Personalized Dog Training Presents ---

Puppy Manners



Molding 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.


Disclaimer Note: the advice given below is not necessarily a "magical" cure-all solution.  The advice is only supposed to give you some ideas and help you get a good start with your puppy.  If what you try does not seem to be working, please contact a knowledgeable dog trainer.

Check these web sites to find a dog trainer in your area:
American Dog Trainer's Network:
Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT):
Dog Trainer's Directory:
International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP):
National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors, Inc. (NADOI): 

Click here to find out about how to choose a trainer


My puppy chews my belongings.                                                         Return to Index



  1. 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).

  2. 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.

  3. 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.  

  4. 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 "Ah Ah".

  5. 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.   

  6. 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. 

  7. Finally, make sure that your puppy is getting enough physical exercise and mental stimulation.  A tired puppy is, indeed, a good puppy!

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My puppy is mouthing me in play or is grabbing my hands, arms, feet, or clothing.                                                                                            Return to Index


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.


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.    


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 -                                      Return to Index
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 down.                                                          Return to Index


  • 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 with treats.

  • 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 door.                                            Return to Index


    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, 

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 

  4. 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. 

  5. 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 safe areas).

    *** 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 to Index


  • 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 between them. 

  • 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 possessive behavior.

  • 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 to Index



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 your puppy. 

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 separation anxiety:

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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, 

  1. teach her to be comfortable being alone (click for "My puppy barks when left alone")

  2. make sure she is getting enough exercise - a tired puppy is a good puppy.

  3. 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. 

  4. feed her entire dinner from your hand once in a while.

  5. 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).

  6. 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. 

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. teach your puppy tricks such as bow, roll-over, speak and quiet!  Click for tricks to teach.

  10. be a benevolent leader to your dog - be fair and kind, but consistent. 

  11. 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 to Index





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 people!                                              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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