WHAT TO DO ABOUT GROWLING?
Punishing A Dog For Growling Is Like Taking The Batteries Out Of Your
You Do Not Want To Hear The Noise But The Danger Is Still There!
If your dog growls or uses another one of the subtler signs of anxiety or aggression, we need to be thankful that he or she is letting us know they are worried about a situation. We do not want to punish or suppress a growl.
When we see a growl we also have to realize we may have missed even earlier signs like a yawn, a head turn or a lip lick BEFORE the worry or fear escalated. If we can catch the early signs that gives us a chance to change the outcome by; creating space, backing away or changing the environment in some other way which might remove the need for the dog to climb up to the growl.
If we find we are hearing lots of growls and missing these early cues, we need to go back and study the body language resources again.
We need to calmly, quickly, and without punishment or “correction” help our dog get out of the fearful situation. We also need to remember the Who/What/Wen/Where of the situation to identify common threads and triggers so we can avoid these contexts. We want to set the dog up for success. We do not want to put the dog repeatedly in situations where he continues to rehearse and perfect the growl as a coping strategy
Eventually we will try to change the way he feels about the trigger by using counter conditioning to create a new emotional response to the trigger. And finally, only after his fear has been changed to a more joyful emotion, we can work to slowly desensitize the approach to the trigger.
To learn more about why growls or early signs of fear are important to recognize please read: