what to do about naughty puppy behavior

Good puppies, bad behavior

Within every shoe-eating, barking-at-everything pup, there’s a well-behaved puppyBFF just waiting to come out. Whether you’d like less chewing, less barking, more poops and piddles outside (and fewer indoors), or want to discourage aggression like lunging and nipping, there is always a way to encourage the best in your little doggy friend.

Here‘s how to tackle some of the most common puppy behavior complaints.

Puppy damaging Pillow GIF

Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark

The first step for dealing with too much barking is to identify the trigger — that is, what’s making your puppy bark. Maybe it’s a knock at the door, something passing by outside, or even mealtime. You’ll need to know each trigger, so you can teach your pup that really, no, they don’t need to talk about it. Here are some ways to preserve the peace:

  • Start with basic commands like “sit” and “stay,” and move on to “quiet.” See more about basic training
  • Keep your puppy away from windows (where unexpected stuff moves a lot)
  • Put your pup in another room when preparing their food
  • If you can, distract your puppy with something calm before the trigger
  • Provide your pup with extra environmental enrichment like toys
  • Don’t punish your puppy, but reward the quiet behavior you want to see

If you suspect that your pup is barking or destroying property due to anxiety, not enthusiasm, talk to your veterinary team for specific help and advice.

Ripping things up

Does your pup think your new shoes are a chew toy? Like with barking, first you want to find what’s triggering your pup to damage things. Then you can take the appropriate action, like:

  • Keep your pup in their crate or other safe, small area when you can’t supervise them
  • If they’re chewing something they shouldn’t, immediately replace that with an appropriate chew toy
  • Until your pup is trained, keep tempting items out of reach
A puppy sitting next to a shredded couch.

Jumping on people

Jumping is a sign of lovable enthusiasm for new environments and people, but it’s also not terrific manners — weirdly, not everyone enjoys being pawed by a pup. Here are some helpful ways to keep your pup from jumping on people:

  • Use basic commands like “sit” and “stay” when encountering new people
  • Put the people in charge, so they initiate contact only after your pup is calm
  • Provide environmental enrichment like toys or exercise
  • Keep your pup in a crate or another room until things are settled, and then let people say hi to your pup

See more about how to stop jumping

Begging

They’re so cute! But giving in when your pup begs for food will only increase the problem and may lead to pet obesity. Prevention is the easiest method — just never reward their begging to begin with. If that opportunity has already passed, put your pup in another room during mealtimes, and make sure all members of the household stop rewarding begging. Eventually the behavior should taper off as they learn that their big puppy dog eyes are not going to get them yummy table scraps.

A Labrador puppy looking up at its owner.

Potty training

Having pup poop and pee in your house isn’t fun. Here are a few methods that may help with your puppy potty training.

  • Use the same area for potty training every time
  • Reward your pup after a successful “go”
  • Don’t discipline your pup if they make a mistake — focus on rewards
  • Pick up your pup and move them to the potty area if spotted early enough
  • Try to keep your pup confined when you can’t directly supervise them

If you and pup are having consistent potty training issues, there may be an underlying medical condition that can sometimes interfere with your efforts. If you suspect a problem, please reach out to your veterinary team.

See more about housetraining

Aggressive behavior

If you’re seeing aggressive behavior in your puppy, like growling, biting, food guarding, and more, you need to address it early. Don’t let the behavior become ingrained. It’s worth reaching out to your veterinary team to see if a health issue is causing a defensive or aggressive reaction, or to ask about animal behavior specialists in your area.

An aggressive black and white puppy

How Banfield can help

Talk to your veterinary team if you’re experiencing ongoing behavior issues. They can help you rule out or treat health conditions, and may be able to refer you to more resources, like animal behavioralists, who can work with you on a positive training regime for your pet.

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