There comes a time early on in every Boxer owner’s life when the realization dawns: your gorgeous pup is not perfect — in fact, she can be a downright terror.
Behavior problems in Boxer puppies can take the shape of peeing in the house, crying in the crate, humping things or any number of other hiccups… but most undesirable behaviors can be rectified with a little time, good techniques and consistency in training.
This article will address some common behavioral issues encountered in Boxer puppies, explain why they occur and give you some ideas for how to fix them.
I am not a vet. This article is intended for general educational and informational purposes. I encourage readers to see my full disclaimer.
Boxer Puppy Keeps Peeing In The House
So you’ve been potty training your Boxer puppy, but she just doesn’t seem to be getting it.
She’s peeing inside so much that you’re starting to wonder if she might have a UTI.
Half the time you’ve only just taken her out for a toilet break, only to have her pee the moment you get back indoors.
You’re at your wit’s end and don’t know how much more your floors can take.
So, what are you doing wrong?
Here are 10 possible ways to misstep when potty training a Boxer puppy:
- You might be expecting too much — How old is your puppy? If she’s only been home a month or so, she’s still learning. Potty training takes time. Try not to compare your Boxer to others, as puppies learn at different rates. Young puppies might take a while to cotton on to what you want them to do, and in the meantime their bladders simply cannot hold urine too long. Accidents are a normal part of the process but this stage won’t last forever
- It could be diet related — If you have recently changed your Boxer puppy’s diet from kibble to raw food, for instance, there will be a change in toileting habits. Fresh, raw food contains much more moisture than dry dog food which is a very good thing, but can take a puppy by surprise is she’s used to being in a much more dehydrated state. If you feed your Boxer fruit, which is also a great idea, it will lead to maximum hydration but a lot of peeing!
- Perhaps she needs stronger motivation — How do you respond when your Boxer puppy successfully pees in the right place? Make a real fuss over her, laying on the praise so she starts to connect the action with the reward
- It might have become a habit — One mistake may be repeating because the spot has retained a faint scent of urine that is trigger her. Avoid chemicals or scented cleaner which are no good for her to inhale, but make sure you’ve given the sites of any earlier accidents a good clean with warm soapy water, vinegar solution or a homemade nontoxic citrus cleaner. That way she can have clean slate
- You may need to take her out more frequently — If you’re taking her for a potty break every hour, try every half hour. Better to do it too often than not often enough. It’ll only take a few times of getting it right to break the pattern you’re currently stuck in
- You might be inadvertently rewarding the wrong behavior — What do you do when she pees in the house? Maybe the flurry of attention that tends to follow a potty training accident is reinforcing the behavior. Make sure the excitement surrounds going in the right place, not the wrong one
- You may be punishing your Boxer puppy for potty training mistakes — Punishment won’t work and may only complicate things by making her nervous or giving your puppy a hang up around toileting. Rather than scolding, simply pick up your puppy mid-stream and relocate her to a pee pad or shoo her to an acceptable spot. If the right place is too far away to plonk her there quickly, that may be part of the problem
- Does your puppy have the run of the house? It will be far easier to supervise her and prevent mistakes if you limit her to a designated area. Keep an eye on her at all times and you will learn to recognize the signs that she is preparing to pee, whether it’s sniffing the ground, beginning to circle or just waking up from a nap
- Your puppy might require a different approach — Bells by the door not working? Ditch them. Not making it to the designated spot outside? Try pee pads indoors first before gradually moving them closer to the door and then eventually outside. Baby steps!
- Are the accidents happening when you’re not there? In the very early days of potty training, you really need to be present continuously, so you can establish the right behaviors from the get-go. If left to her own devices, your pup will have no option but to muddle her way through and make up her own rules. This is why it’s a good idea to time the arrival of your new Boxer pup so that you have leave from work or are at least able to work from home. If you got your pup on Saturday and went back to work on Monday as usual? It’s no wonder you’re having problems
If your Boxer puppy is having a lot of toileting accidents in the house, don’t despair.
Depending on your current approach, there are a number of things you can try, such as:
- Using puppy pee pads in the house so that your puppy doesn’t have to hold it so long — This will just be until she has enough bladder control to make it all the way outside. Knowing how to use pee pads will also be helpful during any times of injury or illness when your adult dog may need to be confined indoors
- Feeding moisture-rich foods earlier in the day to avoid interrupted nights
- Lavishing your Boxer puppy with praise and dispensing higher value treats as motivation and reward for going potty in the desired spot
- Instituting more frequent potty breaks to preempt the urge to go — young pups need to go constantly e.g. after eating or drinking, after sleeping, after playing, after every activity!
- Interrupting your pup when she starts to go in the wrong spot and whisking her to the correct location, to help her make the connection
- More effectively removing scent reminders of past mistakes in the house
- Providing more supervision to preempt mistakes and provide timely guidance so your pup can succeed more than she fails
- Creating a pen for your pup to inhabit, which will limit the number of places she can roam and keep her always close to a pee pad
- Being patient — remember, your Boxer is a puppy. You probably wet your pants a few times yourself!
Note, sudden peeing inside in a previously house-trained Boxer may indicate:
- UTI, incontinence e.g. spay incontinence or other health issue
- Emotional upset — Has your Boxer moved house, lost a mate or experienced some other kind of upheaval or change to their routine?
- Scent marking behavior — It’s unusual for a Boxer to scent mark inside, but consider whether another dog been added to the household recently, disrupting dynamics in the pack. Or is there a female dog in heat in the house?
- Separation anxiety — If the peeing only happens when you’re not there, and is accompanied by signs of distress, this could be a possibility. True separation anxiety can involve a loss of bladder and bowel control
- Something simple like inclement weather — some Boxers have been known to refuse to go outside to pee when it’s cold, wet or rainy
Boxer Puppy Crying In Crate
It’s not uncommon for Boxer owners to discover their puppies cry when crated.
The crying might happen when left alone in the crate during the day or perhaps it’s when put in the crate for bed, last thing at night.
To a certain extent, a little complaint now and then is to be expected, when a Boxer is having her movements restricted.
But there is a difference between a few grumbles and hours upon hours of incessant wailing.
If crating is accompanied by agitation, it is defeating the purpose — which is to keep your Boxer safe and protect her wellbeing.
You don’t want to let the crate become an anxiety-inducing place — it should be a private haven and a den for your Boxer dog, associated with positive experiences.
A distressed dog in a confined space may end up injuring themselves in a bid to escape.
Unpleasant crating experiences can fuel anxiety-related behavior problems, with separation anxiety being on the extreme end of the continuum.
Do not, by the way, resort to sedating your dog in a bid to calm her down.
Proper management and training are always the solution to behavior problems, not pharmaceuticals.
10 Ways to go wrong when crating your Boxer puppy include:
- Requiring your Boxer to be in the crate for too long or too often – Never more than 3 hours for an adult Boxer
- Treating the crate as a time out or punishment — This creates a negative association
- Using a crate that is either too small or too large (both are a problem)
- Choosing a crate that is poorly ventilated or positioned in a place that is too hot/cold or stuffy/draughty
- Positioning the crate away from the rest of the family so that your Boxer feels forgotten and alone, rather than being able to keep an eye on the action from her vantage point
- Rushing it — You need to build familiarity with the crate slowly, associating it with positive experiences over time
- Failing to provide enough exercise, mental stimulation or interaction and attention – a Boxer puppy that has a full and active life outside of the crate will be happier when it’s time to go in it for a while
- Taking your Boxer puppy out each time she cries — This will have reinforced in her mind that crying gets her release from the crate
- Neglecting to give your Boxer puppy a potty break directly before crating her, so she’s comfortable enough to rest
- Assuming crate training is necessary in the first place — There are other options, as outlined shortly. If crate training has become traumatic, there may be no point forcing it
If your Boxer pup has developed a crying habit associated with the crate, try:
- Resetting the relationship with the crate by getting a different one to start again fresh
- Only ever opening the door of the crate to let your Boxer out when she is behaving well
- Feeding your Boxer puppy in the crate and give her chews inside to establish positive associations with it
- Going back to square one and make sure you know how to crate train a Boxer puppy the right way
Crate training may not be right for your Boxer.
You can happily raise a Boxer puppy without her ever setting paw inside a crate at all.
Alternatives to crating your Boxer puppy include:
- Cordoning off a larger dog proofed area using pens, baby gates and closed doors
- Dog proofing the entire house and actively supervising your puppy wherever she roams (Not for everyone!)
Whichever approach you take, a wi-fi camera will be invaluable in allowing you to monitor your Boxer puppy when you’re not there, and understand how she is coping with the crating or other arrangements.
Boxer Puppy Humping
If your Boxer puppy is a male, chances are you will sooner or later see him begin to hump inanimate objects, or perhaps your house guest’s leg.
While many owners find this embarrassing, it is a normal part of growing up.
You can discourage your male Boxer puppy’s humping by:
- Not overreacting when it happens — Getting excited can have the effect of reinforcing the very behavior you wish to stamp out
- Ignoring it — Your pup will lose interest in a few minutes
- Distracting your Boxer puppy — If you offer something more interesting to do, he will snap out of it
- Removing the object of attention — If it’s your leg, stand up and walk out of range. If it’s his bed or a soft toy, pick it up and put it out of sight
Ways not to respond to humping behavior include:
- Punishment — This will only confuse your Boxer puppy. He’s only doing what comes naturally, not deliberately misbehaving
- Neutering your Boxer is not a solution to humping behavior — it is neither necessary, nor appropriate. Removing your Boxer’s hormone producing sex organs predisposes him to a range of health problems including a higher incidence of mast cell tumors, endocrine disorders and joint disorders
Humping in Boxer puppies is a passing phase.
There is actually no need to do anything — it will sort itself out and disappear as spontaneously as it appeared.
More Boxer Puppy Behavior Problems (And Solutions)
Here are some links to how-to guides for dealing with other behavior problems you may encounter with your Boxer puppy such as:
- Destructive chewing
- Resource guarding and food aggression
- Growling (Often misunderstood, this vocalization is not always a sign of aggression in Boxers)
- Jumping up on people
- Fear of thunderstorms
- Not coming when called
Regardless of the precise problem, correct technique and persistence is key.
Behavior problems are part of raising a Boxer puppy — or any other dog.
When things aren’t working, consider your role in the equation and how what you are doing might be contributing to the unwanted behavior.
What can you do differently to get a different result?
Boxers sometimes have a slower learning curve than other breeds, but they always come through in the end.
Make sure you never punish and always use positive reinforcement techniques when training a Boxer as they will shut down in response to harsh methods.
Be firm, calm, kind and consistent and your Boxer puppy’s behavior issue will soon be a thing of the past, no doubt replaced by another challenge!