What are the problems you have with your puppy?
Puppy problems can be hard to tackle, but we don’t necessarily have to solve every problem. At this age, we may feel that we have our finished dog. They are adult-sized and we have had them for a long time. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. We still have work to do, if we want to get the finished dog we dreamed of having.
Hopefully when you read through my questionnaire celebrating six months with your puppy, you thought about what was really great about them? And what was not so great? Did you find yourself realising that there are things you are not entirely happy with? I know I did. Quin is so lovely around the house and when he meets people. He is not so great with other dogs and this is the area that needs thinking about.
Defining the puppy problems
When you think about your dog, what problems spring to mind? The most common puppy problems around the ages of 6-10 months are:
- Excessive barking in the house and garden
- Barking at and chasing cats, squirrels and birds
- Barking at the door/when visitors arrive
- Jumping up
- Pulling on the lead
- Not coming back (recall)
- Reacting to other dogs on walks
- Chasing cars/runners/bikes
- Chewing the furniture/shoes/the house
- Needing too much exercise/being too lively
Sound familiar? These problems are really common! So first of all, recognise that you have a dog and that’s what dogs do? Hopefully, some of these problems are ones you have already tackled, with me. Click the links above to see the posts I have already written about these issues?
Decide what to do
You have recognised your dog’s biggest issues. Now decide what you want to do? You have three choices:
- Do nothing
- Manage it
- Train it away
First of all, don’t underestimate the decision to do nothing. You have a dog. Some things that you find really annoying are just part of who your dog is. You might just need to accept that and cope with it. Barking is the biggest of these types of puppy problems.
Quin barks at lots of things, including animals (especially dogs!) on the TV. It’s hilarious. Most dogs don’t react to the TV, or only look round if a dog barks. Quin leaps up and stares at the screen if a chicken appears! He is very fierce and gets really annoyed if we watch a wildlife programme. Funny boy. We don’t really mind, we just call him to distract him and give him a fuss once he stops barking. It’s fine.
One of the posts I’ve linked to above shows my efforts to stop Aura going berserk when the food processor is switched on. However, it doesn’t really bother us when the dogs all go mad occasionally, so I don’t keep revisiting this training.
Barking around the house can be managed relatively easily, by putting the dog away from the source of the stimulation. So when someone comes to the door, put the dog in another room so they don’t get rewarded by the door being answered. You’re pretty unlikely to stop them barking altogether, but at least they are not rewarded for barking.
The most common issues that people choose to manage are pulling on lead and not coming back. People use harnesses with their dogs so that when they pull on lead they don’t strangle themselves. That’s fine if you don’t mind being pulled along. It’s actually useful if you are doing Canicross!
When dogs don’t come straight back to their owners, the owners get scared their dog will get run over, or that they will be attacked by another dog. So they keep them on lead. Some owners don’t even try to let their dogs off lead.
For me personally, I think it’s absolutely tragic if you choose not to tackle either of these issues. In my opinion (humble or otherwise), it is absolutely essential for dogs to walk off lead. Therefore they don’t necessarily need a harness if they don’t walk far on lead, but it’s obviously better if they can walk sensibly. And it’s vital for a dog to be able to wander and sniff, at their own pace.
Train it away
By far the best solution, for you and the dog, is to put in a bit of work to make puppy problems more manageable. WARNING: Some problems are more easily solved than others! Jumping up is a relatively simple problem to solve, whereas reacting to other dogs and not coming back when called are worthy of several blog posts on their own.
Hopefully though, this post has encouraged you to think about the ongoing issues with your problem puppy and make a plan about what you want to fix, what you are able to manage and what you can just ignore? I am working hard with Quin to help him cope with meeting other dogs – more on this in the coming weeks.
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NB: I am not a dog trainer, or a dog behaviourist, just a dog breeder and owner. I can only offer my opinion, based on my experience.