Preventing Poor House Behaviors

The pup you receive from the Guide Dog Foundation will have limited experience in a home environment. Our home socialization volunteers introduce pups to the home, but that's a two-week experience that gives a foundation for your success.

Use the House Behaviors articles to teach the pup good house behaviors and follow use these guidelines on pointers to avoid creating unacceptable habits. Think of having the pup in your home like having a toddler in your home. You wouldn't leave a toddler unsupervised in your home so don't do the same with the pup!

Setting Up for Success:

  • Only allow increased independence in the home after the dog has proven trustworthy with the freedom they're currently getting.
    • Increased independence should be given in small increments. Do not allow the pup to roam free in your home just because the pup is well behaved when they're tethered to you.
  • Make sure the pup is frequently exercised, relieved, and has acceptable toys to chew on.
    • As the pup matures you can create expectations of good house behaviors with increased duration between relieving and exercise.
  • Remove tempting items from the pup's area. You can slowly reintroduce the items to your home as the pup matures, but make sure shoes, laundry, kid's toys, and other tempting items aren't in the pup's reach when they start getting more freedom in the house.
    • Teaching the pup to avoid forbidden items on the floor is essential! Learn about the exercise in the "Preventing Destructive Behaviors" article.
  • Practice the crate game before bedtime and throughout the day the first couple weeks you have the pup at home.
    • Creating a positive association with the crate is fundamental for a relaxed, safe pup.
  • Always have the pup attached to you, on tie-down, or in the crate the first several weeks at home. You can reward the pup frequently and redirect all undesirable behavior when the pup is attached to you.
    • This might seem like a lot of work, but after the first several days of frequent food reward and adjustment to your expectations, the pup will be easy to manage and start offering the behaviors you expect. The hard work pays off!
  • Use barriers in your home. Pet gates, closed doors, and the tie-down are essential to providing a safe environment for the pup. Remember, the pup should not get access to more areas in your home before proving trustworthy under your direct supervision.
  • Provide toys to chew on! We provide you with a Nylabone when you get your puppy, but you can purchase more toys. Make sure you review the Acceptable Toys article before purchasing anything.
  • Use the tie-down or crate when visitors or changes are occurring in your home. Most pups are easily stimulated and can become overly excited and display behaviors like mouthing, jumping on people, and vocalizing when they get excited. Before letting them start any of those behaviors, be proactive and set the pup up for success.
    • Example: Use the tie-down so the pup can't jump on someone new after they enter the home.
    • Example: Use the crate and a food toy when you have young kids running around your home and cannot manage the pup's excited behavior successfully because you need to focus on the kids.
  • Be consistent, calm, and fair. Set your expectations and reward frequently to teach the pup how you expect them to behave.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your advisor or area coordinator. Dogs do not naturally know how to behave in a human home so it's important they get a foundation right away. We're here to help!