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Help! My puppy won’t settle (and is driving me crazy!)

Having a new puppy is not dissimilar to having a baby – especially if you have not had one before or it’s been a while. If your puppy won’t settle, barks or whines continuously, or won’t allow you a minute’s peace, it can cause a lot of stress, conflict within a household and even marital dispute.

Does the puppy need the toilet? 

Always check this first by taking the pup out and waiting with him or her (no matter what the weather!) If your puppy doesn’t need to go, then bring him back in after about four or five minutes.

Is your puppy hungry?

Just like some people, some puppies get irritable and fractious if they are hungry. Puppies also vary in the amount of food they need each day and each week, as their growth isn’t steady but can come in fits and starts.

Is your puppy overtired?

Probably the biggest cause of puppy versus owner conflict! A pup that is over‐tired can behave just like an over‐wrought toddler: inconsolable, whinging and even aggressive. Bear in mind that puppies need a lot of sleep. They typically have a short period of high activity – playing, racing round the garden, chewing and doing what puppies do, then need to fall fast asleep for between 2-3 hours. Make sure your puppy has a quiet bed area that he can sleep in without interruption (safe from kids and other pets) and leave him in it. An indoor crate can really help here. Once you have put your pup in the crate (and you know that he has been to the loo, and has had some activity), you must ignore him: the chances are he’ll be fast asleep in no time – relieved that someone else has taken control and limited his options to sleep.

Barking and whining

If your pup is very noisy, have a think about why this might be. Is he or she distressed, or is the noise simply a way to get your attention? Dogs that are truly upset may pant, tremble, salivate and hide. Pups that are frustrated and trying to get your goat are more likely to dig, bark at you (towards your face), play or chew for while, then start again. Frustrated dogs don’t seem at all upset once they are released – after all, they have just got what they wanted. If your pup is genuinely upset about being confined or left, then you need to reintroduce the crate very gradually and practise brief separations from you in tiny stages. If your dog is just cross that you have put him in his bed for a while, then the best advice is to ignore all his strategies to get you to come back – unless you are prepared to give in to his demands for life!

Is your puppy’s food suiting him or her?

If your puppy’s activity level is constantly high, if he or she has temper tantrums, is biting and mouthing more than usual, is irritable, itchy, has inconsistent digestion, or is eating unusual things (such as tissues and grass), then there’s a chance the diet you are feeding is not quite right for him or her. Gradually change to a new diet, then feed nothing else for a minimum of 14 days – though results are often seen more quickly than this. The diet you choose should be high quality and easily digested, with ingredients such as lamb and rice, fish and rice or chicken top of the ingredients’ list.

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