He’s just trashed your house again and has eaten your expensive sofa. He barks all night, keeping your neighbors awake. He’s still not housebroken at six months. And now your spouse says he’s got to go.
You didn’t think that owning a puppy would be this crazy, destructive and time consuming. But before you look to dump your puppy at a shelter, where-let’s face it-he could be put down, or handed off to someone who knows less than you do about dogs, why not try some quick fixes to turn his attitude around?
Some people find these methods, such as crate training, difficult to implement or have objections to doing them. But, let’s face it; your way isn’t working, is it? These methods are humane, proven and will make your puppy into the dog you’ve always wanted.
1. Crate train your pup. Get a crate big enough for him to stand up, turn around and lie down in comfortably. Start giving him his dinner, treats and toys stuffed with treats in the crate to teach him this is not a bad place. Crates resemble dens that wild dogs use to sleep in and make your puppy feel more secure. Alternatively, if you just can’t train him to accept a crate, cordon off a small area of the kitchen or place where your dog won’t get into too much trouble and use that as his “safe spot.”
When you can’t watch your pup, put him in the crate. This means when you’re gone from home and at night when he sleeps. But don’t leave him in there longer than 5 hours during the daytime without a break and expect to let him out first thing in the morning so he can relieve himself.
2. Establish a schedule. Your pup needs to know when he can relieve himself. That means, first thing in the morning, he needs to go out. He’ll need to go out after meals, after playtime and naps, and of course, before bedtime. Don’t expect him to be fully housebroken until he’s a year old, but by establishing a schedule, you can greatly reduce accidents.
3. Exercise your pup. This should be a no-brainer, but seems to elude many people nonetheless. Many bad behaviors occur when your dog has too much energy and not enough to do. Exercise and play time is very important to keep your dog’s energy level at a manageable level. If he’s still hyper after exercising, you haven’t exercised him enough.
4. Keep your pup inside at night and during the daytime when you can’t watch him. If he’s in his crate, he can’t be barking all day and night to disturb the neighbors.
5. Spay or neuter your pup. Often much of the behavioral problems occur because the dog has so many hormones flowing through his body. Give him a break and prevent unwanted puppies – spay or neuter your dog.
6. Bring your pup to training class. As expensive as training classes may be, the consequences are even more expensive (how much was that couch again?). With a proper trainer who teaches positive reinforcement techniques, you can learn how to communicate with your dog in a way that is both fun and rewarding for both of you.
Bring Me Home: Dogs Make Great Pets, Margaret H. Bonham, Howell Book House, 2005.
Mother Knows Best : The Natural Way to Train Your Dog, Carol Lea Benjamin, 1985.