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Behaviors to recognize in puppies

Understanding puppy behavior can help you build a strong relationship with your pet. Find out here how to decode dog body language and behavior.

Behaviors to recognize in puppies

A puppy will often communicate its thoughts and feelings through body language and other expressive behaviors. Every part of the body—from the nose to the tail—can convey your pet’s moods, emotions and wants.

By understanding puppy behavior from the start, you can develop a strong bond with your furry friend and better interpret its needs. Read on to learn how to decipher puppy body language signals.

Tail Wagging

By reading a puppy’s signals, you can learn a lot about its internal state. For example, if the dog’s tail is wagging and the body is lowered at the front, the canine may be eager to play. However, tail wagging might also indicate other moods. If the tail is tucked under the belly, wagging low, the puppy may feel fearful or stressed. On the other hand, relaxed dogs tend to hold their tails in a resting or neutral position.


Puppy eyes are able to communicate volumes. Three factors to note when observing your pet’s eyes include:

  • Size

  • Direction of the gaze

  • Intensity

Droopy or lowered eyelids can indicate pleasure or happiness, so your puppy may show delight by squinting when its ears are being rubbed. Alert canines keep their peepers open wide. Averting the gaze and avoiding eye contact often signals stress or submission.


Just as dogs vary in size and shape depending on the breed, so too do the ears. When observing your pet, look at the direction of the base of the ear. If a puppy is relaxed, its ears may be turned slightly back or out to the sides. As the little furball becomes more excited, its ears will move forward, pointing toward an object of interest.

When the ears are perked, the canine is usually alert and attentive. On the other hand, flattened ears could indicate either fear or pleasure. To read your pet’s mood correctly, look for other body language cues. If the puppy’s eyes are half closed, that may signal pleasure or submission, while wide open eyes might demonstrate aggression.

Disobedient Behavior

For puppies, disobedience is a typical, age-related issue that usually resolves with the right guidance. Correcting a puppy’s behavior is crucial since it helps the canine learn his or her role in the family and in the world.

Common issues include:

  • Unnatural barking. Almost all dogs bark, but unnatural or excessive barking that disrupts your household may be problematic. If your puppy barks when someone knocks on the door, it may be trying to instinctively guard its territory. If it barks to get attention, your pet may feel insecure.

  • Biting. Nipping at a young age is normal—it is a result of inherited pack mentality. However, when biting becomes harmful, that can be a sign of abnormal behavior. Dogs tend to bite when they are in pain or feel threatened. Additionally, if you have a very young puppy, it may bite more than usual as its teeth develop. Be patient and research some safe puppy chew toys that can help with teething.

  • Not listening to commands. There are a few reasons why your dog may not be following simple commands. Your pet might feel reluctant due to pain or have difficultly holding attention. Consider consulting a veterinarian or enrolling your pooch in puppy training classes.

After spending quality time with your puppy, reading its body language can become a natural and rewarding part of your relationship.

Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology—the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud—and the industry’s most comprehensive pet insurance plans.

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