When puppies land in their new homes, they have limited exposure to the world and a small number of life experiences. They have no real skills. Everything is new. It takes very little stimulation to push most puppies over their arousal thresholds. Enter those annoying (and painful) behaviors: nipping, clothes grabbing, jumping, and aimless zooming. Here’s how to manage and minimize rehearsal of these behaviors.
- Puppies need rest and a quiet place. Work towards your puppy’s acceptance of crate containment. A playpen is an alternative.
- Puppies benefit from enrichment activities. A stuffed red Kong Classic is a good start and may be provided for crate time.
- Over handling can be a setup for over stimulation. Brief petting is the way to go.
- When your puppy lies down somewhere to rest……respect his space.
- Avoid repeating your puppy’s name and “NO!” He is already over threshold and this acts like fuel on a flame. The human must remain calm.
- Pay attention to antecedent signals such as increased movements and vocalizing. Detach and redirect. An alternative for your puppy to chew should be compelling = smelly. (Earth Animal No Hide, cow hooves, moo cheek, or bully ring, for example)
- Over threshold behaviors might also indicate a needed potty trip (often #2)
Eroding the repertoire of puppy over arousal behaviors happens over several months. Dogs at every phase of life have thresholds that drive behavior. Learning to recognize and work with your puppy’s thresholds impacts behavior throughout his life. Training in a handful of obedience cues, using effective reinforcement schedules, and adjusting elements in the environment are all critical to set our puppies up for success as well-mannered adult companions.