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Dog Behavior: Puppy Stuff

* Notes Links not working at last update

Being a puppy is definitely curable!  But, in the meantime, they are little furballs of energy, silliness, microsecond attention spans, sharp teeth in need of something to chew, affection and love, and teeny little uncontrollable bladders.  You can begin training your puppy almost immediately, in little 5 minute sessions, being mindful of their non existent patience.   Your puppy won't have control of his bladder for many months.  You must teach them what is "legal" to chew on, and you can use preparations such as bitter apple to help teach them that (tip: give them a direct taste if it in their mouth - just a drop will do.  They might even foam at the mouth, but it's non toxic.  The bigger reaction they have, the more likely they'll avoid it on your furniture and other possessions). This is the period where you teach them their manners, as with human children.  Anything you don't want them to do as adults *NO MATTER HOW CUTE IT IS*, you can't let them do as puppies. Teach them appropriate games (Tug of war, though lots of fun with a 10 pound puppy, can cause problems for dogs who grow into dominant types).  Teach them bite inhibition.

And, socialize, socialize, socialize!  Of course, before they have their final puppy shots, you must be very careful where you take them (due to a possible immune system lapse while their mother's immunities wear off and the vet's vaccinations take effect). So, until they are 4 months old or so, you have to limit what public places they go to.  But, after that, go for it.  There are many Puppy Kindergarten classes nationwide, ask your vet.  Working with a trainer can be incredibly helpful, so check out classes offered  at your recreation centers, dog clubs, and pet stores. Let him meet as many well behaved kids, other people and dogs of all ages, shapes, sizes, and colors as possible.  It is your job as pack leader to protect him from anything NOT well behaved. 

Teach him that his world revolves around you, and that you are the leader (alpha) of his pack.  Teach him to stay alone by himself safely.  Teach him that skateboards and basketballs are not evil.  Teach him not to chase kids and bicycles and those ubiquitous skateboards (the stay command works wonders for this!).  Here is where you can teach him the mail man is not here to rob the house (if you have a co-operating mail man).  The trick to a lot of this is training your puppy to pay attention to you, teaching self control, that YOU are more interesting and more wonderful than whatever it is you want him to ignore.  Food and other rewards, in moderation, can work wonders too.  With a little time, patience, and education, you too can have a wonderpuppy!

Good manners and training will also go a very long way to helping you out when your dog hits adolescence too!  They can be as bratty, trying, and obnoxious as adolescent humans can be during this period. Many people aren't prepared for this, and this is one reason why there are so many 1-2  year olds in shelters. It IS survivable!

There is an abundance of puppy info and problem solutions on the internet, here is just a sampling.  Many have sections and articles dealing with specific  problems such as chewing, mouthing and biting, crying at night, car sickness, etc...:

  • Housetraining A Very Young Puppy
       (under 16 weeks)
  • Superpuppy
       My personal favorite puppy book
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    Last Updated 5/11/09

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