Before we address the issue of how to stop dog growling, it is important for you to understand why does a dog growl? It is in the roots of your dog. Your pet dog is descendants from wild wolves. Yes, even your little sweet chihuahua has a wolf inside of her. Through time and evolution, wolves have adapted to live along side man.
Why Is My Dog Growling?
Wolves were the first animals to be domesticated by humans. Your pet pooch has the natural instincts of her great ancestors inside of her. There will be times when your dog will want to naturally test her boundaries, it’s the wolf inside of her.
Also keep in mind that dogs growl when they feel threatened. They growl for a number of reasons. In order to stop dog growling, know it’s normal for dogs to growl, know when it becomes a problem. A growling dog may or may not be a cause for concern.
But when your dog growls at you, other people, other animals, you need to take action to prevent this kind of behavior from worsening. What I mean from worsening is a growling dog can easily turn into a biting, snarling, snapping dog-causing reasons to be alarmed. Don’t forget, a puppy growling is one thing, a grown dog growling with aggression is another.
Here are some things you can do to prevent and stop dog growling.
How To Stop A Dog From Growling?
Ask Yourself This, “Is Your Dog the Alpha”?
Dogs are pack animals. Wolves live together in a pack, and in this pack they have one leader, the Alpha dog. It is crucial for your dog to learn that YOU are the alpha leader in his pack (family).
Wolves were the first to eat in the pack, made all the decisions and had the respect from all the members in the pack. If your dog continues to growl at you, your dog is telling you that he sees you as a subordinate and that he is the alpha leader. You must change your dog’s thinking and stop dog growling immediately!
- Teach your dog obedience. Starting with the simple “Sit” and “Stay” cues. These cues will help remind your dog that YOU make the decisions in the household.
- Before you go outside or inside, teach your dog that you leave and enter FIRST. When your dog enters first, pull his leash back and say “Wait”, walk in and then give him permission to come in. Do this as many times as needed.
- Do not let a dog struggling for dominance sleep on your bed. Have a dog bed at the side of your bed. Your dog must understand he needs to be invited on the bed before he jumps up.
- If you are an owner who needs to have your dog sleep with you, have your dog sleep at the foot of the bed, not on your pillow.
For more information on becoming the Alpha in your relationship with your dog, check out How to Become the Alpha.
In Order to Stop Dog Growling, Don’t Mistake Your Dog’s Touch For Loving Expressions
If you think your dog putting his paws on you or nudging you is cute, stop. Your dog isn’t trying to tell you he loves you. He is trying to show you his dominance. Dogs show Alpha leaders respect by space. A dog would never go to an Alpha and put his paws on his head.
You should control when your dog get affection or touch. Touch and affection should only be given to a dog struggling for dominance when they are calm and submissive. If you give in to your dog, then you are only reinforcing his Alpha status.
Stop Dog Growling At Family Members
If your dog growls at other members of the family, you need to teach your dog that is unacceptable behavior.
Try having that person he growls be the one to give him his food. Have that person tell your dog to “Sit” before he sets the food down.
If your dog growls at that person after they give him his food, have them take it back and say “NO” and try again. It’s important that your dog understands that he needs to obey before he can be fed.
How to Deal with a Growling Dog
A growling dog could be a serious problem… or nothing to be concerned about.
While in most cases you can deal with this problem on your own, sometimes it’s better to employ the services of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.
Usually, growling is a sign of a fearful or assertive behavior. Dogs also growl when they play. So, before you confront a growling dog, distinguish between play and aggressive type of growling.
If you have small children, an assertive or fearful dog that exhibits a lot of growling presents a lot of danger. You need to seriously consider whether or not this dog is safe to keep in your home.
On the other hand, some growling when your dog is playing or excited is quite normal and expected.
When does Dog Growling Becomes a Problem?
Try to answer these questions…
- What happens when you take your dog’s food away?
- What will he do if you take his toys away?
- How will your dog react if you tell him to stop his favorite activity or to move from his favorite spot?
- Does he allow you to groom him?
If your dog always growls or snaps in the above situations, you have a problem. I want to emphasize “always”, because occasional growling is normal and can be expected.
Even if dog growling is not a problem in the above situations, your dog can still be overly aggressive towards other dogs, strangers, and even members of your own family. If this describes your dog, address the problem at the first sign of aggression.
How to Control a Growling Dog
Like a lot of other dog behaviors , growling is a lot easier to prevent than to get rid of. And nothing is as successful at preventing dog growling as socialization training.
Socialization training teaches your puppy how to interact with the world around him. Puppy socialization exposes your dog to all the situations that make him growl and tries to correct his responses in those situations.
What about a growling dog that is too old for socialization training?
It’s never too late to socialize your dog.
The worst thing to do when dealing with a growling dog is to isolate him. Isolation will only make him resentful and even more aggressive.
Here are some suggestions for dealing with a growling dog…
Until your dog is fully socialized towards strangers and other dogs, when you take him for a walk, always keep him on leash. For larger breeds, consider getting a muzzle.
Once your dog stops growling at strangers and other dogs, you can remove the muzzle, but keep the leash on. In most municipalities, unless in a specially designated area, it’s a law to keep dogs on leash.
When you introduce your dog to other dogs, start with non-aggressive dogs first. These dogs will not growl back and will make your dog feel more comfortable.
Always say “NO” when you catch your dog growling, and never give in to his demands. You must always remain in control.
As you probably already know, I am against hitting dogs for any reason. Hitting a growling dog is not only counterproductive but is also extremely dangerous.
And if the above suggestions don’t help you with your growling dog, consider a professional behaviorist.
Consult with your dog’s vet. He or she will be able to determine if there are any health issues behind your dog’s growling.
Socializing is Key to Stop Dog Growling
Socialize your dog with other people and animals is important. Go to a dog park. Take your dog to new places, get him accustomed to new environments. Socializing is crucial in preventing dog behavior problems.
If your dog shows aggression to other animals, always correct this behavior. Don’t think it’s cute when he gets defensive, he feels threatened. You need to help teach your dog to get acquainted with new people and animals to stop dog growling.
The most important thing is interactions with your dog. Do more things with your dog. Go for walks, play in the park, throw a ball around or even go for runs together.
Whatever you do, teach your dog boundaries with calmness, assertiveness and an air of authority. Stop dog growling using this techniques will establish a loving and respectful relationship between you and your dog when your dog understands he isn’t the alpha.