Staying Calm When Your Dog Growls: Dos, Don’ts and Next Steps
Hearing your dog growl can be alarming. But how you respond in the moment is critical to prevent escalating the situation. This article covers tips for immediate response and long-term strategies when dealing with a growling dog.
If Your Dog Growls:
Stop and Stay Calm
Immediately stop doing whatever it is that has prompted your dog to growl. Avoid matching your dog’s energy with anger or fear.
Give Them Space
Back away to provide distance. Don’t corner them or invade their space, as this can heighten anxiety. Allow room to decompress.
Evaluate the Trigger
Note what specifically prompted the growling. Identifying the trigger is key for addressing the underlying cause.
Never scold or punish growling. This risks teaching the dog not to communication via growling, increasing risk of bites without warning.
Allow Recovery Time
Let your dog settle before engaging again. Rushing back into interaction can be counterproductive. Give them a chance for their nervous system to return to a calm state.
What To Do Next:
Use baby gates, leashes, etc. to prevent scenarios that lead to growling, while working through a an alternative behavior.
See Your Veterinarian
If pain or illness seems related, your vet may recommend medication along with behavior modification.
Get Professional Help
If the growling persists or its cause is unclear, consult a certified trainer/behaviorist for tailored guidance.
Staying calm, giving space, identifying triggers, and avoiding punishment are key in the moment. Long-term, address the roots through positive training, counterconditioning, and management under professional guidance. Soon your dog will feel understood and relaxed minus the growling.
Worried about your dog's growling? As a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant, I can provide personalized guidance tailored to you and your pup's unique needs.
Schedule a consultation with me, Sara Scott, to get expert advice on addressing the roots of your dog's concerning growl using positive reinforcement training and behavior modification.
I'll design a customized plan with practical solutions to help your furry friend feel safe, build confidence, and communicate happily without resorting to growls.
Don't let growling become a source of stress in your relationship.