6 common puppy behaviours

That cute little puppy you brought home will eventually grow into a beautiful dog you will love and adore to bits. But, before then, he will go through a few phases, and you need to be there to guide him and teach him what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behaviours.

Hormones in adolescence

As your puppy learns new things, he will continue to explore the world around him. He will test the boundaries as a puppy, but when he reaches those teenage years, he can become much more daring. He could also behave differently from one day to the next – for instance, he might be the cat’s best friend one day, and the next day he may be aggressive towards the same cat.

We can blame two hormones for behaviours like these: testosterone and oestrogen. These hormones are found in both males and females, and assist the pup in developing physically. They also play a big role in certain personality traits and behaviour patterns, and can be the cause of a lot of changes in your puppy.


Normal behaviours

  1. Chewing This is normal behaviour for most puppies and dogs, especially when they are teething. It helps dogs to relax.

What to do Make sure that your puppy has lots of chew toys. Remember to wash your dog’s toys at least once a week. Set your pup up for success – don’t leave your favourite pair of flip flops where he has access to them. He doesn’t know the difference between his toys and your shoes that might be lying next to each other on the ground.


  1. Eating poop As part of their exploring, puppies might eat each other’s poop. Most dogs will outgrow this behaviour, but some will continue with this habit into adulthood.

What to do Try to stop this behaviour (it is very unpleasant to us and also unhygienic) by distracting your dog when he becomes interested in poop, and clean up all poop immediately.


  1. Barking Your puppy will soon find his own voice and might start barking for various reasons.

What to do Don’t try to stop him completely from barking, but guide him as to what is appropriate and inappropriate barking. If the barking is inappropriate, ignore him until he stops, and then reward him for being quiet.


  1. Digging Some dogs tend to dig more than others, and there’s a good chance of that happening just after you’ve planted lovely new plants in the garden.

What to do Set aside a patch in the garden where he can dig as much as he wants to. Hide a few toys for him to find, and swop the toys regularly so that he always has new ones to discover. You can also encourage him to dig in the specific spot by hiding treats for him to find.


  1. Resource guarding This behaviour is when a puppy guards his toys, food or treats from his littermates and it normally starts in puppyhood. But this behaviour should be stopped as soon as possible, as it can become dangerous when he is an adult and he tries to ‘protect’ his family or other items.

What to do Teach your puppy to hand over items while he is still young. Watch the step-by-step video on resource guarding training for more information: https://animaltalk.co.za/resource-guarding/.


  1. Zoomies This is when your dog gets those crazy spells of running around in the house or garden, from one side to the other. It is literally a burst of energy that lasts for a couple of minutes.

What to do If your dog runs around in the garden to burn up some energy, then allow him to do so, but ensure your garden is secure. If he is inside, make sure that the area is safe, so that he cannot hurt himself.


Stages of development:

Stage 1 Puppyhood

Neonatal age: 0 to 2 weeks

Transitional age: 2 to 4 weeks

Juvenile age: 4 to 16 weeks

Stage 2 Adolescent

Adolescent age: 6 to 18 months

Stage 3 Adulthood

Adulthood age: 1 to 3 years

Stage 4 Senior

Senior age: From 7 to 10 years, depending on the dog’s size and breed


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