36–39 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy
Eight Ways to Give Your Puppy Structure
Is your pup still acting like a puppy even though he's just a few months away from being an adult dog? Is he making you a little batty with those recurring puppy behaviors? It is likely that he is still in his adolescent phase and with all the distractions and curiosities of the world around him, even a well-trained puppy may not always listen.
Puppies don’t come to us knowing the rules of living in a human environment and it is our job as owners to teach them proper behavior and give them structure.
If your puppy is misbehaving, you may notice some specific signs. He may become territorial about space or food. He may start jumping on people even if you had trained him not to. Or he may start marking again. If it's not in your demeanor to sternly order your puppy around, worry not. There are ways to teach your dog what he needs to know to become the ideal canine companion.
Be Calm - The calmer you are, the calmer your pup will be. Take some time to teach him impulse control exercises, like "Leave It" or to relax on cue.
Teach Your Dog to Pay Attention to You When Crossing Thresholds - It does not matter who goes through the threshold first, but if you create an automatic check in when leaving a room or getting out of a car, you have your pup's attention from the very start.
Prevent Begging - If you never feed from the table, your dog will learn that he never gets food from the table and begging won’t be an issue.
Watch out for Resource Guarding - If your pup is beginning to resource guard, seek professional help.
Enroll in a Training Class - Even if your dog has gone to a puppy class, dogs often need more than 6 weeks to firmly grasp the basics of obedience, so find a nice, positive reinforcement-based class and make that obedience fun.
Teach a Place or Crate Up Cue - If your puppy is a couch or bed hog, change this by teaching him his bed or crate is a fun place to be.
Use Your Height - Get down to a puppy's level to work with him.
Ask Him to Move - If your puppy tends to always be under your feet, teach your dog a hand target. Hand targets are a great way to move a puppy from point A to point B without creating confrontation.
Remember, a puppy does not come fully trained. It is your job to teach him what he needs to know. Imagine how chaotic a home without rules would be for humans and you can see why your puppy will be difficult if you don't give him structure.
Humans already have bigger brains and opposable thumbs. This allows us to be the gateway through which our puppies and dogs obtain everything they want. Take advantage of this and use it to humanely and kindly teach them what we expect.
Editor's Note: Special thanks go out to to Dogster member and trainer Kim Pike for revising this tip for us.
Advice from Other Dog Owners
Start Training Your Puppy Right Away
Even though the old saying goes, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," in reality you can start training a dog at any age - if the dog is nine weeks, nine months, or nine years old.
Even if you bring home a very young puppy, training and working on wanted behaviors starts immediately after the dog comes home with you. You would start teaching the dog to recognize her name and get her used to a set schedule of when you go outside, when she's fed, when it's time for walks and when it's time for bed time. Even playtime can be training - you're teaching her what she can and cannot play with, not to bite your hands, and rules for your games (such as, when you bite me, the game ends).
Formal training, such as sit, down, and come, can be started at a very young age as well. It's never too early to "shape" behaviors using positive rewards. A good time to enroll into a class is around 6 months old - puppy class.
~Chris & Brian C., owner of German Shepherd
Dealing with a Puppy That Chews Everything in Sight
Try offering your puppy a variety of chew toys. Notice the texture and softness of what he usually chooses to chew on (that he's not supposed to chew on) and try to pick a toy with that texture and softness. But don't get any toys shaped like any of the inappropriate items he chews. Dogs don't know the different between a chew toy shaped like a shoe and a real shoe.
Also, redirect the behavior. It's very simple to do this. All you need to do is when you see him chewing inappropriate items, show him the chew toy and encourage him to chew that instead. Praise and richly reward him for chewing the right things. Whenever he chews the wrong things, just redirect.
~Tiffany C., owner of Papillon mix
Tips on Housebreaking a Puppy
The best thing I found was crate-training at night, and when you're away from home. I didn't keep my dog crated when I was home with him, I locked him in the kitchen the first week, staying in there to play with him. On the second week we slowly let him have more freedom in the house.
We were always watching, and after all activity (sleeping, eating, playing) took him out right away. I took him out as much as every 15-30 minutes. We took him out the same door always, out to the same spot (by a big field we have beside our yard), said 'go potty, go potty' (he's 2 now, and still goes to the same area to poop) and petted/praised like crazy when he did (good BOY, good potty!) Then right back inside....no playing right after potty. If we played, it was inside, then back out to play, so he'd 'get it' that that trip out was for potty alone. When you pair whatever words (like "go potty") to the action, I think it helps...and he'd go potty on command after awhile. That's nice when you're getting ready to go somewhere in the car, and need him to go!
If he had accidents when in the crate, I never scolded...never. Just cleaned everything up. Nature's Miracle worked wonders for me; it cleans spots and odors great. We would never rub the puppy's nose in it if there were accidents in the house. That's what worked for me.
~Donna C., owner of Labrador Retriever
Training Your Puppy to Sleep Through the Night
My trainer told me that puppies can usually hold it longer during the night, when they are sleeping.
If your pup is waking up and crying to go out at night, you might try pushing her potty breaks back a little. If she normally wakes up at 12, wait an hour, then take her out at 1. If shes fine with that, push it back another hour, til 2, and so on. That's what I did with my dog and it worked well and quickly. Instead of taking her out at 5, I'd wait til 5:30. Then 6, then 6:30, etc. She was sleeping through the night by 12 weeks or so (but I'm sure every pup is different).
~Dana S., owner of German Shorthaired Pointer