Tame that growling dog

To stop a dog from frequent growling, we ought to understand why the dog growls in the first place.

To stop a dog from frequent growling, we ought to understand why the dog growls in the first place.

According to Dennis Mukombozi, a vet, growling is “an assertive behavior which is triggered by any unfamiliar event, person or another animal.” A dog usually growls when an unknown entity comes his way. It is its way of saying that it wants to be left alone or it does not approve what it sees. In other words, it feels threatened. As soon as the approaching person or animal moves away, this is interpreted as showing respect to the dog and soon the animal will stop growling. Anyone with a pet dog at home should know the basics of the many ways in which dogs communicate so that there can be safe co-existence between the dog and the rest of the family.

This is especially important when the household has children, who are known to be particularly affectionate towards pets. When a person ignores the dog’s growling and continues to approach the dog casually,  the dog “treats the situation as threatening and expects something bad to follow”, says Mukombozi. The dog may resort to barking, or even snap and bite the approaching individual.

The rule of thumb, according to Mukombozi, is to never punish your dog for growling. “The punishment may stop the dog from growling temporarily, but it will develop a latent behavior where it bites or snaps at people without any warning in future”, he explains. He advises that at such times, the best course of action to pursue is to respect the dog and let it be. It will stop growling as soon as it realizes that there is nothing disturbing its peace any more.

Explain to your children why a dog growls, and if the dog starts growling suddenly, they should immediately stop doing whatever they were doing as the dog would have been irritated with their activity. Ask them to simply move away gradually from the dog’s vicinity. They must never flee from the growling dog. 

Dogs growl when they feel intimidated by some one. Sometimes a person’s size is perceived as a threat and the dog starts growling. So when a huge man approaches a dog, however kind his intention may be, the dog may consider him to be a threat. In such cases the person should squat and bring himself at the same level as the dog. Then approach it gently with extended hand. Then talk to the dog in a calm and gentle voice.

If your dog is growling for no apparent reason and is snapping at every thing, it might be wise to seek a vet’s services. The vet should do some tests to check hormonal balance and allergies, if any.

Some dogs growl when eating and someone gets close. The reason for this is that he is simply being possessive about his food and scared that this person might take it away. To correct this behavior, choose an adult who the dog loves most. Let this adult start feeding the dog and stay close to him while he is eating.

To start with, simply stay with the dog and talk to him with a reassuring and calm voice. Once the dog is used to this, then let the adult approach the dog while he is eating, go on reassuring him with his gentle voice.

Though this procedure could take a long time, it happens to be one of the surest ways to reassure a dog and take away the threat element, which causes it to growl in the first place.


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