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.

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.

Black puppy licking a young boy's face

Relaxed

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.

1. Cola

Lo más probable es que tu cachorro tenga la cola colgando hacia abajo, pero no entre las patas. Si está relajado, es posible que menee la cola lentamente.

2. Postura

Cuando un cachorro está relajado, todo su peso se distribuye de manera uniforme entre las patas, y no presenta ningún tipo de tensión en el cuerpo.

3. Orejas

Si tu cachorro está relajado, mantendrá las orejas en una posición neutral, ni hacia delante ni hacia atrás.

4. Ojos

Un parpadeo lento también puede ser una señal de que tu cachorro está relajado.

Alert

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.

1. Cola

Tu cachorro mantendrá la cola en posición vertical. También puede ser que la mueva.

2. Postura

Si tu cachorro está alerta, puede tener el cuerpo tenso. También puede inclinarse hacia lo que le llamó la atención, colocando el peso sobre las patas delanteras.

3. Orejas

Una señal de que un cachorro se encuentra en estado de alerta son las orejas erguidas y con una leve orientación hacia delante. Si tu cachorro tiene orejas caídas, este cambio puede ser más sutil.

4. Ojos

Si un cachorro está en estado de alerta, observará de cerca lo que le llamó la atención.

5. Boca

Cuando un cachorro se encuentra en estado de alerta, suele tener la boca completamente cerrada.

Playful

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.

1. Cola

Si un cachorro quiere jugar, es posible que levante la cola y la menee.

2. Postura

Si tu cachorro hace reverencias o cambia de conducta rápidamente, por ejemplo, si persigue cosas e intenta luchar con ellas, puede ser una señal de que quiere jugar.

3. Orejas

Las orejas levantadas indican que tu cachorro está listo para jugar. Si tu cachorro tiene orejas caídas, este cambio puede ser más sutil.

4. Sonidos

Si tu cachorro está animado, es posible que ladre mientras juega.

5. Boca

Los cachorros juguetones suelen tener la boca abierta y la lengua afuera.

Fearful

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.

1. Cola

Si un cachorro está temeroso, colocará la cola entre las patas.

2. Postura

Tu cachorro puede agacharse y apartar la cabeza de lo que le esté causando miedo. Esto podría dar la sensación de que está caminando de lado. También es posible que levante una de las patas delanteras, bostece o se lama los labios como una indicación de ansiedad.

3. Orejas

Las orejas hacia atrás pueden ser una señal de que tu cachorro está temeroso.

4. Sonidos

Si tu cachorro está temeroso, también puede expresarlo con lloriqueos.

5. Ojos

Si tu cachorro está temeroso, es posible que evite mirar directamente a lo que le causó malestar.

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.

1. Cola

Si un cachorro tiene una actitud agresiva defensiva, es posible que coloque la cola entre las patas.

2. Postura

Si un cachorro tiene una actitud agresiva defensiva, es posible que se agazape y pliegue la cola hacia abajo. También puede erizar los pelos del lomo y la cola, e inclinarse hacia atrás y flexionar las patas.

3. Sonidos

En los cachorros, el gruñido es un indicador común de defensa y agresión.

4. Orejas

Si tu cachorro tiene una actitud de agresión defensiva, es probable que retraiga las orejas y las aplaste contra la cabeza.

5. Ojos

Si un cachorro tiene una actitud agresiva defensiva, es posible que tenga los ojos muy abiertos y las pupilas dilatadas. Como tu cachorro está temeroso, es probable que no haga contacto visual directo. En cambio, girará el cuerpo o la cabeza hacia un lado.

6. Boca

Si tu cachorro tiene una actitud agresiva defensiva, puede retraer las comisuras de la boca hacia atrás y mostrar los dientes.

Offensive aggression

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

1. Cola

Si tu cachorro dobla la cola hacia arriba, podría ser una señal de agresión. También puede erizar los pelos de la cola.

2. Postura

Si un cachorro se encuentra en estado de agresión ofensiva, tendrá una postura muy fuerte. Se mantendrá de pie e inclinado hacia delante sobre sus patas delanteras.

3. Sonidos

Si tu cachorro le gruñe a otros perros o personas a la vez que se inclina hacia delante, esto es un signo de agresión.

4. Orejas

Si un cachorro tiene una actitud agresiva ofensiva, puede apuntar las orejas hacia delante y erguirlas lo más posible.

5. Ojos

Si tu cachorro tiene una actitud agresiva, es posible que esté haciendo contacto visual directo con lo que le causó esa conducta.

6. Boca

Si un cachorro tiene una actitud agresiva ofensiva, fruncirá la boca y la nariz hacia atrás.

Encouraging good behaviour

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.

Husky puppy walking outdoors through grass and branches

Puppy behaviour explained

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

Your puppy may be experiencing separation anxiety. To prevent this, introduce your dog to the idea of being alone. If your dog can stay home alone for at least 30 minutes, it’s usually easier for them to be left for longer periods.

This can be due to boredom or curiosity; however it can sometimes be associated with specific diseases and if you are concerned about your puppy’s behaviour you should consult your vet.

This could be a sign of loneliness, anxiety or boredom, so it’s essential to provide chew toys and plenty of exercise. Prevent chewing behaviour by re-directing their attention to a toy, and never punish your puppy as this can sometimes increase the bad behaviour.

If your puppy hasn’t had enough exercise, they could be trying to burn off excess energy through digging. Your puppy may also be inclined to bury their toys or chews, so keep an eye if they're taking these outside with them. They might also be trying to cool off by lying in freshly dug soil if they are too hot.

Excessive panting is possibly a sign they’re too hot, however it can also indicate stress if they’re in an uncomfortable situation. Excessive panting can be a sign of disease, so always consult with a vet if you're unsure.

Some suggest puppies roll in poo because it helps to disguise their scent, and this spans back to a time when dogs weren’t domesticated. Others say dog’s do this simply because they like the smell!

Dog’s noses are cold because of the moisture which evaporates off it, so if there is no evaporation their nose will feel warm. Your puppy’s nose should never be dry or chapped though, so you should consult a vet if you are concerned.

Puppies only have a short attention span when learning new skills, so it’s possible your current training sessions are too long if there's too much distraction. Try and keep sessions to a maximum of five minutes, choose a quiet and familiar training location and make sure your puppy is not distracted. 

This is more likely to be a more common problem for puppies under six months of age. Some people suggest they do this if they have a vitamin deficiency, internal parasites, or simply when they’re bored.

Your puppy could be upset for a number of reasons, including hunger, loneliness, injury, boredom, or because they need to go to the toilet. Reading the context and their body language using our tips above could give you an insight into what they want.

It was previously thought dog’s eat grass to induce vomiting, however, a more likely explanation is that they simply like to eat it.

This could be a sign your puppy is trying to communicate something, such as affection. In new situations, they might lick the face of a stranger to try and figure out their intentions.

First, it's important to rule out medical issues, so contact your vet if you’re concerned. Other reasons for shaking can include stress, fear, excitement and cold temperatures. Try to remember what was happening before your puppy started shaking to figure out the cause.

Your puppy may be experiencing separation anxiety. To prevent this, introduce your dog to the idea of being alone. If your dog can stay home alone for at least 30 minutes, it’s usually easier for them to be left for longer periods.

This can be due to boredom or curiosity; however it can sometimes be associated with specific diseases and if you are concerned about your puppy’s behaviour you should consult your vet.

This could be a sign of loneliness, anxiety or boredom, so it’s essential to provide chew toys and plenty of exercise. Prevent chewing behaviour by re-directing their attention to a toy, and never punish your puppy as this can sometimes increase the bad behaviour.

If your puppy hasn’t had enough exercise, they could be trying to burn off excess energy through digging. Your puppy may also be inclined to bury their toys or chews, so keep an eye if they're taking these outside with them. They might also be trying to cool off by lying in freshly dug soil if they are too hot.

Excessive panting is possibly a sign they’re too hot, however it can also indicate stress if they’re in an uncomfortable situation. Excessive panting can be a sign of disease, so always consult with a vet if you're unsure.

Some suggest puppies roll in poo because it helps to disguise their scent, and this spans back to a time when dogs weren’t domesticated. Others say dog’s do this simply because they like the smell!

Dog’s noses are cold because of the moisture which evaporates off it, so if there is no evaporation their nose will feel warm. Your puppy’s nose should never be dry or chapped though, so you should consult a vet if you are concerned.

Puppies only have a short attention span when learning new skills, so it’s possible your current training sessions are too long if there's too much distraction. Try and keep sessions to a maximum of five minutes, choose a quiet and familiar training location and make sure your puppy is not distracted. 

This is more likely to be a more common problem for puppies under six months of age. Some people suggest they do this if they have a vitamin deficiency, internal parasites, or simply when they’re bored.

Your puppy could be upset for a number of reasons, including hunger, loneliness, injury, boredom, or because they need to go to the toilet. Reading the context and their body language using our tips above could give you an insight into what they want.

It was previously thought dog’s eat grass to induce vomiting, however, a more likely explanation is that they simply like to eat it.

This could be a sign your puppy is trying to communicate something, such as affection. In new situations, they might lick the face of a stranger to try and figure out their intentions.

First, it's important to rule out medical issues, so contact your vet if you’re concerned. Other reasons for shaking can include stress, fear, excitement and cold temperatures. Try to remember what was happening before your puppy started shaking to figure out the cause.

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

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