People training, stopping bad habits before they start

The best time to train a dog to do anything is when he is a puppy making innocent mistakes. Correct the behavior before it turns into a problem. Habits die hard, especially if it’s something your dog has been doing since puppyhood, not realizing it is wrong. One of the most important things to teach your new puppy is how to be socialized, both to other dogs and to other people. Training them when they’re little stops the problem in its tracks, teaching them right from wrong.

The world of people training your dog includes stopping jumping up, biting (hey those puppy teeth get bigger), and growling. The difference between growling at an intruder and growling at someone you see when you’re out for a walk are very different things, and your dog needs to lean which is which. Before you teach your puppy to protect the house, teach him just to be nice with everyone first.

Puppies are irresistibly cute, and it may seem adorable to you to wrestle with him when he’s young, or see him get a little riled when older dogs are around. But the moment you give in to his behavior or even reward it, you’ve just encouraged him to keep on doing it – and you’re dog will get bigger. It’s not so cute to wrestle with a more powerful animal that doesn’t know its boundaries or how weak humans actually are. When your puppy jumps up, push him back down on all fours, place a firm hand across his shoulders to keep him there and to keep him on all fours, and say “no” or “no jump.” As a pup he probably has a short attention span and won’t get it on the first try. But if you keep at it into his adolescence then eventually it will catch on.

In addition to stopping jumping when it happens, you should also teach your dog to “sit” and “stay” so that it happens less often. When greeting new people, be it on a walk or at your house, teach your dog to sit and stay before they get to greet the person. Better yet, let the person approach your dog if they’re inclined, not the other way around. This allows for people insecure around dogs not having to be bothered by yours at all, even if you know he’s a lovely dog.

For a biting puppy, tell it “no” or “no bite” when its teeth are too rough when playing. Avoid getting him riled up just to tell him no. You don’t want your dog to stop playing, you just want him to know your tolerance level while he’s doing it. Don’t play too rough with your puppy or dog since this increases the likelihood that he will forget himself and use his teeth. Tug-of-war, fetch, and other toys are nicer ways to play that still give your dog plenty of interaction with you without all the teeth action.