Dogs growl to alert their pack about a perceived threat and to ward off that threat, but it's definitely not cool when your pooch bares his teeth at a friend or family member. It may also be particularly alarming if your dog focuses his growling on one particular person. This type of behavior should be corrected as early as possible through training and proper socialization.
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Gain your dog's respect and obedience through consistent positive reinforcement training. Teach your dog basic commands like "sit," "stay," and "quiet" and practice these commands daily.
A Tired Dog is a Good Dog
Keep your dog from any contact with the person she growls at until she has been thoroughly exercised. If she is tired, your pooch will not have the energy to be aggressive toward this person.
Don't Reward Bad Behavior
Do not give your dog any attention or comfort when he growls; it will merely encourage the poor behavior. Rather, teach him a simple command of "Quiet" or "Be still," and speak this to him firmly and calmly when he growls.
Socialize Pooch with the Person
Have the person your dog growls at sit in a chair. Toss dog treats or kibble around the chair and allow your dog to approach at her own comfort level. Do not have your friend speak or move the first few times you try this exercise. As your dog begins to associate this person with safe treats, have him issue known commands such as "Come" or "Sit." Allow him to reward your dog with a treat. If the dog growls, remove her from the room with a firm "No," and try again in a few minutes. As your dog becomes more comfortable, progress to having your friend hand her the treats and pet her.
Warning: If your dog continues to growl at this individual in spite of continued training, do not take any chances of a bite; seek professional help.
By Lori Lapierre
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Cesar's Way: Dog Aggression towards Children
Paw Rescue: Dog Tip: Socializing Adult Dogs and the Importance of Maintaining Socialization
Paws Rescue: Aggression, Growling, Lunging at Dogs and People Outdoors
Sam the Dog Trainer: What Are the Signs That You've Become a Dog's Master?
Dodge County Canine: Understanding Dog Growling [PDF]
American Humane Society: Socializing the Adult Dog
Veterinary Partner: Growling Dogs
About the Author
Lori Lapierre holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science in public relations/communications. For 17 years, she worked for a Fortune 500 company before purchasing a business and starting a family. She is a regular freelancer for "Living Light News," an award-winning national publication. Her past writing experience includes school news reporting, church drama, in-house business articles and a self-published mystery, "Duty Free Murder."