved adult dog, refrain from catering to your
puppy if she barks to demand something from you. If she
barks for attention, turn away from her and ignore her until she
settles down, then ask her to sit prior to paying attention to her,
throwing her ball, etc.
To teach your puppy not to be too pushy and demanding,
teach her to be comfortable being alone (click for
"My puppy barks when left alone")
make sure she is getting enough exercise - a tired puppy is a good puppy.
keep her busy by giving her "puzzles" to solve to earn
treats and leave her alone as she solves the "puzzles" -
for example marrow bones stuffed with peanut butter or a Buster cube
filled with kibble.
feed her entire dinner from your hand once in a while.
once in a while, feed her entire dinner from a Buster cube (or
scatter it around in a grassy area so she has to hunt it up).
ask her to "say please", meaning ask her to "sit"
prior to feeding her, playing with her, petting her, or giving her
what she wants.
at times tether your puppy to you (or hold her leash) as you walk
around doing your chores. Teach her to be with you without
demanding attention from you.
take your puppy to puppy kindergarten for socialization, then enroll
her in a beginner's class or private lessons and teach her to sit,
wait, down, sit-stay, down-stay, and to go into her crate or onto her
bed on command. Click to find a trainer.
teach your puppy tricks such as bow, roll-over, speak and quiet!
Click for tricks to teach.
be a benevolent leader to your dog - be fair and kind, but consistent.
even a well-trained dog will have trouble remaining quiet if you
kennel her or otherwise confine her in an area where she can she
something fun happening, such as children playing. If
your dog cannot be included, confine her far enough from the activity
that she does not get aroused.
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My puppy won't let me or other people near his
possessions and food. Return
A dog behaving in a possessive manner with items (including food) is
exhibiting perfectly natural, but inappropriate, canine
behavior. Dogs can become possessive of locations, food,
or objects such as dog toys or forbidden objects. Some dogs
will aggressively bite when defending food, an object, or a
location. If you are scared of your puppy or dog, it is
important to contact a trainer or behaviorist and get help. Click
to find a trainer.
If you have more than one dog in your household and they normally get
along fine, you may notice that one may growl or stare when the other
approaches his food, bone, or toy. If you are not having any
serious dog-to-dog aggression problems, I would say that this is
normal canine behavior. Also, I would recommend that you manage
the situation so your dogs do not feel that they have to defend their
food, bones, or toys from each other. For example, feed or give
them bones to chew on in different locations.
If you are starting to see a tendency for your puppy to be
possessive, and even if you are not seeing this tendency, it is a
good idea to teach your puppy that there is no reason to be
possessive. Some people have tried giving possessive dogs
so many toys or bones that they will hopefully feel they don't need
to be possessive. Unfortunately, dogs do not count the number
of possessions they have and decide to be good because they have so
many possessions. For this reason, I have never seen this
work. What happens instead is that the dog now has a lot more
things to guard. Some people try to teach their dog to release
his food bowl or bone by just walking up and taking it
away. This is not recommended because it teaches the dog
the wrong thing. It teaches him that human hands take things
away and nothing good happens in return.
The correct way to prevent or to nip possessiveness in the bud is to
teach your puppy that a human hand near his food, bone, or toy is a
good thing - meaning that the hand brings even better things (a
better treat) and then gives the food, bone, or toy back. I
again want to make it clear that if your dog or puppy is already
biting, consult a trainer or behaviorist for assistance. Do not
risk getting bitten. Click to find a trainer.
The best way to teach a puppy that the human hand provides good
things is through food bowl exercises. Following are some
food bowl exercises (Important notes:
these exercises are designed for making sure your puppy does not
become possessive, they are not presented in detail enough to cure a
dog that is already biting due to possessiveness. If this is
the case, please contact a trainer or behaviorist for help. Click
to find a trainer. Also, note
that these exercises are for grown-ups and not for children.
Children should be taught to not disturb a dog when it is eating or
chewing on a bone or toy. It is recommended that you practice
these exercises when your children are not present so that they do
not try to imitate you. It is extremely important to always
supervise dogs and children when they are together):
Get your puppy used to eating kibble from your hand. Hand feed
him once in a while and teach him to take the kibble gently.
Get your puppy used to you picking up his empty food bowl, dropping
in a yummy treat, putting it down for him to eat, picking up the bowl
again and repeating this procedure.
When your puppy is eating, walk up and drop an even more yummy treat
in his bowl (i.e. a piece of steak).
When your puppy has just finished the last piece of kibble in his
bowl, pick up his bowl, drop a yummy treat in it, and place the bowl
back down for him to get the treat.
When your puppy is in the process of eating, pick up his bowl, drop
in the piece of steak, and place it back down for him to eat.
When your puppy is in the process of eating, pet him gently as you
drop the piece of steak in his bowl.
When your puppy is in the process of eating, pat him on the rump as
you drop the piece of steak in his bowl.
When your puppy is in the process of eating, bump him on the side as
you drop the piece of steak in his bowl.
If at any time your puppy seems nervous, tenses up, or growls, do not
push the matter. Instead call a qualified dog trainer or
behaviorist for help. Click to find a trainer.
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My puppy jumps up to greet
Return to Index
The truth is that we actually teach our puppy to jump up to greet the
second we bring him home. What do we do? We pick the cute puppy
up and we snuggle him to our face. He learns that the greeting
that we like is a good lick on the lips! The trouble starts
when the cute Great Dane or Labrador Retriever puppy is no longer
little, but huge and strong. And, they don't really know the
difference from when they were little and cute. Now, since you
can no longer lift them up for a facial greeting, they figure that
they will help you out a bit by jumping up on their own. They
also do not understand why you encourage this behavior when you are
in your Saturday work clothes and why you then get upset when you are
dressed to go out. They have no idea what the difference in
clothing would make, besides clothing is not a thing that concerns them.
So to help your puppy learn to not jump to greet you, do not hold him
up to your face to say "hi" when he is little.
Instead, try this exercise. Sit on a footstool in the middle of
the room and anytime your puppy does not have his front paws on your
lap, pet him. Anytime he places his paws up, immediately take
your hand off of him and ignore him. When he gets off again,
immediately reach out to touch him, even if he is walking away from
you. I have done this with an entire litter of ten Golden
Retriever puppys. After less than ten minutes of touching only
the puppys who had their paws on the floor, the entire litter stopped
placing their paws on my lap.
When you are standing up or walking and your dog jumps on you for
attention, make sure you are not giving him attention (not even
negative attention) for doing so. When he jumps up, fold your
arms, take a small step forward into your dog (just to move into his
space a bit - don't actually step on him), look at the ceiling, and
ignore him. Once he has his paws on the floor, silently count
to 3 seconds and then pet him (if he jumps up again before you can
count to 3, ignore him again and start the 3-second count again).
To prevent your puppy from jumping in the first place, teach him to
"sit" for greeting, crouch down to his level to greet him,
and have a leash on him when visitors come. Practice
having him sit when the doorbell rings (set up a doorbell exercise
by having someone ring the doorbell. When the bell rings,
tell your puppy to sit and help him sit. When the person who
rang the doorbell hears you say "good sit", they come in
and ignore the puppy as they walk right out the back door and around
to the front to ring the bell again. Keep practicing this until
your puppy will sit when he hears the sound of the doorbell.
When he hears the bell and sits when you tell him to, reward him with
a treat). When you have your puppy out for a walk and people
ask to pet him, you must say, wait until I have him sit so we can
practice. Then tell him to sit as you physically help him into
the sit position. Gently hold him in position as you give
permission for the people to pet your dog. The reason I
physically help the dog sit and hold him in position is that it is
difficult for a young puppy to be able to hold still while a stranger
approaches to pet him. I hold him to basically condition him
that sit is the behavior that gets him petted. Also, by doing
this, the puppy is not practicing the wrong behavior. As he
gets older and more mature, it will be easier for him to remain in a
sit when someone comes to pet him (if you consistently practice the
behavior by helping him when he is young).
If you need additional help teaching your dog not to jump up on
people, contact a qualified dog trainer or behaviorist. Click
to find a trainer.
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