Don’t give up! You and your pup need some lessons in communication and your pup needs training. With patience and consistency you can improve your pup’s behavior, making him a joy to come home to and walk.
Why your pup may be behaving badly
Socialization: Was your pup socialized to different sights and sounds? If not, this may be the reason for his bad behavior. Meeting people young and old, getting used to the noise of buses and trucks, horns, planes, rain, wind – all these and more are just some of the things your pup should be socialized to. Introducing your pup to new experiences, always making the occasion as stress-free for your pup as possible, will go a long way to improving his behavior.
Communication: Are you consistent with your puppy? When you give him a command to sit and he walks out of the room do you think “well at least he’s not chewing on my plant anymore and that’s what I really wanted to accomplish” and let it go? If so, you are sending your pup mixed messages.
Boredom: Is your pup left on his own too much? He may be behaving badly because he is bored and lonely. Pups should not be left alone for long periods of time. Is he walked and played with regularly? A tired pup doesn’t have a lot of energy to get into mischief.
Solution to a better-behaved pup
Spend 5 – 10 minutes a day doing training exercises with your pup. Regular training sessions of this length are better than irregular sessions of longer lengths. Make sure you are consistent in the words you use for commands and the responses you expect from your pup in and out of the training sessions. Don’t use the command “sit” in one instance and “sit down” in the next and expect your pup to understand what you mean – always use the same command word.
Make sure that everyone in your house is sending your pup the same message. Your pup will be confused if one person doesn’t let him on the couch while another person invites him up regularly. He won’t know what behavior is expected of him. Consistency is key.
Reward your pup with lots of praise, and maybe a treat, when he shows the behavior that you wish. Eventually he’ll make the connection that if he acts one way he gets a lot of attention and praise, so he will continue to act the way that gets him the reward. Don't punish your puppy for not obeying a command – simply withhold the positive reinforcement. Otherwise, he will associate the command with punishment.
Play with your pup, supply him with toys that will engage him, and walk him regularly. This may help use up the energy that formerly went into bad behavior.
Obedience classes accomplish quite a few things at once and may be the answer for how to turn your troublemaking puppy into a puppy that is a joy to be around. In obedience classes your puppy will be around other dogs and other people and this helps with his socialization. Obedience classes will also help your puppy understand what is expected of him, and the classes will help you understand how best to communicate with your pup so you can continue the lessons at home.
A pet behaviorist can also help you figure out why your pup is acting as he is and how best to change his behavior.
Don’t give up on your pup. With training, love, and patience your pup’s behavior can change, making him a joy to be around.