Puppy Training FAQ

Eleven of the Most Common Puppy Problems… and Where to Find Answers on our Site.
An Important Reminder…

Many problem behaviors we see in mature dogs develop from a lack of socialization and preventative work done early on. These problems are often not visible when your dog is still a puppy.

Committing the time and effort at such an early stage may seem unnecessary initially. Starting the work now, when your pup is younger than 16 weeks old, is time well invested that will help ensure your dog is easy to live with and well adjusted around other dogs and people.

It’s easy to believe that those cute, fun puppy behaviors won’t become problematic as your dog reaches maturity. We often like to use the analogy that doing the basic socialization and preventative work at this critical age is like having your puppy vaccinated. Vaccination helps to prevent health problems. Socialization and preventative work, helps to prevent behavioral problems. Think of this time as a golden opportunity to get the behavior you are looking for in your dog.

1. My puppy goes wild biting me and grabbing onto my pant legs.

Often this type of behavior is due to too much free or unsupervised time. You need to provide guidance and structure for your puppy. Direct him to something that is appropriate to grab and chew. Or, get him to sit, a sitting puppy isn’t jumping. Teach good habits from day one.

2. a) Why does my puppy pee as soon as he comes indoors after being in the backyard?
b) My puppy keeps having “bathroom” accidents in the house.

The key to successful house training is complete supervision. It is essential that you go outside with your puppy so you know if he is “empty or full” when he comes back in. Access around the house must be restricted until house training is complete. We are absolute believers in crate training. Read about crate training and the reasons for managing 100% of your puppy’s time when he’s learning what is appropriate and acceptable.

3. My puppy is destroying rugs and furniture legs!

Your puppy explores the world with his mouth. As teeth develop in the jaw, puppies have a strong desire to gnaw on things. You need to manage your puppy’s environment by supplying appropriate chew toys and limiting access to inappropriate objects.

4. My puppy chases children.

This is not appropriate behavior. It is vital that you properly supervise your puppy and his interactions with children. This is a safety issue. Dogs are hard wired to chase, catch and chew. Often children can overstimulate dogs just by being themselves. Small people that run around erratically while shrieking can seem like prey to a dog. Teach your puppy how to behave appropriately around children from day one.

Read about the Nature of the Beast and How do Dogs See the World? in Getting Started. Also in this section, is an equipment list. You should use a long line to help control your puppy in the park and other wide-open spaces until his Recall becomes solid and something your can rely on. Also go to the Prevention section and read about children and dogs. In the Games section you will find great games that will help make conditioning your dog’s Recall fun. You can also refer to the Junior Obedience section, which is chock full of info that will help you understand and learn how to condition a great recall in your puppy. All this effort will help keep our children and dogs safe.

5. I can not crate my puppy because he barks in the crate.

Begin by discerning why the barking is happening. Is the puppy barking to get out? Is the puppy barking for attention? Or does your puppy need to go to the bathroom? Generally a new puppy will quickly become accustomed to his crate when it is associated with favorite toys and surprise food treats. It is important to teach the puppy that the crate is a wonderful and comfortable place.

6. My puppy is frightened of the vacuum cleaner.

When your puppy is frightened of an object, person or another dog it is important to change the meaning of the situation to that of a pleasant association. This is “socialization.” Often socialization needs to be accomplished through a gradual process.

7. My puppy pees every time he meets someone new.

Submissive urination is common in puppies. This behavior must be completely ignored any attempt to reprimand the puppy will result in worsening the situation. The pup will out-grow the problem as he matures and develops more confidence.

8. My puppy picks up everything in his mouth when we are on a walk.

Puppies explore the world with their mouths. It’s natural for them to pick up things they encounter on the ground. At this stage of the game you want to condition your puppy not to want to guard found objects and to happily release anything he might get his mouth on. Work on Trade You and Drop It. You should also work on Come Away from Distractions. These are games and exercises that teach your puppy to leave things alone when you ask and help you have control of what your dog puts in his mouth.

9. My puppy bites me when I try to groom him or clip his nails.

In the wild, there are no such things as beauty salons or dog groomers. Read about this topic in the Prevention section. This will offer you an overview of why your pup is not comfortable being groomed or having nails clipped. You will learn how you can work to condition your puppy to look forward to this kind of handling and much more. Before you know it you’ll be booking a day at the Doggie Spa!

10. My puppy is not interested in toys or doing work with me. In general he ignores me.

This is a common problem that can be overcome.

Read Daily Routine – Why Structure is Important, in the House Training section. You should also read the Games section where you will learn how to get an uninterested puppy playing with toys.

11. My puppy is restless and whines and barks when he goes in the car.

Car rides are a terrific way to get out and about for early socialization, but with so much to take in and see they can also be stressful or uber-stimulating for a pup. Take the time to teach your puppy to be calm and relaxed in the car from the get-go.

You may want to employ the use of a dog safety belt or a crate to keep the puppy safely contained. Have a toy your pup loves to chew available for him. Go for short car rides to places the pup will enjoy.

Practice getting your pup in and out of the car without going anywhere. Try the On and Off exercise in the Prevention section.