Anyone who owns a dog or puppy will eventually run into the need to eliminate unwanted habits. While most dogs are eager to please their owners and smart enough to do what is asked of them, it is important for the owner to properly communicate just what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
Each type of unacceptable behavior requires its own specific cures, and in most cases the cures will need to be tailored to fit the specific personality of the dog. Every breed of dog has its own unique personality characteristics, and every individual within that breed has his or her own unique personality.
Whining, howling and excessive barking
Let’s start with one of the most frequently encountered problem behaviors in both dogs and puppies. While some barking and other vocalizing is perfectly normal, in many cases barking, howling and whining can become problematic. This is particularly important for those living in apartment buildings, or in closely spaced homes. Fielding complaints about barking is not the best way for you and your dog to meet the neighbors.
Some tips of dealing with excessive whining, barking and howling include:
• If your puppy or dog is howling or whining while confined to its crate, immediately take it to its toilet area. Most puppies and dogs will whine when they need to do their business.
• It is important to teach a dog or a puppy to accept being alone. Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety, and these stressed dogs can exhibit all sorts of destructive and annoying behaviors. It is important to accustom the puppy to being left on its own, even when the owner is at home.
• Always strive to make the puppy or dog as comfortable as possible. Always attend to the physical and psychological needs of the dog by providing food, water and toys.
• If the dog is whining, check for obvious reasons first. Is the water dish empty? Is the dog showing signs of illness? Has his or her favorite toy rolled under the furniture? Is the temperature of the room too hot or too cold?
• Do not reward the puppy or dog for whining. If the dog whines when left alone, for instance, it would be a mistake to go to the dog every time it whines.
• After you have ensured that the dog’s physical needs are being met, and that discomfort is not responsible for the whining, do not hesitate to reprimand the dog for inappropriate behavior.
Puppies naturally chew, and they tend to explore their world using their mouths and teeth. While chewing may be normal, however, it is not acceptable, and it is important to nip any chewing problems in the bud to prevent the chewing puppy from growing into a chewing dog.
Providing a variety of chew toys is important when teaching a puppy what is appropriate to chew and what is not. Providing a variety of attractive chew toys is a good way to keep the puppy entertained and to keep his teeth and gums exercised. Scented or flavored toys are great choices for most puppies.
The puppy should be encouraged to play with these chosen toys, and the puppy should be effusively praised every time he or she plays with or chews these toys.
Another great strategy is to encourage the puppy to get a toy every time he or she greets you. Every time the puppy greets you or a member of your family, teach him to get one of his toys.
It is also important to exercise good housekeeping techniques when training a puppy not to chew on inappropriate items. Keeping the area to which the puppy has access free and clean is important. Keeping items out of reach of the puppy will go a long way toward discouraging inappropriate chewing. Try to keep the puppy’s area free of shoes, trash, and other items, and always make sure that the area has been properly puppy proofed.
If the puppy does pick up an inappropriate item like a shoe, distract the puppy and quickly replace the item with one of its toys. After the puppy has taken the toy, praise it for playing with and chewing that toy.
Try booby trapping items the dog should avoid by spraying them with bitter apple, Tabasco sauce or other nasty but non-toxic items.