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3 Things Your Vet Wants You to Know About Puppy Behavior
Having a puppy is fun and can be a time that’s full of joy. There are a few challenges involved, too, of course, like house-training and keeping your favorite slippers safe from sharp teeth. As with anything, when it comes to having a puppy, knowledge is power, so knowing a few things about normal and abnormal puppy behavior is essential.
Here are three things your veterinarian wants you to keep in mind about puppies.
Puppy Biting Probably Won’t Stop on Its Own
Puppies nip and use their mouths naturally while exploring their world and playing. Their littermates and mother teach them to moderate those bites while playing with them, but any nip is too much for human skin.
You must teach your puppy that it’s not appropriate for him to use his teeth on you. Here’s how:
- Always play with your puppy using a toy; never use your hands or feet to wrestle with him.
- If your puppy’s teeth touch your skin, withdraw from the play session for a few moments. When you come back, present a toy to chew on and praise your puppy when he grabs it.
- Make sure you are consistent and that everyone in the home is doing the same thing, so your puppy doesn’t get mixed signals.
Ask your veterinarian if you are concerned that your puppy’s biting is aggressive rather than playful.
What’s Cute Now Might Not Be Acceptable Later
People tend to allow certain negative puppy behaviors because they’re cute. Some of these include:
- Jumping on people.
- Being carried everywhere.
- Not sitting calmly for nail trimming or other grooming.
- Fighting when you look at or brush teeth.
However, none of these will be cute in an adult dog, and they won’t disappear without your help; you must introduce any behavior that you want your dog to have as an adult now. Use positive reinforcement to teach your puppy to behave appropriately in all of these instances. Reward him for doing what you want him to do and ignore improper behavior as much as possible.
Crate Training Isn’t Cruel
Many people fear that locking a puppy up in a crate is cruel, but when you look at normal canine behavior, you can see that it simulates the safety of a den. Dogs love to curl up in small, safe places to sleep. You can recreate this sense of safety by using a crate for your puppy. Leave the crate door open when he isn’t in it, and you will probably find that he begins to retreat there when he wants to rest.
Using a crate also dramatically enhances house-training efforts as long as you choose the proper size. The crate should only be large enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around, and lie down. Dogs will naturally learn to hold their urine and stool until they’re out of the crate, so deliver your dog outside immediately upon removing him.
A crate also keeps your puppy safe when you can’t supervise him. There are many dangers present in a home for a curious puppy.
As long as your dog is getting enough love, attention, exercise time, and isn’t expected to hold his urine and feces longer than he is physically able to for his age and size, a crate is an excellent place for him when you’re gone or not in direct supervision.
Be sure you are visiting your veterinarian often and asking any behavior questions you might have. A PetHero membership can make it easier for you to visit the vet frequently, which puppyhood requires. Learn more about how you can save up to 25% on pet care, including vaccinations.