Chicago Paws Dog Training Blog

Covers positive reinforcement dog training strategies and tips. Jeff strongly believes that positive reinforcement training is the only option and he is a vocal critic of other methods. You can also find product and book reviews and clicker training tips.

What to do if your dog growls at you

It is so important to gently handle your dog throughout his or her life. I received a typical call a while ago from a client that is afraid because her dog growls when she puts on his harness.

The challenge with growling is that it is much better than biting, but it does signify a problem that needs to be worked on. If you put your dog in a situation where he growls, and you move away from him, then he is learning that growling is effective and he can do it when he is scared. If he growls and you ignore it, he might bite.

If you notice growling, do not punish it. Move gently away and make a note of what you were doing right before the growling. Let's just say you were putting on a harness. You need to break down the complete action into small steps and desensitize your dog to each step.

For instance, putting on a harness could be broken down into these big steps:

  1. Show your dog his harness
  2. Move harness towards your dog's head
  3. Open head hole
  4. Move harness towards dog
  5. Put harness over dog's head
  6. Rest harness on dog's back
  7. Move hand towards paw to bring it through front leg hole in harness
  8. Lift paw
  9. Put paw through hole
  10. Lean towards dog
  11. Touch clip under belly
  12. Clip harness under belly


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Each one of those steps could take a long time. For instance, step 4 "Move harness towards dog" could elicit a fear response. If this happens, you have to go at a slower pace, both while you are doing the exercise and take more days to achieve this step.

After each step, I recommend saying, "Yes" or Clicking and treating. If your dog shows any fear, move more slowly and end on a good note and then stop the exercise before he gets worked up.

If he is constantly getting worked up when you do these exercises, you are moving much too quickly.

To prevent issues like this, handle your dog throughout his or her life and give treats toys, or food after doing the handling. Done correctly, your dog will love it!

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Comments 2

Guest - kim davidson on Monday, 10 October 2011 22:37

hello my aunt dog got agresive to a neighbor she all ways have him sitting out side she took him for walks but after he had an incident with a dog he who bit him then he started being agressive but he was acting normal until out of nowhere he just growling then he started to jump at her my anunt said she had an odor on her or he didnt like the cigaretts but he never act like that before i dont know what she did before would you know what can trigger dog behavier she scared of him now he had his shots do you think he jelous of he he has not been spayed he is five years old ps we do need behavior trainig for him too.

hello my aunt dog got agresive to a neighbor she all ways have him sitting out side she took him for walks but after he had an incident with a dog he who bit him then he started being agressive but he was acting normal until out of nowhere he just growling then he started to jump at her my anunt said she had an odor on her or he didnt like the cigaretts but he never act like that before i dont know what she did before would you know what can trigger dog behavier she scared of him now he had his shots do you think he jelous of he he has not been spayed he is five years old ps we do need behavior trainig for him too.
Guest - kim davidson on Monday, 10 October 2011 22:45

can u keep changing your dog food why would your dog keep throwing up his food. ms kim

can u keep changing your dog food why would your dog keep throwing up his food. ms kim
Guest
Monday, 18 December 2017

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