How Do Mother Dogs Punish Their Pups?

"I taught my puppies to be well-behaved."
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There’s perhaps no more devoted mother than a mother dog. She thinks of nothing but the welfare of her pups, and her life revolves around caring for them. Puppies are born helpless, so this care is necessary for their survival. Only after this stage comes discipline.

By Policing and Teaching

Mother dogs don’t exactly punish their newly born pups; they police them instead to ensure they don’t hurt themselves or their littermates. They also teach them the proper ways to behave. This process is called socialization, and it occurs between the third and 12th weeks of a pup’s life.

Discouraging Certain Behaviors

When new pups start to become active and want to check out their surroundings, Mom makes sure the little explorers stay close by. She also breaks up any struggles between brothers and sisters. The older the pups get, more toward week 12, Mom will encourage independence and will discourage clinginess. If a pup gets in her face when he should be out and about, Mom might push the pup away.

Walking Away from a Nursing Session

It’s important for dogs to learn bite inhibition so they don’t cause damage from biting. A dog who’s been taught bite inhibition from his mom controls the force of his bite. For example, your dog might become mouthy with you during play, but doesn’t ever hurt you or break skin. This is probably because he’s displaying bite inhibition; he’s controlling the strength of his bite. Mom probably first taught him this while he was a nursing pup. If he bit down too hard while nursing, Mom probably got up and walked away. This teaches pups to control how hard they bite down. They need to bite softly or not bite at all while nursing or they’ll starve.

Stopping a Play Session

Puppies bite when they play. The only way they’ll know whether they’re biting too hard is if someone tells them -- and that someone is Mom. If an excited pup bites Mom too hard during a play session, Mom will give a yelp loud enough to startle her little one. If the puppy bites hard again, Mom might growl and show teeth. She also might bite back. She certainly won’t continue playing with a pup who bites too hard. The pup soon learns to control the force of his biting if he wants Mom and other dogs to play with him.

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