Puppy Problems and Solutions
Puppies can provide us with possibly the very best opportunity to be able to train our dogs the right way from the very start of their lives.
This can, of course, come with some challenges for a new owner as unless they can set the ground rules and boundaries from the start, the puppy can stop resembling a loveable bundle of joy and can easily resemble some sort of dervish with a short space of time.
We have to always remember that for a puppy coming into the alien environment of a home, it can be an extremely challenging place to be.
In fact, unless the puppy gets the right program of training from the start, it may never achieve its potential.
It takes time for our dogs to learn from us and the first few days and weeks of a new puppies life in a home can be very confusing for it.
It is probably coming into contact with humans for the very first time, the sounds of a home, the smells, the general temperature..pretty much everything can be a huge challenge for it.
One of the biggest issues the puppy will face from new owners is inconsistency. Owners saying one thing and doing another. The routines being all over the place and the puppy will respond accordingly to this confusion.
As owners, we need to hit the ground running and ensure that our new puppy gets given the best chance to develop into the dog that we really want them to be and this all starts with how WE behave toward the dog.
You will know by now by reading the other articles on here that we have to be the ALPHA to our dog and just because they are a playable young puppy, it makes no difference to them in terms of understanding where they fit it in. They will identify with you as Alpha as long as you perform like Alpha.
So you see, the dog’s behavior is directly linked to how we treat it and train it to be.
Once we as owners can understand this crucial, yet often overlooked or misunderstood fact, then we can make that breakthrough.
You have to want to do it too. It can be very easy not to bother and expect the puppy to work it all out.
And this is why so many puppies get given up, abandoned or just discarded by owners who haven’t bothered to take the time to work through issues with them.
But that is not us. We are all dog lovers here and we want to be the very best dog owner that WE can be so without further ado, the most common problems with puppies are pretty much boiled down to the following two areas:
Biting and Toileting!
Which really isn’t that bad at all is it?
Puppy Biting Problems
One of the main things you would hear from new owners is “How Do I Stop My Puppy Biting?”
Well, the simple answer is…..You don’t.
Usually, owners would get a puppy from a reputable breeder at around 8 weeks of age. So it’s important or us to understand how the whole teeth and the biting thing is going to operate.
Puppies develop an armory of tiny needle-like teeth at a very early age. The sole purpose of these teeth is for it to test it’s biting power of its jaws.
Much like little children do when they start teething, puppies will test these teeth by biting pretty much anything they can in their environment.
In a pack situation with other puppies, they would be biting their sibling during play and this is called “mouthing”.
It’s a way of testing out their ABI or acquired bite inhibition.
If a puppy bites too hard, the other puppy would squeal and most likely move away and this stops the play, so it indicates to the biting puppy that they can’t bite that hard and still enjoy the fun.
However, if your new puppy has no sibling then they will need to learn their ABI on pretty much anything in your home including you and your fingers!
Puppies are teething for around fourteen months, so you as an owner are going to have to be patient and work on this for over a year.
Play is probably the very best way for your puppy to learn so as long as it’s fun we know that our dog will engage well with us and the learning curve is a good one.
Redirecting your chewing puppy with toys is highly effective.
We know that we can’t stop them chewing so we have to redirect with positive approaches.
Toys are great and there are so many to choose from, but just be mindful that the toys you buy are specific for your puppy’s size and they are of robust and well made, and well-recommended brands.
The toys are stimulating and they can be used every time you need to redirect. Again, by doing this in a positive way, you are reinforcing what you want your dog to chew on and this helps our puppy learn.
Some chew toys are so good these day, you actually hide treats inside and this gives your dog a good mental workout too.
Puppies will try to bite your clothes and your fingers. This can NOT be tolerated. The very simple way of this is to yell out and remove yourself from the dog.
The message here is simple: I don’t want you to do that. Every time your dog does this, you MUST react the same way. Yell out “NO” or “OUCH” loudly and then move away from the dog…go into another room and stop the play immediately.
What you are doing here is sending a simple message to your dog and in time and with consistency, they will understand it and they will not do it.
It just takes time and patience.
This is not in any way a punishment, it is simply acting in a responsible manner and showing the puppy that you are in control of the play and you can stop it anytime and you are the Alpha.
I can’t stress this enough as you may be introducing a puppy to your home and that home may already have children living in it.
If you don’t do this kind of training and importantly educate your children in this too, they will get bitten by your new furry friend, and depending on what size or breed of puppy you get, the damage that can be caused to them can be serious.
Puppy Toilet Training Tips
When you first get your puppy they will most probably not be toilet trained. This is nothing to worry about.
They will have some accidents in the home and you just simply have to expect that.
However, as a good owner, getting a routine started right off the bat is an exceptionally good idea in order for your new dog to get to grips with the whole concept of going outdoors to go to the toilet.
With new puppies, it’s best to take them out every few hours (2 to 3) as they are young and they are still learning to control their bladders.
Depending on where you live, this can be a challenge but an essential part of having a dog is being able to walk it, so it is important that you set this routine up correctly.
Taking your dog out the last thing at night and first thing in the morning is essential. It sets up a great routine that makes sense to your dog
Use toilet training pads in your home and in the early stages of having a new puppy, a cage or crate is great for training them and also restricting the areas that they can soil in your home.
A toilet accident in the kitchen or utility room is much easier to clean off of lino, tile or wood than it is on carpets and rugs.
Dogs really don’t like to do their business inside their own crate or cage so having them in an area where they can learn to control their bladder and bowels is a great start for them.
When your dog does do their business outside, reward them with a tidbit and say something like “Good Boy/Girl” this is positive reinforcement and it sends a message to our dog that this is a good thing.
Similarly, if they have an accident in the house, ignore it.
A dog can’t understand it if we get mad at them for doing a toilet in the house.
It can stress them out if they get a negative reaction and this can cause them to do it more, so please…just ignore it and move on.
As a footnote, you may well have come across stories or indeed experienced firsthand your dog eating their own poo.
This is called coprophagy and it is quite normal especially in puppies.
Obviously to us humans, it’s pretty horrendous but a tip I learned a while back involved adding some courgette or pineapple to your dog’s diet as it makes the feces quite unpalatable to the dog, so try that and see what results you get!
For more information about all of this check out this great video from Simpawtico Dog Training