German shepherd puppy sitting in black and white on a white background

Understanding your puppy’s behaviour

You are an important social partner to your puppy, and whether they're trying to catch your attention or not, it's important you're able to understand their behaviour, how they express themselves and the meaning behind their actions.
Black puppy licking a young boy's face

Your puppy's body language

Your puppy can't communicate through speech, so look at their body language and try to recognise how you can meet their needs.


A relaxed or calm posture is thought of as the neutral point for all other body languages. It's important that you know what your puppy's baseline body language is so that you can recognise any subtle changes in their behaviour.


If your puppy is showing alert body language, this means that something has caught their attention. This isn't exclusively a reaction to something negative, and merely shows your puppy's interest in specific items/situations. That being said, pay close attention to the development of your puppy's behaviour to be sure they feel comfortable and confident in each situation.


A common indication of a playful puppy is the stereotypical "bow". As well as this stance, a playful puppy can also be recognised by exaggerated movements. Engaging your puppy in fun games when they are presenting this body language is a great way to ensure they are getting plenty of physical and mental stimulation.


It's important to recognise the signs of fear or distress in your puppy. If your puppy appears to be fearful, you should take them away from the trigger and allow them to calm down.

Defensive aggression

Puppies displaying this behaviour are afraid and could attack if they're provoked. It's important to pay close attention to your puppy's body language and avoid pushing your puppy too far.

Offensive aggression

If your puppy is showing aggressive behaviour, it's important to try and diffuse the situation before they attack.

Encouraging good behaviour


What behaviours do you want to encourage?

It’s important to reinforce good behaviour from the day you bring your puppy home. There are certain actions which you will want to encourage more than others, such as being friendly towards strangers and not chewing furniture when left home alone.

Dalmatian puppy being carried by owner

How to enforce good behaviour?

Once you’ve brought your puppy home, it’s up to you to enforce positive behaviour and deter unwanted actions, such as scratching or biting. Positive reinforcement is a useful method when training your puppy to follow house rules. You can reward their good behaviour and ignore what you don’t want them to repeat.


Rewarding behaviour

If you reward your puppy with treats for good behaviour, they are more likely to replicate them as there is an association with a positive result. When your puppy is misbehaving, try not to give the action too much attention and always avoid punishing or scalding them, as this may lead to fear and encourage such behaviour. Instead, teach your puppy alternative behaviours.

Border Collie puppy sitting outside in grass
Husky puppy walking outdoors through grass and branches

The evolution of a dog's behaviour

Domestication has seen dogs change from wild animals to household pets, which has resulted in drastic behavioural changes. As dogs no longer need to source food or seek shelter, they need to be able to communicate their needs to their owners, which they learn to do so from an early age.

Puppy behaviour explained

Discover some of the reasons that may be behind your puppy’s behaviour.

If you are concerned your puppy’s behaviour is not normal, it is always advisable to speak to your vet.

Find a vet
Jack Russell Terrier puppy sitting in black and white on a white background

Your puppy's health

Learn all about your puppy’s health and well-being and how to spot early signs of illness.

Dachshund puppies playing in black and white

Training a puppy

Understand the basics of puppy training and teach them how to be a well-behaved member of the family.