How to Stop Bad Puppy Behavior

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 4, 2024

Zoey French Bulldog stop bad puppy behavior

For this Omaha Puppy Class update, we showed French Bulldog puppy Zoey’s mother how to stop bad puppy behavior.

A lot of people tell their puppy “no” or “bad dog” when they are getting into the trash, chewing a shoe, barking, jumping up, or offering any other type of unwanted behavior. The problem with that is that for puppies and dogs, all attention is rewarding. This is a fancy way of saying that telling your puppy not to do something is a good way to make them do it again.

It may stop them from doing it now, but later on your puppy or dog is going to remember that the last time they chewed up that shoe you came over and gave them attention. This is probably the most common mistake most puppy parents make.

In our puppy classes we recommend that puppy parents use the positive interrupter to stop bad puppy behavior instead of telling them no. The positive interrupter is a great tool to use to stop your puppy from getting into trouble. We use the positive interrupter because it is an interesting sound that captures your puppy’s attention without you giving them your attention.

Tip to Stop Bad Puppy Behavior

The first step in this process is to pick a sound and then build value of it through a loading exercise. This is another way of saying you need to make the sound into a positive for your dog. To do this you’re going to grab a small handful of treats, say the word 3 times in a row in a high-pitch voice or make a kissing sound and then give your puppy a treat.

Then move to a new location and repeat this exercise (making the sound again) 10 to 20 times in different parts of your home. We usually recommend people practice loading the positive interrupter this way 3 to 6 times with about twenty to thirty treats each practice session. You know you are done when you can make the positive interrupter sound and your puppy immediately looks at you.

In the free puppy class training video below, you’ll learn how to start incorporating the positive interrupter sound to stop bad puppy behavior.

As you heard in the puppy training video above repeating the word three times or using the kissy sound seem to be the best options. A lot of breeders will call their young puppies to dinner by using the puppy call. There’s a good chance your puppy may already know that sound if their breeder used it when feeding the puppy.

If you want to use a different word, make sure that it is short so that you can say it very quickly and add a high-pitched inflection to your vocal delivery. If you are using a word instead of the kissy sound you need to make sure you repeat it 3 times. Studies have shown most animals, not just dogs, respond to a sound they hear 3 times in a row. Repeating the word 3 times makes the word arousing or exciting for your dog, which helps make it work better.

French Bulldog Puppy Zoey’s Mom Learns How to Stop Bad Puppy Behavior

Zoey is a lovely French Bulldog pup who showed she is eager to learn in her puppy classes. In the video below, you can watch Zoey’s mom load the positive interrupter sound. It’s important that you get the treat into your puppy’s mouth within 2 seconds. Don’t wait for the puppy to look for it because they don’t know it’s coming until you’ve practiced a little bit first.

In puppy class, after Zoey and the other puppy parents learned how to load  the positive interrupter sound, the next step is to pair that lesson with another lesson we cover in puppy class; the hand targeting lesson. It’s important that you teach your puppy hand targeting separately and completely before you start joining both of these exercises together if you want to stop bad puppy behavior.

So how do you use the positive interrupter and hand targeting to stop bad puppy behavior?  Let’s say your puppy is sniffing the trash can. Instead of saying “no” or “bad dog” you would make the positive interrupter sound. As soon as your puppy turns to look as you, you should say the hand targeting cue, then make a chopping motion with your hand.

It’s really important that after you get your puppy’s attention by making the positive interrupter sound that after you arrange for them to do something else (do some training, give them a bully stick, give them a lick mat, go for a walk, etc) that way after temporarily interrupting the puppy’s unwanted behavior, you are now introducing a desired activity that you want them to do instead.

Summary of How to Stop Bad Puppy Behavior

  • Remember all attention from you is rewarding to your puppy.
  • Use the positive interrupter sound to get your puppy’s attention.
  • The most common words are saying “puppy” 3 times  or the word “beep” 3 times.
  • If you want to use a word, make sure you repeat the word 3 times in a high-pitched voice.
  • To make the kissy sound imagine you are trying to suck a shake out of a straw when it’s not blended very well.
  • Most puppies respond best to a long kissing sound.
  • If you want to use a different word make sure that you can say it very quickly and with a high-pitched inflection.
  • Load the sound by walking around the house until your puppy immediately looks at you when they hear it.
  •  If you haven’t already taught your puppy hand targeting, make sure you teach that lesson separately.
  • Once your puppy knows hand targeting and the positive interrupter sound, you can combine them together.
  • Try to use your positive interrupter sound right when your puppy is starting to get into trouble or do an unwanted behavior.
  • Using the positive interrupter and hand targeting together is a great way to stop bad puppy behavior.
Need help with bad puppy behavior? Enroll your puppy in classes today
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This post was written by: David Codr