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Puppy Play or Abnormal Behavior: 5 Signs to Watch Out For

By :Danielle Ciambruschini 0 comments
Puppy Play or Abnormal Behavior: 5 Signs to Watch Out For

Puppies are often much like human toddlers—curious, full of energy, and exhausting to keep up with. Like young children, puppies require plenty of reinforcement for good behaviors and correction for bad…but how do you know when a “bad” behavior should raise a red flag rather than being part of the natural puppy growth process?

We’ve gathered 5 signs that indicate you may want to enlist the help of a professional animal behaviorist. Early intervention is key in correcting bad behaviors and ensuring your pup grows to be a confident and well-mannered dog.


Puppies are, by nature, curious and usually enjoy exploring their environment. If your puppy hides behind your legs or under furniture when introduced to unfamiliar people or animals, you may have cause for concern. Unnatural fear reactions can lead to unwarranted aggression.

Alarm Barking and Hair Raising

When meeting new people or animal friends, many puppies are tail-waggingly friendly and curious. Some puppies are more reserved, and both behaviors are normal. However, alarm bells should ring if your puppy barks aggressively at unfamiliar people or animals. Similarly, if your puppy’s hackles (the hair on its’ back) raise, this indicates an adrenaline response is taking place and can be a warning sign of irrational fear or aggression.

Excessive Mouthing

Gentle mouthing is a normal part of puppyhood—it’s one of the ways young dogs make sense of the world around them. But excessive mouthing during physical exams and nail trims, or when playing with you and a toy or being picked up and held, can indicate a cause for concern.

Food Guarding

Guarding food is sometimes seen in older dogs but is unusual behavior for puppies. If your fur baby growls, lunges or bites when you or another pet come near his or her food bowl, you may need to discuss the behavior with your veterinarian.

Continuing to Bite or Attack Frightened Playmates

Part of being a puppy is learning how to interact socially with other pets. Puppies who ignore the social cues of playmates and continue to bite and or aggressively interact while the playmate is crying, whimpering, tail tucking, or attempting to leave the area are exhibiting abnormal behavior.

What to Do If Your Puppy Behaves Abnormally

Early intervention is an important first step to helping your pup overcome abnormal behavior. Talk to your veterinarian first and share your concerns. He or she may have a behavioral resource to recommend.

If you decide to seek professional help, contact a certified dog behaviorist. You can search for one in your area by clicking here. It’s important to note that puppies exhibiting abnormal behaviors require more specialized treatment than what is offered by your regular puppy trainer.

Here’s the good news—many abnormal behaviors can, with early and consistent treatment, be reduced and even eliminated. So, if you see something, say something. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet for help…getting support for your pup early on can help correct abnormal behaviors and set him or her up for a lifetime of health and happiness.

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