Dear StyleTails: When will my puppy calm down?

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Q: When will my puppy calm down? 

My puppy is four months old, and he’s crazy. He’s overexcited about everything – meeting people, playing with dogs and seeing me come back into the room, even if I’ve only been gone a minute. He also has crazy half hours where he bites everything and runs back and forth across the room like a maniac. I know he’s still a baby and being excitable is normal, but I’m still envious of all the other calm dogs in the park. When can I expect him to start settling down a bit? 

Emma from London


 
A: Rosie Bescoby from Pet Sense
Rosie is a fully qualified Clinical Animal Behaviourist with a degree in Zoology & Psychology from the University of Bristol & a Post-Graduate Diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling from Southampton University.
 
Your puppy is still very young and requires guidance to show him how you would like him to behave. On walks, be aware of what unwanted behaviours you are allowing him to rehearse (i.e. running up to other people and dogs and ignoring your attempts to recall him) and try to manage his behaviour so that he cannot rehearse this whilst you work on teaching him what you DO want him to do. Look into a longline attached to a harness for example, then work on teaching him to check-in with you whenever he sees something that he wants to approach before you give him permission. 
 
Work out what motivates him and use this to reinforce the behaviour you want  – checking in with you is heavily reinforced with tasty food treats or a game. He’s not going to settle down unless he is taught the behaviours you want him to do, and there is a risk he will continue through adolescence without really understanding what is required of him. I would suggest seeking some professional help to work with you through this training. Look for a force-free trainer such as someone from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers to help.
 
He’s not going to settle down unless he is taught the behaviours you want him to do, and there is a risk he will continue through adolescence without really understanding what is required of him.
 
Manic behaviour at home, or the ‘zoomies’, is usually related to over-tiredness in puppies. He should be getting around 18 hours of sleep per 24 hour period, with plenty of opportunity for chewing and licking behaviours which are self-soothing. Provide him with plenty of long-lasting chews that are freely available for him to gnaw, as well as Kongs stuffed with moist food (and frozen once he gets the hang of it) and consumable chews of natural dried animal products.
 
Find out more about Rosie and her work at www.pet-sense.co.uk
 
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Rosie is a fully qualified Clinical Animal Behaviourist with a degree in Zoology & Psychology from the University of Bristol & a Post-Graduate Diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling from Southampton University. She works with dogs, cats and rabbits in the Bristol and North Somerset area. Rosie is a full member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (No. 1006), and registered as both a Clinical Animal Behaviourist & as an Animal Training Instructor with the Animal Behaviour & Training Council (the regulatory body that represents trainers & behaviourists to both the public & to legislative bodies). She is also a member of the Pet Professional Guild (an organisation representing individuals who train using force-free methods).

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