What Happened to My Well-Mannered Puppy?

What Happened to My Well-Mannered Puppy?

OK, we’ve all heard of the “terrible twos” that often overtake previously happy and contented little babies. Well, the same thing happens with our canine friends, just a little sooner than with their human counterparts.

Depending on the pup, sometimes around 6 or 7 months old a previously well-mannered puppy can turn into a terror. House-training accidents, chewing, barking, the bossing around of other pets, and generally unruly behaviors might start to surface. You might find your dog doing things he hasn’t done since you first brought him home or even things he’s never done before.

Sadly, it’s during this particular time that many dog owners give up and give a dog away or surrender the dog to a shelter. Dogs of this age are among the most commonly surrendered to shelters.

However, with some work, you can get through the terrible twos and end up with an even better behaved dog. Below are some tips to help you out.

Start early and maintain consistency.

You should start working on behavior and obedience training with your puppy from the moment he enters your home. It is never too early. House training comes first, followed by basic obedience – commands like “come,” “sit,” and “stay.” Even puppies who are a couple of months old can learn these behaviors quickly and easily. And starting early will help establish your position as “the leader of the pack,” which will help when your dog tries to test your limits.

Find your puppy’s weak spot.

It’s probably going to be food, but some puppies respond more to praise or physical interaction with their owner (a pat on the head or a big hug). You need to understand what is going to be most valuable to your puppy when you want him to stop doing something undesirable and get him to pay attention to you. Digging a hole in the yard might be fun, but a piece of a hot dog or pepperoni might be 10 times better.

Develop a simple and consistent set of words and commands that you use with your dog.

Use the right equipment.

Keep it simple and always use the same words. “Sit,” “stay,” “no,” and “come” are obvious choices; but also remember “leave it” (for when you want the dog to ignore something or leave it alone), “no bark” (for when you want him to be quiet), and “drop it” (when you want him to release whatever is in his mouth). When your dog complies with any of these instructions, give him lots of praise and a treat.

During training sessions or while walking, make sure you use the right equipment to manage your dog. Such equipment may include different collars or harnesses. Your veterinarian or a professional dog training expert can help you figure out what is right for you and your pet. For more information about safe, comfortable, and effective training equipment, visit

Make sure the glass stays half full.

Positive, rewards-based training always works best. Negative or punishment-oriented training will make your dog fearful of you and lessen the bond you have with him rather than strengthen it. It could also lead to aggressive behaviors in the future. You want to be your puppy’s center of attention and the person he wants to please and looks to for love and satisfaction, not fear and punishment.

Correct bad behavior

Many dogs of this age will exhibit certain behaviors that you want to make sure you correct:

1. Resource guarding or being possessive of food or toys. You should ensure that your dog doesn’t get possessive of his food and that you can always get between yourdog and his dinner. Make your dog wait while you get his food ready, seated and calm. When you put his dish on the floor, make him wait until you give him whatever your command is to tell him it’s OK to begin eating. Then gently interrupt your dog’s dinner a couple of times.
If your dog begins guarding toys, the best correction is elimination of the toys in question. Growling or other aggressive expressions shouldn’t be tolerated and you should correct the dog with a firm “no” and then remove the toy. Once he has relinquished the toy in question, praise him and give him a treat.

We know a lot of doggie daycare facilities that “outlaw” toys altogether to avoid such conflicts and almost none of them have rawhide toys, as they seem to encourage this kind of possessiveness more than any other toy.

2. Tugging, pulling, and generally bad on-leash behavior. If your dog pulls when on a leash, don’t pull back. Instead, stop where you are and let the dog realize that returning to you is the way to get you to move forward. Once he stops pulling and returns to you, praise him and give him a a treat. That makes you the reward, rather than just the person tugging him in the direction he doesn’t want to go.

If the tugging or pulling is directed at something like a dog or person, give your dog a verbal correction and walk him in the opposite direction. He’ll begin to realize, “hey, when I lunge toward something, I don’t get to check it out.” Most dogs quickly understand that if they don’t pull, they will get to greet the other person or pet, and if they pull, they head in the other direction. Utilizing the right training equipment can help correct this problem.

3. Jumping and overly excited greetings. While it’s cute to have a 10 pound puppy jump on your leg when greeting you, it’s a lot less fun for you and your guests when that puppy is 70 pounds. This behavior is generally easily cured by a verbal correction (“no,” “off,” “down”) followed by a firm but gentle physical correction. The physical correction needs to be clear to the dog that this is a “don’t do this” correction vs. “we’re playing a game of push and shove.” Take the dog by his shoulders and firmly place all four feet on the ground or block the dog by turning or raising your leg in front of you so he can’t place his feet on your chest. Also consider turning your back when your dog begins to jump and ignore the behavior. Doing this repeatedly will generally end the behavior fairly quickly.

4. Aggression is never good. This is probably the toughest problem – outright aggression on your dog’s part toward another pet or toward people. Because this is probably the most serious of dog behaviors, we recommend talking with your veterinarian right away; he or she can help assess your dog’s behavior and make recommendations, including directing you to a professional, certified trainer. This isn’t a problem to try to solve on your own.

If nothing else…

Remember the four most important things in training and caring for your pooch:

  • Consistency. Dogs are creatures of habit and consistency is probably the single most important part of training. Make sure that EVERYONE who is part of your dog’s life on a regular basis is part of his training. Don’t let kids or relatives allow bad behavior. Everyone should participate in his training and understand what is allowed and not allowed.
  • Patience. If you’re impatient or stressed while training your dog, he’ll sense it and it will make him anxious, as well.
  • Positive correction vs. punishment. Your dog will never understand why you’re angry, punishing him, or hurting him. It will just make him fearful and confused.
  • Love. Show your pup love at appropriate times and make sure you give him tons of praise. Love and affection work magic!

When you have a problem you just can’t manage on your own, give your veterinarian a call and they’ll be able to help! Never be embarrassed to ask for help.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

How to Get Your Puppy to Stop Harassing Your Cat, Older Dog, and Other Pets

So you got a puppy… but your other pets are not real enthusiastic about it.

Puppies are super adorable, yes. But as you’ve probably figured out by now, they can also be super annoying.

Puppies play by jumping, biting, and tackling relentlessly. It’s normal, but it can be too much for your resident pets to handle. Your cats, chickens, or older dogs probably long for the days when they could go about their lives without being accosted by a puppy-sized tornado.

Here’s how to get your puppy to stop bothering your other pets so they can have some peace.

There are three parts to this plan:

1. Prevent the problem – physically prevent your puppy from bothering the other animals when you’re not available to train and supervise.
2. Wear the puppy out – a tired puppy is a less-annoying puppy.
3. Finally, train the puppy – teach him appropriate ways to behave around the other pets.

Part one: manage, manage, manage

Physically prevent little Chomper from getting a chance to chomp on your other pets.

When you can’t directly supervise and train good play habits, he needs to be kept separate from them. Why? Because tackling and biting the cat/chicken/older dog is a ton of fun. It’s naturally reinforcing. The more the puppy does it, the more fun he has, the more he gets reinforced, the more likely he is to do it again next time.

Basically, the more you allow this habit to happen, the harder it will be to get it to stop.

With the use of Chomper’s crate, baby gates, leashes, and other management tools, it’s possible to completely prevent the puppy from getting to the other pets.

This is where a lot of people go wrong. They let the pup have way too much freedom before he’s learned good habits. This causes all kinds of bad habits to develop.

Want Chomper to leave the cat alone? Don’t give him access to the cat.

Part two: a tired puppy is a less-obnoxious puppy

Wear the puppy out and provide appropriate outlets for normal play behavior.

You know the adage, “a tired dog is a good dog?” A tired puppy is a beautiful creature. A tired puppy will spend less time terrorizing your poor old cocker spaniel.

Yeah, I know. This is easier said than done. How exactly does one successfully wear out a puppy, without passing out from exhaustion oneself?

The best way to tire your puppy is to make him think. You can play fetch all you want, but nothing tires a dog out faster than putting his brain to work. This is true of all dogs, but especially young puppies.

The thing is, if you want your pup to grow up to become the most well-mannered, stable adult he can be, he needs lots of socialization and training. So you should be putting his brain to work anyway.

How to wear out (and develop!) your puppy’s brain

Throw away his food bowl. Use his food for training sessions throughout the day. Put the rest in puzzle toys. There’s no easier way to keep him busy and out of trouble.

Teach him some tricks and important obedience cues like sit or the recall.

Take a puppy socialization class. Set up a play date with a puppy-owning friend. Chomper will get an outlet for his natural play behavior, exhaust himself, and get to practice communication with his own species, a skill that many pet dogs are sorely lacking.

Take Chomper on adventures: to the local pet store, to friends’ houses, on short hikes.

When you’re not doing anything with him, give him a puzzle toy or a hollow bone stuffed with soft dog food, peanut butter, or cream cheese.

You don’t have to do all this in one day, of course. But a couple hours a day of exploration, learning, and working for his food will work wonders. He’ll be less likely to take his boredom out on the cat.

Plus, he’ll grow up to be a mentally stable dog. I don’t know about you, but I do like my dogs to be mentally stable.

Part three: train the puppy

Teach the puppy how to behave around the other pets.

It took us more than 700 words to get to this point. That’s because the first two parts are important prerequisites. Work on them enough and this part will be much, much easier.

The point of this training is to teach Chomper that good behavior makes fun things happen, but attacking the other pet makes fun things end.

(There’s a video demo of this exercise in Puppy Survival School)

You will need:

  • A container of really delicious, pea-sized treats. Chopped-up cheese or meat works well
  • A leash
  • A plush squeaky dog toy like this or this (this will serve as your cat/chicken/old dog substitute)
  • The cat/chicken/older dog in question (for this blog post, we’ll be using an imaginary cat named Puff)
  • A tired, relatively calm puppy. Don’t start this training when Chomper is in Hyper Attack Puppy mode – it won’t work out well

Step one:

Figure out exactly what you want your puppy to do instead of harassing Puff. You know exactly what you don’t want him to do, but that’s not enough. We’re going to be rewarding him for good behavior, so you need a clear idea of what that good behavior is. Good behavior includes:

  • Sitting
  • Lying down
  • Sniffing the cat without attacking her
  • Looking away from the cat to you
  • Walking away from the cat
  • Trying to go for the toy instead of the cat

Step two:

Put Chomper on leash, and bring him and Puff into the same room. Get close enough that Chomper can see the cat, but not close enough to touch.

Step three:

Let Chomper see the cat, then get his attention by saying his name or making funny noises. Watch for any of the good behaviors. If Chomper knows the sit cue, have him sit. When he does a good behavior, say “good dog!” and give him a treat. (If you use a marker word or clicker, mark-and-treat)

Then bring out the plush toy and offer Chomper a game of tug.

The lesson we’re trying to teach Chomper: Calm behavior around the cat means I get treats and I get to play!

After about 30 seconds of play, take the toy away, and repeat from step one.

Repeat this exercise about three times per session, then take a break. No session should ever last more than five minutes.

Step four:

Increase the amount of time Chomper must show good behavior before getting to play. Look for three opportunities to reward good behavior. For example: tell him to sit, treat. He continues to sit, treat. He looks away from the cat and makes eye contact with you, treat. Then play.

Do at least three 5-minute sessions of this training before moving on to step five.

Step five:

Make it harder. Bring the other pet closer. Repeat the same training as before, but this time, stand close enough that Chomper could reach the cat if he wanted to.

Since this is harder, you need to increase the reward: as long as Chomper is not going after the cat, offer a steady stream of treats, like one per second.

After five seconds, break out the plush toy for a game.

If Chomper goes after the cat at any time, that triggers a time-out. Take the puppy away, by the leash, stand in a corner and be “boring:” stand still, no interacting with the pup. Let him be bored for 20 seconds, then take him back and try again.

The message is: if I go after the cat, fun times end.

Do at least two sessions of this training per day for a few days. When you can get through a whole 5-minute session without the puppy going after your other pet, then you can start training off-leash.


Chomper will not stop going after Puff, and does not exhibit any of the “good behaviors.”

You’re probably working too close to Puff. Increase the distance enough that Chomper gets his brain back and can listen to you. This might mean working all the way across the room, putting a baby gate between you and the cat, or having an assistant hold Puff up out of reach.

As Chomper gets better at this training, gradually bring the animals closer to each other.

Also, make sure you’re using really good treats. Regular kibble or dog biscuits are probably not going to cut it for this.

Finally, make sure the game you’re offering as a reward is fun enough. You want Chomper to learn that playing this game with you is much more fun than harassing the cat, so make it AWESOME! Crouch down on the floor with him, gently shove him, make high-pitched noises, drag the toy away enticingly, run away from him – whatever it takes.

With the help of this plan, your puppy will outgrow the obnoxious-tornado stage. To recap:

  • Prevent the puppy from getting to the cat when you can’t train
  • Teach the pup that calm behavior makes fun times happen, and going after the cat makes fun times end
  • And do lots of cool stuff with your puppy, so he doesn’t need to go looking for trouble fun. Besides, isn’t the whole point of puppy ownership to do cool stuff together?

How to raise a happy, well-behaved puppy without losing your mind

Need more help than this? Check out Puppy Survival School, our comprehensive program that comes with eight self-paced online courses:

You’ll learn how to:

  • Play a training game that quickly gets puppies to calm down and stop being obnoxious
  • Teach your puppy to politely “say please” when they need something
  • Get your puppy to sleep through the night
  • Help your other pets accept the puppy
  • Stop being stressed out and overwhelmed all the time
  • And a whooole lot more more

All of this is taught using video demos of real puppy training, so you can see exactly how it works in real life. We also have a community forum where you can ask questions, and we have achievement badges, a fun way to track your progress. Click here to learn more.

Why is that? Chihuahuas are very loyal and protective little dogs. They make excellent little watchdogs. That’s a good thing, right? Yes, but those good qualities can quickly turn into very bad behavior. When they are a puppy is the best time to make sure that doesn’t happen. When they are grown, you can change the behavior, but changing it is a lot harder than making sure it doesn’t happen in the first place.

I’ve heard from many people that Chihuahuas are hard to housebreak. That simply is not true. It is no harder to housebreak a Chihuahua than it is to housebreak any other dog breed. All dogs are individuals just like humans with their own little personalities and makeup. There are dogs that are harder to housebreak than others in every different breed.

My Remedy Jane, 9 weeks old

To housebreak any breed you must be consistent and stick to a routine. That is where most people fail. Yes, it is a lot of work, at least for the first four to six weeks. But, relatively speaking, this is a very short period of time. If you do follow through and are consistent, you will then have a housebroken dog for the rest of their lives. To learn how to housebreak your Chihuahua, click HERE >>

Watch the video: I bought the Worlds Biggest Puppy