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Teaching a Puppy Not to Growl

Puppy Growling
While puppies often play growl during energetic play, growling is often not appropriate behavior and may require some training activities. This is a guide about teaching a puppy not to growl.
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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
February 2, 2010

I have a 9 month old Yorkie-Poo. She is very smart and lovable, but has a bad aggressive habit. When I try to take something that she shouldn't have away from her, she growls and snaps at me. I've learned to stay away from her food bowl while she is eating, but this snapping and biting thing has got to stop. Any help at stopping this type of behavior will be greatly appreciated.
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By Barb from Munhall, PA

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February 2, 20100 found this helpful
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The best way I've used to stop this kind of behavior is a quick squirt of a water bottle, and a firm no. Is very effective. They don't like it in their face and they won't continue for long. After awhile all I had to do was shake the bottle at them.

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February 2, 20100 found this helpful
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As far as the growling/snapping when you take something forbidden away from her, try distracting her with something she likes better, whether it be a treat she really loves or a favorite toy. Tell her "drop it" and praise her when she releases the forbidden object and reward her with the treat or toy.

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For the snapping behavior where her food bowl is concerned, she needs to learn there is no free lunch. Make her work for her meals by teaching her to sit and stay before you put the food bowl down. Praise her when she waits for you to tell her to eat. Be consistent - everybody in the family has to to this with her or she will never learn.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 2, 2009

I have a 5 month old Pit puppy and when new people try to approach her, she puts her tail between her legs and growls. I'm afraid she'll bite someone. What can I do?

By Dellylah from Las Vegas, NV

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Answers

July 22, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

She sounds scared to me. Don't just train your dog, train the strangers. How do strangers approach her? There are a few things that some people do and don't realize that it can be a sign of aggression from the person.

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October 15, 20100 found this helpful
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I have a now 2 year old pit bull that was not scared but was aggressive towards strangers as a baby. A leash was our best friend. I think that people really need to learn not to just walk up and try to pet a strange dog, but as a pit owner the dog has to be taught to sit and accept other people. I taught my dog this by keeping her on a leash when introducing her to new people and letting them give her a treat. I also taught her that when I say "okay" it means that the person is alright for her to be friendly towards. She has also been taught "enough" dogs sometimes get worried by some people and there is nothing to be done about it, but if it someone that is going to be in their life they must learn not to growl. When she is told "enough" she will stop growling and lay down. Pits are bred to be protective and usually, all they are doing is looking out for their people.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 14, 2010

My Pit Bull puppy won't let you pet him on the head or pick him up. He growls whenever you do this. Does anyone else have this problem and how do you correct the problem?

By Belinda from MI

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January 14, 20100 found this helpful
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How long have you had the puppy? Growling in puppies can be a fear thing, a 'back off' if you will. Whatever you do, do not punish him for the growling or force him to deal with the petting or handling he is not ready for yet. This will only cement the fear. I know it is hard for those of us who love dogs to want to lavish pets and hugs. Treats and patience will actually get you there quicker. Many happy years with your new puppy!

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January 16, 20100 found this helpful
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The puppy might be frightened. To us, petting an animal on the head is normal, but to animals, that can be a gesture of dominance.

What I do with dogs I don't know is that I put my hand down where the dog/cat can sniff it, below the muzzle. The animal is more comfortable being above your hand. Let it sniff you for a while, then -- without making a sudden move -- gently scratch it under the chin, or behind the ears. Animals usually love the sensation, and it's less intimidating than being petted on the head. A frightened animal might eventually let you pet it on the head eventually, but at first, it's best to err on the safe side.

If your pup still has problems, then discuss it with your vet, because it may have psychological problems (anxiety, etc.), that need to be addressed.

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December 22, 20140 found this helpful

I have just gotten a Collie cross with a Labrador puppy who is very affectionate and loves people and being the centre of attention. She is very fun and gentle, but recently when she has taken on one occassion a sock and other something in the garden, when I tried to retrieve same she growled and snapped at me and even jumped at me. I was very surprised by this behaviour as it seemed completely out of character for her. I have been able to take other things out of her mouth such a pebble or toys. I am not sure where this is coming from and just wondering how I should treat this behaviour?

By Sophie Q

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December 23, 20140 found this helpful
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This is a type of aggression called resource guarding. It may seem cute in puppies, but you're right to deal with it now, since it can lead to biting.

Stand to your full height over the puppy. Using a firm, strict voice say "Drop it!" To teach the puppy what you mean, tap him on his shoulder or neck with your fully outstretched arm, no bent elbow. Don't try to take the sock until he has dropped it.

If he keeps trying to dive for the sock again after he's dropped it but before you can pick it up: Back him off by using both your index fingers to his chest. Push slowly, not hard.

While you're using this technique, do not say anything except "drop it." Don't use his name.

You'll need to do this for anything you want him to drop, even if you think he would give it to you. Never take anything from a dog's mouth. Even if he wasn't previously aggressive about that type of thing, as he grows older he may decide to change his mind at any time. Always have him drop it and take it.

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July 2, 20090 found this helpful

Growling Pitbull Puppy
I have a 1 year old Pit Bull male. He growls at me sometimes. He has been to obedience classes and has a 7 month old sister who is an English Mastiff. He has been growling since he was 6 weeks old. How do I stop him from thinking he is alpha?

Telisa from Imperial, MO

Answers:

Growling Pitbull Puppy

Doing the "alpha roll" on a dog is not harmful. It is the same thing dogs do to each other to decide who is in charge. We have four Olde English Bulldogs (stubborn) and we have done the roll on them since they were pups, and still must do it occasionally now that they are grown. All of our kids have laid across them so that the dogs know the kids are higher up than they are. Dogs are not people and you can't use any sort of reasoning with a dog. They have to know who the pack leader is. The Dog Whisperer is a good source, as is picking the brains of those who have Pitbulls and know how to train them. Good luck. (09/12/2008)

By Wendopolis

Growling Pitbull Puppy

I'm also a fan of the "Dog Whisperer", but I think that Animal Planet's "It's Me Or The Dog" offers safer ways of training, than the often confrontational style Cesar uses. The show airs every weekday afternoon at 5pm Central Time, and Saturday nights at 7pm Central Time.

It stars Victoria Stilwell, who uses positive reinforcement (giving treats, etc.) to help calm aggressive dogs. She's turned some absolutely psycho dogs into model pets, without resorting to the "alpha roll" that Cesar often uses.

Honestly, I would not attempt doing the "alpha roll" on a Pit Bull, or any dog, for that matter. "Dog Whisperer" often carries the disclaimer, "Do not attempt these techniques without consulting a professional" and for good reason. "It's Me Or The Dog" carries no such disclaimer, because Victoria's methods are much more low-key, and safer.

So watch both these shows, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Hopefully you'll find something to help your Pit Bull calm down and relax. (09/14/2008)

By WildIrish

Growling Pitbull Puppy

Your dog may have been through obedience training, but you are not being an effective leader. Just because a dog will sit on command does not mean you are in control. Both shows have their good and bad points. Watching them is not good enough. You have to be ready and willing to spend the time and energy with your dog so you both can be happy.

First you really need to objectively look at the times the dog growls at you. Is his favorite person gone? Do you have food in your hands? Praising the other dog? You get the idea. Often, growling problems are more fear based than an attempt to gain dominance. You have to look carefully and get another candid opinion if needed. Then listen to the opinion even if they tell you something like you need to be less afraid.

  1. You dog should be neutered. If not; get it done ASAP. No excuses. Some dogs have situations where they may have no behavior problems from not being spayed or neutered, but you are not an effective enough leader for that to be the case for you. This alone should help quite a bit.

    The other dog should also be spayed. Many people think they might make money by breeding or may want a puppy in the future, but you have no idea how much work and expense is involved or how to pick a good stud. Keep them both as pets and don't become a backtard (bad) breeder.

  2. Exercise-at least 30 minutes of good exercise twice a day every day and longer when possible is "necessary". That means you taking the dog for a jog or at least a very brisk walk. Strolling like you're sleepwalking is "not" exercise enough by any means. With a long enough lead and possibly a pole that's made for bikes, you can ride and let him run alongside or you can rollerblade, etc.

    He's obviously "not" at the point to take him to a dog park and just throw a stick around. Letting him into a yard by himself doesn't do it either.

  3. Alpha Roll- or placing the dog on his side until he calms down is a partial tool to help with this problem but it does "not" solve it. Personally, I do not use this technique, but there is nothing wrong with it when used in conjunction with all the changes you need to make. Alone it will "not" solve your problem.

  4. Control- You have to know you're in command and have confidence. Your tone should be calm and no-nonsense. The second you sound angry; you know you've lost control. Use your body to block the dog, breathe and calmly/firmly repeat your command.

    Use control when walking the dog. You need to lead, period. If he pulls, simply but firmly change directions and move assuredly. You may need to give a sharp noise to distract him when you do this. Forget about what anyone might think of you when going through the training. Go a good 5 feet or so and then turn around again and continue where you want to go.

    Repeat every time he pulls. Don't give up. It won't take long for him to learn "if" you stay committed.

  5. Feeding- make sure the dogs are respectful. They should wait for you to put the food down and release them before they eat. Either show can help you with that if it's a problem.

  6. General Training- you have to reward the dog when he's doing what he should. They are intelligent dogs and need mental stimulation. They will "not" get that from another dog. If your prior training attempts have failed; why would you expect a dog to succeed in your place?

    Go through the basics with sit, stay, down, all that. I prefer "quiet" as the command to stop making any noise. I hold my ground, keep my arms folded and simply don't back down. Once you get the confidence; it really comes easily and the dogs will respond.

    If he growls when he has something in his mouth; you really need to teach the "drop" command. You can do this by saying "drop" when he's about to naturally drop something and immediately praise/reward when it happens. Repeat relentlessly and soon he will learn to drop whatever he has for the treat.
    "No" is too general and quickly becomes overused and the dog isn't sure what you mean at a point.

  7. Treats- have to be something really good like chicken. Using something like a dog biscuit won't cut it. It has to be a small, but very scented food to get his attention and hold it. Treats made for dogs do not do this. Cocktail wieners or small pieces of sausage or a little cheese can do as well.

Don't allow the dogs on your bed or furniture. It puts them on an equal importance level with you and they should not be. "Off" and treats work great to solve this one. Separate doggie beds should also be added if you don't have them.

It has "nothing" to do with the breed. I know people are lazy and feed off the mob mentality of what's spoonfed to them off TV; but all 4 breeds of"Pitbull" are long noted to be "great family dogs". If you're afraid of high strung dogs; stay away from all small breeds, Spaniels and Labs because all you're getting is puppymilled/backyard bred problems. (09/15/2008)

By Shelter Worker

Growling Pitbull Puppy

Have you noticed that Cesar puts them on their side, never on their back? If the dog is on his back, he feels he's being put to death and he becomes very defensive and terrified. Put on his side and then he decides "Two is good - I can be second." Hold him there until he is submitted, sighed, calm and goes ten seconds without an attempt to struggle. Use your fingertips to hold his neck down. He instinctively understands dog psychology, so that's why this works so well. (09/15/2008)

By kimhis

Growling Pitbull Puppy

(sent in by email)
I have a Pit Bull and am a dog trainer. He is doing what he would do to other puppies. Do not Alpha Roll him! Make a high pitched noise (as if he tore your arm off. Get up and go away from him. Ignore him. Go back try again. Also, pet him with one hand while feeding him treats with the other. At another time of course.

Make him think if he bites too hard or plays rough you will not play with him. Teach him to drop it and fetch. Play with him with a toy and then put the toy away until you want to play again. He will love that toy and you and will do anything for you and that toy.

Pits were bred not to give up easily. But alpha rolls make them frustrated and it does not make them submissive. Do not try what Cesar does, he is a expert and is working with dogs that sometimes want to kill him or other dogs not puppies.

Please contact another trainer like myself and get the correct info. (10/28/2008)

By ThriftyFun

RE: Growling Pitbull Puppy

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September 12, 20080 found this helpful

I have a seven and half week old blue Pit puppy and today he started growling at me. So I turned him up side down to show him that I'm alpha and he got more mad and tried to bite. How do I prevent this?

Dale from Colorado

Answers:

Growling Pitbull Puppy

Have you ever seen The Dog Whisperer? Cesar Millan is THE MAN. I think the show comes on Discovery, and you can probably rent or Netflix it. He also has a book. As for an immediate fix, you're on the right track. You grab it by the scruff, firmly say "NO," pin it to the floor, and don't let it up until it's calm and submissive. Then reward it every time it does something good. If it misbehaves again, tell it no and pin it to the ground again. This works surprisingly fast. Good luck- You'll need it, especially since many people are so unfairly biased against pit bulls and will be on the lookout for anything that could possibly seem aggressive... It's always good to start training any breed to be polite while young. (05/21/2007)

By Beth - MA

Growling Pitbull Puppy

I second Cesear!!! I am not a dog person, but if my husband ever gets his wish and gets another, then we are doing it the Dog Whisperer way! Pit bulls are one of his favorite breeds.

Here is the link
http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/dogwhisperer/ (05/21/2007)

By michawnpita

Growling Pitbull Puppy

I have a Maltese and a puppy mill surviver, Bichon Frise. When the malt was a puppy he was teething and would nip at my hands. I told him "No bite" very firmly and put him on his back and put his own paw in his mouth. Took once, I think, and he never growled or bit again. (05/24/2007)

By daiquiri

Growling Pitbull Puppy

Why in the world would you turn him upside down? He did not understand that. You should never physically or mentally hurt a dog. They do not forget and will not ever be situated to being a good pet, You must be firm, but not hurtful. You should be the alpha, but you must do it the proper way, just like a mother dog would do to a pup. Proper dog training takes much time and patience and has to be consistent to ever create a dog with good manners. This is a breed to be very consistent with but not to the extent of harmful. (05/24/2007)

By sue

Growling Pitbull Puppy

My sister has a Rottweiler who as a puppy would growl and want to "take over". They tried putting the puppy on her back and she got very nasty. Then my sister put the dog in the bathroom without turning on the overhead light. The dog was left in the bathroom for maybe four or five minutes. This action tells the dog that she is "banished from the pack" and did help to let the puppy know that she was not the boss. Some dogs are difficult and you have to keep an upper hand with them. Please consult books and your veterinarian. Puppy snacks or tidbits of food can be given to reward good behavior. Good Luck. (05/24/2007)

By Barbara

Growling Pitbull Puppy

One of our two dogs was becoming very aggressive towards the other. She was getting bigger and older and was trying to be dominant. The next time she showed dominance towards the other dog, I quickly pushed her to the floor by her neck, gently but firmly. I yelled no very loud. It's ten years later and she has never done it again. I read that by doing this I was showing her that I was the boss and that she doesn't rule the household, I do. (05/25/2007)

By Laura

Growling Pitbull Puppy

I read your message and I think you misunderstood me. I have never and will never hurt my puppy/dog. I gently turned him up side down and rubbed his stomach which is something I read off the web. I'm raising this puppy with love compassion not hate.
(05/25/2007)

By dale1531

RE: Growling Pitbull Puppy

Growling Pitbull Puppy

You have more guts than I do!! I love dogs, but a pit bull is one that I won't even come close to, even if it would belong to a friend! Too temperamental and high strung. Even IF they are raised with compassion and treated nice, they can go off at any time! Good luck! (06/01/2007)

By healthaidefrog1959

Growling Pitbull Puppy

I have a 3 year old pit bull from a rescue-when I first got him, he would make this strange noise that I thought was a growl but he always seemed to be in a good mood when he did it. I spoke with the lady that runs the rescue I got him from and she said pit bulls make a growl-like sound which is really a laugh. We call it talking in my house. When we get home from work and before he goes for a walk, he really gets to "talking". As far as trying to bite you goes, since he is just a puppy, he may think it's a game-if my dog does something bad, I pop him real light under the chin-he's really sensitive and even though it doesn't hurt, he looks so pitiful if I do it. Good luck-we've really enjoyed our pit and I'm sure you will too! (06/04/2007)

By Trooper's Mama

Growling Pitbull Puppy

When you held the dog upside down, he took that as a sign of aggression from you. And since dogs quite often learn their behavior from the alpha, you don't want to teach him aggressive behavior. To stop behavior you don't want, just get a spray bottle filled with water, and spray him in the face when he displays behavior you don't like. Dogs hate to sprayed in the face, and it is a non-aggressive way to teach him what not to do. But each time you spray him, say something like "no growl", or "no bite", or which ever word is appropriate for the action. (06/09/2007)

By JParker145at.aol.dot.com

Growling Pitbull Puppy

It's right to put the puppy on his back until he is calm. He needs to learn to be submissive to you, and this is how dogs do it to each other. Do it every time he misbehaves, and it will soon make you the alpha dog. It doesn't hurt him one tiny bit and it is not cruel. You are being a responsible owner who doesn't want a future problem for you or your dog. Good luck! (06/26/2007)

By Stngray

Growling Pitbull Puppy

My pit puppy was this same he would growl at me so I put him on his back, and he used really fight with me and try and bite me, but I just keep holding him till he came down. It wasn't easy. He was a strong little sucker. After a while he stopped. I can do anything to him and he will growl at me. I can put him on his back and hold him, pull his ears, I mean anything. He is a great dog he is going to be 6 months on 26th, and I have a little girl that's his sister, and she is great, too. I love them both to death. The best 2 dogs I ever had. (02/07/2008)

By pitbull lover

Growling Pitbull Puppy

Puppies growl when they get frustrated. Ignore bad behavior and praise good behavior. I get most of my training ideas from watching dog whisperer. On that show Caesar Mullan always starts by exercising the dogs. If they aren't exercised they are going to be more aggressive. You want to always wear your puppy out before you try to train them. Play tug a war, run around the house, go on a walk, anything to get them tired. Then go ahead and train them.

A Tired puppy is a Happy puppy! (03/25/2008)

By janessa

RE: Growling Pitbull Puppy

Growling Pitbull Puppy

I have a dominate pit bull pup. He is 1 year next week. I have put him on his back since he was 6 weeks. He growled at me then and does sometimes now. I have to be alpha. Not harsh just consistent. If I ignore him for 4 days, only food and potty, little else in the way of affection, he does better. (09/04/2008)

By Telisa m

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