How To Prevent Your Dog From Growling

One of the scariest things you can encounter is a strange dog growling at you, especially when you don’t know why or how they’re going to react.  You can understand why people are nervous when your dog growls or grumbles at them when they walk by you when you’re walking your dog or if your dog is out in the yard.

However, before you decide to train your dog never to growl again, you need to learn why your dog is growling and when it is acceptable for him to growl.

Causes of Growling

Dogs growl for lots of reasons. It’s usually a response to a situation they’re not familiar with where the dog needs to assert himself.  If your dog is scared, threatened or upset at someone or something, he will growl to show that he has to be taken seriously.

Your dog may growl at your cats while he’s eating; or he may growl at nearby dogs when you’re out walking.  This is his way of announcing, “Leave me alone: I’m bigger and tougher than you are.”  In the natural world your dog’s growl is normal and if you train him not to growl it is not safe.

If a dog is upset or angry or if he is aggressive, then growling is an important warning signal that he could bite.  The dog’s teeth will show and the growling begins and then he will begin to bite.  If you train your dog not to growl, you remove the warning signal and he could bite without giving any warning.

When and How You Can Stop Your Dog From Growling

This doesn’t mean that it’s okay for your dog to growl at people whenever he feels like it.  Growling is one of the underlying symptoms of aggression and you need to solve the issue of aggression in order to stop the growling. Don’t just stop the growling. Stop the source of the aggression.

1. Don’t Punish Your Dog.
Don’t punish your dog for growling.  If you do, you will cause your dog to bite and snap without growling.  You’re not curing aggression, you’re just removing the growling and that’s not safe.

2. Speak to Your Family.
Talk to your children and other family members about why your dog is growling and make sure they understand that if the dog is growling but otherwise being nice, it means that the dog is agitated or upset and they must stop what they are doing to upset the dog.

3. Teach People How To Approach The Dog.
If someone approaches your dog who is bigger and louder and wants to pet him, your dog may growl as a way to assert himself.  Teach people that they should bend down and hold out their hand so the dog doesn’t get too agitated or upset.

4. Take Your Dog to the Vet.

If your dog is growling and snapping and there doesn’t seem to be a reason for it, take him to the vet.  Your dog could have a neurological problem or he could be experiencing pain that is upsetting him.  He could be taking his pain and frustration out on anyone who approaches him.

5. Assert Your Position.

If your dog growls at certain times, such as when he is eating or if you enter his space, it means that he is treating you like a lesser member of the pack and he sees you as invading his space.  In this case you need to remember to show your dog that you are in charge and you are the alpha leader of the pack.

Keep in mind that growling is a normal behavior for a dog and all dogs exhibit this behavior sometimes.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing.  If your dog is threatened he should be able to stand up for himself.

If your dog is upset he should be able to communicate this fact.  Growling is a good form of communication.  It’s better than your dog biting or snapping at someone without warning.  Make sure that you are always in control of your home and don’t allow your dog to assume the alpha position or intimidate you or anyone else in your home.

Mark Mansfield

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