Nothing is quite as scary as when a strange dog starts growling at you and you don’t know why or how they will react. So, you can imagine when people walk by you on the street or visit your home they are slightly nervous about your dog’s habit of growling and grumbling at them. But, before you start training your dog never to growl again, you should understand why they’re doing it and when it is okay to growl.
The Cause of Growling
A dog growls for many reasons. Mostly, it is a response to an unfamiliar situation in which the dog needs to assert himself. If he feels threatened, scared, or simply angry at another animal or person, he will growl to show the other being that he means business. You might witness your dog growling at your other dogs when you’re on a walk. It’s merely his way of saying “hey, leave me be – I’m bigger than you”.
In nature, that growl is perfectly normal and if you completely remove it, it’s actually unsafe. When a dog is openly angry or upset, or if he becomes aggressive, growling is one of the warning signs before he will bite. Their teeth will come out, the growling starts and then he will go for the bite. By removing the warning mechanisms or punishing the dog for growling, there is a chance he could skip it altogether and simply bite.
When and How to Stop Growling
But, that doesn’t mean you should let your dog go around growling at people every day. What I really mean to say is that growling is an underlying symptom of aggression and should be solved in a holistic way. Don’t punish your dog for growling – remove the source of aggression in the first place.
* Don’t Punish – Never punish a dog for growling. This is when you’ll create a dog that bites and snaps instead of growling. You’re not removing the behavior; you’re just removing the growling, which is unsafe.
* Talk to Your Family – Explain to your children and family why the dog is growling and make sure they understand that if a dog is growling when otherwise very nice, it is because he is agitated and they should stop what they are doing.
* Teach People the Approach – If someone bigger or louder than your dog approaches suddenly to pet him, he might growl to assert himself. Have the person squat down and hold out a hand to make sure the dog doesn’t get too upset.
* Medical Checkup – Random growling and snapping for no reason could be a sign of a medical issue. It could be neurological, or your dog could be in pain that is causing them to grow agitated and take it out on anyone that comes near them.
* Assert Your Position – If your dog growls when eating or when you get near his space, he is treating you like a secondary member of the pack who is invading his space. Your goal should be to show your dog who the alpha leader is and how much control you have over the situation. Above all else, remember that growling is a completely normal behavior that your dog will exhibit from time to time. Don’t just assume that a growl is a bad thing. A dog that is threatened should show some backbone. And if a dog is upset, they should communicate it, rather than just biting or snapping at someone. Through it all, however, make sure you control your home and don’t let your dog intimidate you or anyone in your household.
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Akinluyi Jerry is a young entrepreneur, Animal lover, Dog Consultant and Security expert, CEO of Jeak’s kennel and securities. Certified dog behaviourist and Pro trainer, Member of international association of canine professionals (IACP) .A graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife and National K9 School.