Puppies seem like sugar and spice and everything nice, but as cute as the little ones are, they too are susceptible to the odd behavioral outburst. Growling and barking are in no way exclusive to adult dogs. Puppies may put on tantrums for everything from simple hunger to separation anxiety.
Puppies and Tantrums
If your young puppy is prone to temper tantrums chock full of growling and barking, then it may be because he's new to your household, and therefore still is deep in the process of developing a bond and connection with you. A wee puppy simply doesn't have the same trust that an adult dog may have with a longtime owner. Because of this yet-to-develop trust, a puppy may throw a tantrum when in the midst of an unfamiliar, scary or frustrating situation.
When a child throws a temper tantrum, it's often because she can't get what she wants, whether a brand new toy or permission to watch a favorite television show at night. Puppies aren't too different than kids in that department. Whether your puppy is barking excessively to get your attention or to get access to treats, meals or toys, he may be doing it because he urgently wants something from you -- and won't be satisfied until he gets it.
A puppy may throw a growling "tantrum" motivated by fear, too. The puppy stage is a crucial developmental one that helps shape dogs for years to come. For a puppy, everything in the world is new, from your home and your friends to other animals and even sounds on the television. If your puppy growls incessantly any time you even approach him, he may be in a "protective" mode. When a puppy is especially scared, you may notice other frightened behavior clues, such as lunging or even biting -- yikes. Although adult dogs often "learn" their fear through insufficient socialization or traumatic experiences, some puppies, indeed, are just born displaying shy and especially cautious temperaments.
Isolation and confinement can trigger feelings of anxiety in confused puppies who are still getting their bearings in a new place. Whether your pup is frustrated by being in a small crate or "stuck" in a certain room of your home, he may react by throwing a barking mini tantrum -- much to the annoyance of your ear canals. This type of barking episode is especially common in bored canines. Mental stimulation is the key to a happy and calm puppy. A lack of toys plus confinement is not usually the recipe for a happy outcome.
In some cases, barking and growling both may be indications that not all is well in puppyville, health-wise. Perhaps your little one has a tummy ache or wounded one of his hind legs. Take your cutie to the veterinarian if you think that her noisiness is related to any troubling health issue.
Before you ever get frustrated with a noisy pup, make sure you have the facts. He may not necessarily be putting on a temper tantrum. Vocalization can point to anything from a pooch who is feeling physical discomfort to a happy greeting when you return home at night. Although growling usually is a sign of fear or anger, barking can mean anything from excitement to playtime. Context is your friend when deciphering your puppy's intentions.
- ASPCA: Fear of People
- ASPCA: Barking, Running and Nipping
- ASPCA: Barking
- ASPCA: Bark Control Collars
- The Humane Society of the United States: Barking - How to Get Your Dog to Calm Down
- BC SPCA: Dog Care and Behaviour
- ASPCA: Canine Body Language
- Humane Society of Greater Miami: Dog Issues - Stages of Puppy Development