You just brought your new, furry best friend home. You couldn’t be more excited!
What is sweeter than getting a new puppy?! Nothing, it seems, until your new little one starts acting in ways that aren’t so adorable. They’re biting, jumping, and growling.
…wait, is this normal?
It is normal for puppies to show signs of aggression like chewing, growling, and chasing. These actions are common, non-threatening, and likely due to a puppy’s abundance of youthful energy. However, behaviors like non-playful lunging, barking, and biting point more towards actual aggression.
In this article, I will demystify the differences between normal puppy behavior and aggression.
Then, I will explore different scenarios that may cause your puppy to become aggressive and give you some tips to help stop this behavior.
Let’s dive in!
Any puppy of any breed can be aggressive, but it’s not common for puppies to have truly aggressive natures.
What happens most often is normal puppy behaviors are mistaken as aggressive when they actually are not.
A puppy’s enthusiastic barks, nips, and chases can feel aggressive. However, this is just your puppy expressing himself!
Your dog’s energy is most likely a natural product of their youth and is not due to an aggressive disposition.
So what does count as signs of aggression in a puppy?
It can be hard to tell what is aggression and what is regular dog-play. So, I’ll start off by listing some typical, playful puppy actions.
The following activities are not aggressive:
You may want to take note of these doggy actions that are more on the aggressive side:
Distinguishing play from aggression is more about discerning the feel behind the behaviors.
Your dog is most likely playing and not being aggressive if:
It can be easy to forget how much dogs can be like people. Like a tired person can become moody and testy, a tired puppy can become aggressive.
If you notice these signs, your dog may be getting tired and may be more prone to acting aggressively:
You can prevent your dog from getting aggressive due to tiredness. This can be as simple as ensuring they have a good balance of sleep and exercise. Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind:
When teething, puppies may be a bit nippier than usual. Teething can be uncomfortable for your dog, and they may want to bite to relieve the pain. This isn’t necessarily aggressive, but it can sure seem that way.
To cut down on the chances that your dog will try to use you or your belongings as a teething device, try these tips:
Puppies get their baby teeth as early as two weeks. You can expect those baby teeth to begin to fall out to make room for adult dog teeth when your dog is 3-4 months old. Around this time, it is normal for your dog to be biting more often as their new teeth slowly come in.
If your dog’s biting seems more aggressive than an attempt to soothe their gums, I suggest notifying your vet or trainer.
Puppies can show aggressive behaviors like snarling and showing teeth when picked up, but it isn’t their fault.
They are brand new to the world and don’t know any better yet. Since any behavior you don’t correct in your dog can become worse with age, it’s great if you can nip it in the bud.
A small percentage of puppies show signs of actual aggression. It’s likely these puppies won’t change unless there’s an intervention.
As I said earlier, anything you don’t correct when your dog is young will likely continue to be a problem.
An aggressive puppy usually turns into a full-grown aggressive dog. It can be hard to think your cute puppy could need help, but waiting can make things harder later.
It’s always better to catch a dog’s aggressive tendencies when they are puppies. Helping your dog overcome aggressive behavior as a puppy will allow them to blossom into a well-adjusted adult dog. Here are some things you can do to combat aggressive behavior:
It can be scary to see your puppy biting, lunging, or snapping at you or other dogs. Luckily, many of these behaviors are expected for a puppy and not a big concern.
Nevertheless, if you notice aggressive traits in your dog, try using the tips I have provided to see if the situation improves. If things aren’t getting better, you may want to contact your vet or reach out to a trainer.
As the saying goes, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But luckily in this case you can! The earlier you can catch your pup’s aggressive tendencies and correct them, the better. Cheers to your happy puppy growing into a flourishing dog!