Listen to your dog – why a growl is good

March 25, 2013

A common misconception is that if a dog growls, he must be told that this is not acceptable.  In actual fact by telling a dog off for growling, we are likely to make the dog’s reactions far worse.

We have our voices to communicate to people if we want something or are not happy, and so do dogs.  Growling is a dogs way of communicating. If we punish the growl, the dog will learn that growling does not work, and is not clear enough a communication method, so he will have no choice but to move onto the next step in a bid to be heard. That next step will be snapping.

If your dog growls, you need to think about WHY he is growling. What is he trying to communicate with you? What is he not happy with?  Then it is vital that you listen to that and do not force him to try to deal with anything he is not happy with. It is not avoidance, but instead we then spend time changing the dog’s association with whatever, or whoever, he is not comfortable with.

A fabulous analogy on why not to punish growling is below:-

“Punishing a dog for growling is like taking the batteries out of your smoke detector. You don’t want to hear the noise, but the danger is still there.” Yamei Ross.

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