Thank You for Growling!

May 24 / Jennifer Thornburg
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Have you ever heard your dog growl? If so, you're not alone. All dogs growl at some point. It’s unrealistic to expect your dog to never growl, just as it's unrealistic for a person to never raise their voice throughout their entire life.
Did you know that growling is actually a positive sign from your dog? When dogs are stressed or upset, growling is one way that they may express their discomfort with a situation. We want them to tell us when they are uncomfortable so we can help them out!

When a dog is punished for growling, they learn to stop growling out of fear of being punished again. However, this does not change their emotions, Instead, an important way of communicating has been silenced. As a result, the dog may skip the growling and go straight to snapping or biting. Yikes!
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"Punishing a dog for growling is like removing the ticker from a time bomb."
So, what should you do when your dog growls?
  1. Assess the situation. Look around and try to determine what caused your dog to growl.
  2. Give your dog some space from the trigger! Sometimes this alone will help your dog become more comfortable.
  3. If increasing distance didn't help, remove your dog from the situation. Don’t make your dog endure an already uncomfortable situation.
  4. Change the way your dog feels about the thing that made them growl. If your dog is growling at, let's say, the ceiling fan. Every time the ceiling fan is on, you give your dog delicious treats. The ceiling fan becomes a predictor of very good things for your dog! Counterconditioning and desensitization are the appropriate ways to accomplish this and are very effective when implemented slowly and consistently.
  5. Learn more about signs of stress in your dog. You can start here!
  6. Consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who can provide guidance on how to modify your dog's behavior safely and effectively. Psst, get in touch!
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