Problem Puppy Behaviours: The Do's and Don'ts

Our puppies are always cute but can also be sneaky trouble makers! Naughty behaviours can be very simple to eliminate, but if not addressed can become a big problem later in life. Here are some tips to help you out with some common problem puppy behaviours.

 First, there are some general rules that apply to almost every behaviour

  • DO use positive reinforcement: This means rewarding your dog for doing behaviours you want them to continue doing. E.g. giving them treats when they chew on their chew toys instead of your favourite shoes
  • DON'T punish or scold your puppies. This can often result in very anxious, frustrated and confused puppies and older dogs when they grow up! E.g. don’t rub their nose in their business if they have an accident inside, this only frightens them
  • DO regularly train your puppies, even when they get older. They will have great manners for life, will love the attention and have great socialisation skills – making it easy to take them places with you.

It is completely normal for your puppy to nip at people! This is very normal puppy behaviour, but unfortunately isn't a very pleasant one. There are several ways to stop this behaviour, but some work better than others

  • DON'T punish your puppy, hit him/her on the nose or clamp their mouth shut
  • DO say a single high pitched 'OUCH' and ignore your puppy for 15 seconds
  • DO reward them for biting and chewing on their own toys
  • DO stop waving your hands in their face! They will think it's a great game and you can't expect them to succeed if you are encouraging them to bite your hands.

Does your puppy jump up on people when they are excited? It might be cute now, but if you have a large breed of dog, imagine what it will be like in years to come when they are 40kgs! This problem behaviour is easier to control

  • DO turn your back on the puppy and ignore for 15 seconds
  • DO command them to sit, and then reward them for sitting if they do it properly
  • DO encourage visitors and other people to do the same thing: It must be consistent

Toilet training is something that can drive owners mad. This can be a very quick process if you're doing it right

  • DO take them to the toilet outside regularly – this should be to the preferred bathroom location for your pup (every 30 minutes if you're home)
  • DON'T EVER punish them for having an accident inside, ignore it. Punishing them won't stop them from going to the toilet inside; they will just hide it from you instead
  • DO reward them for going to the toilet where they are supposed to
  • DON'T clean up accidents inside with products that contain ammonia or bleach: This smells like urine to puppies and they will go again in that spot. 

There are many other problem puppy behaviours that may occur, if the positive reinforcement methods you're trying aren't working, then it might be time to speak to a dog trainer, behaviourist or your local vet!