Normal Puppy Behaviors

Puppies are born with a set of instincts. Nature gives your dog these instincts to help him survive in the wild. But certain behaviors that arise from these instincts are not suitable for your home. Although unsuitable, these behaviors are normal for your puppy.



Rough-and-tumble play provides part of a puppy's learning experience. This typically manifests itself in play fighting. In a litter, pups wrestle each other. They learn boundaries and socialization this way. Once a pup is taken out of his litter, he'll still have the instinct to instigate play fighting and will look for willing companions. If you have an older dog, he's the most likely candidate. Unfortunately for your pup, the older dog will have long since grown out of play fighting and is unlikely to be a willing participant. No matter how annoying your pup's advances are, remember that he is simply trying to learn.


Pups chew to explore. This habit becomes really pronounced at around 3 months old, as they begin to teethe. Dogs chew on anything during this period as they seek to relieve their gums of the ache caused by the growth of new teeth. Provide your pup with lots of chew toys to give him an outlet, otherwise he'll direct his need to chew toward something less suitable.


You may notice when handling your pup that he tries to bite or nip your hand. This "mouthing," not to be confused with acts of aggression, is a normal physical gesture between pups. It's actually a sign of affection. Mouthing differs from aggression-based biting because it happens without the aggressive body language.

Whining Whenever Alone

Dogs are hardwired to stick together. They're pack animals, and their survival depends on them hunting and fighting off threats as a pack. Once a dog is isolated from his pack, his chances of survival in the wild go down. It's therefore entirely understandable that your puppy freaks out if he thinks you've left him. So until he learns that when you go out, you always come back, he'll whine and howl. This is his way of saying. "Hey, you forgot me, I'm over here!" It's called separation anxiety.

Over time, your dog will learn that he's never alone forever and you always come home. You can help him learn this sooner rather than later by introducing him to brief periods of isolation of no longer than five minutes, before leaving him for an entire morning or afternoon.


Dogs instinctively want to keep their den area clean. This is another wild instinct. A young dog's bowel and bladder are not always as advanced as their instincts though, and accidents happen. Your dog may pace, circle, whine and scratch before he goes to the toilet. So look out for these signs and help him be in the right place at the right time for when he needs to go.

By Simon Foden

About the Author
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for