7 Behaviors to Look Out for in A New Puppy
Much like a parent learns to judge their child’s needs by their behaviors, owners of new puppies also need to know what signs to look out for in their young pups in order to be aware of the little dog’s needs and methods of expressing them. Like any developing being a puppy is trying to find a way to communicate with the world and its owners.
As the puppy studies the world around them, they begin to develop tools to communicate. Every puppy, like every person, has its own unique personality, and understanding this personality, as well as the puppy’s facial expressions, body language, and actions are key to helping to not just look adorable, but also to adjust and develop a kinship with their human master.
Similarly, puppies may pick up less than desirable behaviors, those that should be attended to and handled sooner rather than later, as these can develop into harder to handle problems for an adult dog later. Some things are tough to distinguish, such as reconciling between exciting play and aggressive behavior. Getting to know your puppy and understanding what to look for can go a long way in helping you successfully raise a healthy, well adjusted, and behaved puppy.
There are puppy behaviors that other canines simply accept as normal, but they are not ones owners find acceptable. In those cases, discouraging negative behaviors is essential. But how does one know the difference? To better understand puppy behaviors, here are 7 examples to be aware of:
This is probably the most commonly addressed puppy behavior. Understandably, it is confusing to many owners since chewing seems like a very natural thing for a dog. This is absolutely true. Chewing is a puppy’s very basic need. It goes along the same way as living creatures needing to breathe, there is no conscious reason for it, it just needs to happen.
This is especially so while a young dog is teething, as the chewing helps alleviate the discomfort on the gums, and the puppy will have his mouth all over everything. Chewing helps to strengthen the jaw, as well as serving as anxiety relief. Believe it or not, a puppy in a new home, an unfamiliar place, and either alone of his kind or sharing a home with other animals, can be stressful for a puppy.
The intensity of their chewing can vary by breed, and though some owners express concern in the matter, it's important to remember that chewing is a natural necessity. What the puppy chews on is the real area of focus. Teaching the young dog what he is allowed and not allowed to chew on is the real challenge that owners face. Luckily there are many toys and teethers to keep your puppy’s mouth occupied and away from those things he should not touch.
Canines are highly prone to separation anxiety. There are few things that dogs love more than being around their people. When you leave your home and the puppy stays, he won’t understand the concept of you returning. It can be heartbreaking to leave a confused and scared dog in a place, especially one that they are new to. Puppies sometimes simply get unsettled when no one is around, but their condition can often turn to chronic anxiety.
Most puppies will bark, whine, or even cry when left by their owners alone, even if it's for a brief period of time. This is an instinctual behavior stemming from their deepest animalistic attributes that help animals cope out in the wild. These behaviors are very normal, and while they are upsetting to both the puppies and their humans at first, this behavior gradually self-adjusts for most dogs as time goes on.
Puppies grow through stages when it comes to guarding behaviors. Most puppies come from litters of multiple siblings and are therefore on some level conditioned to guard their things as they had little choice in the matter of sharing before. Guarding food is a natural instinct of self-preservation. Guarding their people is something that a puppy develops over time as the bond between him and his humans build.
However, a puppy’s possessiveness will get much harder to deal with as they grow older, so it's good to cut that down when they are young. Teaching a command like “leave it!” is vital in order to communicate to the puppy that whatever they are holding onto is not theirs to keep. This way they know to abdicate control. Throughout the training process, it is important to be consistent in this regard, and the puppy will gradually learn to forfeit any object, even if they may show signs of resistance in doing so.
One area of concern for puppy training is who they respect. Many puppies recognize that by taller stature, adults in the home are in charge, but they often don’t extend the obeying to younger members of the household. Many puppies begin to view children as siblings, similar to them in the household’s pecking order and do not feel the need to obey a child who issues a command.
If the puppy shows signs of not respecting a child or being bossy or nippy with them, they likely do not recognize the human to the dog pecking order. The secret is simple: dogs respect those who provide them their life necessities (which is typically the home’s adults). Engaging children in assisting with raising a puppy from an early age, supplying them with food, engaging in their training, etc. will communicate to the puppy that the child is also in an authoritative position.
Most dogs are trainable, but not equally so. Some certainly require more work and the degree to which this is the case can be accessed. Trainability and how willing the puppy is to work with a human can be done by a simple test involving object retrieval. Crouching down next to the puppy, and gaining his attention with a ball can help understand how much work will go into training. If the puppy gains interest from the ball, toss it a few feet in front of them, then watch for how eager the puppy is to fetch it and return it. This will be a great behavioral indicator in terms of how willing the dog is to be conditioned.
Sensitivities To Touch And Sound
Some puppies do not like to be handled, while others cuddle like there is no tomorrow. However, at a young age, it is important to establish the limits. You can accomplish this by holding the puppy, and gently squeezing the webbing of one of their front feet with your thumb and finger. Increase the intensity until the puppy pulls away from discomfort, and you have an idea of how sensitive or stoic to touch the puppy is.
With sounds, some puppies move closer to noises to investigate them, while others bolt in the opposite direction. You can figure out a puppy’s noise sensitivity by placing them in the middle of open space, then ask another person to make a loud noise from several feet away, and observe your puppy’s reaction. If the puppy runs off, keep that behavior in mind as it will help you better understand how they need to be trained and what needs to be worked on.
Jumping is another common behavior that owners notice in young dogs. It will only get exponentially more prevalent when the dog is older, so it needs to be reeled in early. Dogs that jump at their owners are looking for the owners’ attention. The tricky part is that pushing the dog away is not a discouraging tactic, it's just a form of attention they are seeking. Teaching a command of “off” and folding your hands in front of you commanding the dog to sit should be the start, but you should also turn away from the dog until he is on the floor on all fours. Turn around after, but if the dog jumps again, repeat the process until the understanding seeps in.
Most importantly, never resort to physical reprimands of any sort. The dog will either begin to fear you or your hands, will avoid you as your presence will traumatize them, become guarded and defensive in your presence, or worse, the dog will interpret the physicality as an invite to become physical as well.