New Arrival: Behaviour for Beginners

New Arrival: Behaviour for Beginners

Puppy Behaviour Basics

You can also download the Behavioural Basics Chart.

Shaking or crying at night.

Is it normal?

Yes. Absolutely.

Why are they acting this way?

Your new puppy has just left the warmth and security of their mum and little brothers and sisters. So you can understand that they may be feeling a little lonely and scared now that they're alone in their own bed.

Try this suggestion:

  • Keep your puppy's crate in your bedroom for the first few nights if they won't stop crying. You can then slowly start to move the crate to the desired location over time.
  • Wrap a water bottle and a ticking clock in a blanket (to mimic the warmth and heart beat of their mum) and place it in the puppy's bed, as this can be very reassuring for a new pup. However, these items shouldn't be made of rubber or plastic or the puppy may chew them.

Barking, barking, barking. (And more barking.)

Is it normal?

Yes, though some breeds bark more than others.

Why are they acting this way

Barking really is normal puppy behaviour. They may be bored, happy, scared, hungry or they may simply want to get your attention.

Try these suggestions:

  • While barking is normal, if you feel that your puppy is barking excessively, try to figure out the reasons behind this behaviour before trying to train them not to bark. If you have an understanding of why your puppy is barking, it can help you develop a suitable solution.
  • If you believe your puppy may simply be in need of stimulation, give them a puppy safe toy to keep them occupied and entertained. Puzzle toy feeders can be a great way to provide a puppy with enrichment.

Biting and chewing just about everything.

Is it normal?

Yes. Puppy biting, chewing and mouthing is completely natural and one part of the growing up process.

Why are they acting this way?

There's a good chance they're just teething. At this stage, puppies love to sink their teeth into just about anything. However, a puppy also needs to learn bite inhibition.

Try these suggestions:

  • Start training your puppy early on to stop or minimise this behaviour, and you will have the most success. The best tip is to encourage the desired behaviour, by showing your puppy what is acceptable to chew.
  • Give your puppy their own toys to deter them from chewing your possessions
  • Always replace your possessions from their mouth with their own toys, and praise them for chewing the right ones.
  • Avoid 'tug-of-war' games.

Jumping up.

Is it normal?

Yes.

Why are they acting this way?

They're probably excited and trying to be affectionate.

Try these suggestions:

  • Anticipate when your puppy is likely to jump up and instead ask for an alternative (and desired) behaviour such as 'sit'. Reward and praise your puppy for sitting.
  • If your puppy tries to jump up, turn your back and ignore them, and then ask for 'sit'.
  • Soon enough, your puppy will learn that by sitting (not jumping up) they'll be rewarded with your attention. Be sure to practice this consistently with guests too.

Going to the bathroom inside.

Is it normal?

Yes.

Why are they acting this way?

A puppy has a small bladder and bowel, and can only 'hold on' for short periods. Plus they don’t quite yet understand what is acceptable behaviour inside the house.

Try these suggestions:

  • Take your puppy out to their designated toilet area as often as possible, and especially first thing in the morning, every time after sleeping and eating and last thing at night.
  • Praise and reward them when they go to the toilet. It's no issue if you take your puppy to their toilet spot and they're not ready to go. However, if you don't take them out regularly enough, they'll toilet inside and this will slow down the training process.
  • As your puppy toilets, you can add a word of choice such as 'toilet' or 'garden' to help your puppy learn the association of the word with the action. This can be useful when they're older and you want to send them outside to relieve themselves.
  • Though accidents can happen for young puppies, don't scold them if they make a mistake in the house. This will only confuse your puppy and can make them fearful. It will also slow down the toilet training process.
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