Updated: Feb 18
Puppies are undeniably cute. We love to coo and fuss over them, smother them with attention and embrace their comical, inquisitive natures. Raising a puppy isn’t easy, even if they are irresistibly adorable.
Puppies are hard work, they require a lot of time, energy and commitment. Sometimes we aren’t prepared for their testing ways and their less-than-desirable behaviours. We sometimes forget that the small, cute puppy will, at some point, grow into a larger, older adult dog whose ‘naughty’ puppy ways may be less forgivable.
How do we ensure we set our puppy, and ourselves, up for the best possible life together, and maintain harmony in the home even when their behaviours become testing or frustrating? It’s not easy but consistency is the magic word…
Prevention is key
Dogs do what works, they repeat behaviours which they find reinforcing and often that reinforcement comes from us, but it’s not always intentional.
If you wonder why your puppy repeatedly steals shoes and socks despite you telling him off or providing him with his own toys, look at your own behaviour. Your ‘telling off’ has probably been quite reinforcing for him, and now stealing items is a great way to get your attention, even if it is rather negative attention. Chasing him around the house shouting ‘NO … DROP IT … LEAVEEEE’ is actually really quite FUN for your puppy!!
It’s important to thoroughly puppy-proof your home before your new puppy (or adult dog) arrives. This saves unwanted behaviour being practiced and avoids any expensive mistakes, either financially or behaviourally! Put tempting items out of reach … high shelves or boxes for shoes, boxes for children’s toys, or cupboards for anything else tempting. You can use stair gates or closed doors to prevent your puppy having access to rooms when you’re not able to supervise, so he can’t sneak off and practice any unwanted behaviours.
By not practicing unwanted behaviours like stealing or chewing items which