How to raise a happy dog – Part 11: Training your puppy
This is the 11th article of the series “How to raise a happy dog”.
This series is brought to you by Jacket Rust
By teaching your puppy good manners, you’ll set your puppy up for a life of positive social interaction. In addition, obedience training will help build a stronger bond between you and your puppy.
Teaching your pup to obey commands such as sit, stay, down, and come will not only impress your friends, but these commands will help keep your dog safe and under control in any potentially hazardous situations. Many puppy owners find that obedience classes are a great way to train both owner and dog. Classes typically begin accepting puppies at age 4 to 6 months.
Tip: Keep it positive. Positive reinforcement, such as small treats, has been proven to be vastly more effective than punishment.
Biting and chewing
Biting and chewing are perfectly normal behaviors for a puppy. Pups bite in play as it is all part of the learning process – they need to bite in order to learn bite inhibition. They also bite as they lack the self control of an older dog and get very excited when playing. Puppies chew as they are teething and chewing eases the pain of the new teeth coming through.
When your puppy bites you there are several ways you can handle this. Many people have success with giving a little ‘yelp’ or ‘ouch’ when a puppy nips them, pulling their hand away. You can also immediately stop playing with the pup when he or she bites you. Do not scold your pup or say anything, just walk away and ignore them for a couple of minutes. It does not take them long to learn that if they bite the game stops.
Do not worry too much about puppy biting, they will grow out of it (they will, we promise), and with sensible training your pup will learn self control and bite inhibition. Never, under any circumstances, hit or strike out at your puppy when she bites, this sort of punishment is not understood by your dog at all.
Puppy chewing is also normal. When teething your pup will chew practically anything. So if you find your new pair of shoes in pieces, do not scold your puppy, rather scold yourself for leaving them out so the pup could get them! Take care during the teething time to make sure there is nothing dangerous lying around for your pup to chew – this includes electrical cords. Provide appropriate chewing toys for your pup. To stop them chewing on furniture purchase a product designed for this. There are many good brands available at your vet or local pet store which have a very bitter taste to a dog but will not damage your furniture.
Chances are your puppy will chew on something inappropriate. When you see them doing this scold them with a verbal reprimand (“Agghh” is good said in a deep voice), remove the object from them and then give them something they are allowed to chew. If you consistently do this it will not take long before your pup understands the ‘rules’ about chewing. Remember, to them there is no difference between a chair leg and a chew toy, but because you are training fairly and consistently they will soon only chew the toy. Puppies will grow out of the need to chew when they finish teething. Expect to have bouts of chewing until your pup is around 15 to 18 or so months old.
In our next article, we will be discussing dog grooming. So stay tuned!
By Petra Wafa
Certified dog trainer, Jacket Rust