Dogs growl for a variety of reasons: Fear, Insecurity, Protection, Offensive aggression, even Playing can elicit growls. Growls may sound the same, but to a knowledgeable ear, these growls are each unique in their tone and pitch.
Outside of play, growling serves as a warning that all is not well in the dog’s world. Something is off, and our dog is doing us the courtesy of sharing that information.
Here are the things we need to learn about our dog’s growl:
1. Growling serves as a warning signal. It tells you that your dog is unhappy or uncomfortable. Something is wrong. Think of it as an early warning system.
2. Punishing a dog for growling takes away your early warning system. Dogs who are punished for growling oftentimes learn not to growl. However, getting rid of the growl doesn’t fix the underlying cause for growling, which leaves us with a dog who is just as upset as before, but now has no way to express that discomfort except for escalating his display.
3. All dogs warn. If your dog doesn’t warn before he bites, it’s either because you’re missing his precursor signals or because he no longer feels safe displaying them. Either way, the fault here lies at the other end of the leash.
4. If your dog growls, he believes he has a valid reason to do so. Treating the underlying cause will make the symptom disappear far more effectively than suppressing it.
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