It’s been four days, and your puppy is just starting to get used to their life as your new companion. They’re probably making plenty of mistakes. It is a good time to remember to focus on the things they’re doing well. Keep rewarding your puppy for everything they do right. If they make a mistake, be stern, and say ‘No!’, but don’t physically punish them or yell at them.
It may seem like the only way they will learn is through punishment, but with some creativity, you can almost always find a way to remove a bad behavior with positive reinforcement.
An example: You are playing with your puppy, and they bite you while you play with them. Teething and play biting, or ‘mouthing’, is perfectly natural for puppies. However, at one point, your puppy bites you too hard. At this point, you could yell at them to take out your anger, and maybe even give them a slap as punishment. However, like with almost any behavioral issue, there is a much more positive and effective way to deal with this than punishment.
With your pack leader position in mind, think ‘How can I train away this behavior’. A lot of dog owners don’t think like this. It should be the first thing you think about when your puppy is consistently making the same mistake. You must have a consistent and simple strategy, or else your puppy will not understand it.
In this example, you could train your puppy to stop mouthing you when requested, and to only mouth when you initiate it. Create commands for each, and reward your puppy whenever they follow your command. ‘No More’ could mean to stop mouthing, and ‘Mouth Time’ could mean that it’s okay.
Next time they bite too hard, first, say ‘Ouch’, and end the playtime immediately for at least a minute. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate your pain at the slightest bite. If this is done consistently, your puppy will realize that when they bite too hard, their playmate gets hurt and playtime ends. Instruct your puppy to sit and stay for a brief moment to assert that you are in control. When playtime resumes, whenever your puppy bites too hard again, say ‘Ouch’. If they immediately let go, reward them.