Puppy Growls When Petted

by Robin
(Lynn, MA.)

Come On Then - Let's Go!

Come On Then - Let's Go!

Angel is just 9 weeks old but growls when people pet her.

What can I do to correct this behavior?

Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)

Your puppy may be growling for several reasons.

She may not be fully socialized - ensure you expose her to as many different people and circumstances as you possibly can - as soon as you can.

If you haven't read it already, you may find our article on Socializing Your Puppy helpful.

She could be trying to be the dominant dog. You need to show her that you are the alpha dog.

Your puppy is only young and needs to understand what is good behavior and what is bad behavior. Teach her that growling is bad behavior - don't let her get away with it. Each time she growls at you, say "NO!" in a very firm voice. If your voice doesn't stop her, gently but quickly tap her on the nose or gently poke her in the neck. (It's similar to the mother giving her pups a small nudge or swipe to let them know they've done wrong.)

If you don't want to be 'physical' with her you could simply scowl at her and point a finger whilst telling her "NO!"

If she growls when you or other people hold her, don't put her down until at least 10 - 15 seconds after she's stopped growling. If you put her down each time she growls she'll learn that her (bad) behavior works for her, ie if she growls, she gets put down - just what she wanted! If she just growls at others, get them to give her a doggy chocolate drop or small treat - teach her that when other people pick her up, something good happens to her.

I strongly recommend you also give her plenty of training. Join a puppy training class as soon as you can as this will help to socialize her with other puppies and their owners. Additionally, the trainer will be able to observe your puppy's behavior and may be able to recommend a course of action.

If you want to practice some puppy obedience training before you enroll in classes, you can do so by following the link. You'll also find links to pages with more puppy training tips at the bottom of that page.

You are right to address this now as your puppy will not 'grow out of it', she will simply learn that she can get her own way by growling at people. If it continues, sooner or later, it will lead to further aggressive behavior.

I'd like to point out that I'm not a behavioral therapist and that if her behavior gets worse, or there's no sign of progress, please get professional help.

Hope this helps!

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Growling Puppy
by: Anonymous

You really need to nip this in the bud now or you're heading for trouble. A puppy that growls and bites is only going to grow up growling and biting. It's dangerous and someone is going to get hurt.

Each time your puppy growls distract it with something and then begin playing with the puppy. Praise the puppy when it behaves the way you want it to and ignore it when he misbehaves (if you can).

It's a bit like ignoring a child when he uses language you'd rather he didn't (like swear words). Let him see it's 'no big deal' and he probably won't do it again.

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