Puppies seem to be in a constant state of barking at least a few times throughout the day, and yours might even throw a little growl in there occasionally. While those barks and growls are sometimes normal, they can also indicate a tantrum, which needs stopped at once.
Walking and Playing
There you are, throwing your puppy's favorite toy, having some fun with the little guy. And then he freaks out by barking and even growling. Touching or talking to him just exacerbates the issue. You're encountering an ever joyous puppy tantrum. Your puppy gets too excited or upset, and he behaves like a toddler who didn't get his way. He barks, growls and won't shush up. This typically only happens when you're playing with him or taking him for a walk. He'll suddenly flip out when you don't throw his ball, if you don't let him sniff that one blade of grass or if you aren't walking fast enough. Sometimes in addition to growling and barking, he'll bite down on you or the leash with more force than usual.
When it's Not a Tantrum
Think of your puppy's behavior as a spectrum. At one end is normal, acceptable puppy behavior and at the other end is awful behavior that needs immediately corrected. Tantrums are somewhere in the middle. They're bad and you need to put a stop to them, but they're not as bad as snapping at a child, and they're somewhat normal. But barking and growling aren't always indicative of a tantrum. Your puppy will bark and growl when he's excited, and often if you two are playing a game of tug-of-war. If he seems to be possessed by a canine devil, mouths you harder than normal and appears stiff, he's throwing a tantrum. If he ever growls when you walk past his toy or food or at another person or dog for seemingly no reason, that's not a tantrum. Those are signs of aggression, and you need to put a stop to that at once by contacting your vet or a qualified trainer.
Stopping a Tantrum
Putting an end to your puppy's fits of rage is fairly simple in theory. If gets enraged while you're playing with him, ignore him by facing a wall or closing yourself in a separate room where he can't see you. If you're talking a walk and he throws a fit, stay completely still. Only when he stops barking, growling, biting at his leash and throwing himself around does he get to move ahead.
While those methods often work and sounds simple enough, it's not always that easy to gain control. Your puppy my run at your ankles, latch onto your socks and have a complete meltdown. If that happens, place one hand on his chest, and another on his collar. Hold him in place until he stops. With your hands in those two areas, he won't be able to easily mouth you, and you have complete control.
Rest Does the Body Good
Puppies are just like children when it comes to sleeping. If they don't get enough, they're grumpy little things. Although playtime and interacting with your puppy are important, give him some space and allow him to rest those eyes a few times throughout the day. Avoid waking him up when he's sleeping or trying to keep him awake so he'll sleep at night.
Things Not to Do
When surfing the Internet or watching TV, you'll occasionally come across advice for controlling your sometimes out-of-control pup. Ignore all advice that suggests pinning your little guy on his back, smacking his nose, yelling at the top of your lungs, spraying him in the face or physically disciplining him. All of those things will cause his tantrums to worsen.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.