Dogs are social creatures and communicate their feelings with us through sounds and body language. In a puppy’s first weeks, they’ll begin to yelp, whine, and grunt before growing and moving into more rich and complex communication methods. Learning puppy speak helps us better care for our puppy, and we can build upon these experiences as they age.
In the comprehensive book, Puppy’s First Steps: The Whole-Dog Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, Well-Behaved Puppy, Nicholas Dodman writes, “The better you understand how [your puppy] experiences their world, the less likely you’ll be to become frustrated or angry (and perhaps treat your charge unfairly). And, ultimately, the better and stronger the bond between the two of you will be.”
Get started decoding your puppy speak—here are five explanations to help you decipher the meaning behind their body language and vocalizations.
Whines: When a puppy whines, the sound pulls at our heartstrings. One study even found that the whimpers of a puppy feel sadder to pet owners than the sound of a crying baby. Puppies will whine when they are in need—your puppy may be cold, lonely, hungry. Try to comfort them with attention, food, or even a warm towel, and you’ll find they’ll probably stop.
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Grunts: Puppies grunt for various reasons, but it’s something they do while they are relaxed and content. You’ll find puppies grunting when eating, sleeping, or being petted because they enjoy it.
Circles Before Sleeping: As you get ready for bed, you fluff your pillow and pull back your sheets. Dogs have a similar sleep routine of circling and stomping around. It’s believed this primal instinctive behavior helped wild dogs prepare and flatten their grass bedding before sleep.
Licking Lips: Dogs will often lick their lips when they are nervous or anxious. You can help your pup by finding the source of their anxiousness.
Moving Away from Head Pats: This might be a surprise to you, but many dogs don’t like head pats. Dogs love to be stroked, petted, and scratched but not necessarily patted, and there’s an important difference.
Giving your puppy the right amount of exercise is as essential to your dog’s health as it is to your own. The more physical activity your puppy gets, the stronger and bigger he will become. It will make him stronger and more powerful and with that comes more self-confidence and a more stable mind set. That means you will be less likely to have an angry tantrum when your puppy decides that he wants to take over your home!
Provide Your Puppy With Different Stimulants In the early stages of your new pet’s life you may find it difficult to control what the puppy eats. Giving him table scraps is a good idea until you can establish a schedule for feeding your new pet and see if he reacts negatively to table scraps. New dogs have sensitive stomachs so they are more likely to refuse food that they see as unfamiliar. Try small bits of cheese, fruit, or other foods that your dog will eat a lot such as chicken nuggets or chicken tikka.
Your puppy should also be housebroken at approximately one month of age but will usually begin housebreaking themselves around seven months of age. Housebreaking a puppy can be challenging but the goal is to housebreak your puppy without having to resort to excessive punishment. With a little intelligence, consistency, patience, and lots of love, your intelligent dog will quickly learn to respond well to his owner’s commands and become a well behaved member of your family.