13 min

The Ultimate Guide To Puppy Behaviors

If you recently got a new puppy, you might be unsure what qualifies as normal or irregular behavior. Learn everything you need to know about common puppy behaviors.

Bridget Reed

Updated November 10, 2022 • Published September 21, 2021

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The Ultimate Guide To Puppy Behaviors

If you’re new to owning a puppy, you might have questions about some of your new canine companion’s behaviors. There’s plenty that you will learn over time about how dogs behave, but it can be helpful to have some basic knowledge right off the bat. Consider this your ultimate guide to all puppy behaviors.

Puppies have so many enjoyable qualities, but they can certainly require a lot of work. You will find that your dog's mannerisms can begin to change as they get older and that a lot of their behaviors could be attributed to their age. 

Of course, it’s useful to get your puppy started on the right foot. Be sure that you’re condoning the right behaviors and discouraging the wrong ones. Today, read the top insights about what qualifies as normal puppy behavior and what doesn’t. You can also discover some ways to go about tackling some of your new puppy’s more trying mannerisms. 

While puppies are a lot of work, and their behaviors can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, you will quickly see that there’s nothing quite as rewarding as dog ownership. Having a dog in your life can bring an exponential amount of happiness, which is something you will quickly see yourself. 

How does socialization affect puppy behavior?

Did you know that it’s essential that you handle your puppy properly during their socialization period? This is true. In fact, it’s crucial to the prevention of behavioral problems. This critical period begins at just three weeks old and can continue all the way through to three months of age. 

You might be wondering what exactly socialization looks like. In other words, this means that you are exposing your new puppy to a variety of people, places, situations, and other animals. 

Socialization is important because, without it, your dog will not be able to develop healthy, normal social behavior. In other words, socialization can ensure that your dog doesn’t develop aggressive traits or become fearful of different environments, dogs, or people. 

Just like with people, it is important to follow the recommended puppy vaccination schedule. Because puppies are susceptible to illnesses like Kennel Cough and Parvo before their vaccinations, people are often concerned about how to socialize their puppies safely. 

Pawp veterinarian, Dr. Laura Robinson, has a succinct recommendation. She says “It is okay to have vaccinated dogs visit your unvaccinated puppy as long as you stay in your home/yard. This is the only safe way to socialize as your pet shouldn’t go anywhere where other dogs have been until they are vaccinated.”

An easy way to socialize your new pet is with puppy socialization classes. These classes are an ideal opportunity for your dog to get some exposure to these novel situations, people, and animals during their youth.

In addition to providing valuable socialization, your dog can learn a thing or two about training in these courses. Plus, you can meet other new dog owners, and your dog can make new friends. If you don’t take the socialization of your pet seriously, the unfortunate truth is that the detrimental effects can become pervasive. Your dog might become aggressive, afraid, shy, or even anxious. 

How does your dog’s background affect their behavior?

Your dog’s breed and background can actually have a tremendous impact on their behaviors. Certain types of dogs were bred with a mission in mind. As a result, your dog’s behavior could be a result of their very breed. 

If your dog breed is historically used for working, you will notice that your dog’s innate tendency to attempt to work can shine through at times. If you simply want your dog to be your pet, you’ll have to encourage them to act as such. 

However, you should never, ever punish your pet for doing something that comes naturally to them. After all, what is sometimes viewed as a behavioral problem is often just your dog behaving as they might in the wild. This behavior may be expected and, at the same time, not compatible with your home life.

If the behavior is disturbing or causing problems with you, your family members, or neighbors, there are steps that you can, and should, take to reduce the problematic behavior. Again, punishment is not the proper way to respond. Instead, you can show your pet a different, more effective behavior.

What are some common puppy behaviors?

Puppies, as mentioned earlier, behave in a rather unique way. They have boundless energy, enthusiasm, and zest. And while your new puppy’s behaviors might not always be perfect, it’s essential to remember that they’re still young and learning.

There are some behaviors common amongst most puppies. If you notice that your new dog is engaging in any of these, you can take steps to reduce them. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t get mad at your dog, and you should never yell. This is not an effective way to express your disappointment. 

Of course, if you want a professional’s advice on how to train your puppy and break them out of some of their less-than-stellar puppy behaviors, you can reach out to a trainer. They will be able to come up with a plan for how you can reinforce behaviors you would prefer. 

Chewing and being mouthy

While you might not enjoy it when your dog is chewing or being mouthy, this is a normal puppy behavior that you should expect to see from time to time. Sometimes during puppyhood, it might seem like your dog will never grow out of their habits. The reality is with training, patience, and positive reinforcement, they can and will.

Think of mouthiness and chewing as something similar to human babies teething. Puppies experience this, too. It’s a normal part of your pup maturing, and you shouldn’t chide them for it. Instead, simply offer a chew toy. With the other hand, you can pet your puppy. If they still try to nibble your hand, just look at your new dog and say, “Ouch!” Then, stop giving them attention. You can even exit the room to demonstrate that this is not an acceptable behavior, and you’re not going to tolerate it. 

Your puppy will eventually calm down, and once they do, simply return to the space. Then, you can attempt to offer them the chew toy again. If it doesn’t work, repeat. This can take time and patience but is very worth it in the end. 


Puppies get excited when they see their family members or meet a new guest. As a result, they often jump for attention. Instead of pushing your dog off you, you should fold your arms and say “off.” Don’t push them off of you, as you’re still engaging in giving them attention. You should also instruct anyone who will visit your home and meet your pup to do the same.

When your dog has all four feet on the ground, you can lean down and show them some love. You can pet them, snuggle them, or hug them — whatever you want. But if they start jumping again, follow the same process. 

Problems with housebreaking

Training your dog how to properly urinate and defecate can be anything but easy. Housebreaking training can be laborious and exhausting. Nevertheless, it’s also highly rewarding. It is generally suggested that you engage in crate training

Crate training can be an effective way to house train your dog. While it does require a bit of patience — and a time investment — you will find that it can largely enhance the relationship that you have with your dog.


This is sometimes a forgotten behavior. Many dogs enjoy a game of tug of war, but it is imperative to teach your dog the proper manners surrounding this game. Be sure that the whole family is on the same page. Otherwise, your dog can get confused, and the training process can become all the more difficult. 


There are a lot of reasons why dogs enjoy digging. One reason is that they want to carve a place to take a nap or bury their “treasures” (in other words: their bones or treats). 

As a result, you might find that your dog enjoys digging. It’s normal, expected behavior, but of course, some dogs can take it too far. Sometimes your puppy could dig because they are bored or even anxious. If your dog is hurting their paws or completely destroying your garden or furniture, it’s time to look further into the driving cause of this behavior. 

If you think that the reason that your puppy is digging is due to boredom, you can try to exercise them more. This will make them tired, which could lead to a decrease in digging. 

On the contrary, if you find that the real reason your dog is digging is due to anxiety, you should take steps to identify the anxiety trigger. Reach out to a vet; they can help you figure out what your next steps should be to help your dog quit the behavior. 

Pawp can help you get the answers you need

If you have questions about what’s regular and what’s not, Pawp's high-quality vets can help advise. Because Pawp operates completely via telehealth appointment, the service is available 24/7 if you need help. That means you can get an answer to all of your dog’s behavioral questions right here, right now. 


Next Article Understanding Normal Puppy Behavior | Found Animals  

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Working Dogs: Meet 31 Purposely-Bred Dogs | American Kennel Club

How to Crate Train Your Dog in Nine Easy Steps |  American Kennel Club

Pull Toys and Tug-of-War Games for Dogs | Pet MD

The Importance of Vaccinations for Both Pet and Human Health | Tufts University

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