Puppy Parenting 101: Preparing for Puppy Habits and Behaviors
Raising a Goldendoodle puppy requires lots of patience and care, and great puppy parents are always rewarded with obedient and loving companions that mellow with age. We were all kids once, so in a funny way, we know exactly what to expect from human children — from unbridled curiosity and wild mood swings to unintentional (or intentional) destruction and completely unpredictable behavior, among other things.
But what about dogs?
Sure, we can liken a puppy to a child, and in many ways, the similarities are strikingly adorable. But unlike people, dogs spend their whole lives on all fours and use their face, nose and mouth in the same way we use our hands. They’re also barely a few weeks old before they’re running, jumping and exploring their physical limitations.
As a Goldendoodle puppy parent, you sure are in for plenty of fun! Your new pup will bring laughter and joy into your days as they steal your heart and win your love. But to start off on the right paw, you should always know exactly what you’re in for before bringing that innocent-looking bundle of fluff into your home. This guide is here to offer a few pointers on what to expect, some do’s and don’ts — and how to be the best puppy parent you can be.
Controlling Common Puppy Behavior
The last thing any dog owner wants is their pet developing adult dog behavior problems, but unless you make an effort to discourage troublesome puppy behavior at a young age, they might retain bad habits as they grow. Here are some common puppy habits that you’ll need to check early — and the best ways to get results.
Chewing is a big part of growing up for puppies, as it brings relief to teething pain and is essential for the development of strong teeth and jaws. However, what your puppy chews on will be entirely up to you. Your job as a Goldendoodle puppy parent will be to discourage them from chewing on your shoes, furniture and other belongings and encourage them to chew on their toys, bones and rawhides. Early on, a big part of the job is to simply keep chewable possessions out of your pup’s reach, but their long-term habits will require a little bit of training on your part in the form of bones, rawhides and puppy toys.
To prevent choking, make sure to always keep an eye on your pup when you start offering chewables. When you do give your puppy something to chew, make sure to praise and pet them when they chew it — as this teaches them that chewing on their toys makes you happy. If you catch your puppy chewing on something you’d wish they didn’t, stop them immediately and replace the object with one of their bones or toys while giving them praise. This way, they’ll learn to associate chewing on certain objects with your positive reaction. That’s pretty much it!
Nipping and Mouthing
Don’t be shocked when your puppy gives you your first nip on the finger — it’s non-aggressive and perfectly normal puppy behavior!
Puppies nip because they’re teething and haven’t learned that biting your hands is unpleasant for you. This may be one of the more difficult puppy habits to break because they might get stimulated to nip when you’re giving them a pet, and who can resist petting that adorable furry head — even at the cost of a nip!
A great approach is to have a chew toy at the ready when petting your puppy and offering it to them at the same time along with some happy praise. When your puppy does go in for a nip, make a loud and sudden “ouch” sound as if you’ve been badly hurt. Afterwards, stop giving them attention and ignore your puppy for a little while. Try again after some time using the same approach and make the same reaction if you get nipped. This will teach your puppy that you’re not particularly fond of getting nipped, but you are very happy when they chew their toys.
Another possible solution to puppy nipping is gently holding your pup’s lower jaw in between your thumb and forefinger when they start to nip (one finger inside of the mouth and one finger on the outside). Don’t let go for long enough to annoy them and until your puppy decides it’s tired of that game and pulls away. When they do, try giving them your hand again, and if they start biting again just do the same thing. Repeat the process until your puppy simply licks your hand or ignores it, and when they do, reward them with some praise.
If you have children around, make sure to persistently discourage nipping. When your child wants to pet the puppy, try to distract the puppy with a chew toy while they’re being petted and continue the same training methods as mentioned above.
Jumping on you is your puppy’s way of getting attention and expressing their emotions — all of which are signs of a happy and healthy dog. But it’s not a habit that you want your dog to carry on into adulthood, as it can get a little rough and become more annoying the bigger they get. As much as you may love getting jumped on by your little pup when you get home from work, it’s best to discourage this behavior early on and give them a chance to express their affection in other ways — like licking your face.
Remember, when your puppy jumps on you, they are demanding your attention. Maybe you’ve been gone all day, and it’s their way of welcoming you home. Either way, your reaction is what they’re after, whether you hug them back or push them off (even negative reactions reward their need for attention, which is important to remember when training them to stop).
When your puppy jumps on you, avoid making a physical reaction. Instead, fold your arms and say “down”, “off”, or “sit”. Your puppy vocabulary will play an important role here (see: Before the Big Day), particularly if you’re already working on training them with words like “sit”. If your puppy is still jumping you on, try turning your back to them and ignoring them until they follow your command and stop jumping. When your dog sits down, reinforce their good behavior with praise. Any time your puppy starts jumping again, repeat the process by ignoring them and repeating the commands. This way, your Goldendoodle puppy will begin to understand that demanding your attention by jumping on you will actually have the opposite effect of getting ignored. By saving their energy in a wagging tail, they’ll get all the love and attention they could possibly want.
Puppy Tug-of-War and Wrestling
Playing tug-of-war with your Goldendoodle puppy may seem harmless, but it’s actually reinforcing competitive behavior and may cause them to develop the playful habit of taking things away from you. Wrestling with your pup will also tell them that it’s okay to get physical and can lead to roughhousing habits as they grow. If your puppy wants attention and tries to fight over things with you, discourage this behavior by ignoring it and praising them when they surrender the object or stop.
Going to the Bathroom
See our article on Getting Started for great tips on how to housetrain a Goldendoodle puppy and teach them how to do their business outside, in their crate — and off the rug.
It should go without saying that you should never slap or hit your puppy as a punishment. Remember, puppies absolutely love getting attention and making you happy, and successful discipline is a simple matter of reinforcing good behavior with praise, treats and lots of pets.
Getting physical with your puppy will only confuse them and can cause harmful side-effects such as “hand-shy” trauma — or the fear of hands. Your puppy may also develop an element of fear in your presence and may even begin avoid you. At worst, your dog can become defensive and even feel the need to protect itself. Of course, a puppy may also consider your slaps and taps as a playful gesture, and respond with equal roughhousing and set you back even further. For these reasons and good animal care, disciplining your dog should never involve physical punishment.
You’re Already So Much Better at Puppy Parenting!
Just like that, you’ve already learned so much about raising a pup! Remember, training isn’t a one-day affair. Raising a Goldendoodle puppy will require your patience and commitment from one day to the next, so make an effort to train your puppy for a few minutes every day to keep things routine and help them form good habits. Dedication is what makes a good puppy parent — and a great dog! Please feel free to contact us anytime with any questions or for more tips on raising a wonderful Goldendoodle.