Puppy Training: 5 Naughty Behaviors and Bad Habits to Reshape Before It’s Too Late

Welcoming a new puppy into your home is opening your doors to happiness. 

A new puppy brings in so much joy, laughter, and cuteness to turn you into a doting new puppy parent. You are often caught off guard by how adorable they are and how they seem like little angels that take your stress away. 

Until one day, time brings in a surprise. Your once well-behaved puppy is starting to become more active and more adventurous. Their personality and sass begin to show, and you’re catching quirks you haven’t seen before. 

How do you safely navigate around the challenging stage of early puppy training? Read on for some suggestions.

Along with the joy and laughter with having a puppy comes also with being naughty and bad behavior - how can you navigate this?

Key Takeaways:

  • Reasons why puppy training should not be delayed. 
  • Trust should be established before jump starting puppy training. 
  • Why puppies nip and bite, and how to help them overcome these habits. 
  • How to navigate through and correct potty accidents. 
  • How to deal with a puppy that chews and grabs personal items.
  • How to train a puppy not to bark too much. 
  • What to do when puppies are too distracted to listen and learn.

Table of Contents

Delaying Puppy Training: A Common Oversight with Challenging Consequences

As your puppy ages, you start noticing that they exhibit entirely new habits. 

Out of nowhere, your little pup starts to pull out a towel from your bathroom.

Or nips playfully at your hand. 

It’s easy to cling to your new puppy’s babyhood, so it’s natural to think these behaviors are cute at first until they become a headache in the long run. 

If bad puppy habits are not handled correctly, they can become even more significant problems down the road. 

This same reason pushed me to include multiple training opportunities into the ultimate guide to training your new puppy

I even fall into this trap of not minding the little naughty behaviors because they can be so adorable!

What’s cuter than a tiny puppy running around with your slippers in tow!? Can’t we just let them do that forever? 

Unfortunately, small puppies will eventually turn into big, strong dogs. You’ll eventually find yourself no longer in control with your full-grown canine. 

The puppy that couldn’t make a mark on your slippers will one day grow complete adult teeth – your slippers won’t stand a chance. 

I suggest that instead of shrugging off puppy behavioral issues while resorting to buying new slippers every week, you start handling these minor infractions early on to avoid even tricky problems down the road.

Because proper training early on in your puppy’s life plays an instrumental role in their growth and development, helping shape them into happy, obedient dogs. 

However, before you jump and start the wheels running on training a puppy, there’s one thing you need to establish: trust.

The Number One Thing To Do Before Starting Puppy Training

Raising puppies is like raising kids – you’re going to deal with their stubbornness and the moments when they act out on you. 

There will be times that you will find yourself frustrated because your dog doesn’t seem to listen or get over their behavior. 

I want to make one quick point here:

While many of these puppy behaviors can be insanely frustrating, it’s important to remember that you should NEVER take out those frustrations on your puppy. 

Why? Because TRUST is a defining factor in your present and future relationship with your puppy. 

Your puppy must feel safe for them to listen to you. 

Lack of trust between the two of you can damage your relationship, which will carry profound long-term implications.

If your dog doesn’t learn to trust or feel safe around you, or if you don’t have a solid relationship, the chances of your puppy ever listening to you is very small. 

So remember to be patient with your puppy. After all, they’re still learning about this big world around them. Guide and nurture them through these pesky behaviors for a lifetime of bonding and happiness.

Are these Puppy Behaviors Present in Your Little Pup? Here’s How You Can Handle Them

Now that the need for trust is properly established here let’s jump right into the common bad behaviors in puppies and how you can correct them.

There are proper approaches on how to handle puppy bad habits once it surfaces

Puppy Behavior #1: Nipping and Biting

Every puppy nips. 

Just like toddlers who put everything in their mouths, puppies use mouthing and nipping to explore the world around them

In nature, puppies mouth their siblings to understand what’s acceptable and what’s not. 

While it’s a natural behavior, it can quickly go from cute to aggravating when your puppy gets teeth and continues nipping at guests every time they walk through the door – a habit that can be frightening for some.

Before nipping becomes a bad habit, here’s what you can do. 

Let Out a High-Pitch Yelp as if You’re in Pain

If your puppy bites down a little too hard while playing, let out a high-pitched yelp as if you’re in pain. 

Making sounds as if you’re hurt will probably startle your pup, but it will get him to stop the nipping, and he may even feel bad enough that he starts licking you. 

This mimics what puppies might encounter in the wild. When dogs play and nip at each other, one might get a little excited and get too rough or bite down too hard, causing that pup to yelp out. The puppy quickly stops, learning how to turn down the intensity of its bite. 

Acknowledge Them When They Make Progress

Be sure to offer praise when your dog stops nipping and resume your play session. Repeat this as long as your dog continues to nip. As always, repetition and consistency are key, so continue to yelp out to teach your dog what is acceptable in your household. 

If you want to learn more about puppy biting, click here to check out my extensive podcast on this subject.

Puppy Behavior # 2: Potty Accidents

You love your new puppy, but not so much the potty accidents that come with caring for them. 

Finding pee spots on your clean couch or cleaning your carpet for the nth time can be overwhelming and frustrating. 

Puppy parents often come to me and ask my trusted guide to puppy potty training! It’s that challenging!

But puppy parents here’s what you need to know: the positive approach to potty training puppies calls for a lot of understanding!


Their little bladders can’t hold up pee for a long time, thus the frequent potty accidents. They don’t know what they’re doing wrong; they just follow what's natural to them. 

Scolding them too much or rubbing their nose on the spot of their potty accident won’t help. In fact, doing these can even damage your relationship with your pup. 

Instead, you want to get them into a routine that teaches them when they can expect to be let out for potty breaks.

Click here for my recommended schedule for 8-week-old dogs and see how I incorporated potty time to the routine.

Here are some ways you can slowly incorporate potty training into your puppy’s schedule.

Follow the PEESMethod

It’s the perfect way to get your new puppy on a predictable schedule quickly. 

Click here to learn more about the PEES puppy schedule

You’ll notice that this schedule encourages consistent potty breaks. After your pup does his/her business, reward them with a pat or maybe even a treat as your new pal might need a little extra reward at this young age.

For the most part, potty training isn’t difficult. It’s all about being proactive and setting up your puppy  to win.

If you find yourself needing some extra guidance on potty training, I encourage you to sign up for my FREE potty training video course here!

3 Things You Can Do to Prevent Puppy Accidents While Potty Training Puppies

Here are some tips to make your potty training journey a little less frustrating: 

  • Remove all shag carpeting or anything that resembles grass so your puppy doesn’t get confused.
  • Take your new puppy out frequently so they have many chances to use the bathroom outside.
  • If you can’t go outside very often, place potty pads where you want to encourage your dog to go inside the house.

Once a puppy starts peeing on a carpet, it’s incredibly difficult to break the habit. That’s why it’s important to set your house up for a new puppy by rolling up those carpets. You can put them back in a few months when your pup is fully potty trained. 

Potty training takes time and effort in the beginning, but once your pup has mastered the process and is on an ideal puppy schedule, your life will become so much easier.

Puppy training takes much time and effort but it will be worth it in the long run

Puppy Behavior # 3: Chewing and Stealing Personal Items

Just like nipping, chewing is a natural habit for puppies. The reasons for dogs chewing stuff is connected to the way they learn about and explore the world around them. 

When teething occurs, and the new teeth are causing discomfort, your dog may reach out to just about any item they can chew on to relieve teething pains. 

What I want puppy parents to know is that puppies can’t always tell the difference between their chewing toy and your throw pillow. They grab whatever they can for easing teething discomfort. 

If you’re on this stage, here are some suggestions on how you can handle chewing and stealing issues better and stop dogs from chewing items once and for all.

Avoid Making Games Out of Chewing Situations

If they continue to steal household items and you chase after them, this could feel like a fun game to them. This will cause them to steal and chew even more and before you know it, you could be living in a disaster zone.

Slowly Replace The Item with a Chew Toy

Chewing can be deterred with a chew toy instead of whatever they currently have in their mouth. And try not to turn a stolen towel into a game. Calmly approach your puppy after they’ve settled and replace the towel with a chew toy. 

I wrote a blog on how to set your puppy up for success, and in it you’ll find more tips to ensure your pup remains happy and relaxed (without chewing or stealing), including: 

  • Having a variety of dog toys to chew because different textures will stimulate your puppy’s mind.
  • Spend time with your puppy and make sure they’re getting adequate exercise.
  • Always leave water down for your puppy. 

If you’re struggling to stop these stubborn puppy behaviors, now might be the time to check out Puppy Coach, my complete video diary that walks you through the fundamentals of training your new puppy.

Uncontrolled and unregulated barking from our dogs can be a headache

Puppy Behavior #4: Barking

While barking and vocalization is something you just have to deal with as a doggy parent, incessant barking can really become a problem. 

Click here to know more about how to stop a barking dog from keeping you and your neighbors up!

Barking can go from adorable little puppy barks to loud, boisterous dog barks, waking you in the night or disturbing your entire neighborhood. 

To prevent excessive barking, you’ll first want to pinpoint the trigger of your puppy’s barking. Are they barking because they’re having fun or do they sense danger?

If you notice that every time the mailman approaches your puppy is giving off warning barks, it might be time to redirect their attention. 

Focus on teaching them commands like “sit,” “stay,” or “place” to give them something else to focus on. Always reward your puppy for good behavior!

How to Send the Message That Barking Excessively Won’t Win Them Anything

The key here is that you must not reward any bad behavior. 

For example, if your dog is barking outside to come inside, don’t let her in (I know it’s tempting and you don’t want to upset the neighbors). If you reward her with what she wants, then it will happen again and again.

Think of it as a little short-term pain for some long-term gain!

Simply wait and ignore your dog until she’s calm and then open the door. She’ll get the message pretty quickly.

If you want to learn more about barking, check out my ultimate guide to stop your dog from barking.

Puppy Behavior #5: Not Listening or Learning Basic Commands

To get your puppy learn basic commands you need eliminate distractions around them

Have you ever been to a place with bright lights, big sounds, and exciting attractions that you just can’t focus on one activity? 

That’s exactly what your puppy feels when they’re exploring – everything is new, thus, it’s harder for them to pay attention to you once you’re starting to train them. 

You might even feel like they aren’t learning the commands you are teaching them.

There are a couple of steps you can take to ensure your puppy is all eyes and ears on you.

Eliminate Distractions

It’s important that you make sure to eliminate all distractions when you’re trying to teach your puppy something new. 

Allow them the opportunity to focus on you and learn from you.

More is Not Always Better

While repetition is important in training, continuing to repeat a command that your puppy doesn’t understand could do more harm than good. 

Because repeating a command your dog doesn’t know makes that command virtually meaningless, so you want to make sure you’re clear in what you’re trying to teach them.

If that command is “sit”, for example, hold a treat above their head and move it back until they sit. Then give the treat as a reward. 

Repeat that process so they understand that when they sit they get rewarded. 

TIMING is super important here, because your puppy needs to know what they’re being rewarded for. 

Repeating these steps over and over will help you establish the basics and set up your puppy for a successful future

If you want to see how I did it, now’s the time to check out Puppy Coach

In this video series, I walk you through the first 8 months of training with my dog so you can replicate exactly what I do! 

The puppy stage is absolutely foundational and formational. This time is when they are learning how to interact with you and the world around them. 

This  is why I focus my puppy training around building a relationship with your puppy throughout the training process, to foster a lifelong bond that will not be broken. 

There’s so much literature and information about puppy training out there, and so many reasons why your puppy needs to learn from you before you enroll puppies to puppy training classes

That’s why I’ve created the solution – the one and only program you need to set your puppy up for success and to  get all the info you need to make important decisions regarding your pup’s health and well-being. 

Check out Puppy Coach now!

Cheers to a happy puppy and a happy puppy parent,

Doggy Dan Signature

~ Doggy Dan 😄

Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

2 Responses

  1. HI: I have been successful at getting my dog to stop nipping and biting me. Because I now have two sweethearts, they both bark. I work on one thing at a time. Probably the barking will be next. She also takes household items outside and chews on them.
    Probably this will be next? Presently, not sure.
    Thank you for the advice, it is good advise.

    1. Hi Russlyn,
      If you need any guidance with your puppy’s behaviour, including barking/nipping/chewing, then I have a really great course that can help. I really do cover it all because I know the types of behaviours that puppies will commonly do, and that their owners may need help with. Maybe take a look at my membership website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com …we have a really great trial offer on at the moment…All the Best, Doggy Dan

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