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.
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.
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:
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.
My dog has started to growl at some dogs when they approach her, both on and off the lead. She does this despite knowing most of them and sometimes after the growling she is happy to play with them. What can I do to stop this growling behaviour.
Hello Diane, Millie probably needs a lot of positive but calm experiences with other dogs. There are two different things I suggest you work on. The first is to take Millie to as many places with other dogs as possible. When you take her, keep your distance from the other dogs at first. Go where she can see them from a distance and every time that she looks at another dog, before she growls, praise her in an upbeat, happy tone of voice, and then give her a treat when she looks at you when you praise her. If she starts to get upset, then call her name and then quickly have her do at least five commands in a row, to address her attitude, remind her to depend on you and respect you, and to get her focus back on you and off of the other dog. This might look like: "Millie, Heel. Good girl. Sit!. Good girl. Down! Sit. Good girl. Heel. Sit. Good girl. Attention. OK. Sit. Good girl. OK". These commands would be given quickly to address her attitude and to keep her so busy that she could not look at the other dog. When you do this, your attitude should mean business, and being firm but calm. Think of a drill sergeant telling you to do push ups or run laps in quick succession. By correcting her growling by shifting her attention back onto you and having her work for you, and by rewarding her for noticing other dogs but still remaining calm, you are addressing her anxiety, frustration, and possibly rude behavior, and teaching her to pay attention to you, remain calm, and view the other dogs as boring. As she improves, you can practice this closer to the other dogs, and when dogs pass by her. If you have other friends with dogs, then I would also recommend going on "Pack Walks" together. Do this with as many different well socialized, friendly dogs as you can, one or two at a time at first ideally. When you go on a walk together, keep the dogs moving forward and focused. Have the dogs heel and pay attention to you and the other owner, rather than pulling and competing to be in front or sniffing and bothering one another while walking. To get the dogs close enough to walk together practice either "The Walking Together Method" or "The Passing Approach Method" from this Wag! article, "How To Train Your Dog To Greet Other Dogs", bellow: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Going on walks with other dogs should help Millie to socialize with other dogs in a calm, focused, and controlled way. Right now she is likely experiencing anxiety, frustration, or simply rude behavior during interactions with other dogs. Her expectations of interacting with other dogs need to shift from tense or anxious to relaxed, calm, and almost boring. Changing her emotional state while she is around other dogs should help with the aggressive tendencies. Begin training as soon as possible. The earlier that you begin working on something like this, the easier it typically will be to address. If the issue gets any worse, then do not wait to contact a trainer in your area with experiences dealing with reactivity and aggression. Reactivity is often caused by the frustration, anxiety, and arousal that build up while a dog is anticipating another dog's interaction. Overtime the dog can become reactive due to all of those heightened emotions and the dog's view of other dog's becomes unpleasant. Reactivity is less severe than aggression because most reactive dogs are still friendly when they are off-leash with other dogs, but the issue can get worse overtime. It is easier to address early while the dog is still social with other dogs while off-leash. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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