Last updated July 1, 2021
Ah, puppies. Everyone loves puppies, right?
But many people are confused by their puppy’s behavior. People often experience a sort of “culture shock” when they introduce a new baby dog to their household. Has your new ball of fluff got you wondering if all her crazy antics are normal? Here’s a quick guide to what’s normal, what’s not, and what may be an indicator of illness.
It is normal for puppies to:
Chew on furniture, your phone, your socks, your kids’ toys, your electrical outlets – I think you get the picture. Puppies chew. A lot. It’s how they explore the world. It’s up to you to teach them the appropriate things to chew on and how not to draw blood when they play with you. (This is one of the topics we cover in Puppy Survival School)
Jump up – Well, how else is she supposed to get your attention? You’re much taller than her, after all. Try training her to sit when she wants attention instead of jumping.
Have the attention span of a gnat – You may be playing with your puppy one minute and have her be completely distracted by a shiny thing or a dust bunny the next. Don’t worry – her attention span will grow as she grows. Here are some puppy training games to help keep her interested.
Pee on your expensive new rug – Dogs aren’t born knowing they shouldn’t pee on the funny-looking “grass” that just happens to be in your house. She’s not being bad. You just need to work on her house training some more.
Ignore you – Whgthg kj nksgti gisng,gsksgk, ampglwe kgjksgs, kksjge. Hsgkskssg? Grlmnkg!
Oh, sorry. You didn’t understand what I was saying just there? Your puppy doesn’t understand your language, either. She doesn’t yet know that those words coming out of your mouth have any meaning. That’s what training is for!
Not come when called – See above. Many people seem to think that their puppy should instantly know to come when called right out of the box, so to speak. Nope! You gotta teach her to come when called.
Be different from any other puppy you’ve ever met – Even within the same breed, dogs do have different personalities. Don’t assume your new golden retriever puppy to be just like that golden retriever you had growing up.
Not sleep through the night – At least for the first few nights with your new pup, expect to get very little sleep at night. She’ll probably howl and carry on (this is a scary new experience, after all). She’ll also need some 3AM potty breaks. Fortunately, this phase doesn’t last as long in puppies as it does in human babies.
Occasionally get a crazed glint in her eye and start running around the house at high speeds – You’ve just witnessed the mysterious phenomenon known as “the zoomies.” Puppies often outgrow this, so get it on video while you have the chance.
Become a whole new kind of crazy around age 6-9 months – Welcome to life with your teenage puppy! See: Surviving Your Dog’s Teen Months.
Watch out if your puppy:
Guards her food dish/toys/furniture – If your puppy growls or snaps when you approach her stuff or try to move her off the furniture, you’ll need to work on that. This is a pretty common behavior in puppies, and nothing to panic about, but you’ll still need to work on it before the pup gets older. See: A Practical Guide to Dealing with Your Dog’s Resource Guarding or Food Aggression.
Is very shy/fearful – It’s normal for your puppy to be a little nervous when you first bring her home. But if she continues to cower, hide, shake or bark when approached by you or anyone else, this is a fear issue that needs to be addressed.
Get your puppy checked out by a vet if:
She’s vomiting or has diarrhea that lasts more than a couple hours – These are signs of potentially fatal, fast-moving puppyhood diseases.
She’s very low energy/lethargic – Puppies sleep a lot, but shouldn’t want to sleep all day.
Persistently chewing a particular part of her body – Like her tail or paws.
She growls/complains when touched in a specific area of her body – This could be a behavior issue or a medical issue. Get a vet’s opinion.
Learn everything you need to know about puppy behavior and training in Puppy Survival School
This comprehensive online program will teach you:
- How to tell when a puppy is stressed
- What behavior is okay when dogs interact with each other, and when you should intervene
- Everything you need to know about how puppies play
- How to tell if your pup is more fearful than normal – and what to do about it
- And a whole lot more