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Why Do Puppies...? Explanation of Puppy Behaviors

Updated on January 14, 2015

Puppy Advice

Quick warning: I am not a professional. Just a guy who has raised a lot of puppies over the years. Based on that experience, the tips and tricks I offer have served me well. They may not work for every dog, but for the most part I've found that patience and consistency are the magic words. Your puppy won't learn new behaviors overnight, nor will they learn them if they're confused by only being punished or praised some of the time.

That being said, let's move on to those puppy behaviors.

Teaching Puppies Not to Bite

Teaching a puppy not to bite is tricky, largely because in order to teach them that biting you isn't good behavior, you have to get bitten. If your pup hasn't been around other dogs, it's up to you to give the right signals so that they first learn not to bite too hard, then not to bite you at all.

Puppies signal that they've been bitten too hard by yelping. Now, some of us aren't capable of duplicating that sound, so a good "No biting!" or something of the sort will do when your puppy bites you. More importantly, stop playing with them immediately. If your puppy licks or nuzzles you, they're apologizing, and you should praise them. Continue this until the hard biting stops, then move on to moderate biting and so on until the problem is resolved.

Oh yes, there will be blood.
Oh yes, there will be blood.

Puppy Biting

Puppies bite for a number of reasons, and it's usually not in any way an act of aggression. Puppies interact with the world by way of their mouth, and biting comes with the package. It's how they learn and play, and unpleasant as it can be it is going to happen. The critical factor in puppy biting isn't the act of biting itself but bite inhibition, in other words learning how hard it's okay to bite.

Teaching your puppy bite inhibition can be a bit of a task, particularly if you only have one. Puppies learn bite inhibition by playing with other puppies, developing an understanding of what qualifies as "too hard" when their playmates yelp. If your puppy hasn't spent enough time with other dogs, congratulations. You're going to have to stand in for the other puppy.

Besides just play and exploring, puppies will also want to chew when their teeth are bothering them. Just like a teething child, having a good, sturdy rubber toy will go a long way toward helping with this one. If the puppy should start to bite or chew on you, simply tell them no and give them an appropriate toy. Generally, this will work pretty quickly.

Puppies also bite when they're overly excited or want attention. This particular issue comes back to the bite inhibition thing. Once your puppy learns that biting you is unacceptable, the odds of them getting excited enough to accidentally nip you are significantly reduced.

Why do puppies hiccup?

Adorable though it may be, many people wonder about why puppies are so prone to getting the hiccups. Most frequently, they tend to get hiccups after waking up, after eating or drinking, and when they're particularly excited. This is entirely normal for puppies, so don't worry too much so long as the bouts of hiccupping don't last more than an hour. If the hiccupping does last extended periods or is seriously chronic, then it may be time to call the vet to be on the safe side.

The contraction of the diaphragm that causes hiccups is generally thought to just be another part of growing for puppies (and people, for that matter.) They are a side-effect of the growth, expansion, and maturation of the dog's respiratory system, and for the most part they stop entirely by the time the puppy is a year old.

How many of these behaviors have your dogs exhibited?

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Why do puppies eat poop?

This is a pleasant one, isn't it? There's a lot of reasons the puppies will eat poop, ranging from worms and/or parasites to just plain boredom. Fortunately, the issue is usually easily addressed, so long as you nip it before it develops into a habit.

Sometimes, dogs eat poop out of hunger. This can be as simple as an issue of underfeeding or as serious as the puppy having worms or a parasite. If your puppy has plenty of food that they like, then it's time to get a check-up and make sure the issue isn't more serious.

Additionally, puppies are known to eat poop out of boredom. This one, also, is easily resolved by making sure that they have toys and attention to keep them from more unpleasant activities. The important thing here is to make sure that your puppy doesn't feel neglected and has more wholesome means of entertainment available.

Why Do Puppies Lick?

Okay, so puppies lick a lot. In part, this goes back to the fact that puppies explore the world in large part with their mouths. Beyond that, seasoned dog owners tend to assert that puppies and dogs lick so much as a sign of affection, loyalty, and trust. It also may stem from the fact that puppies lick their mother around the mouth in order to get fed, so it is possible that licking is a way of seeking attention and comfort. If your puppy licks you more often when strangers are around, it may well be your dogs way of reminding you that they love you more than anyone else, and are therefore deserving of the attention that you're paying elsewhere.

Why Do Puppies Cry?

"Why does my puppy whine so much?" is a pretty common question, especially related to bedtime. It's entirely logical that a puppy would whine, cry, or howl when you leave them alone, and bed time is no different. Even when your puppy is in the same room, if they can't see you and you aren't interacting with the, they'll miss you. The most common solutions to this are to put on some background noise that isn't too disruptive in order to distract and calm the puppy. Give it some time, and they will get used to it.

Puppies will also whine for food, or when they have to go to the bathroom. Frankly, if I have to explain what to do in those situations, you should never, ever have a pet, or a child for that matter.

Author's Note:

Puppies spend a lot of time doing a lot of things we may not understand. Hopefully, I've provided at least a little bit of insight into some of these behaviors.

If there's anything else you'd like to see explained, feel free to leave a comment below and I'll see what I can do. I hope you enjoyed reading, and as always feel free to track me down on Facebook, or visit my home page for more semi-interesting information and extremely interesting pictures of my puppy.

© 2013 JG11Bravo


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    • JG11Bravo profile image

      JG11Bravo 4 years ago

      Pleasure to meet you as well. Thank you for reading, and I'm glad you enjoyed yourself. It always does me good to find out that someone learned something from one of my hubs.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      I adore puppies (dogs too, of course) kittens & cats. Never without one or 2 of each. Have raised several, but never wondered why they do what they do........I guess I always assumed my fur babies did what they did, for the same reasons my human babies did what they did.

      After reading your wonderful hub, I'm pleased & proud to know I was right!.....Fur babies seem to outgrow most habits.....a couple of my human babies, who have babies of their own now, still bite...but only people who bother their mother. Think I know how to train 'em, or what?

      Nice to finally meet you and connect.....Up+++

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      You will get it eventually, JG. "Them are puppies"

    • JG11Bravo profile image

      JG11Bravo 4 years ago

      Not sure I follow the fun note, but thank you for the rest!

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Very well-written and informative hub, jg. Raising/training puppies is never an easy task. You have covered the most important parts of understanding the puppy. I used to get frustrated when first attempting to raise puppies, then found the joy in it when I learned to understand their needs and signals. I enjoyed reading this hub.

      Just as a fun note:

      mr puppies

      mr not

      mr 2

      c m p n ?

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Great advice here. All of my pups over the years have done all, with the exception of having the hiccups, or I just do not recall any of them having the hiccups. Love your photos, so cute.

      We had a Jack Russell, Cookie, and she was OCD because once we starting throwing the ball to her, she would literally want one to do so for hours upon hours. We had to eventually hide the ball and then she would spend an hour running around the yard looking for it! That was her true joy in this life. Then once she retrieved the ball, when we lived in our home in the city, she would intentionally go and drop it in the pool, where she would bark incessantly until we retrieved it from the water and threw it to her again. It was for sure an obsession, as she did this over and over. We could never break her from dropping it into the pool LOL

      Up and more and sharing

      Have a great Sunday, Faith Reaper