How to Train Your Dog to Stop Growling

Hard
4-12 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You love your dog to pieces, but are considering putting him up for rehoming. Unfortunately, the dog recently growled when you tried to remove his food bowl. You have children, and it's just not acceptable to have an unreliable dog in the house. 

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. 

Defining Tasks

Superficially, training a dog to stop growling is easy. But methods involving a punishment each time the dog growls are definitely NOT the way to go. Inhibiting the growling creates a more serious problem--a dog that bites without warning. 

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. 

Getting Started

Teaching a dog to stop growling isn't so much to do with special equipment, but represents a mental challenge. You need to think through why the dog is distressed (growling is, after all, a sign of inner conflict or tension) and diffuse the situation. 

Helpful items to have include: 

  • A muzzle
  • A longline
  • Treats
  • An understanding of why dogs growl. 
  • Patience
  • The help of an expert

The Understand why Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Understand the idea
A growling dog, in his own way, is communicating something to you. Simply preventing a dog from making a physical growling noise does not address the underlying emotion that is driving the growl. The ideal scenario is to work out the cause of the dog's ruffled emotions and work on reversing his distress. Once the dog feels comfortable with the situation, his need to growl evaporates.
Step
2
Determine the cause: resources
A dog's resources such his food, toys, or bed are precious to him. If he feels these are under threat, he may become protective. As a first aid measure, avoid flash points by never trying to forcibly remove his toys or food. In a multi-dog household, make sure each dog has their own resources so these are not threatened by the others. In the longer term, work on obedience training with commands such as 'give', and retraining the dog to tolerate people near his food bowl.
Step
3
Determine the cause: pain
Problems such as a toothache, earache, or arthritis are painful. A dog may growl to warn a person off from approaching as he fears they will touch the painful area. If your dog is usually placid but starts to become short-tempered then ask yourself if he could be in pain. If you suspect the answer is yes, then get a vet checkup.
Step
4
Determine the cause: fear
A fearful dog has limited ways of protecting himself. One option is to flee but if he is prevented from running, such as when on the leash, then instinct tells him to protect himself. Do your best to avoid situations stressful to the dog, while he undergoes behavioral retraining. A slow, low-key exposure to the feared situation, where you reward his clam behavior, is a good way ahead. Be prepared to seek the help of a qualified behaviorist to do this.
Step
5
Determine the cause: territorial
The dog that growls at visitors may be afraid of them or he may be defending his territory. The same can happen when the dog is defending a favorite sleeping spot on the couch. This is potentially dangerous behavior so don't challenge the dog. If necessary, train the dog to wear a muzzle and seek the help of a behaviorist.
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The What NOT to Do Method

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0 Votes
Step
1
Never punish a dog for growling
This sounds counterintuitive, after all the dog is doing a bad thing (growling) and should, therefore, be corrected. However, this is a dangerous route to take. Punishing a dog may inhibit the dog from growling because he is fearful of you, but it won't soothe his feelings of frustration. You now have an agitated dog who has learned not to growl, in effect removing an early warning sign that you are in danger. This is exactly how dogs get a reputation for biting without warning and should be avoided.
Step
2
Don't ignore the dog's warning
A growling dog is warning you he is outside his comfort zone. If pushed further, his next line of defense is to bite. Do not ignore the warning growl and continue to approach or force the dog to do something against his will. Instead, try to diffuse the situation by backing away, avoiding eye contact, and making appeasement signals such as yawning.
Step
3
Never leave children unsupervised with a dog
Children are poor at reading dog body language and often fail to respect warning signs such as growling. Many times, an anxious dog will feel threatened by the erratic movements of a child. If the dog growls and the child keep approaching, the dog is liable to feeling increasingly anxious, with the end result being a defensive bite. Adult supervision is essential in order to protect the child from the dog and vice versa.
Step
4
Never force a growling dog to face his fears
If a dog is growling because he is afraid, never force him to face those fears. This is known as 'flooding' and can do great psychological harm to the dog.
Step
5
Never confront a growling dog
Never try to intimidate a growling dog into backing down. This will end badly in one of two ways. Either the dog will feel forced to attack and bite, or the dog may back down but be even more conflicted internally and make him unpredictable.
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The First Aid Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Have a plan prepared
A growling dog is a short step away from biting. If your dog growls at you then it's important to know what to do next, so that accidents don't trigger an attack.
Step
2
Stop what you're doing
Stop in your tracks. Avoid making direct eye contact with the dog. Wait until he relaxes slightly, then slowly back away (so that you are rewarding his relaxed behavior.)
Step
3
Think about triggers
Now analyze what happened and what you were doing that made the dog growl. For example, where you about to remove his food bowl, move him from the couch, or put his lead on? This can give you valuable clues about the motivation for his behavior.
Step
4
Accomplish the task in another way
Rather than confront the dog, try to accomplish a task that can't be postponed by doing it differently. For example, if you need the dog to get off the sofa, try tossing a tasty treat on the floor so that he has to jump down to get it.
Step
5
Minimize threats and stress
If the sofa is a flash point, then think ahead about how to avoid a confrontation. Perhaps don't allow the dog in that room, or have him wear a longline in the house so that you can remove him from a distance.
Step
6
Call in the experts
Consult with a registered animal psychologist and behaviorist. They will watch your dog's behavior and put a plan in place to retrain the dog and remove triggers.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Sugar
Australian Shepherd
7 Years
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Sugar
Australian Shepherd
7 Years

Sugar is a certified service dog. But when we take her to a restaurant she growls at people coming in. Also we live in a duplex and growls noises through the other wall. She is very very gross of but the growling does scare other people. I’m at a loss of what to do

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tony, In the United States there is no legal certification that qualifies a dog as a Service Dog. You might be located elsewhere though. There are tests to see if the dog is ready to become a Service Dog, but these tests are simply informational and not legal. According to the American's with Disabilities Act law what qualifies a dog as a Service Dog is: 1. The handler has a medical disability that qualifies them for a Service Dog. 2. The dog is well trained enough not to be a nuisance in public (Sugar disqualifies here by growling) 3. The dog has been taught at least one task that specifically assists the handler with the disability. An owner of a public location can request that a Service Dog leaves the property if the dog is disruptive. It is within their legal rights. I don't mean to scare you, but I wanted to make sure you are prepared for what is going on. With that said, is Sugar aggressive if approached by someone? What is her response to people coming up to her all the way? If the growling is a sign of nervousness or uncertainty but she is completely fine once the person is in front of her, I suggest joining a Canine Good Citizen class to work on her being approached by new people and handed off to others. I also suggest working on pairing the presence of people with treats given by the people - try to get as many friends, coworkers or family members that she does not know pretend to be strangers in public and reward her for laying down when she is being quiet. They should not pet her or reward her for doing anything that is not completely calm though, since you want her to stay close to you and not get excited by people either - calmness is the goal here. The Canine Good Citizen class will work on her being able to ignore people also through the help of the other classmates and the instructor - to practice around. Teach her a "Quiet" command by follow the "Quiet" method from the article linked below. Work on rewarding her quietness and re-focus on you in public. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark If her response has ever been aggressive when actually approached by a person, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced in dealing with aggression and works at a facility with multiple trainers, so that all of the trainers can practice working with her to increase the amount of socialization that she gets. You need someone who understands that she needs to learn how to be calm around people and not simply make people really exciting in place of the aggression. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Lucy
Labrador Retriever
Eight Years
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Lucy
Labrador Retriever
Eight Years

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.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

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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Harlow
Lab mix
18 Months
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Harlow
Lab mix
18 Months

Just rescued her from humane society. She is very hyper and has had episodes where tears through the house and then starts snapping at us. Also met my daughters boyfriend yesterday and growled st him 3 seperate times. She is not leashed trained and seems to not have had much training st all besides sit and shake. We are going to start with trainer next week. Not sure of her past whether she was abused or not so don't want to do anything painful in training. What is your view of choke or punch collars? I am wary of these items if already having aggressive tendencies.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Dottie, I never recommend choke collars that are made of one loop that can continuously tighten, opposed to martingale collars which only tighten enough to keep the collar from slipping off. Choke collars, because there is not a stopping point and because of the way they correct at the front of the throat, can potentially cause damage to the trachea, windpipe. It is also difficult to correct properly with a choke collar. The only time I would recommend one would be for a very large, strong dog, who does not pull, because these collars do tend to be strong, BUT if the dog does not pull, you would not need one then anyways. Pinch/prong collars I do recommend for some but not all dogs. They are often fitted and used wrongly though, and are ineffective and can be harmful if not put on and used incorrectly. Pinch collars are supposed to be worn high on the neck, right below the ears. They are supposed to be tight enough for all of the prongs to gently touch the dog's skin all the way around without poking into the dog at all between corrections. Fitting the collar this way creates an even correction, that distributes the pressure throughout the entire neck, not just the windpipe in the front. This even correction and the feeling of a pinch is typically far more effective at getting a dog's attention, using very little force. A good prong collar should have prongs that are at an angle and not straight down, so that the collar feels like a squeeze and does not actually poke the individual prongs into the dog's neck straight down. I always encourage people to put it on the fatest part of their own arm and feel it for themselves before they use it on their dog. You should never use a tool that you do not feel good about or understand. Also, when you are between sizes, go down in prong width, rather than up. You can always add more prong links. A good prong/pinch collar should also have prongs that are rounded on the ends. With all of that said, a dog who is behaving aggressively might need corrections, and sometimes an effective tool when used correctly can help you communicate better with your dog without having to be as close to your dog, putting yourself in harms way, and with less physical force. When it comes to aggression that is rooted in fear and not dominance, rudeness, learned behavior, genetic, or some other form of non-fear related aggression, then I would be very cautious using punishment too much. I would suggest using food rewards to get your dog used to the things that he is afraid of. Focus on changing his view of things from scary to pleasant to deal with the root cause of his aggression. You may need some corrections to interrupt him when he gets to aroused, to give you an opportunity create a different mindset for him to be open to learning, but corrections alone with him will not solve the problem. They are simply a management tool, the focus needs to be on positive reinforcement training mostly. Your main goal should be to deal with the underlying cause of his aggression, which is potentially fear and involves pairing the source of his fear with things that he loves like food. With that said, it is not black and white. Sometimes you need to use a very intentional amount of correction to stop an unwanted behavior long enough to have the opportunity to show the dog something different in a positive way. Like telling him no to one thing and yes to another thing. You should never use punishment alone, without communicating with a dog when he does something correctly also. Punishment's role is to create opportunities to teach a dog a good behavior by interrupting a bad one long enough for the dog to have the opportunity to learn, and to enforce a command that your dog already knows and is able to do but simply choosing not to. The punishment should be fair, understood, and for the purpose of teaching a dog something. The punishment does not have to be harsh, simply effective enough through consistency and by being paired with rewards for good behavior for a dog to be motivated to perform the good behavior instead of the unwanted behavior. The short answer to my very long post is that I cannot tell you whether or not you should use a prong collar for your specific dog. That is why it is very important to find a trainer that you trust. Ask questions about what the trainer is doing and why, with a desire to understand his training. A good trainer should be able to explain it and their answer should put you at ease, even if the training is hard. If their answer makes you feel uneasy or doesn't make sense, then look for another trainer or ask to do things differently. A skilled trainer should be able to train a dog in different ways, even if his first choice is the way he believes will work the fastest. Most dogs can be trained to do something two or three different ways, some ways are just more effective or much quicker or have more lasting results. Either way I do not recommend using choke collars because they can cause physical damage. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Willie
Mastiff German Shepherd
4 Years
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Willie
Mastiff German Shepherd
4 Years

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?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

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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Jack
Patterdale Terrier
9 Years
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Jack
Patterdale Terrier
9 Years

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!!!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

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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Apollo
Pit bull and German Shepherd
2 Years
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Apollo
Pit bull and German Shepherd
2 Years

Hi,every time I go to touch my dog or pet him or get in bed if he is in it he growls and starts shaking I don’t abuse my dogs but I do smack him on his but is he scared of me or what cause I dont want to have to get rid of him he is my best friend,Blake

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Blake, You need to hire a professional trainer to help you. You are at risk of being bitten but there are things you can do. He needs to be desensitized to touch (and no more smacking on the butt or you might get bitten). He probably does have a bad association with being touched that needs to be improved through positive reinforcement and counter conditioning - where you pair what he doesn't like (touch) with some he does like (food) to change his feelings about it. He needs structure and boundaries around the house to build respect. It sounds like respect AND trust are the issue. Having him do a command before giving him the things he wants all day like a toy, meal, walk can help build respect without confrontation. You need to work on your relationship by spending time teaching him obedience commands using lures to get him to move into the correct position while he is learning and not moving him into the position by touching him - since he is not ready for touch right now. He needs to have a firm "Off" command to get off furniture when he is told, and a trainer needs to help you implement boundaries to keep him off of furniture right now while he is being possessive of it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Violet
Coonhound
2 Years
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Violet
Coonhound
2 Years

Sometimes when Violet gets a hold of something she that is not hers or that she isn’t supposed to have, she growls. We want her to drop it and she occasionally does, but sometimes she gets aggressive and won’t give it up unless we use a treat to lure her away. We are not sure what to do.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Bree, First, I recommend teaching her the "Drop It" command using the "Drop It" method from the article that I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/not-guard-toys-1 Second, once Violet knows "Drop It", then instead of chasing her down with the item tell her to "Drop It". If she does, then reward her with one of her own toys or a treat or genuine affection and praise. If she disobeys at this point, now that she knows "Drop It", then correct her. When you correct her you want to avoid a potential bite so you need to be able to correct remotely. I highly suggest hiring a very experienced trainer who can train with electric collar stimulation or vibration if she will respond to just vibration. You can buy a high quality dogtra, garmin, e-collar technologies, or sportdog collar with a lot of stimulation levels and often vibration to choose from. Get a good quality collar that has at least fifty levels so that you can use the lowest level of fair correction that she will respond to. A qualified trainer should be able to help you with choosing a collar and stimulation level too. E-collar technologies mini educator or EZ-900 are a good general choices. The correction should be for clear disobedience though for something she has been taught and knows how to do, e.i. "Drop It". You do not want to simply start correcting her without teaching "Drop It" and rewarding obedience first or you can actually make the resource guarding worse. You should also continue to heavily praise and reward obedience in this area in the future, even if that reward is just one of her own toys. Be very careful addressing this on your own. I strongly advise hiring someone who can help you using electric collars. Check out this video on using corrections properly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpTeJRHqHVw Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Daisy
Chihuahua
3 Years
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Daisy
Chihuahua
3 Years

Daisy is good with dogs and cats but she growls whenever someone comes near her when she is laying down. Doesnt matter if she is on the couch or in the bed she growls. I have 2 children and a baby on the way so we want to try to figure out how to get her to stop and not act so aggressive. She has bitten my 6 yo daughter already but I think it was because she wouldn't let her go and was constantly trying to hold her. I am working with my daughter to teach her to not be so smothering with her. She is fine with her as long as she gets to make the decision of when she gets love. My husband doesnt want to have an unpredictable dog with a new baby so I'd like to fix it now. Do you think I need to get a professional trainer? Thanks for any advise.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Courtney, I would absolutely recommend hiring a professional trainer who will come to your home and work with you, and incorporate the kids into the practice sessions. You want someone to show you how to desensitize Daisy to being touched, by practicing pairing treats with food. You can get Daisy used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle for this when you get ready to incorporate the kids. Done right, the muzzle shouldn't be a big deal for her to wear. A basket muzzle will let her open her mouth still and will have holes for you to pass treats through to her while the kids gently touch her one at a time. You want to find a trainer who will desensitize her with treats to being approached while she is laying down, so that she expects those interactions to be positive. You also want someone who will use fair corrections when needed, when she does try to control a situation through her aggression. Daisy needs structure and some new boundaries and respect training. Essentially you want someone who has successfully dealt with your type of issue and who will use a lot of positive reinforcement but also work on discipline and boundaries where needed. You want Daisy to learn that it is never acceptable to use aggression toward people, but also that if she is tolerant, then she can trust people and the experience will be pleasant when she cooperates. Both respect and trust need to be build. You need a professional there to teach you because of the delicate nature of the situation with the kids, and because someone needs to do this with you in real time where you can read Daisy's body language and learn how to physically get her used to being handled and approached, which requires demonstration. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Dakota
Siberian Husky
3 Years
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Dakota
Siberian Husky
3 Years

We rescued dakota about 3 days ago. She growls at our puppies that we've had for a while though when they're trying to play with her and just jump into bed with her. Were scared she might bite on of these days.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Courtney, I suggest you hire a professional trainer who is experienced with evaluating aggression and have the trainer evaulate the dogs. The growling could be a harmless and controlled warning in response to the puppies being rude and not following canine etiquette for how to interact, it could be a play growl, or it could be something dangerous. I suspect part of the issue is the puppies' behavior too. In order to know for sure what needs to happen between the dogs someone experienced needs to watch them together. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bo
Boston Terrier
1 Year
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Bo
Boston Terrier
1 Year

He growls in bed and half the time my wife pats him

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Frank, First, work on general respect by having him work for everything he gets and implementing the training from the videos linked below: Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Second, work on teaching the "Off" command - which means get off the furniture. Third, do NOT allow him on the bed right now. A dog is only allowed on the furniture if they get off when told and there are no possessiveness or aggression issues. Fourth, with the help of a trainer work on desensitizing him to touch, especially with your wife. You can do this by feeding him a piece of his meal kibble as you gently touch him with your other hand, one piece of food at a time until his food is finished. Measure his meal rations into a bag instead of putting your hand in his bowl. For example, touch his ear- give a treat, touch a leg - give a treat, touch his side - give a treat. Start with the areas he is most comfortable with and gradually work up to the areas he is more sensitive about as he improves. This can also be done while he is wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle - that type of muzzle allows him to open his mouth while wearing it so that you can pass a treat through the holes for him to eat without risking being bitten. If he needs a muzzle, you can get him used to wearing that by giving him a treat whenever he touches it, puts his face into it willingly to eat a treat, or holds his face inside the muzzle to eat several treats in a row that you pass through the holes. If he is really nervous about it at first, start by setting it on the ground and sprinkling his kibble around it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Dex
Border Collie
6 Years
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Dex
Border Collie
6 Years

Hello, My dog is named Dex, he's a Border Collie. I got Dex from a shelter about 4 years ago. He is a great dog besides some of his aggressiveness. I have grown up with border collies my whole life and all of them have been very easy to train and all of them have been very loving. Dex is a different story, He is the first dog I have "rescued" from a shelter so I did not have him since he was a pup but when he was already 2 years old. The lady that owned the shelter told me that he came from a family where the father of the household was in the military or something like that and they had to move to Germany and could not take the dog with them. He is a good dog for the most part, right when I got him I could take him on walks and go to a park with him and take him off the leash and play ball and he would always come back when I called and everything. He is still this same way. When we are out of the house doing whatever, that is when he listens the best which is weird and opposite of any other dog I have had in the past. SO anyways, the problem I am facing is that when he comes to me for pets or anything in that nature he first accepts the pets and really likes them for about 20 seconds and then after that he'll start to growl. Same when he jumps up onto my bed and wants to lay with me, he'll only do it for about a minute or 2 and start to growl and get very upset, he cant just relax on the bed next to me.. Or if I were to move while laying on the bed and he is on there he will growl really loud and get up from the bed. I don't know exactly how he was treated in his first 2 years but it has to be from some trauma at an early age or something. I have only been loving to him since I have had him and he has no reason to be doing these things. He isnt hurt or anything, Its not from any pain that he has. He has been doing this since I got him. I have done these steps listed here for about 2 years. Nothing seems to work. He will also growl when you say "I love you" but he'll growl and wag his tail at the same time. Its a very confusing situation. Not sure what to do but any knowledge will help! Thank you - Jon

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jonathan, You need to hire a trainer who is very experienced with aggression. It sounds like a dominance issue and an issue with touch. When he growls and you move away or stop petting him he is rewarded for his behavior because you did what he told you - this can be complicated because if you simply continued he may have bitten you though. You need a trainer to show you how to change the structure around your home and the way you interact with your dog to build both his respect and trust for you without having to have head to head confrontations with him. This includes making him work for everything he gets, like food, walks, pets, ect...by having him obey a command first. Teaching boundary commands like Out (which means leave the area), leave it, off, sit, and down, and using the right tools like a basket muzzle or back tie leads during training to to keep you safe, in combination with rewards for tolerance and calmness to build trust. He may have some anxiety in addition to dominance issues but anxiety can also be treated with boundaries, structure, and building trust and respect. He needs to learn crate manners and things like Place. His issues need to be directly address instead of avoided but this needs to be done very carefully and with the right tools and environment where you have control to keep everyone safe. Check out the crate manners video below but hire a trainer to help you with it. https://youtu.be/mn5HTiryZN8 Check out the Place command video below but hire a trainer to help you with it. https://youtu.be/omg5DVPWIWo Get him used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle. Those types of muzzles are more comfortable but let the dog open this mouth while wearing it so that you can pass treats to them through the holes during training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Boss
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
6 Weeks
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Boss
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
6 Weeks

I recently got a puppy and they get on great but ever since boss keeps wee'ing inside the house. Something he has never done.before and when i go to tell him off or get him in the kitchen he growls really bad at me to the point it scares me, he has never once growled at me for being told.off before the puppy came.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Chelsea, It sounds like you need to work on respect while still avoiding too much physical confrontation. Check out the article that I have linked below. Pay special attention to the "Working" method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you If you feel unsafe working with him on yout own I suggest hiring a professional trainer to come to your home to assist you. For the pottying he is likely marking to try to establish dominance with the puppy or because he smells the puppy's accidentally. Make sure you are cleaning up and poop or pee with a pet safe cleaner that contains enzymes. The bottle should enzyme or enzymatic somewhere on it. Not all cleaners contain it so be sure to read. Some of the Nature's Miracle cleaners contain enzymes. I also suggest crate training him and crating him when he cannot be supervised. This is also good for adding some structure to his routine also. When the puppy enters a room and he is tolerant, reward him with a treat (don't reward while he and the puppy are beside each other - to avoid food fights). Make sure the puppy has a lot of structure too and is not allowed to go over to him when you are not facilitating the interaction. I suggest crate training the puppy and purchasing an exercise pen for the puppy to play in when you cannot supervise the dogs together. You want your older dog to feel like you are in charge and will handle interacts so that he doesn't feel like he needs to make and enforce the rules for everyone. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Odie
Morkie
1 Day
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Odie
Morkie
1 Day

Is being aggressive to my husband (if he is in my lap or close to me) if he comes near me

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Betsy, Odie needs some strict house rules. By acting the way he is he is communicating that You belong to Him. This is not alright. First, every time that you give him anything that he wants: petting, affection, meals, treats, toys, walks, or anything else that he wants, make him do a command first, like Sit. Second, he is no longer allowed to touch you unless you initiate the interaction for now. If he tries to climb into your lap without being invited, stand up! When you are ready to invited him, then pat your lap or the spot next to you and give him a command, such as "Here". Work on teaching him the "Off" command using treats. During training sessions, encourage him onto the couch and tell him "Up". When he jumps up, give him the treat. Next, tell him "Off" and encourage him to jump onto the floor. When he does so, then praise him and give him a treat. After practicing this five times, only give him a treat during the "Off" command, not the "Up" command. Do this while he is wearing a four or six-foot leash and if he refuses to get off, use the leash to quickly and smoothly move him off the couch. He is likely claiming the furniture too, so be patient but very firm about him getting off. Have your husband practice the "Off" command with him and any other commands that he knows, to gently build respect for your husband too. Finally, teach him the "Out" command. To teach this, call him over to you with a large treat in your hand. Tell him "Out" and toss the treat a few feet away, in the direction where you would like him to go. Point your index finger with your throwing hand when you do this. Make the toss exaggerated and slow enough for him to see where the treat goes. If he misses it, then toss another. Practice this until he begins to anticipate you throwing a treat and goes to where the treat will be before you throw it. When he does this, praise him and toss several treats to him over there. After each repetition, tell him "Okay" to communicate that he can come back to you. This will be important later. Once he is anticipating the treats being thrown, then give him the command and make the same hand gesture, but wait until he moves at least part of the way there before you toss the treat to him. When he can do all of this, then start using "Out" in every day life. Whenever he is being pushy, being nasty toward you husband, trying to block your husband from getting to you, nudging you to be petting, climbing into your lap uninvited, or generally just acting like he is in charge, tell him "Out" to make him leave the room. When he disobeys your "Out" command at some point, then get in front of him, tell him "Ah Ah", and calmly but sternly walk toward him until he backs out of the room. Block him from getting around you until he gives up and leaves the area completely, sits, or lays down. He can do whatever he wants, he just can't go back to the area where you told him to leave, until you tell him "Okay". When he stops trying to get around you and you can walk away, if he follows you back into the area while you are leaving, then repeat walking toward him again. Do this as many times as it takes for him to stay out of the area until invited back in. Expect to repeat this a lot at first. You are completely changing the dynamics of your household, so he is likely to try to push the boundaries at first. Ultimately, all of these things should also help him to relax and be more tolerant in general though, so it's also for his benefit. Right now, he is likely constantly trying to control things, instead of trusting you. The goal is to gently but firmly build trust and respect for you and your husband and give him clear boundaries. If you are struggling to implement the training, then hire a trainer to come to your home. Ask a lot of questions to find out how they train and if they have experience with aggression. You want someone who knows how to also handle aggression that is not fear-based. Many trainers only know how to treat fear-based aggression and the treatment can be different for fear-based aggression vs. things like possessiveness. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bailey
Boxer
10 Weeks
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Bailey
Boxer
10 Weeks

Yesterday she started growling when she wants something. Yesterday it was her toy, today at the dinner table she got really aggressive trying to get food, growling and snapping. We don't feed her people food and normally she will lay on the rug between the kitchen and living room. I filled her bowl with her puppy food at her normal feeding time but she was not interested in it.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Trudie, I suggest a lot of boundaries for Bailey and a mini doggie bootcamp to work on building respect without being too confrontational. Check out the article linked below and follow the "Working" method. Also read the other methods for additional tips, but implement the "Working" method especially: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Second, work on teaching commands that build respect and increase impulse control: Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Finally, give him a designated place to go during mealtimes and enforce it. I suggest working on the Place command from the video linked above for this. Work on teaching him to enjoy when you approach him while he is eating in general (don't feed him scraps for this purpose, but work with his own food and treats). Work on approaching him while he is eating and before he growls, while he is being tolerant, toss an even better treat into or next to his bowl. Gradually get close before you toss it as he improves and shows signs that he enjoys you approaching his food - because he expects something good when you approach. If you do not see improvement in his behavior doing the above training, consult a professional trainer who is very experienced in dealing with aggression, pushy behavior, and puppies. This is something you want to deal with early on instead of waiting for it to get worse. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Finch
dachshund Chihuahua mix
2 Years
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Finch
dachshund Chihuahua mix
2 Years

My little guy growls at my husband Everytime he moves around the house. Leading to my husband getting mad and trying to "discipline" the dog. He is very protective of me and does not growls at me. But he does this to everyone else, family included. I'm kinda at my wit's end with both of them at this point. I'd really appreciate some guidance. Thank you in advance.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Becka, I suggest a doggie boot-camp for Finch, where you work on commands to build respect and trust. Check out the articles and videos linked below for things to teach: Out command for pushiness and to make Finch leave the room when he behaves aggressively: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Working method and Consistency method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Have your husband reward him (while Finch is on a back tie so cannot lung or bite) when he is calm and quiet. Do NOT reward when he is behaving aggressively. You can use daily meal kibble to do this also once he is calm enough to care about plain food (you may need something more exciting to start). If he is too tense around your husband or family members, have the family members practice this with more space between them and Finch at first. Aggression and rewards video: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A As hard as it is, your husband also needs to be calm because yelling will make the suspicion and aggression worse. That does not mean he cannot have house rules and fair consequence for behavior but these should be handled calmly and consistently instead of emotionally, and that can take practice too. He needs to gain Finch's respect and trust by rewarding good behavior and working on training him with consistency once he can get close enough. Commands like Place, Heel and Down tend to build respect, but there needs to be trust first. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Rome
German Shepherd
3 Years
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Rome
German Shepherd
3 Years

The boss's dog growls, lunges, nudges the back of my leg when I walk down the hall past the boss's office, when a client comes in the office, any time I move, and she sees me do so. The boss is convinced she will not bite me, and I am just as convinced she would. She rushes out of his office towards people coming in or seated waiting for the boss, growling, hair puffed up, and sometimes wagging. Then after he scolds her ineffectively, she turns and puts her feet up on my desk and looks for a treat. She does not look for a treat when she menaces me. I have to keep shutting his door, and if he is out in the rest of our building, I have to lock the front door. I cannot completely avoid her, she growls when I shut their door, and I have to keep taking things into his office. Any recommendations?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Colleen, Unfortunately, since she is not your dog there are very few things you can do. She needs better obedience training, to build respect towards her owner (and ideally you) so that she feels less of a need to control situations, a lot of structure and boundaries so that she learns that she is not simply allowed to rush people, a solid Place command that she is not allowed to break - so that she stays on a bed in his office and only gets up with permission, and to be rewarded for calm, relaxed body language. Unless you are given permission to train her (which I would be hesitant to suggest because you don't want the liability) and he was consistent with what you were doing, there are not a lot of options. You might be able to suggest a tall baby gate with a door so that she at least cannot rush out the door. She may be able to easily jump the gate though if determined. Honestly, a couple of things you might be able to do are: 1. Whenever she is being calm, responsive to your direction, or relaxed, you can reward her with a treat - something like very small freeze dried meat treats so that they are healthy and she doesn't gain weight. I would make sure your boss is alright with you giving her treats though - it sounds like he likely would be if they were healthy. Do not reward her when she is acting aggressively or doing things like jumping - you want to condition her to automatically be calmer around you by rewarding calmer/relaxed body language. When she doesn't growl when you enter or move, at you toss a treat by her paws ( don't recommend getting closer than you have to or coaxing her over with treats - keep the treats where she cannot see them normally). When she is laying down quietly while you are in the room, toss a treat between her paws. When she calms back down, toss a treat. This will not fix her overall aggression but could help her relax more around you. Avoid taking too much responsibility for her for your own sake though. When she rushes you, try to act as calm as possible, avoid direct eye contact and remain calm until she relaxes. 2. Perhaps suggest to your boss that she has a bed away from the door in the room, where he drills an eye-hook into the baseboard by her bed, and uses a chew proof leash like VirChewLY to attach her to the wall while she lays on the bed, so that she cannot leave the bed unless he unleashes her. Your boss can still bring her to work but she cannot leave her spot without his control. This decreases his liability and employee discomfort - which increases work place moral. If anything does happen, I suggest documenting and reporting it so that it does not happen twice. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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