The Pets Doc

Dr. Kevin Watkins, DVM

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Five Months Old And Counting – Training Puppy A Process That Takes Time

If you have been following this article for the past few months, you know all about the Watkins family’s new puppy, Jovie. You’ll be surprised to learn that Jovie is already 5 1/2 months old! Hard to believe, I know.

Right before our eyes, he changed from a baby, to a toddler, to little kid, to teenager… all in the span of about 14 weeks. I know that dogs simply have an accelerated life span compared to us humans, but it is fascinating to watch it happen during the fast-paced, puppy phase of their lives. Because they get so big so quickly, sometimes we forget that they are still just babies. Having a puppy in our midst has been a wonderful experience for our family. Everyone has learned a great deal about canine psychology, basic training, and for the Watkins children, a renewed sense of responsibility.

It has also been good for me on a professional level, since I have been dealing with some of the same problems that all new puppy owners experience, and it makes me a little more sympathetic to my client’s complaints.

The most common puppy behavior problems are:

  • Destructive chewing,
  • Mouthing on their humans,
  • Inappropriate elimination,
  • Excessive barking,
  • Assertive growling, and,
  • Sometimes, even aggression.

One simple solution to these problems is to keep your puppy supervised by close-tethering. I encourage everyone to use this helpful behavior training method, and to be honest, we would not have experienced the problems we’ve had with Jovie if we had been more diligent with our tethering. In behavior medicine it’s called, “not setting them up to fail.”

Jovie is actually doing very well during this training phase of his life. He comes to us 100 percent of the time now, so I don’t have to worry about him running off, or have to go chasing after him through the neighborhood. The elimination training has been, and continues to be, a challenge.

Even with all of my education and training, Jovie still occasionally pee-pees on the floor (although I do have to say that he has not a “No. 2” accident since we first brought him home).

The pee-peeing has been pretty frustrating, though. Through experience, I have come to believe that most dogs do outgrow this behavior, but I also believe that it won’t happen without owner diligence and consistency.

The bottom line is, training a dog is a process, not a product. If your puppy still has an occasional accident in the house, don’t consider your elimination training to be a failure. Realize that your diligence is the key, and just stay after it until your dog is no longer a baby. Remember: patience, consistency and persistency.

Margo Watkins, Pet Behavior Counselor

Pawsitive Pet Behavior Blog