What Is My Puppy Telling Me? Decoding Puppy Behavior

New Arrival Behavior for Beginners

Congrats! You've brought your adorable new puppy home. These are exciting times, though you and your new pal may be feeling a little anxious. That's OK — it usually takes some time for both of you to adjust. If you're feeling unsure about how your puppy is acting, check out this helpful puppy behavior guide with training tips.

Puppy Behavior Basics

Learn what your puppy may be trying to tell you through common behaviors, plus some quick positive reinforcement tips to start training your new dog.


dog laying in bed at night 

Why Is My Puppy Shaking or Crying at Night?

It’s normal for a new puppy to be nervous at night when they’re getting used to a strange, new place. They could be scared to be alone, especially if they’re used to being around other dogs or puppies.

Puppy Training Tips: Sleeping

Try keeping the puppy's crate in your bedroom for the first few nights. Make sure it’s a safe and comfortable space to rest with a sturdy blanket or dog bed and a quiet, “chew-proof” toy. Most puppies start to settle in after a few nights; after a week or two, you can move the crate to where you would like your new pup to sleep permanently.


dog laying in grass in park 

Why Is My Puppy Barking Nonstop?

Though some breeds bark more than others, it’s not uncommon for puppies to bark, bark, bark and bark some more. A vocal puppy may be bored, wanting attention, excited, happy or scared.

Puppy Training Tips: Barking

Try listening to your puppy’s barks to decipher if they’re appropriate barks or problem barks, rather than training them not to bark at all. Are they greeting you? Trying to initiate play? Did they bark at a sudden loud noise or unexpected sight?

If there’s no obvious reason for the barking, give your pup a stimulating toy to keep them occupied if they’re bored. If your smart puppy has figured out that you come running any time they start barking, it’s time to stop rewarding the behavior. Instead, turn your back or leave the room until the barking stops. Once it’s quiet, praise your pup and offer them a treat!

Why Is My Puppy Biting Everything?

There's a good chance your puppy is just teething if they’re mouthing, nipping and biting everything in sight. While it may be cute at first, that can quickly change if your hand or favorite shoe falls victim to your puppy’s sharp teeth!


white fluffy dog with sock in mouth 

Puppy Training Tips: Biting

Give your puppy their own toys to deter them from chewing your possessions. If they get hold of one of your things, always replace it with one of their own toys — and praise them for chewing the right ones.

Playing with other puppies is one way young dogs can learn the difference between playful nips and painful bites. They can also learn while playing with humans: When the puppy bites too hard, immediately yelp and make your hand go limp. Praise your puppy for stopping or licking your hand, and then continue playing, repeating with each hard bite.


yorkie dog jumping on leg 

Why Is My Puppy Jumping Up?

Your puppy is probably excited and trying to be affectionate. This is another behavior that may cute while they’re small, but can quickly become a problem as they get bigger.

Puppy Training Tips: Jumping

First, teach your puppy to sit. Every time they jump, give them the “sit” command to prevent them from jumping. If they continue to jump, gently push them down and away and give them a “down” command. You can also make a loud noise or yelp when they’re about to jump, followed by praise and petting if they don't jump.

You can also try this one: When you come home, give your dog a “sit” command and reward them with a treat; soon enough, they'll be sitting pretty every time you walk through the front door. And best of all, your pup will be less likely to jump up on your guests.


small puppy with pee stain on carpet 

Why Is My Puppy Going to the Bathroom Inside?

Part of being a puppy owner is dealing with occasional stinky messes. After all, puppies have small bladders and bowels. However, beginning housetraining as soon as you bring your puppy home can help reduce the number of messes.

Puppy Training Tips: Housetraining

Take your puppy out as often as possible, and praise and reward him when he relieves himself. Frequent outdoor walks can help, too.

Puppies have immature digestive systems that can’t handle a lot of food, so diet plays a role in housetraining, too. Feed your puppy a high-quality puppy food, like PEDIGREE® PUPPY™ Growth & Protection Dry Dog Food, and divide their feeding schedule into three small meals per day.

Though accidents often happen for young puppies, don't scold them if they make a mistake in the house. If you catch them starting to squat indoors, quickly pick them up and take them outside. Otherwise, try to train your puppy to urinate and defecate on command. As they perform, add words you choose, such as “be quick” or “busy.” Your dog will then build up an association of the word with the action, and feel good.

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