The following challenging or difficult behaviors are normal dog behaviors that people often find annoying. All dogs will do these things if given the opportunity and if not trained to behave more acceptably. Bored dogs are often naughty, destructive dogs.


What’s not to love about a puppy jumping up for a cuddle. Nothing as a puppy, but definitely everything as an adult. This becomes a habit and is definitely not so endearing when an adult jumps on visitors and young children. It starts as a young puppy. Don’t let your puppy jump up – always reach down or kneel to pat him and make sure he has all four feet on the ground when you do. If your puppy jumps up then turn away from him and ignore him until he has all four feet on the ground: don’t look at her or speak to her until she is no longer jumping, especially when you come home and your puppy is excited to see you again. If your dog only jumps on strangers the solution may be to train him to come when called and sit on command.

Constant Barking

Most dogs will bark at strangers, and territorial barking may start at maturity. This can be mildly annoying but is rarely a problem. Dogs that bark repetitively are often anxious and distressed because they are alone and bored– solitary confinement is boring but it is also very stressful. You need to teach your young puppy to enjoy being in the back yard and to be comfortable with his own company. As soon as you can, start teaching your puppy that outside is a good place to be and that you will return soon. Give your puppy his breakfast outside as a matter of routine and try to make it last as long as possible. Kong toys stuffed with dog food, Buster food cubes and other toys that dispense food slowly and require effort will keep the puppy busy for some time.

initially let him back in as soon as he’s stopped showing interest in his food,  and then gradually increase the time he spends out there. Keep coming back before he gets anxious. As he gets bigger you can hide bones around the garden as well as using the food dispensing toys, so that getting that first meal of the day takes time, by which time your puppy may well be ready for a nap. Try to make your backyard the place where all the fun happens and make inside the place where you demand calm, sensible and obedient behavior. You also need to be sure that your dog is not being left alone for excessive periods. This is when problematic barking can occur.

Pulling on the lead

Dogs who pull on the lead can be difficult and not enjoyable to walk with. You should first teach your puppy to walk on a lead in your backyard where there are few distractions. Say ‘Heel’ or whatever command you want to say,  and reward your puppy when she comes alongside you on the left side. Pick her up and place her where you want her to be, say “heel” and praise. Walk off and reward if she stays in that position. Once you’re getting there put the lead on and repeat. Once outside don’t let your puppy make any progress forward if she pulls on the lead – she has to learn that the only way to get anywhere is if the lead is slack. Stand like a rock – otherwise, she will believe that the best way forward is to pull you along. As soon as the lead is loose move forward so that she learns that progress is only made with a loose lead. Don’t take your dog out for a walk until she knows how to be led – before that, you are taking the dog out for a training session.

Chewing potted plants and other objects.

You want your puppy to succeed as much as possible so start positively. Don’t leave toys, shoes, hoses or anything chewable lying around. Only leave out your puppies toys and treats. As he gets older and begins to chew on items you don’t want him to and can’t remove, like furniture a “Snappy Trainer” a kind of modified mousetrap that gives a nasty fright without pain can train pups to leave pot plants or benches alone. Some treasured items can be protected by painting them with Tabasco Sauce. These can be effective ‘deterrents’.

Give your pup his own chewable toys. When caught chewing something prohibited, take it away with a firm ‘No’ and give him a permitted chew toy or bone. There are many toys available that provide hours of occupation and chewing for dogs left alone. I recommend the Kong toys and the Buster Food Cube – but nothing beats a brisket bone.

Scratching at doors, jumping on furniture

An unexpected squirt of water in the face can be an excellent deterrent for this behavior – so can a loud noise or a stern NO. NEVER open the door to a puppy scratching or barking at it – unless that is what you want your dog to do when he wants to come inside. If the puppy gets hysterical – go out via another door and then casually “notice” him so he doesn’t get the idea that tantrums work.

Digging and garden reconstruction.

If your garden is large enough, create an area in your garden where your pup CAN dig. Bury treats and toys there – put up a trellis in front of it. Old sand pits are perfect. Clamshells from bunnings filled with sand work well.

In General.

To train your dog to stop doing something annoying, work out the benefit to the dog from that behavior and make sure that he doesn’t get the benefit/reward/positive reinforcer. Punishment can be used in particular circumstances, in which case you need to set up the situation so that the behavior is likely to occur and then position yourself so that you can immediately deliver a prompt deterrent. Associate this with a loud growl or ‘Bah’, delivered in a deep voice and soon ‘Bah’ alone will be enough to stop the naughty behavior. BUT:

  1. Wherever possible remember that most of the behavior that bothers
    you are normal, and that you should try to provide an acceptable
    an alternative way for the dog to express himself.
  2. Try to ensure that bad behavior is not rewarded – try to think like your
    dog and work out what reward he is getting from the annoying behavior. If there is nothing to be gained from a behaviour it will eventually stop.
  3. Be aware that a bored dog is an active, agitated and energetic dog – a
    contented dog will lie about happily for most of the day. Give your dog
    as much company as possible and make sure that there is something
    to do each day and that he has a view of the world going by – the walls
    of your garden or house may be attractive but they are very boring if you have
    nothing else to look at and no company