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Teaching a Puppy Not to Growl

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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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.

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
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.

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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.

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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?

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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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