Updated: Nov 4, 2019
A ‘Stop’ sign; a ‘Yield’ sign; a ‘Slippery When Wet’ sign. These are all signs that warn us of a possible danger to prevent harm. What would we do without them? Our Canine Companions give us signs too, and it is important that we heed them just as we would these traffic signs. One such sign is a growl. When a dog growls, he is telling us that he is not comfortable about something, perhaps something within his proximity, such as another dog threatening his space. Dogs will often growl to warn off other dogs near their food or other resources. It is their way of saying, “You are too close to my stuff. Step back!” If such a warning is not heeded, the next step might be a bite or nip which can lead to a fight. We should learn from this warning growl and never punish it. If we punish a dog who is growling, that may teach that dog not to give a warning. The discomfort will still be there and may even grow. Without the growl, another dog, or person, may approach without knowing there is danger ahead, much like us approaching a busy intersection without a stop sign. Not knowing there is danger, the dog may find out when she is warned more aggressively, such as with the nip or bite. Find out why your dog is growling and address the concern, such as getting any other dogs close by, out of the area. If the warning behavior persists, or is accompanied by other aggressive behaviors, please consult a professional dog trainer immediately, before those behaviors escalate to worse behaviors. We are available to assess and help modify such behaviors in an appropriate way, to make your relationship with your Canine Companion a happy, healthy one!