By Sandra Scott
Dog growling must be taken seriously as the dog is giving you a warning. All too frequently, humans fail to comprehend these warning signals; dogs use growling to get their message across to humans and other animals.
Usually, dogs will only display aggressive behavior when they feel that they are in danger or under threat. They will only attack after having displayed progressively more explicit warning gestures several times.
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Often, dogs will growl to let their owners know what they want. When dogs find out that this works, they are likely to try it again. It is hardly a surprise that growling in dogs is a common problem because some people mistakenly think that this is a sign that their dog will safeguard them. It is more likely that the dog will take care of himself and his possessions.
Some legal definitions classify a dog that growls as dangerous so there may be a requirement for him to be restricted. This may include placing your dog in a crate, in a separate room or confining him to your back yard.
If you give a dog what he wants after he has growled at you, he will very quickly realize that this is a great way to get what he desires. Understanding your dog’s wants is very helpful in fixing this behavior.
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Here are just a few of the reasons why a dog growls:
- He wants you to feed him. This is a perfect time for an owner to teach his dog the appropriate ways to communicate his needs. In order for the food dish to be placed in front of the dog, he would need to behave correctly.
- He needs to go potty. Some dog owners are happy that their pooch asks to be let outside to go potty, however this is an unrealistic expectation for an old or sick dog or a puppy. So a dog dosn’t have to worry about getting his owner’s attention to let him outside, it is much better if regular outings for elimination are scheduled.
- He is protecting his meal. Dogs may protect their food against an apparent threat (you!). Children must be taught to allow the dog to eat in peace and never try to remove the dog’s food. The same goes for adults; dogs must understand that humans give them food and don’t take it away. When their is no risk of the dog growling, food should be added to the dog’s dish.
- As with food guarding, dogs may also safeguard their toys. Growling is often the first signal from the dog that he will bite if his warning is ignored. Under these circumstances, the easiest solution is to only let the dog play with the toy in his crate.
- He has taken something and wants to keep hold of it. Never chase your dog if he has taken something that belongs to you. Instead, you should make sure that he receives good obedience training where he will learn the joys of retrieving and will come to you on command.
- Often a dog growls when he is afraid of being groomed or having his nails trimmed. Considerable skill is necessary to groom some dogs and you should not try it yourself without the appropriate training.
- Dog growling also occurs when the dog feels the need to protect himself from abuse or pain. Maybe a child has hit or tormented your dog when you weren’t looking so he may growl when a child approaches. Unfortunately, the dog will most likely be blamed for growling under these circumstances.
- If a dog growls and his owner reacts by jumping backwards, this can be huge fun for the dog. If he is allowed to continue this behavior, it is possible that the dog will become aggressive if his owner doesn’t jump when he growls. This behavior must not be allowed to escalate.
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