Five month old Border CollieOh joy! I met Benjie a five-month-old Border Collie puppy yesterday evening.

It’s just too easy to forget what puppies are like, when you have been living with a mature dog for years. Whilst wanting to train him properly so that he grows into a reliable and obedient adult dog, it’s easy to expect far too much of a puppy and actually ending up with the opposite result.

At five months old one would expect a puppy to tear about, to get easily excited and especially to chew things. Just think how he would be if still with one of his brothers or sisters! Dealing with jumping all over chairs and people in a confrontational way, with lots of ‘No’ and Down’, pushing and getting cross, achieves the opposite. The puppy is hyped up and the behaviour accelerates to nipping and barking back – or worse, he gets scared. He is confused because he has no clue why people are angry. After all, a well-balanced older dog that doesn’t want to be jumped on won’t shout! What would he do? He would tip the exuberant youngster off and with his body language make it quite clear he didn’t want it. He would probably turn away or walk away.

As puppies become adolescent a confrontational approach usually makes the young dog defiant. He is now a teenager after all. He will answer back with either barking or teeth.

The rule is to keep calm, to repeatedly and consistently call the puppy away from what you don’t want him to do – he may even need to trail a short light lead for a while so you can help him to make the right decision (he may chew it!). Then let him know what it is you do want him to do.  Give him an alternative whether it is coming to you for a short fuss or a treat, or giving him a toy or bone to chew. If he is very persistent, a few seconds behind a closed door may help the message to get through.

They have a four-year old son who plays too rough and excited with him and this is hyping Benjie up and teaching him the wrong things. They have tried this and that but not been consistent, and called me because they were not happy with having to be cross with him, nor the ‘forcing’ techniques they had been introduced to at a puppy class they attended just the once. While I was there I could myself demonstrate how to show Benjie not to jump all over me in a way that he understands. He is delightfully biddable whilst full of natural puppy fun.

Sometimes owners just need to be pointed in the right direction and know what puppy behaviour to expect. Benjie is a wonderful puppy and will grow up to be a cracking dog.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.