Stopping growling before it becomes a problem?

Sami KingSami King Posts: 581Member
My puppy sometimes growls at my boyfriend when he makes weird sounds like squeaks or "pffts." Once she even growled while he was wearing headphones and making a whispering sound. My idea to fix this was to have him give her treats as he's making the sounds, so that she associates the sounds with good things. Are we headed in the right direction here, or is there a better way of handling this? I absolutely cannot have Ava showing any signs of aggression to the love of my life. He's 100x more important to me than she ever will be, but I want us all to live peacefully. I welcome any advice for fixing the situation. edit: I should also mention that he does not give her treats -while- she's growling. He makes the sound, and then immediately after gives a treat before she has a chance to growl.

Best Answers

  • Wendy DanburyWendy Danbury OrangePosts: 861Member
    Accepted Answer
    Hi Ava! You're very young, and you may be uncertain about those weird sounds. The treats idea may work, depending on why you're growling in the first place. But they might reinforce that growling is OK... If you haven't learned any commands yet (like "sit" or "down"), ask your humans to teach you, so they can give you a wanted behavior to replace the unwanted growling: Make sure both your humans work obedience with you, so you are bonded to both and will listen to both! Next time you growl, they can distract you with a toy, or ask you to sit - either way, you have a positive action to substitute for growling. Do you snap at the air when you hear the weird noises? If so, this is a problem that could escalate. The link, above, has an article on how to select a reputable trainer who uses positive methods. Your humans may decide to consult with a professional who can give specific, helpful tips and actions to work on.
  • Sarah LundleySarah Lundley OaklandPosts: 894Member
    Accepted Answer
    The treat idea is a good one, but your timing has got to be right on the money or she could associate her growling as being praised. Is she growling at the headset by itself too? If so, put the headset on the floor so she can sniff it and when she sniffs it, treat. Does your boyfriend walk the dog? If not, maybe when you're walking the dog, have your b/f take the leash. Do that for a few walks and then have your b/f walk the dog solo. Also, have your b/f feed your dog. Make sure there is no eye contact being made by your b/f. When he treats the dog, just toss the treat w/o eye contact. Also, make sure neither of you are raising your voice and saying "no" when the dog misbehaves. The more you raise your voice, the more it will create anxiety for the dog. Sounds like you're headed in the right direction and the more you associate yummy things with the things that are making her nervous, the more she'll get that they're ok. Be patient though, things like this take time.
  • Tiffany MitchellTiffany Mitchell IOWAPosts: 6,792Member
    Accepted Answer
    Hi Ava! Welcome to Dogster. Maybe you should try posting in the forums. I think most Dogsters skip over the answers section.
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