Sitting and Chewing I

We continue our series of puppy training tips this week by covering two undesirable behaviors: Jumping Up and Play Chewing.

Like most bad habits, these are easier prevented than treated, and the best way to prevent them is never to encourage them in the first place. Consider this scenario:

A six-week old, large breed puppy is added to a household. It is cute and cuddly and when it wants attention it naturally puts its little paws on the lower leg of a family member and whines. It is patted on its head or scratched behind its ears while it stands on its hind legs until it drops to all four feet and trots off.

He is a playful pup and especially enjoys play fighting. Junior plays rough with the little guy by grabbing the skin around the jaws and laughs when the puppy growls and attempts to bite.

Within a few weeks, the puppy has doubled his size and now greets the owners routinely by rearing up to have his head scratched. Junior still plays rough with him, but knows he must now be more careful since those puppy jaws are getting stronger, and when coupled with needle sharp teeth, can inflict a fair amount of pain. Feeling his oats, the growing puppy now initiates play by jumping on Junior and others at every opportunity.

It doesn’t take long until the owner is complaining about a ten-month old, 70 lb. dog who jumps up on people with both muddy feet, hitting chest high. Still a puppy at heart, he is also now terrorizing Junior at every opportunity and anyone else who ventures into the backyard.

This dog is now out of the owners’ control. Any physical punishment is ill advised and potentially dangerous. Such a dog is a prime candidate to be left on a chain, ignored and possibly given up or euthanized when no one wants to care for him anymore. What was his crime?

Simply put-he grew. How to prevent such a tragedy is easy if forethought is used.

When greeting your puppy, never pet or even acknowledge it unless it has all four feet on the floor. This will mean that the owner must bend down to the pups’ level in order to pet it on the head. Even better, require him to sit before greeting, feeding, exiting or entering a house, playtime or anything else it may consider exciting or fun. Once sitting has been mastered, teaching the dog to stay in a sitting position before receiving a reward is the next step. This is called a sit-stay. A pup that is sitting cannot be jumping, running around your feet or doing anything else except sitting.

Never engage your puppy in any game which encourages biting such as Tug-0-War or play fighting. Better games are those in which the pup must perform a task for you to receive the reward, such as “Fetch”.

We will continue our discussion of proper puppy training concerning sitting and chewing in next months’ installment of “Critter Corner”.

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