March 23 is National Puppy Day, though some of us here in The Greenville News offices believe puppies should be celebrated every day. In fact, loyal readers may know about our Newshound program. Last year The Greenville News fostered and adopted out five dogs with help from Greenville County Animal Care.

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You can meet one of those lucky pups here.

Inviting a new member into a family can be tricky. To celebrate National Puppy Day, our friends at Camp Bow Wow are offering these tips on how to decode puppy (or older dog) language:

Puppies will do anything for a reward, they say. But a reward may not be exactly what you think. Sometimes puppies just want attention, good or bad. CBW says sometimes puppies will use the bathroom inside the home or chew on furniture because it is self-rewarding. It gets immediate attention from humans. To curb this behavior, CBW suggests offering something like a toy for them to chew.

When puppies play, they often nip at each other and make lots of noise. This can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. CBW says this can be an important part of helping puppies learn how to play appropriately. The only time an owner should worry about separating puppies is if they grab another dogs muzzle, according to CBW.

If you’re wondering how your puppy feels, check their ears. CBW says ears are a great barometer of puppy mood. Some breeds will dramatically adjust their ears depending on moods. If the ears are erect and facing forward, they are either interested or aggressive. If they’re flattened against their head, they likely feel submissive or scared.

A dog’s wagging tail doesn’t always indicate happiness. CBW says the best tail is a “helicopter tail” which looks exactly like it sounds. If a dog’s tail is spinning rapidly, the dog is very happy. A tucked tail means the dog is nervous. A slow, stiff wag back and forth is a sign of an alert dog.

As expected, if a dog is showing canine teeth, he or she is most likely feeling scared or aggressive.

Like all pets, individual behaviors can vary. Pet owners can get to know their pups best by spending as much time as possible around them, and giving them time to settle in to their new home.

Paula Church with Greenville County Animal Care says puppies are often the first to get adopted. When we visited the shelter Tuesday afternoon there were eight puppies, just one of whom was still in need of a home. By the time we left, a family had adopted two-month-old Sassy.

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GCAC has plenty of older dogs who do still need homes. Anyone interested in adopting an older dog on National Puppy Day can click here to see those waiting to be adopted. GCAC recently switched to a flat rate for adoptions. Dogs of all breeds and ages cost $35 to adopt.

Follow Elizabeth Sanders on Twitter @elizabethwrens

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