Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and author of the online dog training course “Brain Training for Dogs.”
Why Is My Puppy Misbehaving When Hubby Comes Home?
If your puppy misbehaves when your husband comes home, you have one big piece of advantage that works in your favor: predictability.
The fact that this behavior happens contingent upon your husband’s arrival offers you the advantage of buying some time and having the opportunity to devise some strategic plans that you can put in place prior to his arrival.
Firstly though, you may be wondering why this behavior may be happening in the first place. The causes can be various. Let’s take a closer look at some dynamics that may be going on.
An Exciting Event
If your puppy stays home with you all day, and things are quite calm and quiet, your husband’s arrival may the perk of the day. In such cases, your puppy will likely start anticipating the event each day which builds up his arousal levels.
High arousal levels must spill out some way and therefore your puppy may “vent” by misbehaving. The more pups get overstimulated and aroused, the more they’ll get nippy and jumping. After all, all that energy must go somewhere!
Some puppies can get particularly wild when husbands have a history of roughhousing with the pups, wrestling with them on the floor. In such cases, pups may get super hyper because they are waiting for their favorite play partner to come home and this riles them up even more.
Some Level of Anxiety
Puppies may also misbehave when they feel some level of anxiety going on. When dogs are anxious their minds and bodies are flooded with hormones due to the fight and flight response. Not many know this, but there are also other types of responses going on such as the freeze or fool-around response.
The fool-around response in particular is seen when dogs are under pressure causing them to engage in behaviors that may seem out of context, leading to dog displacement behaviors. Puppies may therefore start acting silly, jumping, playing and acting hyper or over the top when in this state.
Some pups may be a little anxious about certain family members, if these family members tend to scold the pups or use physical corrections.
Some pups and dogs are intimidated by men due to the fact that men often have deeper voices, facial hair and move in a more intense way.
A Matter of Seeking Attention/Engagement
If your puppy is normally calm in your presence and starts acting hyper when your husband comes home, he or she may misbehave as a way to get some attention. Perhaps when hubby comes home, you stop paying attention to your puppy and start talking to your husband, cooking or watching a favorite TV show together.
Your puppy may feel left out and may try to find ways to get attention or at least get some more engagement from both of you.
Here’s the thing: when it comes to getting attention, puppies, just like toddlers, seem to appreciate any form of attention, even of the negative type (pushing the puppy away, scolding the puppy).
So just like a toddler starts misbehaving when you are talking on the phone, an attention-driven puppy may therefore start nipping and chewing your shoes the moment you and your husband are sitting on the couch to watch a movie.
Getting Overstimulated and Cranky
Many puppies are very active during the morning, then they may take a small late morning/early afternoon nap and then get active again until your hubby comes home.
By this point, your puppy may be getting a bit tired, but your husband’s arrival keeps him awake and overstimulated.
An overstimulated puppy eventually needs to crash, but if there’s too much going on, he’ll struggle to fall asleep. At this point, he’ll therefore feel quite cranky, and a puppy being cranky causes them to misbehave (just like kids!), which leads to excessive jumping and nipping.
How to Stop Your Puppy From Misbehaving When Your Husband Comes Home
As mentioned, if your puppy misbehaves when your husband comes home, you have one main advantage on your side: predictability.
Predictability of a behavior offers you the benefit of preparing a plan and having it in place prior to your husband’s arrival so that you can work on decreasing the chances of problematic behavior.
So here are some tips on how to stop your puppy from acting up and misbehaving when your significant other returns home.
Prevent Rehearsal of the Behavior
The popular saying “practice makes perfect” applies to dogs as well. Just like an actor gets better by rehearsing parts over and over, dogs get better at performing behaviors whether desirable or undesirable to the point of them becoming almost habit-forming.
It would be therefore important to prevent your puppy from rehearsing the problematic behaviors when your husband comes home by using several management techniques.
For example, you can keep your puppy behind a baby gate or in an exercise pen or crate with something to chew on to stay occupied when your hubby comes home.
Train Your Puppy to Engage in Alternative Behavior
Management works well for those times when you do not have time to train or when you are in the early stages of training, but your ultimate goal should be training your puppy to engage in an alternate behavior and reinforce that heavily so that your puppy chooses to engage in this behavior more and more.
As your puppy increasingly chooses to engage in this alternate behavior, the problematic behaviors should start going to the back burner until they are abandoned for good.
Examples of alternate behaviors can be training your puppy to lie on a mat where he will receive a valuable chew, training your puppy to go grab a special toy on cue (using different ones each time to keep the interest alive) and play with it, or training your puppy to go on a treasure hunt when hubby comes home by tossing a handful of kibble mixed with treats around and telling your dog to “find them!”
It goes without saying that such training should take place initially when hubby is not around and should be practiced up to a fluent level so that it can then be asked when hubby comes home.
Change the Underlying Emotions
If your puppy is a bit stressed or anxious when around your husband, it’s important to take steps to ameliorate the situation and establish a strong relationship of trust. Any forms of punishment such as scolding, or physically correcting the puppy should be stopped.
Behavior modification is required to change the pup’s emotional response about being around hubby. This can be accomplished using behavior intervention techniques based on desensitization and counterconditioning.
For correct implementation of these techniques, it is recommended to enlist the help of a force-free dog trainer/ behavior consultant.
So in the case of your husband entering the home, you can keep your puppy leashed at a distance and feed him treats as your husband enters the home or you can have your hubby toss him treats as explained in the treat-retreat game for fearful dogs always ensuring that the puppy is kept as under threshold as possible.
Steps should also be taken to work on creating positive associations with hands if the puppy was physically corrected in the past. Here are some exercises to get puppies used to handling.
If your dog is fearful of men in general you may find this game helpful.
Make Sure Your Puppy Gets Enough Rest!
While many puppies get hyper when they aren’t exercised, played with and interacted with enough, on the opposite side of the spectrum are puppies who get hyper when they aren’t given an opportunity to relax and get some rest.
Puppies need some downtime and several opportunities to rest and nap throughout the day.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2021 Adrienne Farricelli
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 27, 2021:
Thank you for sharing your extensive knowledge about dogs, Adrienne. It’s always interesting to read about puppy behavior.
Thelma Alberts from Germany on May 27, 2021:
Thanks for the information you shared on this article. I am sure it will help training a puppy to behave.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on May 26, 2021:
Even our old dogs do this. Mainly the male dogs over the years. Hubby coming home is an exciting event. And it’s exciting for hubby, too. So it’s excitement times two. I think the bigger training challenge is in training the 2-legged pet. 😉
Good tips, as always!
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 26, 2021:
This is what happened when I had a dog. I finally know the reason for that. Informative and well-written my friend. Your information about dogs are most interesting and helpful to all dog owners.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on May 25, 2021:
Very interesting. Well presented.