Puppy Behaviors to Nip in the Bud Early

Welcoming a new puppy into your home is an exciting experience, but it also comes with responsibilities. Early training is crucial to ensure your puppy grows into a well-behaved and happy adult dog. Here are some common puppy behaviors that you should address early on:

1. Biting and Mouthing

Puppies explore the world with their mouths, which often leads to biting and mouthing. While this is a natural behavior, it’s important to teach your puppy that biting humans is not acceptable. Redirect their biting to chew toys and provide plenty of appropriate items for them to chew on. If they bite your hands or fingers, let out a high-pitched “ouch” to signal that it hurts and stop playing for a short period to discourage the behavior.

2. Jumping Up

Jumping up on people is a common issue with puppies. While it might seem cute when they are small, it can become problematic as they grow. Teach your puppy to sit when greeting people instead of jumping. Consistently reward them for keeping all four paws on the ground and ignore them when they jump up, reinforcing that jumping does not get them attention.

3. House Training Accidents

House training requires patience and consistency. Establish a regular schedule for bathroom breaks, especially after meals, playtime, and naps. Take your puppy to the same spot each time to do their business and praise them lavishly when they go outside. If accidents happen indoors, clean them thoroughly to remove any scent markers and avoid punishment, as it can create anxiety and confusion.

4. Chewing

Puppies chew to relieve teething pain and to explore their environment. However, this can lead to destructive behavior if not managed properly. Puppy-proof your home by keeping valuables out of reach and providing a variety of safe chew toys. Redirect your puppy to their toys when they start chewing on inappropriate items and praise them for using their toys.

5. Barking

While barking is a natural form of communication for dogs, excessive barking can become a nuisance. Identify the cause of your puppy’s barking, whether it’s due to boredom, attention-seeking, or alerting. Address the root cause by providing adequate exercise, mental stimulation, and training. Teach your puppy the “quiet” command and reward them for remaining calm and quiet.

6. Resource Guarding

Resource guarding occurs when a puppy becomes possessive of food, toys, or other items. This behavior can escalate into aggression if not addressed early. Practice trading games by offering a high-value treat in exchange for the item your puppy is guarding. Gradually teach them that giving up items leads to positive outcomes and that they don’t need to guard their resources.

7. Leash Pulling

Leash training should start early to prevent pulling behavior. Teach your puppy to walk politely on a leash by using positive reinforcement. Reward them for walking beside you with treats and praise. If they start pulling, stop walking and wait for them to return to your side before continuing. Consistency is key to teaching your puppy that pulling does not get them where they want to go.

8. Socialization Issues

Proper socialization is crucial during the first few months of a puppy’s life. Expose your puppy to various people, environments, and other animals in a controlled and positive manner. Socialization helps prevent fear and aggression issues later in life. Enroll your puppy in a well-run puppy socialization class to provide structured interactions with other dogs and people.

9. Begging

Begging can lead to bad habits and health issues. Teach your puppy that begging at the table is not rewarded. Establish a designated spot for them during mealtimes and provide a chew toy or a puzzle feeder to keep them occupied. Consistently ignore begging behavior and ensure everyone in the household follows the same rules.

10. Separation Anxiety

Preventing separation anxiety begins early by teaching your puppy to be comfortable being alone. Gradually increase the time they spend alone and provide them with safe, engaging toys while you’re away. Avoid making a big fuss when leaving or returning home, as this can heighten their anxiety.


Addressing these common puppy behaviors early on will set the foundation for a well-behaved adult dog. Consistency, positive reinforcement, and patience are key to successful training. By nipping these behaviors in the bud, you’ll ensure a happy and harmonious relationship with your furry friend for years to come.

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