For all puppies, the first few weeks and month of life are integral in terms of proper growth and development. From beginning to eat solid foods to learning just what "too much" is in terms of play fighting with a sibling pup, mother dogs certainly keep their young in line.
If a mother dog spots her puppy misbehaving in any way, she may express her displeasure with a fast snarling sound -- and all of her teeth prominently visible for added effect. The snarl generally has a very serious tone. Mama is showing her young pup that she means business, and that it's time to stop fooling around, too.
Apart from snarling, classic low growling is another intimidating vocalization that mother dogs often employ to discipline and punish puppies. Growling essentially is a warning sound that expresses to a silly and mischievous little puppy, "Cut it out. I mean it. Now." If the puppy has learned anything from his time spent with Mommy thus far, he'll very likely cease the pesky behavior -- ASAP. Sometimes, all it takes from a mother dog is a very serious-looking glance. No sound necessary at all -- yikes.
After growling or snarling, a mother dog may put her mouth over a pup's head or muzzle region. She may simultaneously keep him low to the ground by using one of her paws, as well. By keeping her puppy's body firmly restricted in this manner, she's encouraging him to take on a submissive posture.
During punishment, a puppy may respond by taking on a submissive and vulnerable stance. By doing this, he basically is acknowledging his mother's higher status. He is fully aware that she runs the ship. He may place his wee body low to the ground, cry and whine quietly, keep his paw up and hide his tail in between his hind legs. Whether a puppy was punished for getting a little too aggressive and rambunctious during playtime or behaving too dominantly in general, this type of disciplinary technique may just be the lesson he needs to grow up to be a healthy, happy and socially apt canine.
By Naomi Millburn
The Humane Society of the United States: Puppy Behavior Basics
ASPCA: Reading Canine Body Postures
Sacramento SPCA: Aggressive Behavior in Dogs
Mobile SPCA: Dealing With Normal Puppy Behavior
McMinn Regional Humane Society: Stages of Puppy Development
About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.