Common Puppy Behavior Problems and How to Deal With Them

By Anita Watson

Do you find yourself wondering what to do when you find your puppy has yet again peed on your priced carpet? Or even worse - he's chewed through your favorite handbag or shoe?

I think we've all been there! Chewing, biting, barking, digging - these are all common puppy behavior problems that can easily be avoided or corrected.

First though, you need to understand why dogs do what they do, and then why YOUR dog is having a behavior problem.

Dogs used to be wild animals before they were domesticated to become the dogs we now know as pets. So some of the behaviors are meant as defense and others are just instinctive behaviors that helped them survive. Understanding your dog, will help you not to get angry, when they do something you don't condone, but it will also provide a clue as to how to fix the problem.

To help you a little, here are the 4 most common puppy behavior problems that you may encounter - and how to deal with them easily:

NOTE: A word of warning - no matter how frustrated you get, and how annoying your puppy behaves - refrain from using physical punishment - like hitting him. All that will do is associate you with pain - and you don't want your best friend thinking you are pain - right?

Patiently show him the correct behavior you want from him and he will eventually learn how he should behave. Remember that he's just an animal that wants to please you - and it's up to you to show him what pleases you.

1. Destructive Chewing - This is a very common problem especially for dog owners whose puppies are still a few months old. That's when your dog would chew and eat everything in plain sight.

How to deal with it? Similar to a baby, the reason behind your dog's problem might be teething. Rather than not allowing him to do what comes naturally - divert his chewing by getting him a safe doggy chew toy to chew on instead of your shoe. So each time you spot him doing chewing, sternly say "no" without raising your voice, and then pick him up and show him his chew toy instead. When he takes it to play with tell him he's a good boy - now he's learning that he gets good attention when he chews on his toy.

2. Non-stop Barking - Also a common problem that can cause you and your neighbors sleepless nights and a lot of frustration.

How do I deal with it? Your puppy may be barking for a number of reasons - he could be bored, hungry, scared, or lonely or he may be trying to warn you of danger. Before you decide how to deal with this behavior problem, find out why your pup is barking?

Bear in mind that if you've walked him, fed him, and played with him regularly - he should be a happy puppy. That basically leaves two other reasons for his behavior - either he's scared or he feels there is a threat to you and he's trying to warn you. Both of those are perfectly natural, and I would not discourage barking for those reasons.

But sometimes, doggy just wants attention, and thinks that that's how he'll get it. The way to deal with this is to show him love, and spend sufficient time with him daily. This will minimize his need to be with you all the time. Teach him that there's time to be together, and time when you and him have separate times. If after all he's still causing havoc - you should speak to a professional dog trainer for further advice.

3. Jumping Up On People - This can either be annoying or dangerous, especially if you have a large breed dog.

How do I deal with it? Show him that it's not OK to jump up on people. Every time he does it, immediately turn away from him, without saying a word.

Dogs usually jump up on people to either express dominance or to get attention. By not paying any attention to the unwanted behavior, you are remaining in control, and you are showing him that he can get attention without jumping up on you.

There's one caveat to this though - make sure you're consistent, and that everyone supports you. Dogs don't understand double standards - so he can't be allowed to jump on your mom when she comes around, but not on you. Make sure you have your family's buy-in for this technique to be successful.

4. Digging - Dogs are hunters by nature and this is one trait that has stayed prevalent through years of evolution. If you have a well-manicured lawn, try to take note of how to deal with this problem.

How do I deal with it? If you have a sprinkler, which would automatically turn on whenever your dog approaches his digging spot. Or, you can also sprinkle cayenne pepper all over his favorite spot to ward him off.

But the best solution will be (if you can afford to sacrifice a piece of your garden) to allow him to do what comes naturally. Assign a spot for him in your garden in which he can still carry on with his favorite activity. Cordon it off with a fence and teach him that that's his patch - he'll be grateful to you for it.

Dogs bring a lot of trials and tribulations with them, but they are also a source of fun and endless love. Knowing how to deal with the most common behavior problems your puppy might stumble thorough, will make your life easier and your dog-human relationship a true joy. You owe it to yourself and your puppy to teach yourself how to handle these the right way.

Anita Watson
Article by Anita Watson
Anita Watson is passionate dog owner with years of experience in helping people raise and train their dogs, using real methods that work fast. She owns and maintains, an indispensable resource on puppy behavior problems.