How to Train Your Dog to Stop Growling at Other Dogs

Medium
3-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Going out for a walk or to the local dog park with your four-legged friend should be a lot of fun for both of you. But the fun can suddenly come to an end when your pup takes it into his head to growl at other dogs in a menacing way. It can only get worse if your dog and one of the other dogs decide to get into a fight, as the situation can easily turn dangerous. While growling is more than just a nuisance noise, there are times when it is appropriate and times when it is not.

In most cases, your pup growls simply because he is trying to communicate. He might be trying to tell you he is afraid of the other dog or he may be verbally staking his claim on "his territory." Most owners quickly become upset when their pup growl and quite often their first reaction is to scold or punish their dogs. In most cases, all this does is make your dog more anxious and growl even more. The only way to move past this is to teach your pup that this type of behavior is simply unacceptable. 

Defining Tasks

The idea is to teach your dog to behave in a more social manner towards other dogs while you are out walking, in the yard, or at the local dog park. You need to be able to take your dog out for a walk or to play in the park as he needs the exercise, plus it will help him to burn off excess energy and become more balanced and calm.

While teaching your pup not to growl at other dogs is the idea behind this training, you also need to train yourself. "What," you say, "why do I need to train myself?" If your dog is already growling at other dogs, chances are good that you become nervous and anxious any time it looks like your dog is going to get close to another pooch. Your dog will pick up on this fear, which will only make him more protective and more likely to growl. Teach yourself to remain calm in the face of the "enemy" and your pup will learn to copy your behavior. 

Getting Started

There are several ways you can go about training your dog to not growl at other dogs. When it comes to this type of training, you don't need much in the way of supplies. However, you will need the following:

  • Treats: Keep a steady supply of your pup's favorite treats on hand to give your dog as a reward.
  • Leash: To take your dog out for a walk
  • Another dog: See if you can arrange for a few friends to bring their dogs over for training sessions.
  • Space to work: Whether it is in your yard, the dog park, or on the sidewalk, you need space to work.
  • Patience: As with any other type of training, you will need plenty of patience. Never get over-excited or angry with your dog, it will only make the training harder and less likely to succeed. 

Remember that your dog will pick up on your emotions (dogs are funny that way), so no matter how frustrated you get, remain calm and keep on training. 

The Positive Reinforcement Method

Most Recommended
8 Votes
Step
1
Start on a leash
Clip your dog on his leash and remain as calm as possible, he will pick up on your vibes and calm down as well.
Step
2
Go for a walk
Take your dog for a walk in an area where there are other dogs, give him a little extra leash to start with.
Step
3
Every time he growls
Every time your pup growls at another dog, use the 'quiet' command. When he obeys and stops growling, give him a treat. When he doesn't, make him lie down until the other dog has passed.
Step
4
Repeat this process
Continue having your dog lie down each time he growls. This will help to teach him that this behavior is simply not acceptable. Every time he remains quiet laying down, reward him and give him a treat.
Step
5
Keep practicing
It can take a few weeks of practice to get your pup to stop growling at other dogs. Remember, the more you socialize your pup with other dogs, the less he is likely to growl at them. Be patient, the payoff is more than worth the effort when you can take your dog for a walk and not worry about how he will behave.
Recommend training method?

The Signs of Aggression Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Signs of aggression
Pay attention to the early warning signs such as whining, ears pointing forward, pulling on his leash, raised hackles, or staring the other dog in the eye. These are all signs of aggression that are likely to be followed by growling and more aggressive behavior.
Step
2
No rewards
Giving him a treat or praising him for this aggressive behavior is simply not acceptable, all this does is teach him to behave in this manner. It also means not giving him any attention whatsoever as this will also serve to reinforce the behavior.
Step
3
Avoidance is better
When you see another dog coming your way, take your dog across the street, or if this is not possible, walk at an angle perpendicular to the one the dog is coming from. In time, your dog will learn that avoidance is better than being confrontational.
Step
4
No leash pulling
Simply walk away in the other direction. Just do it, don't pull on the leash, your dog should automatically follow you. Give him a treat if he does.
Step
5
Use positive reinforcement
Each time your dog follows you without growling, reward him with a treat and praise. Each time he doesn't, don’t punish him, just go back and repeat the training.
Step
6
Slowly cut the distance
Slowly cut the distance between your dog and the others, rewarding him each time he passes another dog without growling. With practice, your pup will soon learn to be in the company of other dogs or walk past them without growling.
Recommend training method?

The Desensitization Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Have guests
Arrange for one or more "guest" dogs your pup does not know to come to your home.
Step
2
Create a blind
Since your pup growls when he sees other dogs, you need to keep the other dogs out of sight at first. The easiest way to create a blind is to park two cars end to end with a gap between them.
Step
3
Walk on by
Have your friend walk his dog slowly past the gap while you stand 20 feet away from the gap. If your dog starts to growl, give him the 'sit-stay' command to distract him. If he obeys and stops growling, praise him and give him a treat.
Step
4
Rinse and repeat
Have as many people as you can arrange to walk their dogs past the gap. Each time your dog starts to growl, make him sit. Reward him when he complies.
Step
5
Move closer
Move the spot you and your pup are standing on half the distance to the gap and repeat the training. Be sure to use lots of treats and praise when he gets it right.
Step
6
Practice
Keep repeating this training until your dog no longer growls at the dogs walking by him.
Step
7
Out on the street
Take the training out on the street by taking your pup for a walk. Start by cutting a wide path around the oncoming dog and reward your pup when he doesn't growl. Keep working him in closer until the two of you can go anywhere without having to worry about whether or not he is going to growl at any dog you might happen to come across.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Millie
AnimalBreed object
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Millie
AnimalBreed object
3 Years

Our dog lunges and growls and bites other dogs. We use to go to the dog park but now we can’t trust her as she fights with them all

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
93 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Your dog needs to learn new behaviors to quell her fear. First we reduce her fear around new dogs, and then we begin adding cues such as “watch me” or “sit.” Research tells us that most leash reactivity is caused by fear, not by aggression. Dogs bark and lunge at other dogs to warn, “Go away! Go away!” Dogs fear other dogs because of genetic reasons, lack of socialization, fights when they were puppies, or any scary (to the dog) interaction with other dogs. Sometimes having low thyroid levels contributes to unwanted canine behavior. During this time, avoid any punishment for reactivity. Doing so will make her concerns even bigger. Dogs learn by making associations, and you want your dog to associate other dogs with pleasant things — never punishment. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming dog means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view another dog. As the new dog comes into view, drop a lot of enticing meat treats just in front of your dog’s nose. Ignore any hysterics for now, but back up and create more space if your dog is unwilling to eat. This part is hard for humans — I understand. It helps to see your dog’s behavior for what it most likely is: fear vs. disobedience. The training reinforcer MUST be a great one, such as real meat. It is critical that the appearance of the new dog causes meat to fall from the sky. When the other dog is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that other dogs near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! As you are reframing your dog’s opinion of seeing other leashed dogs, be careful where you take your dog, and be protective of what she is exposed to. One fight can create a reactive dog. Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram her opinions of other dogs. Instead, sit on your front porch or in your garage (or somewhere out of the way if those two options aren't possible) with your dog on leash, and practice treating every time another dog comes into your dog’s line of sight. During this time, engage your dog’s mind with mind puzzles, obedience work, and fun stuff like games in the house or yard. You know you have made great progress when your dog sees another dog, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening dog and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at her (former) trigger and then looking expectantly up at you for a treat, you can begin to put this skill on cue. Tell your dog "watch me" every time you see another dog approaching. Your end goal is for your dog to see another dog, and remain calm, looking at you for guidance. And this will be either continuing your walk, or being allowed to interact with the other dog. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

Add a comment to Millie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Nukka
AnimalBreed object
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Nukka
AnimalBreed object
1 Year

Why is my dog growling at some dogs?
How do I stop it?
She’s very friendly so don’t understand

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
93 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. It could be a fear or even excitement based reaction. Some more socialization and positive interactions will help. She is young enough that she probably just needs a little refreshment. Trips to the dog parks and treats when she is around other dogs will speed this process along.

Add a comment to Nukka's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Pepper
AnimalBreed object
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Pepper
AnimalBreed object
2 Years

could you please tell me how to correct the below behaviour?

-Hackles up and snarling at other dogs on a walk.
-growling and aggressive towards owners when she has something she shouldnt have like a sock or shoe.

-gets over excited to the point of uncontrollable when around the other family dog

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
674 Dog owners recommended

Hello Charlotte, I suggest hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression. Pup will need a combination of calm respect building exercises, like the three methods from the article linked below. As well as working on calmness and self-control building through certain obedience commands. Desensitizing pup to people approaching them when they have objects, through progressively rewarding calm responses to people walking past by tossing pup a treat and continuing past pup, then gradually decreasing the distance the person walks past at as pup improves, until pup looks forward to a person approaching when they have an object. Pup will also need to practice Drop It, and to work on more structure when pup is loose so pup doesn't grab up objects as often to begin with - like spraying common items pup steals with a deterrent like Bitter Apply, crate training pup, and working on commands like Leave It. Respect building: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Self-control and calmness: Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Drop It section: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-to-fetch/ Pup probably needs to be desensitized to wearing a basket muzzle and practice a lot of the above at first while wearing a basket muzzle to keep everyone safe. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s The two dogs also probably need more structure as well. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Pepper's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Sadie
AnimalBreed object
6 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Sadie
AnimalBreed object
6 Years

Sadie does not like other dogs. She is happy to ignore them unless they approach her. She’ll tolerate a sniff or two but then snarls and growls. If the dog keeps pestering her she will snap at them, no lunging or going after just a snap and actually a slight retreat by her. It does make me nervous that she is intolerant of other dogs and my husband is even more upset about it. Sadie used to be fine and actually enjoy other dogs as she went to playgroup anytime she was boarded, which was several times a year However we have moved and she no longer goes to that boarder. This behavior started about a year after our move.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
93 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Your dog needs to learn new behaviors to quell his fear. First we reduce her fear around new dogs, and then we begin adding cues such as “watch me” or “sit.” Research tells us that most leash reactivity is caused by fear, not by aggression. Dogs bark and lunge at other dogs to warn, “Go away! Go away!” Dogs fear other dogs because of genetic reasons, lack of socialization, fights when they were puppies, or any scary (to the dog) interaction with other dogs. Sometimes having low thyroid levels contributes to unwanted canine behavior. During this time, avoid any punishment for reactivity. Doing so will make her concerns even bigger. Dogs learn by making associations, and you want your dog to associate other dogs with pleasant things — never punishment. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming dog means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view another dog. As the new dog comes into view, drop a lot of enticing meat treats just in front of your dog’s nose. Ignore any hysterics for now, but back up and create more space if your dog is unwilling to eat. This part is hard for humans — I understand. It helps to see your dog’s behavior for what it most likely is: fear vs. disobedience. The training reinforcer MUST be a great one, such as real meat. It is critical that the appearance of the new dog causes meat to fall from the sky. When the other dog is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that other dogs near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! As you are reframing your dog’s opinion of seeing other leashed dogs, be careful where you take your dog, and be protective of what she is exposed to. One fight can create a reactive dog. Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram her opinions of other dogs. Instead, sit on your front porch or in your garage (or somewhere out of the way if those two options aren't possible) with your dog on leash, and practice treating every time another dog comes into your dog’s line of sight. During this time, engage your dog’s mind with mind puzzles, obedience work, and fun stuff like games in the house or yard. You know you have made great progress when your dog sees another dog, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening dog and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at his (former) trigger and then looking expectantly up at you for a treat, you can begin to put this skill on cue. Tell your dog "watch me" every time you see another dog approaching. Your end goal is for your dog to see another dog, and remain calm, looking at you for guidance. And this will be either continuing your walk, or being allowed to interact with the other dog. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

Add a comment to Sadie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Copper
AnimalBreed object
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Copper
AnimalBreed object
1 Year

Growling at other dogs on walks and I cant seem to stop this behaviour do you suggest a muzzle

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
93 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Your dog needs to learn new behaviors to quell his fear. First we reduce his fear around new dogs, and then we begin adding cues such as “watch me” or “sit.” Research tells us that most leash reactivity is caused by fear, not by aggression. Dogs bark and lunge at other dogs to warn, “Go away! Go away!” Dogs fear other dogs because of genetic reasons, lack of socialization, fights when they were puppies, or any scary (to the dog) interaction with other dogs. Sometimes having low thyroid levels contributes to unwanted canine behavior. During this time, avoid any punishment for reactivity. Doing so will make her concerns even bigger. Dogs learn by making associations, and you want your dog to associate other dogs with pleasant things — never punishment. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming dog means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view another dog. As the new dog comes into view, drop a lot of enticing meat treats just in front of your dog’s nose. Ignore any hysterics for now, but back up and create more space if your dog is unwilling to eat. This part is hard for humans — I understand. It helps to see your dog’s behavior for what it most likely is: fear vs. disobedience. The training reinforcer MUST be a great one, such as real meat. It is critical that the appearance of the new dog causes meat to fall from the sky. When the other dog is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that other dogs near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! As you are reframing your dog’s opinion of seeing other leashed dogs, be careful where you take your dog, and be protective of what she is exposed to. One fight can create a reactive dog. Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram her opinions of other dogs. Instead, sit on your front porch or in your garage (or somewhere out of the way if those two options aren't possible) with your dog on leash, and practice treating every time another dog comes into your dog’s line of sight. During this time, engage your dog’s mind with mind puzzles, obedience work, and fun stuff like games in the house or yard. You know you have made great progress when your dog sees another dog, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening dog and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at his (former) trigger and then looking expectantly up at you for a treat, you can begin to put this skill on cue. Tell your dog "watch me" every time you see another dog approaching. Your end goal is for your dog to see another dog, and remain calm, looking at you for guidance. And this will be either continuing your walk, or being allowed to interact with the other dog. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

Add a comment to Copper's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Training Success Stories

Success
Brody
AnimalBreed object
2 Years

I feel for you...we had problems with our dog also. He used to hate other dogs. Both my husband and I work a lot and had no time to take our Bud to dog training classes. We asked one friend who works in foster care (he is always surrounded by dogs) what we should do. He recommended one online dog behavior trainer. I love this trainer https://bit.ly/2NW0msw It helped us a lot, and I strongly recommend it for you.

2 years ago
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd