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Teaching Your Dog Basic Etiquette: A Guide for Well-Mannered Canines

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Is your furry friend in need of some manners? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many dog owners struggle with teaching their pups basic etiquette. From jumping up on guests to play biting, these behaviors can be frustrating and even dangerous. But fear not, with a little patience and consistency, you can transform your rambunctious pup into a well-behaved canine companion.

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Understanding Canine Learning Patterns

Dogs are incredibly perceptive creatures, quick to associate actions with consequences. They learn through association and are motivated by rewards. If your puppy realizes that certain behaviors result in positive attention or treats, they will continue to engage in those behaviors. On the other hand, if they learn that certain behaviors lead to no rewards or even negative consequences, they will be less likely to repeat them.

The Importance of Positive Reinforcement

When it comes to training your dog, it’s crucial to rely on positive reinforcement rather than punishment. Shouting or physical punishment only teaches your dog to associate you with anger and fear, not their behavior. This can lead to long-term behavioral issues and damage the trust between you and your furry friend. Instead, focus on rewarding and encouraging desired behaviors. This will create a positive learning environment and strengthen your bond with your dog.

Puppy Manners: Setting the Foundation

Teaching your puppy good manners starts from day one. It’s important to establish clear boundaries and expectations early on, so your puppy knows what is acceptable behavior as they grow into adulthood. Consider the following questions: Do you want your dog on the furniture? Should they beg for food? How do you want them to behave in public places? Start practicing the basics right away to set the foundation for good manners.

Consistency is key in puppy training. Everyone in your household should be on the same page and enforce the same rules. This includes family members, visitors, and even strangers you encounter during walks. It’s important to ask strangers to ignore your puppy until they are calm and ready to greet them politely. Consistency will help your puppy understand what is expected of them in different situations.

Play Biting: Redirecting Their Energy

Puppies love to play, and play biting is a natural behavior for them. However, it’s essential to teach them that biting humans is not acceptable. When your puppy starts nipping at your hands or feet, it’s crucial to redirect their attention to an appropriate toy or chew. This teaches them that biting on toys is fun and rewarding, while biting humans does not earn them attention.

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If your puppy becomes too excited and enters a state of hyper-arousal, it’s important to remove them from the situation and give them time to calm down. A puppy crate can be a useful tool for providing a safe space for your pup to relax and unwind. By consistently redirecting their biting behavior and providing alternative outlets for their energy, you can teach your puppy that biting humans is not a desirable behavior.

“Biting humans doesn’t earn me the attention I crave. Biting toys is terrific fun though.”

Jumping Up: Polite Greetings

Jumping up is another common behavior that puppies engage in to seek attention or express excitement. While it may be cute when they’re small, it can become problematic as they grow into larger dogs. Jumping on people can be uncomfortable, especially for children or elderly individuals, and can even cause injury. It’s important to teach your puppy polite greetings from the start.

The key to addressing jumping up is to redirect their behavior and teach them an alternative action. One effective method is to teach your puppy the “sit” command. Start by holding a treat above their nose and guide it upwards, so they naturally follow the treat with their nose and their backside touches the ground. Reward them with a treat and praise when they successfully sit. Practice this command consistently and incorporate it into everyday situations, such as before putting their food down or greeting visitors.

“Keep calm, sit down, look pretty, and the human will do good stuff.”

Teaching Puppy Manners around Other Dogs

Socialization is an essential aspect of raising a well-rounded dog. Once your puppy is fully vaccinated, you can start introducing them to other dogs and people. It’s important for your puppy to learn appropriate doggy manners to prevent any behavioral issues in the future. Just like humans, dogs have their own social etiquette.

To help your puppy navigate social situations, it’s crucial to learn about doggy body language. This will allow you to understand when your puppy should approach, sniff, or ignore other dogs. Working with a qualified dog trainer can provide you with valuable insights and guidance to ensure your puppy’s safety and proper socialization. Puppy training classes are also a great way for your pup to interact with dogs of different sizes and ages while learning good manners from an early age.

“The time you spend in training class at this age will be a true investment in your puppy’s future.”

Impulse Control: The Key to Well-Behaved Dogs

Just like humans, dogs struggle with impulse control, especially during their adolescent phase. Adolescent dogs, between 6 months and 2.5 to 3 years of age, are particularly susceptible to impulsive behavior. It can be challenging for them to resist the urge to go after something exciting or delicious. However, impulse control is a learned behavior, and with proper training, your dog can develop self-control.

1. Say Please: Teaching Patience

The “Say Please” exercise is a great way to teach your dog patience and self-control. Start by asking your dog to sit or lay down. Hold a toy or a bowl of food in one hand and slowly lower it towards your dog. If they stand up or jump up, immediately remove the object from their reach. Ask them to sit or lay down again and repeat the process until they remain in position while you lower the object all the way down. Reward them with the toy or food and praise them for their calm behavior.

2. Say Hello: Polite Greetings

Teaching your dog polite greetings is essential for their interactions with humans and other dogs. Begin by asking an approaching friend or stranger to stand still. Get your dog’s attention and start walking towards the person. If your dog becomes too excited, pulling, jumping, or barking, stop and take two steps backward. Ask for your dog’s attention again, and when you have it, continue moving forward. Repeat this process until your dog can reach the person with all four paws on the ground. The reward here is the opportunity to say hello, so no treats are needed.

3. Wait: Exercising Self-Control

Impulse control is especially important when it comes to doorways and car doors. Teaching your dog to wait prevents them from bolting out into traffic or causing chaos when exiting the car. Stand outside the car and ask your dog to wait as you slowly open the door. If they start to move towards you, immediately close the door. Repeat this process, gradually increasing the duration of the wait time. The goal is for your dog to stay behind the door until you give them a release cue, such as “okay” or “free.” This teaches them that they must remain calm and patient before exiting the car.

“Your dog learns that if they are too eager, they don’t get to leave the car. When they are calm and paying attention to the cues, their reward is to get out and explore the world.”


Teaching your dog basic etiquette is a journey that requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. By understanding their learning patterns, focusing on positive reinforcement, and practicing impulse control exercises, you can mold your pup into a well-mannered companion. Remember, training should be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. So, start early, be consistent, and enjoy the process of shaping your dog into a polite and well-behaved member of your family.

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