Puppy Behaviour Guide
Raising a puppy is such a privilege that can bring a sense of responsibility and joy to your life…most of the time. In that small slither of time between napping and cuddling, puppies can be something of a handful, especially if you don’t understand the reasons behind their behaviour.
In this guide, we take a look at some of the key questions new owners ask when raising their first puppy and when it’s time to intervene in certain behaviours.
When Do Puppies Stop Biting?
When it comes to puppies biting, it’s less a question of when they’ll stop and more a question of why they are doing it. Since they don’t have hands, dogs use their mouths for pretty much everything, including carrying things, playing, eating and more. And since puppies are brand new to the world and have a wealth of things to explore, they’re going to use their mouths for this, too.
The most common reasons for a puppy biting are:
As each of these instances has a different motive behind them, it can be hard to put an exact timeline on when a puppy will stop.
For example, if your puppy bites because they’re teething, then you can expect them to stop around 6-7 months old once all their adult teeth come through. However, if they’re biting to play, a puppy might continue to do so well into adulthood if they’re not trained otherwise.
Depending on the cause of their biting, it’s hard to say when your puppy will stop. However, by dedicating care and attention to your puppy’s training, you can help dissuade this unwanted behaviour or at least divert it somewhere else.
When do Puppies Calm Down?
Many factors play into your puppy's energy levels, including their breed and overall temperament, so when they calm down, it isn’t something that can be easily pinpointed.
Generally speaking, many puppies will start to settle down once they reach 6-12 months as they mature into adult dogs, but this may take longer or even special training to ensure. All dogs have different energy and intelligence levels, and if their exercise and mental stimulation needs aren’t being met, it can lead to one very worked-up pup.
Researching your dog’s breed before bringing them home is crucial to ensure their probable nature and energy levels will fit with your lifestyle so you're able to give your puppy the exercise they need.
It’s also important for you, as the owner, to help your puppy learn when it’s playtime and not work them up at times you want them to rest. You can do this by only encouraging playtime when your puppy is already calm so they learn that excited and persistent behaviour is not the way to get what they want. However, you should never force a puppy to play if they don’t want to, as it can make them frustrated or even anxious.
How to Stop a Puppy Chewing
If you don’t want a pet that’s going to chew things, then a dog—or, at the very least, a puppy—may not be the one for you. As we’ve mentioned, dogs explore the world with their mouths, and puppies are the most curious of them all. This means they’re more likely to bite and chew things as they get used to the world around them as well as their own bodies.
Chewing is a natural behaviour for a dog, so it shouldn’t be a question of how to stop them chewing altogether, but how to stop a puppy from chewing everything it can sink its teeth into. The best way to do this is with redirection.
If you notice your puppy is chewing something, you’d rather they didn’t offer them an alternative, like a chew treat or toy. Just make sure not to shout at your puppy, as this can frighten them and cause them to chew more out of anxiety.
Puppies will chew more when they’re teething as they try to relieve the pain and discomfort of their teeth coming in, so this is the best time to teach them what they can and can’t chew.
Puppies typically tend to teeth between 3-6 weeks old and then again between 3- 6 months as their adult teeth come through. Teething may last longer in larger breeds, with more growing to do or taking longer to mature.
If you’d like more advice on training your new puppy, then look at our complete puppy training guide below.
How Do You Know if Your Puppy is Sick?
It can be a struggle for first-time dog owners to know the warning signs of a sick dog, and with puppies, it can be even harder to notice as their behaviour already seems erratic. Here are some of the key things to look out for in your puppy’s behaviour that may indicate they’re feeling unwell.
Puppy Sleeping too much
Puppies sleep a lot. After all, growing into a healthy dog takes a lot of energy, but sleeping too much could be a sign of illness. If your puppy is sleeping a lot and doesn’t seem interested in playtime or exploring, speak with your vet to ensure everything is as it should be.
Puppy Not Eating
A dog's appetite varies between individuals and according to certain situations (such as moving into a new home), but generally speaking, puppies love to eat. A lot. If your dog isn’t showing any interest in food, isn’t eating as much as usual, or is having stomach issues such as vomiting or diarrhoea, you should consult with your vet as soon as possible.
Puppy Keeps Whining
Puppies may become more vocal when they’re feeling unwell to seek help, much like how they’d whine to let their mother know they’re hungry. They may also whimper more than usual or, in some cases, stop making any noise at all. Be sure to pay attention to your puppy’s behaviour and temperament and you’ll soon be able to notice when something is wrong.
Puppy Health Check
A lot of your puppy’s energy is used for growth and development, so any illness they contract (especially before their vaccinations) can significantly impact their health. The sooner you notice the signs of illness, the faster you can get them treatment, and the better their chances are.
The best way to do this is by completing daily health checks on your puppy to ensure everything is working and developing as they should. The key things to check are:
- Eyes — Your puppy’s eyes should be bright, open and clear of discharge. If you notice your dog is blinking a lot or squinting to see, you should contact your vet as soon as possible.
- Ears — Check that your puppy’s ears are clean, clear of debris and don’t have a noticeable odour, which may be a sign of an ear infection or ear mites.
- Weight — Breeders often track a puppy's weight to ensure they’re growing steadily, and this should be continued once your puppy is home. Overfed puppies may gain more weight than their skeletons can bear, while underweight puppies can face struggles with their immunity and growth.
- Skin and Coat — Be sure to run your hands over your puppy’s body and inspect their coat right down to the kin to ensure there are no parasites or injuries on your puppy, as these things can lead to more dire health concerns.
Raising a puppy is challenging, but it’s definitely worth the sleepless nights and the loss of a slipper or two to see that tiny bundle of joy grow into a strong and healthy dog.
If you’re looking to support your puppy’s health and development, why not check out our great range of puppy healthcare products at Pet Drugs Online, including puppy worming treatments and puppy grooming?
This post is an opinion and should only be used as a guide. You should discuss any change to your pet’s care or lifestyle thoroughly with your vet before starting any program or treatment.