Congratulations! You just brought your new best friend home. Whether you’re a seasoned animal lover or total beginner, raising and adjusting to a new pet is no small task.
Here is a list of common new puppy behaviors to review.
Dogs are extremely individual creatures, with unique character traits stemming from their breed makeup, background, and so many other factors. A purebred pup brought home at eight weeks from a breeder will likely behave very differently than a rescued mutt, and these disparities can lead to confusion about which behaviors are normal and which behaviors may require professional support.
Mouthing, Chewing, and Biting
Mouthing and chewing are completely normal behaviors in puppies of all breeds and backgrounds. Puppies explore the world with their mouths – this means latching on to anything they might find interesting. There are some variances across breeds when it comes to chewing, too. For example, herding breeds such as Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, and German Shepherds have natural tendencies to nip at the ankles. This is because they were bred to do the same to livestock!
Most instances of mouthing and chewing are completely appropriate and, while a bit of a nuisance, won’t require behavior modification training. Rather, you can curb your puppy’s desire to chew by providing them with plenty of toys made of different strength materials to keep their mouths engaged. Flavored deterrents such as bitter apple spray can also be helpful to keep curious puppies away from furniture. Finally, if your puppy is gravitating toward your skin, yelping loudly upon contact lets your puppy know that they hurt you. This teaches puppies bite inhibition, a term that refers to a dog’s intuition on how hard is too hard.
There are some biting instances where professional help is recommended. If your puppy is biting out of anxiety, fear, or frustration, these habits can lead to aggression in adulthood. If you feel that your puppy’s biting is rooted in anything other than playfulness or curiosity, it’s time to contact a professional trainer. You’ll be doing your puppy and your family a huge favor in the long run by nipping – literally! – this pesky and potentially dangerous problem in the bud.
Barking and Growling
While excessive barking can be extremely frustrating for new dog owners, it’s also perfectly normal. This is how dogs communicate! Luckily, there are some things that you can do to curb this habit.
Puppies typically bark to get your attention. This could be because your puppy is bored, hungry, tired, thirsty, or needing to go to the bathroom. This could also be because your puppy heard someone go past your front door, and they want to alert you. Uncovering the reason behind your dog’s barking is the best way to put a stop to it.
Puppies also tend to bark or whine when left alone in their crate or kennel. However, if your dog becomes hysterical every time you leave them alone, this can be a sign of emerging separation anxiety. Separation anxiety becomes much more difficult to fix as puppies get older, so you may want to consult with a professional trainer if you notice signs of separation anxiety in your puppy.
Just like with biting, if your dog seems to be barking or growling at other dogs or people out of anxiety, fear, or aggression, you’ll also want to reach out to a professional. Reactivity is something that a qualified professional trainer can help you resolve, and save you plenty of trouble in the long run.
Digging is another one of those pesky new puppy behaviors that certain breeds are more inclined to engage in. For example, the beloved Dachshund (or wiener dog) tends to dig because their breed was brought up hunting for badgers and other prey below ground. The Miniature Schnauzer was bred in Germany where they were used to rid properties of mice and rats, causing them to dig underground. Because the Siberian Husky was bred for colder climates, they may dig out of an inherent instinct to seek a warm area beneath the earth. Even the word “terrier” literally translates to “earth dog!”
Digging is a completely natural behavior. Similarly to barking, the key to limiting your puppy’s digging is to uncover the root of the issue. If you find that your dog is digging due to boredom, keeping them occupied and entertained with plenty of mental and physical stimulation will be key. If your northern breed begins to dig, this could be a sign that they are overheating.
Digging can become dangerous if your puppy manages to dig their way under a fence and out of your yard. If your puppy is relentlessly digging in an attempt for freedom, it might be time to call in a professional.
Finally, potty training incidents are about as normal as it gets. You should aim to start potty training your puppy between 12 and 24 weeks. However, if you’re bringing home an older or special needs puppy, they may need extra assistance depending on their background and previous training.
Puppy accidents are frustrating, but as typical as what you can expect from a newborn baby. Things like puppy pads and confining your puppy to a crate or playpen when you leave the room can be immensely helpful in limiting accidents and teaching your puppy where they should not use the bathroom!
If your puppy seems to be having increasingly frequent accidents, it could be telling of a health problem such as a UTI. This is when you should contact a trusted veterinarian for an examination.
New Puppy Behaviors are Complex!
The fact of the matter is that almost all new puppy behaviors are normal. While proper training is crucial to setting your dog up for a lifetime of success, there is also importance in just letting them be a puppy. However, if your puppy’s behavior seems to fall under the umbrella of aggression, you should prioritize contacting a professional trainer. Your puppy and your family will thank you for it!
About Zen Doggy Den | Wheat Ridge, CO Dog Boarding, Day Care & Training
Zen Doggy Den is a Denver-based dog training facility. Its services include daycare, boarding, group classes, private training, and board and train.