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

ribbon-method-3
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.
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The Signs of Aggression Method

ribbon-method-2
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

ribbon-method-1
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

Question
Brooks
Golden Retriever
1 Year
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Brooks
Golden Retriever
1 Year

He is very growls & snarly

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Question
Nahla
Jackawawa
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
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Nahla
Jackawawa
1 Year

Why does my puppy show her teeth and growl at some dogs but not others. She’s sounds very fierce and I get nervous when I have to take her out for a walk.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1104 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cheryl, Dogs tend to have preferences for who they like individually so pup may simply like certain dogs more than others. Depending on pup's socialization as a pup, if pup wasn't socialized around certain dogs as much - like small dogs, large dogs, males, or females - pup might be more suspicious of that type of dog. Many females will be okay with males but not other females. Sometimes a dog will be trying to intimidate or compete with your dog in subtle ways - being puffed up looking, tail high, stiff, hackles up, a lip lift, staring at your dog intensely, ect...And if your pup is more competitive and dominant herself she might be competing and trying to intimidate back. Some dogs will bully timid dogs; if the other dogs all all dogs who are insecure she might be uncomfortable with their insecurity and trying to correct them for it, or taking advantage of the other dogs not standing up for themselves. If she isn't sprayed, hormones can lead to competitiveness toward certain females she sees as a threat and defensiveness around males who may want to mate with her - this is more true when its close to time to go into heat. Determining what the common thread is can help you know what to desensitize to, joining a G.R.O.W.L. class can help many of those causes though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bruce
miniature poodle
2 Years
0 found helpful
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Bruce
miniature poodle
2 Years

Dog recently started growling while playing with other dogs. And now he’s doing it as he’s meeting a new dog when he wants to play.

He is mix- mini poodle and Bernese mountain dog

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1104 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ashley, If pup goes to the dog park I would pause doing that, and instead look for structured outlets to practice pup's obedience and calm interactions around other dogs, such as an obedience class, obedience practice with friends with dogs, a structured dog walking group on leash, and the Passing Approach and Walking Together methods from the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs I would also work on some structured obedience that can be used to guide pup, such as Quiet, Heel, Watch Me, Leave It, and Out. 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 Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Watch Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zeZrOPzO-c When you do practice greetings if pup is safe to do so, like after pup has been desensitized to a dog using the Passing Approach method, then keep greetings to three seconds or less. When those three seconds are up, tell pup "Let's Go!" happily, begin to walk away - pup might follow or the leash might lead them when you get far enough away. Once pup turns toward you, praise and offer a treat hidden in a baggie in your pocket during walks. By doing this you are shifting pup's focus to you, helping pup disengage, ending greetings after pup's have satisfied their curiosity and socialized but before competing tends to begin, and teaching pup how to disengage on command "Let's Go!" willingly. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Mya
Pit bull
1 Year
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Question
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Mya
Pit bull
1 Year

Hello. My pup used to love other dogs. Then around November, she randomly didn't like dogs anymore. She would growl. Mean growl with hair on her back standing straight up. No idea where this came from. At the end of January, beginning of February she went into her first heat. This made her even more aggressive towards dogs, even towards some dogs she knew before (family, neighbor, friends, etc). She went out of heat around the end of March. There were 2 instances since then she encountered dogs. First time was a service animal at our local pet store. When she growled and got aggressive, I took her where she could not see the other dog and I sat down with her and told her "no, Mya. We don't do that. It's ok. Please be a good girl. No bark." She saw the dog again and she was fine. She behaved. A week later we went for a walk. A small dog was barking at her like crazy. She actually ignored the dog and kept walking. I praised her and told her good girl. Just today, a week later. Walking on our property, see our neighbor on his property. We go to say hi. She knows this dog. She's played with this dog since the day we got her at 8 weeks. They were friends. She's growls, gets aggressive, will not listen to any command I give her. I have to use all my strength to hold her and keep her back. I need help in getting her to be okay and not be aggressive with other dogs. She was never like this until randomly for the past 5 months. I just don't understand why some dogs she okay with, even ones she knows, and other times she not okay at all.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, As some dogs approach mental and sexual maturity aggression can surface due to certain instincts like territorial behavior, possessiveness over you, competing, or pup going through a final fear period - that makes them feel more suspicious of others. Pup being an female that's not spayed can definitely contribute to this. Female hormones can increase aggressiveness toward certain dogs in some females. This isn't true of all females who aren't spayed but I have seen it with certain ones. I would work on building pup's overall respect and trust for you, especially if pup might be reactive due to possessiveness of you (like resource guarding a person and seeing the person as belonging to them like they would with a bone). I would build those areas through structured obedience and adding more boundaries at home, opposed to a lot of direct physical confrontation. Check out the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Second, I would do a sort of reset with other dogs. See if there is a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area, which is a class for dog reactive/aggressive dogs, where the dogs are intensively socialized together but in a structured environment, where obedience practice is being incorporated to facilitate calmness, focus on you, and being in a thinking mindset instead of in fight or flight, all under the supervision of the class teacher. For safety, all the dogs wear basket muzzles in class as well. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Benji
Mixed
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Benji
Mixed
2 Years

Benji is very sweet and well behaved for us. However he keeps growling when he meets new dogs. It isn’t instantaneous, he will get right in their face and after 30seconds or a couple minutes, he starts growling. Why? How can I prevent this? He acts like he wants nothing more than to meet new dogs but then he suddenly sounds like a threat to them. Also when he goes to the dog park, he sprints as fast as he can up to new dogs which probably scares them. He sometimes can play with dogs just fine, and then other dogs he will start the growling thing and almost gets in a fight. So his behavior is both on and off leash.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1104 Dog owners recommended

Hello Allison, It sounds like he is challenging other dogs. First, when he meets other dogs on leash, I would use the three second rule. If he does okay initially meeting, allow pup to greet for only three seconds, then tell pup "Let's Go!" and walk away. As soon as pup turns toward you - likely because the leash forces him to at first, praise him and give a treat that you are carrying in your pocket for such a reason. The praise and Let's Go reward should train pup to respond to that command before the leash forces him to, helping pup focus on you and disengage from the other dog before competing starts. This helps pup have more positive associations with other dogs, fade out the unwanted behavior, and increase focus on you. Second, I would avoid the dog park for a while, and instead find activities around other dogs that involve more focus on you and structure, so pup is being taught manners, calmness, attentiveness to you, and respect for you, instead of being aroused and trying to compete and intimidate others. Some good options are structured dog walking and hiking groups, on leash for the hikes at least at first. Dog training groups or classes, so pup is practicing obedience around other dogs and associating others with that calmness and mindset while working and looking to you, or a canine sport where pup is structured and focused on you around others - like competitive obedience, canine freestyle, or sometimes agility, depending on the dog. It also never hurts to work on increasing pup's respect and trust and listening for you, so you can instruct pup around other dogs and pup listen and trust your leading, instead of pup making poor choices on their own around another dog - you are using your influence to help guide pup. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Success
Brody
Labrador Retriever
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.

3 years, 7 months ago
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