Your puppy is adorable, but their naughty behavior can be frustrating. Puppies can easily develop undesirable habits if not trained properly, but positive, reward-based training not only discourages these behaviors, but also strengthens your bond, and provides the necessary mental stimulation to help your puppy become a well-behaved and well-adjusted adult dog. Our team at Belmont Animal Hospital wants to help by providing strategies to address some common puppy behavior problems.

How do I stop my puppy from jumping?

Dogs and puppies jump on people to greet them face to face, and because the action guarantees your attention. To stop this habit, you have to eliminate the reward your puppy receives when they jump. You can do this by turning your back and standing still when they jump on you. However, other people your puppy encounters may not know this rule, and this strategy may not stop your puppy jumping on people they contact. Teaching them how to greet someone is the best way to prevent this behavior. To teach your puppy to sit for greetings:

  • Tether — Tie your puppy’s leash to a doorknob or secure piece of furniture, and walk several feet away.
  • Sit — Ask your puppy to sit, and when they comply, calmly approach. If they stand up, turn and walk back to your starting point, and ask them to sit again. Once they are sitting, approach them, and pet and praise them as long as they remain sitting. As soon as they stand, turn and walk away.
  • Friends — Once your puppy has mastered sitting for your greetings, have them practice with friends and family members. 

How do I stop my puppy from chewing?

Chewing is a normal, instinctive behavior for dogs and puppies, who chew for many reasons, including to explore their environment, manage anxiety and boredom, and relieve teething pain. However, when your puppy chooses your shoes, furniture, or household items as their chew toys, you may have a hard time not getting frustrated. Strategies to help prevent your puppy from chewing include:

  • Prevent access — Place any forbidden items out of your puppy’s reach.
  • Monitor — Watch your puppy closely, so you can intervene if they find a forbidden object.
  • Crate train — Train your puppy to enjoy their crate, so you can leave them confined when you are away from home. 
  • Offer appropriate toys — Provide age- and size-appropriate chew toys, and never give your puppy a chew toy, such as old shoes or toys, that resemble forbidden objects. This will confuse them when you reprimand them for chewing on the real object. 
  • Redirect — When you find your puppy chewing on a forbidden object, interrupt their chewing by firmly saying “No,” and redirect them to an appropriate object.
  • Exercise — Provide adequate mental and physical stimulation to burn off any excess energy.

How do I stop my puppy from barking?

Dogs and puppies naturally bark to communicate. They bark to greet other pets and people, sound the alarm about anything unusual, interesting, or exciting, and to combat boredom. However, constant barking can be nerve-wracking for you and your neighbors. And, some breeds, such as Beagles, tend to be naturally more vocal than others. Strategies to stop your puppy from barking include:

  • Socialize your puppy — A well-socialized puppy is less likely to bark excessively when they encounter new experiences, people, and pets.
  • Leave the room — If your puppy is barking at you, turn your back, or leave the room until they stop, and then praise them as long as they remain quiet.
  • Practice door drills — Puppies commonly bark at ringing doorbells and knocking. Have a friend with treats in hand ring your doorbell or knock on the door, and when you open the door, let them toss the treats on the ground for your puppy. This will help your puppy realize visitors are not a threat.
  • Introduce the mailman — If your puppy regularly barks at the mailman or other delivery people, ask them to meet your pet, and let them offer your puppy a treat to show that they are friendly.

How do I stop my puppy from counter surfing?

Counter surfing is a bothersome behavior that can be hard to stop if your puppy has been rewarded by finding food on your counters. Strategies to prevent this behavior include:

  • Neat and clean — Keep your counters free from all food items, including crumbs, as well as any other objects your puppy may find interesting.
  • Table scraps — Never feed your puppy scraps from the table when you are preparing food, or cleaning up after a meal.
  • Crate — Put your puppy in their crate when you are preparing food.
  • Reward — If you notice your puppy sniffing around in the kitchen, tell them to go to their crate, and when they obey, praise them, and give them a treat.

Regular exercise will also help set your puppy up for success. Puppies naturally have a lot of energy, although some breeds, such as Labrador retrievers, border collies, and Jack Russell terriers, are notoriously energetic, and will require more activity than calmer breeds to release pent-up excitement. Exercising your puppy several times a day will help them focus better during training sessions, and behave better overall.

Teaching your puppy good manners will help ensure they become a well-behaved adult dog. If you are concerned about your puppy’s behavior, contact our team at Belmont Animal Hospital, so we can ensure they aren’t affected by a medical condition.