Your Dog's Growl is a Gift!
Dogs have two main ways of communicating with us, vocalizations and body language. Dogs may bark, growl, or whine to communicate. Many of us don't want our dogs to growl. If they do, from being unhappy or scared of something, our instinct may be to "shush" them. If we inhibit or punish that communication, escalation can follow. Think about a time you were very upset and someone told you that you have no reason to be upset and dismissed your feelings or scolded you for being upset. How did that make you feel? Dogs that are punished for growling may feel similarly suppressed. We call growling a gift because that dog is giving us a clear warning sign they are not happy and chose not to bite. What we want to do is not inhibit or punish the growling but try and figure out why your dog is uncomfortable and help them become comfortable, quickly. The more they learn to growl when scared or upset, the less likely they will resort to biting as a response if we can help them through the situation. By identifying what is causing the growling, we can target that to relieve the problem through training so they are no longer uncomfortable in a particular situation. If we listen to our canine companions, we can be more astute at helping them not to feel the need to growl in the future.