We all want to have a calm, polite, well behaved puppy. Most families have a picture of a dog that is family dog and goes with the flow. No jumping, biting, chewing, pulling, barking and well perfectly trained. The first couple of months can be well to be honest - frantic. So getting to the calm, well behaved puppy isn't always easy.
Well, I have some good news. I get calls all the time from clients with puppies with these crazy dogs. After listening to them and talking them off the cliff so to speak. Here are some steps that you can implement if you feel that you are one of these frazzled, at your wits end puppy owners who doesn't know what to do.
1. Sleep. Puppies are like babies and they need lots of sleep. The amount of sleep a puppy should be getting is in the range of 18 to 22 hours, depending on the age. So after I listen to a client talk about all of the excessive behavior issues (biting, chewing, jumping, barking, etc) their puppy is going through, the first question I ask is "How much sleep is Fido getting?". Most of the time they can't answer this. So I ask is it 18 hrs? They usually say definitely not. I will ask is it 16? Probably not. The conversation usually ends up with sleep being between 12 to 14 hours of sleep.
Puppies need a sleep routine just like babies. So our first goal will be trying to get to 18. My advice is always to look at what they are currently doing and see where they can add more sleep. They are usually being overstimulated. So if your puppy is having more than the usual puppy nipping, chewing, etc behaviors. Take a look at the sleep routine first. Now will this stop normal puppy behaviors? No. However, it will make it easier for them to focus on you and you will see a difference in Fido less stressed.
2. Enrichment / Mental Stimulation. Puppies again just like babies need to have that brain development happening. The development happens in a bunch of different ways. One of which is the introduction to different types of toys with different types of textures. Also you want to introduce puzzles toys such as Kongs. Kong toys are great for chewing, feeding their meals, crate training, separation anxiety and more.
Instead of feeding your dog out of a bowl, feed them out of snuffle mat, slow feeder or kong that way they have to figure out how to get their food which will work more of their brain and also tire them out. Dogs are always tired after they have to use their brain for extended periods of time, that's why they get so tired after training sessions.
3. Socialization. Socialization doesn't just mean dogs. This also means new things, new people, new textures. Anything new. If you don't introduce them to it now, after their brain is fully developed and they all of sudden see a tall man with long hair and they have never seen a tall man with long hair but they have seen short men with short hair, they may become scared and you may be wondering why. It's not the man he's afraid of, it's the tall man with long hair. So introducing your dog to tall, short, bearded, long hair, short hair, hats, rain coats, back packs, umbrellas, boots, etc. The more you do the easier it will be when they get older. I usually recommend to clients to introduce 3 new things, textures or people a week. If they can't meet people maybe just see people.
4. Training. Training your dog can start as early as 8 weeks old. You may not be able to do a group class as most or all group classes will require puppies to be fully vaccinated. However, you can start with teaching your dog sit, their name and even look. If you want to start training immediately, doing private lessons with a trainer would be your best option. Training will tire your dog out and will also set you and your dog on the path to a more well behaved dog.
Dog training does require consistency and patience and with puppies can sometimes be challenging. If you won't be able to do the training on a consistent basis, you can find packages where the trainer does the dog training for you. I offer Day Training, you can check out more on my day training page.
5. Playtime. Playtime with you and the rest of the family is key. It strengthens the bond between you and Fido, it's fun and Fido will definitely provide some entertainment. Playtime will lead to some cuddles since he should definitely be tired out after all of the fun.
Well there you have it 5 steps that you can implement to a well behaved puppy. Best of luck with your new fur baby and that you can avoid stage 2 below.