Puppy Training: Teaching your Puppy to Stop Biting, Chewing and Barking

If you have a puppy at home, then you would have had and seen your share of nips, bties and chewed items. These are the most common habits of puppies and the most difficult ones to control as well.

Barking and Howling: Incessant barking and howling can be quite a nuisance especially if your dog does the same in the middle of the night.

Furthermore, these actions will get plenty of complaints from neighbors and passersby; and you need to figure out a way to stop your dog from barking or howling unnecesssarily.

Find out why your dog likes barking or howling in the first place. Is there something that’s disturbing him/her in the house or outside? Is he/she trying to chase off some cats or is he/she afraid of being left alone? Is he/she hungry?

Once you ascertain the exact cause for this behavior, you can start working on correcting it. If your dog barks to tell you that he/she is hungry, thirsty or wants to attend nature’s call, do the needful to stop the habit at once.

‘No bark’ collars are available at large in the market and can be very useful in training your pooch to stop barking incessantly.

These collars either spray miniscule amounts of an irritating gas onto his/her face if your dog barks or tighten themselves around the neck (they don’t choke though) Choose one that is not that hard on your pooch, and yet at the same time, effective enough to curb the habit.

If your dog shows signs of improving, praise him/her on the same and reward him/her with doggy treats. This way, you will be sending a clear message across that good behavior leads to treats and more affection.

If everything else fails, consult a renowned veterinarian or an animal behavior specialist to find out alternate ways to stop the habit.

Biting: Nipping, biting and mouthing can not be treated as major issues when your dog is still a puppy and the act may even be enjoyable. However, you need to curb the issue at the right time to avoid your dog reflecting the same behavior in his/her adulthood.

The best time to start training your puppy is when he/she is about 6 weeks old. The first thing you would probably want to teach him/her is to refrain from biting you or others for that matter. Here’s how you can do that.

As and when your puppy bites you (let’s say your hand), don’t try to jerk your hand away. This will give him/her the impression that you want to play and he/she will increase the pressure of the hold. Remove your hand gently from your puppy’s mouth and give him/her something else to chew on.

Whenever your puppy bites you, either accidentaly or knowingly, try to fake the pain and shout ‘ouch’, ‘oh’, or ‘no’. Alternatively, you can also yelp just like a dog so that your puppy can realise that it hurts if he/she bites you.

If your puppy continues to bite you despite your shouts and actions, repeat the same sound (ouch, oh or no) and leave the room. Your puppy will realise soon enough that he/she will lose you if he/she continues the behavior.

Don’t stop the training if you notice your puppy’s bites getting softer or playful. In order to stop the habit of biting altogether, try to be firm whenever he/she tries to bite you, even when it is for fun.

Repeat the same actions as mentioned in the previous points. This way, you tend to remind him/her that you will not tolerate even a playful bite.

You can teach your puppy to stop biting by giving him/her rewards whenever he/she refrains from biting you or just licks your hands instead. Shower him/her with praises and hugs.

Another effective method to reinforce the habit of not biting can be achieved by teaching him/her the ‘off’ command. Accordingly, you can keep some doggy treats in your hand, and say “off” to your pooch. If he/she stays still without lunging for the treats, reward him/her.

If you see all your efforts going to waste and your puppy still following the habit despite repeated trainings, enroll him/her in an obedience class. In addition to interacting with other dogs and learning the limits and boundaries of human contact, your puppy will get more adapted to following instructions.

Chewing: Remember all those chewed on slippers, rugs, toys and furniture? Well, that is what you will end up with in the long run if you don’t train your pup to stop chewing on everything he/she sets his/her eyes on.

Before starting the training, discuss the problem of chewing with a qualified veterinarian or an animal specialist. There may be several reasons for the habit which may include teething, behavioral traits or plain boredom.

Once you ascertain the correct reason for the habit in your pup, you can begin the training accordingly.

Teething causes the gums to itch which in turn gives puppies uncontrollable urges to chew on things. If your puppy is teething, give him/her a washcloth (frozen) to chew on. Alternatively, you can also opt for teething rings or chew toys that are available at large in retail pet stores.

Don’t let him/her out of your sight. Make sure to keep him/her in the same room you are in and distract his/her mind by playing with him/her at regular intervals.

You can also put him/her in a plastic tub filled with toys and stuffed animals. However, keep an eye on him/her lest he/she starts chewing on the toys.

You can effectively curb the habit of chewing in your puppy if you can successfully keep him/her preoccupied or distracted. Accordingly, you can play with him/her at regular intervals, take him/her out on walks, teach him/her new tricks or just let him/her play with some toys in the house. Once your puppy tires out, he/she will have bery little energy left to chew.