A friend advised you to make a point of removing the food bowl and to smack the dog if he growls. The friend said something about teaching the dog who's boss, but in all honesty, you're too scared of the dog to try this. What if it backfired? You could get badly bitten. Common sense tells you that it's best to respect the message the dog is sending out, rather than challenge him.
Happily, you spoke to a knowledgeable trainer who uses reward-based training methods. They were horrified by the idea of removing the dog's bowl as a sort of test. Instead, they explained the complexity of why dogs growl and what to do about it, so that the flashpoint of food can be avoided and the dog can continue to live with you.
Instead, it's essential to analyze why the dog is growling (is he in pain, stressed, possessive, or territorial?) and then correct the underlying problem. In the short term, how you react to the growling makes a big difference, so it's important to know what to do (and not to do) when faced with a growling dog.
This is unlikely to be a quick fix, so be prepared to put time and effort into consistently retraining the dog, improving his co-operation, and helping him overcome deep-seated anxieties.
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Hi, jack has recently started growling at our little girl since she began walking, he is fine in the garden but in the house he growls anytime she is getting close to him and runs away so maybe its a fear issue, is there anyway of solving this problem?? Thanks, Tim!!!
Hello Tim, I would highly suggest hiring a local trainer with experience dealing with aggression and fear since this could potentially become a larger issue. It sounds like fear aggression and a need for more tolerance. Get Jack used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle. To do so show him the muzzle and give him a treat. Repeat this until he is comfortable with seeing it. Next, touch the muzzle to him and give him a treat when you do. Repeat this until he is relaxed and happy also. Next, hold the muzzle against his face and give him a treat. Repeat this as well. Next, hold the muzzle for longer and feed him treats through the muzzle's holes while it is against him. Finally, put the muzzle on him for a couple minutes and feed treats through the holes, then take it off again. Gradually increase how long he wear the muzzle for as he becomes more comfortable with it, also gradually space your treats further apart until he does not need them for as long. Expect all of this to take a couple of weeks practicing once per day. While you are getting him used to the muzzle also get him used to being touched and handled by yourself more. Do this by touching an area of his body and feeding him a treat everytime you touch. Touch his ear and feed a treat. Touch his tail and feed a treat. Touch a paw and feed a treat. Repeat this with his muzzle, his belly, his chest, his head, and everywhere else do this until he enjoys being touched in those places. Practice this with all of the older members of the household. When he can do it with all the older people, then put the muzzle on him and practice this with your son touching him. Guide his hands so that he will be gentle and either the one to feed the treats through the muzzle or help your son to. The idea is to help Jack associate your son's touch with pleasant things. Also, work on rewarding Jack whenever your son is around for being calm, in his presence, and tolerant. You can have your son toss treat if he can or help him feed it out of his hand, or toss it yourself until he is old enough to do it. As soon as your son leaves stop the treats so that it is associated just with him. Finally, do not let your son get in Jack's space, touch him when he does not want to be, or pester him. Teach Jack to leave the area or go some place where your son cannot get to him when your son won't leave him alone. They should both learn to leave each other alone with your supervision and help. Anytime you catch your son in his space, which you want to avoid but real life happens, if Jack is being tolerant then give him several treats and remove your son so that Jack does not feel like he has to do something about the situation. Discipline Jack with a stern but calm attitude when he act inappropriately toward your son. Jack needs to feel like you are handling the situation and make the rules so that he does not have to with your son. They both need boundaries and structured ways to play together as your son gets okder, like treat training and fetch, not chase or wrestking. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I am adopting a dog from a rescue and he is currently in a foster home. I have not personally experienced him growling but when I was introduced to him I asked the foster parent and she said he has growled when looking at him under the table with a bone, when she tried to stop him from licking his paws too much, and another time when she felt she may have been too much in his space. How can I address these issues when I first bring him home?
Hello Bella, First, look into hiring a local trainer to come to your home and help you. Since this dog does not know you, is large, and is an adult, you need to take precautions to avoid possibly being bitten when you work on these issues. Get professional help so that you guys get off to the right start and he learns to trust and respect you before he gives you attitude. He likely needs a lot of structure and boundaries right off the bat to build his respect for you without you having to be overly confrontational. Structured obedience training and making him work for the things that he wants are good ways to do that. Check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Obedience" and the "Working" methods under the supervision of a trainer. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you The next part of addressing his growling is to get him used to being handled. You will need a trainer to help you do this safely. Get Willie used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle when he arrives. Once he is comfortable wearing the basket muzzle, then practice gently touching him and giving him a treat every time you touch him. Do this while he is wearing the muzzle. A basket muzzle will let him open his mouth up and receive treats through the muzzle's holes still. You need to have him wear a muzzle at first because you do not know how he will react to every location you touch or how predictable his reactions will be. If done correctly this exercise should be pleasant for him, especially if the muzzle is introduced properly, which I will go over. The way this should work is to touch an ear and give him a treat, touch his paw and give him a treat, touch his tail and give him a treat, touch his belly and give him a treat, touch his muzzle and give him a treat. You will repeat this with his entire body, spending the most time on the areas he seems worried about. Be extra gentle with those areas though. You can also do this at meal times and feed him his entire dinner one piece at a time this way for a couple of months whenever you get the chance. To get him used to wearing a muzzle show him the muzzle and give him a treat. Practice that until he likes it. Next, touch it to him and give him a treat. Repeat that until he is comfortable with it. Next, hold it on his face and give him a treat. Repeat until he is comfortable with that. Next, hold it on his face for longer, and while you are holding it feed him treats through the muzzle's holes. Do that until he is comfortable with that. Finally, put it on him for a few minutes and give him treats while he is wearing it, then take it off again. Gradually increase how long he wears it for and space your treats further and further apart until you do not need treats anymore. Do not rush this process. You want him to become comfortable wearing it. Expect this to take a couple of weeks or longer if he is shy. Also, work on teaching him the "Drop It" and "Leave It" commands in a positive way. Once he understands those commands practice trading him one toy that he has for a more loved toy, or a bone for a treat that he likes better than the bone. You want to build his trust and teach him that giving you something of his will be pleasant for him. You essentially trade him his lesser item for your better item. That is going to be half of the picture. The other half will be building his respect for you. To effectively deal with possessive behavior, which is what the growling over the bone was, you need to build both trust and respect. Willie needs to know that you are in charge and everything belongs to you, but he needs to learn that you are a trustworthy leader also. Get a trainer to help you. Working on these issues with a trainer should also form a good foundation for your relationship together early on, since trust and respect are vital to other areas of your relationship too. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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When guests that she knows try to walk in the apartment, my dog gets aggressive: her hackles come up, and she barks and growls. What can I do to address this? She seems scared, but her behavior is unacceptable.
Hello Michelyne, Check out Jeff Gelhman from SolidK9Training's YouTube Channel. He is a specialist in aggression and has a lot of free resources to learn more about aggression. For aggression related to people, you need to hire a professional dog trainer in your area to help you. There needs to be someone with a lot of experience present when your dog is acting aggressive, who can point out your dog's body language, discover the underlying reason for the aggression and solve that, and correctly and safely show you how to manage the aggression in the moment. Aggressive behavior can be related to a number of things and the way to treat aggression depends on the type of aggression. Without being there in person or having a whole lot more information I cannot say exactly what is going on with your dog. You dog might have territorial aggression, fear-based aggression, a lack of socialization, protective aggression, dominance related aggression, or simply be expressing frustration and excitement in an inappropriate way. Not all trainers are experienced in dealing with aggression. Only use a trainer with extensive experience with aggression. This person should be able to give referrals if requested, should use positive reinforcement, clear communication, as well as fair corrections to interrupt behavior. Most aggression issues need both positive reinforcement and correction implemented in a fair, consistent, and well communicated way. Since I do not know what type of aggression you are dealing with it is best to find a trainer who deals with a variety of types of aggression. You can also start by getting your dog accustomed to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle. You can fine one online. If your dog is comfortable wearing that, then it will be easier and likely quicker to make progress with a trainer because you will be able to safely do more with your dog. To get her used to wearing a muzzle, show her the muzzle and give her a treat. Practice that until she is relaxed and happy, then touch the muzzle to her and give her a treat. Repeat that until she is comfortable, then hold it onto her face and give her treats through the muzzle holes while you do that. Practice that until she is comfortable, then put the muzzle on her for a couple of minutes and feed her treats through the holes while it is on her. Gradually increase the amount of time that she wears the muzzle for while being rewarded until she is completely comfortable wearing the muzzle for up to an hour without treats. Expect this process to take at least two weeks. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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