How to Train an Out of Control Puppy

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Out of control puppies can be difficult to train and even harder to live with. You may have a puppy that jumps on guests, chews on shoes, attacks your cat, or worse. Fortunately, through patience and consistent training, limiting their opportunity to be "bad," reinforcing good behavior whenever possible, and correcting bad behavior as soon as you see it, you can train your out of control puppy and eliminate these behavior problems.

Be patient and remain calm. While your puppy is out of control, if you also lose control it will not improve the situation.

Limit opportunities for bad behavior. Temptations to be "bad" are everywhere and a young dog has limited control over its impulses. The best tactic is to remove these temptations. For example, if your puppy likes to get in the trash, place your trash in an area your puppy does not have access to, such as under your sink behind a cabinet door. If your puppy likes to chew on shoes, put your shoes in a closet that your puppy cannot enter.

Reinforce good behavior. Reward your puppy when he follows his training or your commands. Rewards can include puppy treats, but praise in the form of your happy voice calling your puppy's name and petting him will work well too.

Correct bad behavior. When your puppy does something bad, correct the dog and end the misbehavior. For instance, if your puppy is jumping on guests, have the guests ignore the puppy while you instruct your puppy to sit. When your puppy obeys your command, reinforce the good behavior.

Clean up messes and move on. Bad behaviors can only be corrected while your puppy is engaged in them. If your puppy created a mess while you were away, you can only clean it up and watch your puppy more carefully so you can catch him or her before they make their next mess.

Give your puppy their own space. This will let the dog feel in control of one little area while you and the rest of your family control the rest of your house. One of the best ways to give your puppy space is a properly sized dog crate. The crate should be large enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably, but not much larger. If your puppy is young, you will likely need to switch to larger crates as the pup grows. Provide your puppy with a comfortable pad or towel to lay on, their favorite toy, and water. This space should never be used for punishment. It is where your dog can feel safe and secure. You can keep your puppy in his or her crate while you are out running errands or working so they will not be able to get into trouble while you are gone.

For more information on crate training, see the Humane Society article link in the "References" section.

Be consistent. Puppies want you to be in control as their pack leader, but if you act angry or harsh to them they will feel insecure and scared. Consistently reward good behavior with praise and treats and correct bad behavior each and every time you see it. When you or another responsible person cannot be with your puppy, crate the dog to limit the opportunity for misbehavior.

Tips & Warnings

  • Seek out the help of a professional dog trainer. PetSmart regularly offers obedience classes in their stores. A quick Internet search will likely turn up many dog trainers in your area who will be happy to help you train your puppy.
  • Don't hit or push your puppy down to punish or correct bad behavior. This will leave your puppy feeling insecure and will likely cause them to continue acting out of control.

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