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Training young dogs is a very important activity. An untrained dog will usually develop a number of problem behaviours that will become more and more difficult to eliminate. In order to prevent chewing, jumping, biting or other problem behaviours, you’ll want to start training early; use consistent training methods; and continue training throughout the development of your dog.


Chewing

As with human babies, puppies will naturally chew as their teeth are coming in. This not only reduces pain but helps teeth break through the skin. As adults, dogs will chew in a destructive manner likely because of anxiety or stress. If you leave your dog alone for extended periods of time, it is likely to feel some separation anxiety and destructive behaviour typically follows.

For puppies, one method of training to prevent chewing is to isolate the puppy in a room with a number of items it can chew. For example, leave a few toys as well as some items you’d prefer the puppy didn’t chew. Monitor the puppy’s behaviour. If it starts chewing an unacceptable item, reprimand it firmly by saying “NO” and then try to exchange the unacceptable object with one of its toys. Be sure to give some praise when the puppy is chewing toys rather than the unacceptable object. If you repeat this technique several times, your puppy will learn which items are ok to chew and which are not.

For adult dogs, often times a bit more attention will help curb the chewing behaviour. In addition, if you absolutely must leave the dog alone for extended periods, try playing the radio or leaving the TV turned on. If this technique does not work, your only option may be to leave it in a crate when you are not home. This is not ideal (would you want to be locked in a crate) but will certainly prevent the chewing behavior.


Biting

Again, biting is a natural behaviour for a puppy. Usually, a puppy will learn to limit and control biting through play with its mother and fellow pups. As such, reprimanding the puppy verbally will likely not be effective. Instead, gentle discomfort will teach the puppy that biting will lead to some pain for him. For example, when the puppy bites, continue playing but pinch his nose just hard enough so he backs off. This is essentially akin to the puppy being bitten back by its mother. Also, you can praise gentle play so he learns it is more fun than aggressive play.


Jumping

Many dogs will jump at you or strangers when they are over-excited. Especially when it’s a big dog, this can be intimidating and annoying for people. The first step to eliminating this behaviour is to teach your dog to sit and stay when you return home from work or a day out. As soon as you open the door and are greeted by your dog, tell him to sit. If he immediately sits, you will want to praise him verbally and with a pat. If your dog does not sit immediately, fold your arms and look away. You can repeat the command but only once or twice. Again, when he sits, deliver praise. In fact, whenever your dog is excited you can teach him to sit. This way he will learn that calm behaviour is favourable over jumping.

Another recommendation is to lift your knee so when your dog jumps he will hit his chest against you knee. You should not kick your dog as this will be painful and could cause injury. By lifting your knee you will deliver gentle discomfort and increase the distance between you and your dog. Eventually, he will learn that he is causing himself discomfort.

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