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Puppy behavioural issues– send help!

Updated: Aug 19

Puppies will display over time a variety of different behavioural issues that will need to be corrected. Early intervention and consistency is key. Below are a list of the top behavioural concerns dog owners may have and how best to address them.


Resource Guarding

It is important to ensure your puppy does not become possessive over its food and toys. At meal times have your puppy wait as it is being prepared in a seated and calm fashion. Your puppy should also be made to wait as the food bowl is being placed on the floor. When ready, release puppy with a command such us ‘yes’ or ‘ok’ to communicate to them that it is now time to eat. You should also regularly interrupt your puppy’s meal.


If your puppy begins guarding toys or other objects, the best correction is to remove the offending objects entirely. Any sort of aggression should not be tolerated and corrected with a firm ‘no’ followed by the objects removal. When your puppy releases the object in question, the action should be acknowledged and rewarded.


Leash difficulties

Pups pulling on a lead is a common complaint from dog owners. If you find your pup is doing this, do not pull back. Instead, stop immediately so that your pup is aware that you will only be moving forward once they have returned to you- when they return, acknowledge and reward the action.


If the pulling is occurring due to your pup's desire to approach something or someone, immediately stop and give your pup a verbal correction. Then begin walking in the opposite direction. It will take time and perseverance however, your pup will come to the realisation that pulling towards something or someone doesn’t get them what they want- to reach their desired destination. The idea is that if they don’t pull, they will have the opportunity to reach their desired destination & meet whoever/whatever it was that they wanted to greet.


Jumping and over excitement

Puppies won’t stay small forever, they will grow. The once cute friendly, jumping puppy will be a whole-lot less fun when they are fully grown. For this reason, it is critical not to encourage this behaviour. If it is already occurring, it is important to ‘nip this in the bud’ as soon as possible. This behaviour can generally be addressed with a verbal correction such as ‘no’, ‘down’ or ‘off’, followed by a physical correction (such as turning away from the puppy, or using your knee to block the jumping *we don't mean kicking puppy!). Making a ‘fuss’ over this behaviour will give the dog attention (albeit bad attention), so ignoring the behaviour also can be effective with some puppies.


Destructive Chewing

Puppies have a habit of getting into anything and everything they shouldn't. Those new shoes you purchased last week? They will DEFINITELY be fair game. So what to do?

Experiment with different toys and find ones that interest your puppy. When your puppy begins chewing something they shouldn't, immediately remove the object and give your pup a verbal correction such as 'no'. Then switch the object for their favourite toy.


Keep anything you don't want your puppy chewing out of reach and close off any areas you don't want your puppy accessing.


Aggression

Perhaps the most complex issue puppies owners may face, and perhaps the most difficult to address given there can be many reasons and factors that have contributed towards a pup's developed aggression. Given that this is the most serious of behavioural issues, we recommend seeking first the advice of your veterinarian. If it is severe, the assistance of a reputable (and qualified) trainer/behaviourist should be sort.


In Conclusion

Make sure everyone in the household is onboard with your pup's training and the rules remain consistent- there should NOT be specific rules only enforced by particular household members. All members should be participating in your pup's obedience training. Visitors should also be briefed on your puppies training regime, obedience rules and preferred responses to particular behaviours.


Plenty of patience will be needed when training your puppy. Puppies will sense when someone training them is stressed, anxious, nervous or frustrated- this in turn will make your puppy exhibit similar emotions. Remain calm, yet assertive.

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