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Help – My puppy is so naughty!

1 Nov, 2019

“They won’t do what I tell them to”, “They just ignore me” or “They just don’t listen”, three of the most common complaints I hear from new puppy owners.

We place a lot of expectation on dogs generally, possibly because we take them with us into society (unlike cats and other pets) and therefore feel a greater need to have them “under control”.

Taking a step away from the legal requirement to have a dog under control, we must also take into consideration the level of training they have received, how they are intrinsically and individually hard wired, and just how young they are before setting our expectations of them.

But it is not always our expectations we have to contend with, with the rise of social media, others are quick to point the finger and air their comments in the public arena. Some even take it upon themselves to approach you in person. Add this to the other “experts” you find anywhere your puppy is acting out of place and you can begin to feel a lot of pressure to have a “perfect” puppy.

Here are a few things to remember during that first 6 months, which will give you confidence when others are quick to criticize;

  • Your puppy is a puppy. Sounds silly but your little one came away from all it ever knew at just 8 weeks old. It’s adjusting to a different home, living with a different species, learning a different language (through training) and all this whist it grows physically and mentally quicker than it ever will. We expect so much of them.
  • Memories fade – but it doesn’t mean they didn’t occur. If you’ve had a dog before you may think your new puppy is “acting up” or “being naughty” and that your other dog was “never this much trouble”. Play biting, mouthing, jumping up, lots of energy, stealing stuff; chewing stuff…is all NORMAL puppy behaviour. All puppies do it. Your other dog would have too, you’ve just forgotten.
  • If you’ve enrolled in, completed a Puppy Class or have carried out obedience training by yourself then you’ve made a great start to having a well-trained dog. You have taken your responsibilities as an owner on board. You are doing your best. Other people’s opinions are just that. If you’re struggling or need some help on how to progress, find a qualified Dog Trainer and follow their advice.
  • Your puppy isn’t “being dominant”, “trying to take over”, or deliberately ignoring you. No puppy can speak English, they only understand the words you have paired with a learnt behaviour…anything else is guesswork. Be patient, be kind and be consistent. It takes the average human baby 18-24months to say a four-word sentence, like your puppy they too are learning from scratch (most puppies can learn cues in 6 weeks by the way).
  • Be your Puppy’s champion. Find all the great things about your puppy and focus on them. Did they learn to wait for their dinner? Excellent! That is known as impulse control in the dog-training world and is very difficult for any animal that was originally domesticated because they were scavengers! Do they like other dogs? Great Stuff! – A confident and well-socialized puppy will be a great adult dog. Early, positive, socialization is so important.
  • Enjoy it whilst you can – you’ll never get this time back again. Whilst puppies are challenging sometimes they are also amazing. They bring instant smiles to everyone they meet, they are bumbling, funny, energetic fur balls who embrace every moment they are awake to the fullest. We’d all do well to “be more puppy”!

Louise Burton IMDT
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