How to Teach Your Puppy Good Manners at Home - dummies

How to Teach Your Puppy Good Manners at Home

By Sarah Hodgson

Your puppy’s first manners at home will be influenced by cause and effect. If he does something that feels good or gets your attention (negative or positive), he’ll do it again! For example, if he can’t find anything around to chew, he might chew the corner of a carpet or a chair. If you provide a bone in a routine location, then a bone will satisfy his teething needs just as well.

If you get riled when your puppy jumps during greetings, then he’ll learn to jump for the thrill of your dramatic reaction. If you stay calm and encourage him to fetch his ball or roll over for a belly scratch, then he’ll be just as satisfied with those behaviors as well. Get everyone on board and consistently follow these simple guidelines to start training good manners today.

Redirecting a jumping puppy

All puppies are enthusiastic about their relationships. And like all dogs before them, they want to give everyone a full-fledged respectful greeting that includes face-to-face interaction. The problem is that people’s faces are so far away.

Further encouraging your puppy to jump is the fact that you spend a large part of your day staring at surfaces your puppy can’t investigate (on countertops and the like) and he must stand on two legs to see! To redirect your puppy’s jumping habits, encourage everyone to do the following:

  • Ignore your puppy when he jumps for attention. If he’s insistent, let him drag a light leash in the house that you can use for corrections. Discourage everyone from verbal frustrations and pushing, because these reactions excite more jumping, not less.

  • When your puppy is excited and wants to greet you, shake a treat cup or toss his favorite toy on the floor. When he’s holding steady on all four paws, get down on his level.

  • Place inviting toys and chews on his level (as opposed to on counters and tables) and discourage counter interest by interrupting him the moment you see him looking up at off-limits surfaces. A sharp quick clap with a discouraging sound can cause him to pause; then refocus him on one of his toys.

Keeping puppy away from the table

Napkin stealing often tops a naughty puppy’s list for fun activities that rile an entire family. Don’t let this happen to you! From the very beginning, organize your puppy during mealtimes. Place him on a dog bed or in a nearby crate with a favorite chew toy and encourage everyone to ignore him while you’re eating. As he matures, you can condition him to stay still while you’re eating.

A puppy can’t sit still if he has a need pressing. Make sure your puppy has been fed, gone potty, and is tired before expecting him to chill while you eat.

Instilling good chewing habits

Puppies like to keep busy. If you don’t give the puppies things to chew, they’ll settle for what they can find. To instill good play and chewing habits, find one or two types of bones and one or two toys that your puppy adores chewing and playing with; then buy multiples. As tempting as it is to buy everything on the rack, having too many different types of things will confuse your puppy into thinking everything on the floor is fair game.

Choose a word for each object and have everyone repeat the word as they give or play with the object. Whenever your puppy seems bored or is getting restless, direct him to his playthings. If you catch him chewing something unacceptable, distract him away from the object or spray it with a bitter spray and direct him to his things.