Getting Rid of the Growl

The little dog had been in our training center for 15 minutes before he noticed the giant painting of a dog hanging on the wall. His eyes widened as he took a step towards it, growling. “Pssht!” his owner hissed, snapping her fingers at him. He jerked in surprise, then sat down and licked his lips. He didn’t growl again, but continued to stare at the painting, trembling slightly, paw raised.

Photo by Sini Merikallio

Dogs growl for a variety of reasons. Fear, insecurity, guarding behavior, offensive aggression, and play can all elicit growls, although to an expert these growls are each unique in their tone and pitch. Outside of play, growling serves as a warning that all is not well in the dog’s world. Something is off, and our dog is doing us the courtesy of sharing that information.

“Why did you just snap at your dog?” I asked the little dog’s owner.

“I want him to know that I won’t tolerate that behavior,” she replied.

It’s human nature to respond negatively to a dog’s growl. Growling is an undesirable behavior, and can oftentimes be a precursor to a bite. However, as I explained to the little dog’s owner, it’s important to suppress your urge to correct your dog for growling. Thank your dog for growling, and remove or redirect him from the situation that’s provoking a growl. It’s better than the alternative.

Growling serves as a warning signal. It tells you that your dog is unhappy or uncomfortable. Something is wrong. Think of it as an early warning system.

Punishing a dog for growling takes away your early warning system. Dogs who are punished for growling oftentimes learn not to growl. However, getting rid of the growl doesn’t fix the underlying cause for growling, which leaves us with a dog who is just as upset as before, but now has no way to express that discomfort except for escalating his display. The growl may be gone, but now you’ve created a dog who will bite “without warning.”

All dogs warn. If your dog doesn’t warn before he bites, it’s either because you’re missing his precursor signals or because he no longer feels safe displaying them. Either way, the fault here lies at the other end of the leash.

Dogs who go straight to biting without displaying lots and lots of precursors are much more difficult to treat. I would much rather work with a dog who stiffens up, displays whale eyes, hard stares me, curls his lip, growls, freezes, then… finally.. bites, than a dog who goes straight from a freeze to a bite. It will be much easier to keep the situation safe with the first dog. The latter case is much riskier.

If your dog growls, he believes he has a valid reason to do so. The little dog was understandably worried by what he perceived as a giant dog, frozen and staring at him (both confrontational and potentially aggressive behaviors) across the room. His owner would have done better to acknowledge his fear, using treats to reward him for looking at, and later on investigating, the frightening painting (and she will in the future, as she now has the tools to better deal with situations that make him uncomfortable). His growl was merely a symptom of his insecurity in this situation. Treating the underlying cause will make the symptom disappear far more effectively than suppressing it.

What situations cause your dog to growl? How have you addressed those situations? Please share your stories in the comments!

96 responses to “Getting Rid of the Growl

  1. Excellent advise re: what growling stands for.
    Hope the ppl who use correction, read this and follow the logic.

  2. Thanks for another good blog post. I’ve had to retrain several dogs who’ve had their warning signs “trained” away. I wish that all people would recognize what a mistake this is.

  3. Mine does a great job of warning! Which is good, but….I am at a loss on how to prevent it unless we never let anyone touch him ever again. He will cuddle up with someone he has met before to be pet, then after 5 minutes of petting he will freeze and curl his lips and if the person does not notice and continues to touch him he will snap. He is a shepherd/Doberman rescue that we have only had for less than a year and we think he is about 4-5 years old. We have no idea of his history as he was a stray. I don’t correct him but I want to teach him he doesn’t get to snap to get his way, and that if he is really that uncomfortable with being touched (even if it’s after being touched for 5 minutes already) that he can walk away rather than resort to the snap.

    • allsixfeetofme, it’s great that your dog warns when he’s uncomfortable and that you don’t correct him for communicating. Kudos to both of you! This is just the sort of behavior that an experienced trainer can really help you with. Even if you have lots of training experience, another set of eyes can be really helpful to assist you in putting together a training plan. Have you consulted with a professional about this issue yet? If not, now’s a great time to find an experienced positive trainer in your area.

      • Hi, we have worked with two obedience trainers, and have had a behaviourist come to our house to help us. I am doing everything they have told us to do (and I truly am doing everything, not just trying to convince myself I am) but he is still acting out. I am finding the biggest problem is all the contradicting advice we have gotten it is hard to figure out what the real problem is. He seems legitimately fearful but when he acts out after being pet for 5 min doesn’t make sense if it’s out of fear. That to me is him saying “OK I am done with you, don’t touch me or I will snap…which will definitely get you to stop touching me”. He does also snap at new people occasionally (even though we tell everyone no touch, no eye contact, no talk), he will approach to sniff and if they move in a way he doesn’t like, too quickly or touch him he sometimes snaps. I can see how that is fear but the other situation doesn’t make sense to me.

      • allsixfeetofme, I’m glad you’re working with someone. It’s quite likely that your dog is indeed fearful or uncomfortable around people, even in the situations you describe where he has been pet for several minutes before snapping. Sometimes it can take several minutes for a dog to reach his threshold. It’s unethical of me to give you advice without seeing your dog, so I will refer you to the trainer you’re currently working with, but please remember that the old adage “practice makes perfect” applies to dog training as well. If your dog continues to be put in situations where he “practices” growling or snapping, he’s likely to continue using these behaviors in the future. Prevention and good management are just as important as behavior modification, and I’m sure the trainer you’re working with can assist you with putting some solid management policies in place to prevent your dog from being put in provoking situations while you continue to work through this issue.

    • If you haven’t already done so, it would be a good idea to have him checked out by a vet (or even better, a vet behaviorist) for any physical / medical issues. Low thyroid levels in particular can cause some odd aggression issues.

      • Thanks for the suggestion. We have decided to get his levels tested before spending any more money on a behaviourist (we are prepared to get more help but will get his levels tested first).

    • You said in your other comment that you are seeing a behaviorist. What are this person’s credentials? Unfortunately, absolutely anyone can call themselves a behaviorist (or a dog trainer, for that matter). You can find legitimately qualified behavior consultants who can truly address your dog’s issue here- http://www.ccpdt.org/index.php?option=com_certificants&task=directory&country=Canada

      Your profile said you’re near Toronto, so I linked to the Canada listings, but you can find people from all over on that site.

      • Thanks for the link. According to that list there is only one behaviourist in Ontario who is certified. The behaviourist we worked with was highly recommended by many people involved in the rescue world here….but unfortunately I just don’t think her method worked for us. May look into working with the one from this list but I also have a few others in mind.

    • I recently trained a rescue English Shepherd that was surrendered by his owner for aggression. He acted much like your dog: growling when he didn’t like what people were doing, snapping at people that had just been petting him without issue, snapping at people if they moved in a way he didn’t like. He had nipped three different people when he came to me, and I never had an aggressive incident with him in my care, simply as a result of having a clearly defined structure to his life and setting him up for success (we started training on day one, and I didn’t put him in challenging situations until I knew we had prepared adequately for it). We used the Koehler Method of Dog Training (the book is probably available at your library, or you can find a trainer in your area).

      • I wish we could say the same about our guy. I have been researching since the day we got him on how to set a defined structure. We follow every “rule” we have found and nothing has made a difference. I understand not putting him into the situation until he works through his issue, but we just don’t seem to be going anywhere and then someone will not follow our rules and he has a setback (I guess we may have to crate him when people are around). What I am having trouble with is how can we work through the issue by simply avoiding the situation? (not being sarcastic, I seriously do not know what else to do to work through the situation at this point without spending hundreds more on trainers and behaviourists). The last behaviourist was all about using treats….as food motivated as my dog is I do not believe that treats are the answer to everything. Thanks for the info on the Koehler Method, I will look in to it.

      • It’s really rough sorting through all the different and sometimes conflicting information out there, you have my sympathy. My guy was always crated when people were over in the beginning, you could also tether him somewhere if you trust your guests not to interact with him. That way he doesn’t get to practice the undesirable behavior while you’re still in training. For my guy, and I suspect for yours, it’s important that they are not given permission to approach strangers on their own (or anyone they are likely to growl at) and by crating the dog or tethering them, they don’t get to engage in that while you’re both working on developing his self-restraint.

        It’s not that you avoid the situation forever: it’s that in the beginning you do need to manage the environment until you’ve cultivated a coherent way to say to him “no, don’t do that, do this instead.” In the Koehler method, we begin to address the growling at people problem by having the dog hold a sit-stay around people (decreasing the distance, and moving up to the person touching the dog as the dog has success at each step). The method is about giving the dog a responsibility to attend to (holding a sit stay, in this example) and then holding them accountable to it.

        The Koehler method doesn’t use treats, for that reason. There are going to be things in the dog’s life that they care about more than treats, even the most food-motivated dogs. Instead it lets the dog make their own decisions, guided by the handler’s instruction, and lets them naturally make the “right” choice as a result of simple cause and effect. The goal is to have a dog with self-control, not needing to be forever managed.

        You can go to http://www.koehlerdogtraining.com/trainerslist.html for a list of trainers, if there’s not one on the list that’s in your area, you can email the “contact us” link to find out if there’s a trainer that’s closer but not listed on the website. If there’s a Koehler trainer near you, it should be the last one you ever need, and most offer group classes (cheaper, and a better learning environment). If not, working from the book will still take you a very long way from where you are now. I wish you the best of luck, it’s people and dogs like you that are the reason I got into training (and using this method: because it works for ALL dogs, not just golden retrievers)

      • Thanks for the info. I really think that will help us alot. I am going to look into the Koehler Method. I already did some reading on it when you fist posted the comment. So far I like what I read! I am going to look into trainers in our area for sure. Thanks for your help. Truly appreciated!

  4. AmadeusPantherPants

    The things I have seen Amadeus growl about so far are all things he can hear outside that he cannot see or investigate (the latest was my parent’s neighbor’s combine while they were harvesting corn). If we point him to the correct window so he can see the noisemaker, he calms right down. I suspect that these growls are a way of expressing that he’s concerned and confused.

  5. Sara – I have one of those non-growly, silent-biter type dogs. Our trainer believes that he has been punished in the past for growling or barking which is why he is so silent and deadly. These days I say THANK YOU, BOOGIE! when he growls at someone. I am genuinely grateful that Boogie has become a more vocal dog. I acknowledge his growl and we move away fast from the trigger (usually a scary person on the street who has come too close). In the past he would stiffen and go straight for their leg.

  6. My 6 yo Pyr growls and then goes after our small 14yo terrier. They were raised together, but now I have to keep them separated. The terrier is very submissive, and I can’t for the life of me figure why the Pry wants to tear her up.

  7. Oops. Good to know. My lab-schnauzer is slowly improving with age and socialization. Read somewhere that they should sit and be quiet, face away or walk away from item they’re reacting to. So it sounds like I shouldn’t be making him quiet?

    • Hi Shawn,

      It’s great that your dog is improving with your help! Generally, I would suggest that if your dog is growling he’s being pushed too far. Try to avoid situations that provoke growling, gradually working up to previously stressful situations as he gains in confidence and learns to follow your lead. If you accidentally push too far and he growls, calmly remove him from that situation. Are you working with a trainer?

  8. Lovely article, thank you.

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  10. Rainy is excellent at teaching manners to other dogs. When I first brought home Sunshine, she was a clueless no knowledge of personal space 2 yr old. I will remember that first time Rainy growled/snarked at her then froze and looked at me like I was going to beat her! LOL I praised her for growling and told her it was ok since Sunshine needed to learn some manners. Sunshine gets corrected since she is usually guarding bones from cats or dogs who aren’t even bothering her when she snarls. If there is a reason, I let it go or praise for communication depending on the dog. If there is no good reason I will mildly correct and address the reason why they are growling. Like feeling that they have to guard food, etc

    This past Monday a friend got a pit mix from the SPCA. 4 yr old female, tested safe with other dogs, etc. Very excitable and reactive but will instantly go back to a level 2 with a simple sit command. This dog has no idea what is polite in doggy land. She was snarked at in the yard while they were playing. I always stepped in and backed Rainy up when she felt a correction was warrented. Later inside she approached the dog to politely sniff butts and the pit mix tried to leap at her. A huge growl/snarl from Rainy was the response. I think the pit mix just thinks she’s playing and is threatening to jump on Rainy to wrestle, but it’s not polite!

    My friend’s DH was jumping and freaking out at all the growls so it also gave me an opportunity to tell him he now owns a very large powerful breed and growling is part of natural communication. The worst thing you can do is freak out. Stay calm! Then I told him to break up any dog fights by grabbing hind legs, never grab for the faces, etc. I’m really hoping they do well with this sweet little pit mix :) They will continue to come for visits and Rainy will slowly teach manners

  11. My dog growls, barks, and snaps at any animal he sees on TV. This gets the whole household going as they run around barking trying to figure why Sarge is alerting. We try to calm him down but the only thing that works is to turn the TV off. Any suggestions anyone? We love to cuddle up with the boys and watch television for a short while before bed but all too often it turns into bedlam

    • Our dog used to react to “knocking on door” sounds coming from the television. We basically followed the same treatment as for thunderstorm desensitization and counter conditioning….I would sit on the sofa with treats and my dog, put in a movie that has door knocking, turn the volume down low enough to keep our dog from reacting, and feed her a treat when the knock occurred (I would keep rewinding or fast forwarding to door knock parts…it would’ve been easier to have a recording of continuous door knocks) Eventually I began turning up the volume in small increments/treating for no reaction. If its something both auditory and visual that’s causing the reactivity I would think it’d be good to start out by covering the screen with a sheet and just work on desensitizing the dog to the sounds first, then turning the volume all the way down and working on the visual reactivity by having the dog on leash far enough away from the tv screen to not elicit a reaction, but still in sight. Working with the dog on basic stuff like obedience or targeting your hand might be a sufficient distraction, and as long as there is no reaction you can slowly begin to edge closer to the screen. If the dog reacts just move back to where he was not reacting. If the dog loses interest in this, stop and continue again later. Key is to prevent the dog from reacting, so until he has become desensitized you should keep him busy in another room (with a kong or other fun toy to keep him happy) during tv watching time. :)

  12. Thank you for the post! It is more of a conformation of what I was beginning to feel worked and what didn’t work! I volunteer with the humane society so we see all manner of behavior. Most of which growling is involved. Recently I have found that saying “leave it” and then giving praise is far more rewarding in the end. So thank you for backing me up and letting me know I was on the right track! :)

  13. My dog is a Dachshund. He growls only when he sees big dogs. I just laugh and say, “Are you serious about taking down the other dog?”.

  14. My Aussie, Mo, growls when my Corgi mix tries to enter a room that Mo is already in. Once the corgi comes in the room, they have no issues with each other. I would like to teach Mo that she isn’t allowed to be so bossy with the Corgi but I don’t know how to do that without correcting the growl. The intent of the growl is what I’d like to fix.

  15. This is great advice. My GSD is a rescue and has some fear anxiety. Once we were walking on the beach when she noticed a log that has been washed ashore. She started displaying her usual signs of fear so I walked her up to the log and let her check it out. She calmed down and went back to enjoying the beach. It was a huge difference to how she would have reacted when I first adopted her.

  16. Brilliant advice, I am afraid I have been correcting my dog for growling – something which I will immediately stop!!

  17. My dog is very dog reactive and as you discussed has a very subtle warning system. She stiffens, gives a hard stare…and then bam. No barking, no growling. She is six years old and I have only had her for the last two years, so I am not sure what happened. The only time she has ever growled was at a cellophane balloon lurking next to the trash. It was bizarre…I was like, “really?”.

  18. I would never prevent a dog from growling. As the article says, this is a warning sign, and I’ll take a growl over a bite any day of the week.

  19. My rescue dog was a “straight to the snap” dog when we got him. Three very submissive foster dogs in a row taught him that if he “warned” them, they would respect that communication and back off, so he’s learned to give signals. Wish I could take credit – I tried to encourage him to growl as an “in-between” stage between stiffening up and snapping, but I can’t. Credit belongs to Joey, Tucker and Kacey – three awesome fosterdogs now happily ensconced in their forever homes. My current foster isn’t quite as submissive, but she will respect his communications, so she’s reinforcing his new outlook. More importantly for liability issues, he’s doing better at warning human beings who annoy him, too.

  20. I rescued a beautiful, friendly, loving blue nose pit. His name is Blue. He saved me from depression. He often growls when I move him, while in bed. And when I want him off. If I go to grab his collar or touch him he snaps at me. I use a water bottle, and won’t let him back on the bed. Like now he is own a doggy bed in my room. I feel he thinks the room is his. He spends majority of his time in here. Also, is fed in here too. We have a 4 yr old boxer and we are fostering a dog. I’m keeping Blue and also getting a puppy at the end of this month. How do I stop this behavior. I grew up with mutts and the last 14 yrs only had Boxers. I don’t want Blue to be stero typed. Any suggestions would help.

  21. My 1st labrador retriever was the typical lab that loved everyone except one day when I was walking him, a stranger started approaching and my dog started growling. I had never heard him do that before but knew he must of felt something out of whack & took his word for it & avoided the stranger.

  22. We turned off our dog’s growl and then had a zero to bite dog. He was hypothyroid and after we got him fixed and on meds our work on re-training his behavior started to stick. He is still very reactive and needs a low stress environment but we were able to let him get his growl back by carefully watching his stress signals and actually praising him when he would very quietly growl and then look at me for reasurrance. (Im sure the cat didn’t like it because I would remove the cat from the dog’s presence but at least it was me rather than the dog making her leave). The praise was for letting us know he was uncomfortable, not for acting out in agression. Sometimes the praise was just having him come over to be petted, giving him a treat or even better for him – making the cat leave :)

  23. What about the not quite a bark yet “growl” from over excitement? I have a friendly leash reactive dog – over excited barking, he wants to rush dogs and greet them. Inappropriate impulses , and of course we don’t let him rush up and say hi (no practicing impolite behavior). However, I will verbally correct the over excited barking if he isn’t completely past his threshhold, which recently has improved to growls instead of immediate explosive barking. The growls are his “warm up” when he still can control his behavior. I just tell him uh-uh. If he keeps vocalizing we move away.

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  30. We adopted a 10 year old Maltese about 4 months ago and for the most part he’s a very sweet affectionate dog . However he has guarding issues , I know this bc we have worked with a behaviorist . He also growls at me any time he doesn’t like something mostly if I’m petting him or in ” his space” and at that moment he does not want me too . He had also bit me . I understand that he’s warning me and then bites however I just don’t think it’s ok for him to constantly growl when he doesn’t like something , isn’t he the one in control of me if he does ? I’m just trying to help him :(

    • Hi Gen,

      I’m so glad to hear that you’re working with a behaviorist! These are questions to bring to your behavior consultant, as each case is different. Without seeing your dog, I can’t ethically give you any concrete advice.

      Kindest regards,
      – Sara

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  32. I have a 2 year old Male Maltese x Poodle x Shih Tzu, and when one of the family members would touch him on the back or try to play with him he begins to growl like a Gremlin really. we had tried to stop by trying to relax him or stop it happening but no results. and he’s seriously possessive over one of our female family member as we have another dog male thats 10 year old Foxie Cross.. I have no idea what to do? Could you please give some advice thanks.

    • Hi Jessica,

      Have you worked with a trainer? In a situation such as yours I would highly recommend consulting with a professional. Ethically, I cannot give you any specific advice without meeting you, your dog, and your family in person. You can find a trainer in your area by searching online at http://www.ccpdt.org. Good luck!

      – Sara Reusche CPDT-KA CVT
      Paws Abilities Dog Training, LLC

  33. I read an article that suggested that when constant growling at people happens with puppies, it might be because they are in one of the two “fear imprint periods.” I had never heard of this before, but thought it was super-interesting. Check it out: http://www.ilovedogs.com/2013/06/ask-a-trainer-how-do-i-get-my-puppy-to-stop-growling-at-people/

  34. We have a beautiful two year male Alaskan malamute who is not neutered. He has always been a big love bug, but a couple of months ago he started growling at me and my youngest son fairly regularly. It was shocking at first as it was totally out of character. He does not growl at my husband (whom we are certain he sees as the alpha of the pack) and rarely growls at my older son (it happens when they rough house sometimes), and he does from time to time growl at our daughter. All of our children are adults. He never shows agression to strangers, nor does he growl or bark. I have spent the most time with him and he was always very loving. The growling as far as I can tell, came out of nowhere. We mostly ignore it or put him outside when he does it. He seems to do it most often when I speak to him in a sucky way or when I hug him. He wags his tail gently which I understand can be a warning sign. We thought perhaps it was an adolescent behaviour of his,but as I said it has been going on for several months. He does not try to bite, as a matter of fact he will often lick us when he growls. We do have a fixed 5 year old female yellow lab, and the two of them did have a litter of puppies late last year if any of this matters. I would just like to understand what his behaviour might mean. Our assumptions are pack position (him wanting to be higher in the pack and therefore asserting himself) or the adolescence. Any insight would be appreciated.

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  36. We rescued a small dog who was very friendly back in March. We started bringing her to the dog park so exercise her and socialize her. I must admit, some dogs play rather rough and she learned to play rough. Some owners do not like it so I started removing her from that situation. We live in the desert and it can be hot in the evenings so we bring a big jug of ice water and a bowl. Other owners do not bring water for their dogs so their dogs would come to get a drink from us. Initially, there was no problem. And then our girl started snarling and snapping at other dogs if they were drinking so we started brining two bowls and would only allow her to drink out of her bowl. It worked for a while but every now and then, one would walk up to the second bowl while our dog was by us and snap and snarl at them. If we did not remove her from the other dog, I get the feeling that she would hurt it.

    I walk her every morning and there are other dogs that come too or we meet up with them. Two Beagles, next door, one is 11 and the other is 17 years old, have always walked and basically ignored each other. Over the last two to three weeks, they have all taken an interest in each other being more willing to sniff or lick each other. Today, one of the Beagles was sniffing the ground for something and got too close to our dog and she snarled and reach out and snapped at her before we even knew there was a problem. THe Beagle wimpered but she was not hurt. Then later, they were fine again.

    My husband walks our dog in the evenings every night but we have pretty much stopped the dog park although my husband wants to bring her back. We have noticed that if our dog does the approaching, she stays calm for a while but too long and she snaps. We have been taking her to training classes and the trainer has been working with another dog and our’s to try to stop the aggression. When ever our dog sees that dog, she barks and if too close, snaps. Someone held that dog and let our dog go smell it but when we let that dog go smell our dog, she turned and snapped.

    I don’t really yell at her. I usually just pull her away but today, she shocked me and I yanked and pulled her and way and told her “No, not nice”.

    I am at my witts end. Please, make some suggestions. I tried snacks and treats and treat all the dogs and that is not a problem with our dog. THeir owner does the same thing and our dog gets his treats.

    A point here is that our dog was found wandering the street near the Mexico border but nobody knows for how long. They took her to a Kill Shelter where she was rescued by a group. There were 26 dogs living at that house and our dog was only 16 pounds. She is now perfect at 20 pounds. Could she be protecting her food and water because she is not the best eater and likes to graze so I leave some Bil Jacs out at all times. Maybe when she wouldn’t eat, the big dogs would eat her food but regardless, we need to put a stop to this. Everything else about this dog is perfect; no begging, well mannered in restaraunts, friendly with people but we did notice that she was growling at a baby in a stroller. I hope this isn’t a problem.

    Help. help. help.

    • Hi Berna,

      It’s clear that you adore your dog and are doing everything you can to help her cope with other dogs. I’m glad to hear you’ve stopped bringing her to the dog park for now and are not punishing her when she growls.

      You can find a local trainer who can help you through these issues by searching online at http://www.ccpdt.org. Make sure to interview the trainer ahead of time to learn about their experience helping other dogs who had similar issues to yours as well as to make sure their training techniques are in line with your own beliefs. You may also find some further information on helping your dog by searching this blog for posts on reactivity.

      Best of luck with your little girl!
      – Sara
      Paws Abilities Dog Training

  37. We have a 1 1/2 year old dog who is well behaved except for one particular problem, when I get dressed to go to work and approach my wife to say goodbye, she gets aggressive, growls, and lunges at me , although she has never bitten me _ yet… can’t figure it out, I feed her and walk her, and never have i mistreated her….the strange thing is she only does it when I’m

    going to work. We tried making her go to mat, but that hasn’t cured the problem and my wife has tried laying her down till she calms down, but that’s not

  38. I have a pitbull rescue. He is 14 months old. Not the first bully bed i have owned.Have had him since he was 10 weeks. A couple days ago he started to pull his lips back and give a mean growl to my son when my son would approach me and Kai (my dog) who were laying in the bed. This problem is only when Kai is in bed with me or my husband. He does not growl at my son when they are in any other part of the house. Kai will actually give my son kisses. When he growls I have my son back up and at the same time pet Kai and tell him he will be ok. Kai also shakes when this is happening. Please help don’t want to give up on him but can’t risk a vote with my son

  39. Michele We have a jack russell male he is 9 months old. Whenever he is on his bed or my daughters bed he growls and then his lip will curl up.It does frighten us and it can be quite annoying. We then leave him alone on his bed as we think if we go to pick him up he will snap at us.What can we do ?

  40. My dogs a year old pit chow mix. Gorgeous dog. Sweet and lovable, and follows me around everywhere i go in the house. He usually only growls at me when i go to scold him. Like ” dont hit me woman”. But today, he went outside to poo.. and he came in with it on his rear and he sat down. I said Bruno get up (to wipe his butt) And he wouldnt, so i went to pull him up gently and he low rumble growled. I need to nip this in the bud soon, and i dont know how, or im going to lose my best friend. Its me, my bf, and my 6 year old son in the house and Bruno. Please help our family.

    • You need to back up a few steps in your thinking. If Bruno doesn’t “get up” when you give him that command, it’s because you haven’t made it worth his while to do so in the past, so start training the “get up” (or come, or whatever will give you the access you need) command and reward him BIG whenever he follows it. THEN there will never be a need to physically grab your dog, which is potentially a very dangerous thing to do if grabbing the dog wasn’t the dog’s idea. Reaching out and grabbing a part of your dog’s body (and probably leaning over him to do it!) could definitely look like a threat to him, and his growl was his controlled warning to you that you did something rude. If you grab him enough times without conditioning him that’s it worth his while to let you grab him, he WILL escalate to snapping, lunging, and biting for looming and grabbing him. And I’m guessing the looming and loud/negative tone of voice you use when you scold him is what prompts his growling in that situation, too. It’s challenging to look at the world from your dog’s POV, but once you do, you’ll be surprised a LOT less by his behavior! I would definitely supervise ALL interactions your dog has with your child, and be certain your child understands that it’s NOT ok to lean over and/or grab at your dog.

  41. My dog growls at me when he’s in trouble. Say when it’s time to go to bed and I go to pick him up to go to my room, he growls at me .

  42. Pingback: “Needs Training” | Paws Abilities

  43. I rescued a year old dog from a shelter about 2 months ago. He never growled or bit me or my room mate until a few days ago. He has started growling and snapping at my room mate when he gets up to leave the room. He has also done it a few times to guests. It came out of nowhere, and now he has gotten worse in such a short time. Not sure where to go from here. I have never left him alone with other people, so it’s not like my room mate is abusing him when I’m not there. Seems very strange to me.

  44. I have an 8 yr old male boxer who is just the best dog I have ever had and he gets along wonderfully with my five yr old cat and loves to go play at my in-laws with their six yr old female boxer(she jas been fixed he has not) but just in the last yr when i walk into the bedroom and can’t see if i stumble over him he will growl and his hair will stand on end but that is understandable lol but now its gotten to where when i make him get down off my bed out of sleep he will growl like that another understandable kinda lol okay but a monent ago i came back to my brightly lit living room and was talking to him and like ALWAYS i leaned over and held him and kissed his head and there it went again he doesn’t open his mouth or growl at me or my husband like he does to a threat its just aggrevating and idk what to do to stop this what is ur advice?

    • Your dog was ALWAYS bothered by you leaning over him, holding him, and kissing his head – leaning over *any* dog and grabbing him is going to bother him. He’s probably given you some signs before, but they were much more subtle than growling. It’s just that he’s finally built up enough confidence to let you know it bothers him by escalating his displeasure warning signs to a growl. LISTEN to him, and do counter-conditioning very, *very* gradually if you want him to not bite your face off for grabbing and kissing him!

  45. Pingback: Petting Dogs: why consent is important | Paws Abilities

  46. I have a pitbull puppy she took my shoe like it was hers then i told her no the 2nd time she took it because she tought i was sleep then she growld at me i told her this is my shoe lol in a low voice then gave her toys so she could chew on them before that i told her get down off my bed she got a lil bossy but i showed her whos boss by putting her on the floor in told her spot aka her bed then she laid on the floor i kept saying spot then she gave in shes about 10or 11weeks help i love her but the snappy habit gotta go

  47. My pup is 4 months old for the last 4 nights when going to bed she sits at the end of the bed growling and staring at the door/wall she shakes and won’t settle, she has never done this before and the house I live in isn’t haunted or shown any signs of it being haunted. Why is she doing this? How do I settle her. What could be the reason for this behaviour all of a sudden many thanks Jodie

  48. Sandy McDonald

    We got a 3 year old dashound and she loves everyone in the house but me she growls and nips or bites I don’t know why I’ve never done anything to her

  49. Christina Boothby

    Allsixfeetofme, I would also check the protein levels on his food. I studied for several years under a certified behaviorist and when I was having aggression issues with my youngest dog, she recomended decreasing the protein in her diet because the high end food she was eating had too much. It’s not something most people think of, and its only recomended in aggressive dogs. PLEASE check with your vet before making any changes in your dogs food.

  50. My G.S. growls every time my seven year old enters the room or gets close to me. He doesn’t do it with the ,11 yr old or the 3 yr old. This child is the most skittish, gentlest of the three. He has ocd and anxiety. He loves the dog but has never gotten too close.I homeschooling him. If.we are together in a room.the dog must be kenneled. Tried dogta.in response….not working. Vet did home visit. Said he was wonderful but not right for our family. My husband refuses to give him.back to breeder. Tries to forc child.to fill dogs.dish or give a great even though dog goes.nuts when he does that. He says I’m too emotional but its hard when my child’s safety is at stake. He was trained by the breeder /trainer; place, sit, stay, wait, come, lay down, out. I’m at a loss here……

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