Dogs who growl are communicating that they are uncomfortable in a situation. They would either like to retreat or want who they are growling at to retreat. It is important to understand that your dog expects some action to result from his growl, and if you ignore it, it may escalate into biting. Working with your dog so that he is more comfortable in public will help put a stop to his growling.
Tip #1 - Give your dog, and others personal space. Many dogs are perfectly fine out walking as long as other people and animals stay a reasonable distance away. Try to take your dog out at times of the day when there isn't a lot of chaos, and you can walk him without being run down by dogs on flexi-leashes and toddlers headed to the playground. Stay far enough away from others that your dog doesn't growl. Once you notice him start to tense up and hear a rumble in his throat, reverse course and head the other direction. As he gets more comfortable, you will be able to decrease the amount of distance your dog needs.
Tip #2 - Distract your dog while you're out. While you may prefer to use walks as a time to kick back and relax after a hard day at work, you need to pay attention to your dog. Walk him in different directions, occasionally offer him a treat, and generally work to keep his attention on you, rather than everything going on around him. By paying attention to him, you will notice when he starts to tense up and you can change the routine.
Tip #3 - Reward good behavior with treats. When your dog is walking along quietly on a loose leash, slip him a treat. You don't need to make a big deal about it, if you consistently give him a treat when he is behaving the way you want him to, he will learn what you expect from him.
Tip #4 - Get out often. The best way to stop your dog's growling issue is to socialize him. Frequent outing, where he is exposed to different people and animals, are the best way for him to get comfortable with being in public.
By Stephanie Dube Dwilson
About the Author
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.