A Guide to Dog Behaviour for First-Time Puppy Owners

Dog behavior and its nuances can seem a little complex and a lot to handle in the early stages for first-time dog owners. New dog owners have to quickly be able to differentiate between normal dog behaviors and misbehaviors and signs that something is wrong. As a result, we have come up with a guide to dog behavior for first-time puppy owners. 

Barking

All dogs bark, however, it can get to a point where the level of loud barking becomes constant and unbearable, and your dog is regularly disturbing the neighbors. Think why your dog may be barking all the time. Are they trying to get your attention? In which case, you should ignore your dog until they stop barking and then reward them with a treat once they have fallen silent and stopped.  Your dog may start to bark frantically as a territorial reaction to protect its owners whenever somebody knocks at the door, for example, the postman or a delivery driver. 

Your dog may also bark to greet you every time you return home. When trying to calm your dog down to make it stop barking loudly for whatever reason, you need to try your best to use a soothing, calming tone of voice that doesn’t cause the dog to bark and yelp even louder.

Chewing

Puppies love chewing as it helps them curiously find out more about new objects. A healthy amount of chewing by dogs can also ease the pain of sore gums.

However, chewing can get out of hand when dogs end up trying to wreck all the expensive furniture and objects around the house. Try and go around the house and hide items to put them out of the dog’s reach. You may even want to prevent your dog from going into the lounge area of your home so they can’t start gnawing away at your sofas by shutting the doors or even putting up a baby gate.

Make sure your dog has a healthy number of chew toys and treats to satiate its natural chewing instincts in a healthy manner. 

Licking Paws

Dogs deciding to lick their paws from time to time after getting them dirty or going outdoors is perfectly normal. On the other hand, the constant licking and chewing of their paws can be a sign that something is wrong.  

Here are just a few reasons why your dog may be licking its paws excessively:

  • Allergic reactions, 
  • Foreign objects getting stuck in your dog’s paw pads, 
  • Bacterial and fungal skin infections, 
  • Parasites such as fleas, ticks, and lice nestling in your dog’s paws,
  • Bee stings in their paw are,
  • Your dog expressing feelings of anxiety,

If you would like to find out more about why your dog is licking its paws all the time, have a look at this article from Native Pet. 

Biting

Having little, small gentle bites at other dogs or at people can be pretty normal behavior for dogs due to the pack mentality of their nature as animals. And some dogs only bite to guard their territory and when they feel threatened in a situation. 

Dogs biting can clearly quickly get out of hand when it starts to be done in an overly aggressive and harmful manner to display their dominance. You certainly do not want somebody suing you after your dog has bitten them and caused injuries. While it’s a puppy, early training and socialization should prevent your dog from biting other dogs and humans in a harmful and destructive manner. 

Chasing

Dogs are instinctively programmed to chase or herd moving objects, animals, and people. Sheepdogs are a perfect example of this as their job is to run around trying to herd cattle on a farm all day. 

Chasing can become a problem when your dog starts chasing people who don’t want to be chased, such as small children in a park. Try and use command words to get your dog to ‘stop’ or ‘freeze’ on the spot at your command. The dog needs to know that you are their owner, and they are beneath you in the pack. You may decide to keep your dog firmly on its lead when you are about to go past a group of joggers or cyclists, for example. 

Digging

Dogs dig so they can find a good place to sleep or bury objects they have found. Digging is usually fine and normal dog behavior. However, if your dog begins to dig excessively and ruins your lawn and all the plants and flowers in your garden, it can be an issue and an annoyance for dog owners. Try and prevent your dog from digging up large chunks of your garden by providing the dog with a cool spot to rest outside.

Your dog may constantly be digging out of feelings related to boredom, anxiety, and stress. You may want to consult with your vet on what medications you can use to combat stress and anxiety in puppies. Digging too vigorously can cause damage to their paws. Distracting your dog and increasing their physical activity and exercise levels may lead to a decrease in how much they dig. 

To deter your dog from digging in certain areas of your backyard, you may choose to use sprays or electric fences as deterrents. 

Perhaps create a small, designated spot in the back yard where your dog can dig freely away from your precious, delicate flower beds, which you have spent a lot of time and effort on to try and make them look attractive. In moderation, digging is a perfectly normal, typical dog behavior that you shouldn’t be concerned about. 

Looking after your first puppy is a sharp learning curve where you will find yourself learning a lot over a short period of time. If you become particularly concerned about your dog’s behavior, you may want to consult a dog psychologist or take your canine to the veterinary clinic to find out what may be causing their behavior.

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