This one’s for those of you who brought home a new puppy a few months – or maybe even a few weeks – ago and are now wondering whether you’ve made a mistake! What impossible creature have you brought into your house and unleashed upon your home?! If these are thoughts you can relate to, the first thing I want to say to you is this: you’re not alone. Your puppy isn’t broken. You can get through this!
Puppies are hard work – I think we all know this, in theory, before we bring one home! The reality, however, is often worse than we anticipated. They are HARD work. They disturb our sleep. They need supervising or managing all day. Toilet training doesn’t always go to plan. They’re SHARP. Things sometimes get chewed. Behaviours we’re not so keen on start to appear. Don’t even get me started on teething and puppy biting! And those evening puppy zoomies – who is this possessed creature? It can’t be the same angelic little thing that was curled up asleep by our feet earlier?! It feels relentless and overwhelming, and we have all been there. Even us seasoned puppy-raisers often forget how tough it is until we bring a new one home!
Many new puppy parents begin to doubt their abilities and wonder if they are doing everything wrong – while there may be things you need advice and help with, it’s worth taking a breath and trying to be kind to yourself. You are probably feeling trigger stacked – this is something we talk about a lot in training when dogs are struggling to cope, but it is something that can happen to any individual no matter their species.
When one stressful event occurs, we usually have some time afterwards to process it, relax and destress – leaving us more prepared for any future problems. If several stressful things have recently occurred in a short amount of time – such as losing sleep, the TV remote getting chewed, small puppy teeth sinking into our ankles and then having to clear up a mess from behind the sofa – each one fills our “bucket” and eventually it only takes one small droplet for the bucket to overflow!
So, you’re not alone in feeling out of your depth, doubting yourself or wondering if this puppy is ever going to turn into the best friend you imagined when you first brought them home. You can get through this stage and, fortunately, there are people out there ready to help you! We’ve compiled a list of common puppy problems, why they may be occurring and what you can do to address them.
Puppy Biting – This is one of the most common issues faced by puppy owners! Puppies investigate the world with their mouths, they are impulsive and excitable and as some point they will also be teething! So, all of this adds up to one thing: biting stuff feels great! It’s important to make sure you offer your dog an outlet for these behaviours, as well as training new behaviours they can do instead where appropriate. You can find more information on puppy biting and how to tackle it in our Puppy’s First Steps course on Dogversity!
Jumping Up – Another symptom of our puppies’ impulsiveness and excitement levels, jumping up can be a tough nut to crack! It’s very rewarding in itself, it’s difficult to ignore and, sometimes, certain people may even encourage it! Teaching our dogs some impulse control exercises as well as “mutually exclusive” behaviours (things our dogs can’t do whilst also jumping up, such as “sit!”) are both important in teaching our dogs how to greet others and what they can do to illicit our attention. You can find more information on jumping up and how to tackle it in the Puppy’s First Step course on Dogversity and our training classes cover a range of exercises to improve your puppy’s impulse control, as well as being a great way to teach our dogs how to behave when they see other people and dogs.
Toilet Training –Toilet training can take some time, and we should expect this as our puppies are only babies and can’t physically hold it at first! Unfortunately, there’s also lots of outdated advice out there on how to toilet train a puppy – some of it may slow the process down and the worst of the advice can be really damaging for our dogs. A trip out during the night, plenty of supervision and some early dedication to training this vital life skill during the day are things we should plan for. You can find more information on toilet training in the Puppy’s First Steps course on Dogversity.
Sleeping through the night – When our pups first arrive home, it is normal for them to be unsettled and worried; especially at night. Their lives have been turned upside down and they’ve been taken away from the only home and family they’ve known! It’s important we take the time to help them feel safe and relaxed at night. Even once settled in, young puppies are just like human babies and it will take time for them to find a routine. They will also almost certainly need a toilet break at some point during the night. Any new puppy owner should anticipate some disturbed nights ahead of them! You can find more about crate training, absence training and how to manage your pup’s sleep in our Puppy’s First Steps course on Dogversity!
Not listening – This one’s a big one! It can be infuriating and make life very difficult when our puppies simply aren’t listening to anything we say and seem, frankly, unaware that we are even trying to communicate with them! This could be due to a number of reasons such as overarousal or tiredness. Training our pups is a huge part of building communication between us and them, as well as an integral part of teaching them the skills we need them to have to navigate our human world peacefully. Training should start right away – puppies are sponges, and they are learning things every moment whether we mean for them to or not! Our Dogversity VIP membership is a great way to start training right away from the comfort of your own home, with the support of trainers and behaviourists every step of the way.
Training classes are also an excellent way to spend some one-on-one time with our pup, bonding and learning together. They are a great way to get our pups used to staying engaged, focused and calm around exciting things like other people and dogs. Puppies can join our group classes as soon as they have had their second jabs – you can find our full class calendar and book via our website!