To preface this post…
These tips are not meant to replace quality time spent with your puppy. Nothing beats that! Also, Ultimate Puppy has no affiliation with the toy brands that are recommended here.
It’s not always a problem that needs solving
I coach people with puppies. Puppies bite. This is not a behavior that needs to be fixed. This is a normal part of puppy development that will dissipate over time. There are other behaviors that are intrinsically puppy that will simply cease to be as your dog matures. Let’s look at some challenging puppy behaviors where you might simply say ‘Hey! this is an easy solve! There’s a dog toy for that!’.
The biggie! puppy biting
As I mentioned, raising a puppy means dealing with puppy biting. How much biting depends on the individual puppy and the steps you take to ensure they are getting enough sleep, along with other factors.
When a redirect is the chosen response to biting, a smoked bully stick that is stuffed in a gripper is my pick. Smear the gripper and the end of the bully with feta, chicken, or goat cheese.
Keep a good stash of your pup’s favorite chews for such occasions. To keep things interesting you could try rotating through smoked bullies, yak cheese sticks, Whimzees, and smoked knuckle bones.
Chewing ‘off limit’ items
If your puppy is chewing baseboards and furniture legs … there‘s a dog toy for that! Try redirecting to rubber toys stuffed with food. Our go-to is a Topple Treat toy by West Paw. It is easy for most young puppies to navigate. How you stuff it will determine if and for how long the pup stays engaged. Use food he loves. You can incorporate a bully stick jammed in the side hole and up through the top for added interest.
Keep several pre-stuffed and ready for these occasions. Put them down on the floor so the puppy will happen upon them or hide them for the puppy to search for. Watch our toytorial video for inspiration.
Jumping up and biting
Moving feet, legs, arms, and clothing is wildly enticing for many puppies. It can prompt a pup to grab ankles or jump up and latch on to whatever he happens to get in his mouth. This can hurt and be upsetting for anyone on the receiving end. But guess what! There‘s a dog toy for that!
Dragging a LONG toy behind you when you are simply walking from one spot to another or playing and running with the puppy often prevents the jump since they are likely to focus on the fun which is low and right in front of them.
Tie a rope to a stuffed animal, a Hol-ee Roller ball, or another long tug toy. Give yourself about 4-6 extra feet between your body and the pup‘s mouth. This can be especially helpful for kids to use when playing with the pup.
Preempt unwanted behavior when possible. For example, get the pup settled with a bully stick after 10 mins of play BEFORE he gets overtired and starts chomping on you. Puppies have short attention spans and get tuckered out after short periods of time.
Experiment with toys, food, and chews to find what your pup loves. This may take a bit of time but is well worth the effort.
Maintain realistic goals and expectations. Our pups are capable of lots – but often times the behavior we are wanting from them is more in line with a well-educated 4-year-old dog versus a pup who is just a few months old.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with challenging puppy behaviors give these recommendations a try. Also know there is help available. Reach out to a certified professional and elevate your puppy-raising experience. Learn how and where to search for a trainer here.
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