When Your Sweet Dog Turns

photoDogs make great companions. Ask any dog owner. But there are times when things may seem a little strange. It’s almost like you aren’t really in control. If you’ve ever had a young pup, the attitude may be familiar. Growling is common, but barking might even emerge. A young pup or adopted dog may show these signs in their new environment. But, even a pup that has been a friend to your home for years can show these signs of aggression.

A little intimidated?

What happens when someone pushes you? Do you get mad? Perhaps a little yelling and arguing takes place? Well, pups do the same thing, only their words are growls and barks. In a dog pack, there is a hierarchy of power, the alpha being the dominant pup. The alpha has the respect of the other pups in the group. If you find your pup growling at you, it might be because you’re doing something they don’t like and you don’t have their respect.

Growling and barking aren’t your pup’s only warnings that they might be intimidated or frightened. If you push them, eventually they might snap at you or put their teeth on you. This isn’t always a solid bite. It’s supposed to be a warning that you’re doing something that intimidates them. This can be fairly common when a pup is “grouchy” if you’ve awoken them or disturbed their eating time.

But, a happy home isn’t a home with peoples and pups arguing all the time. So you’ll need to remedy the situation. While punishment or arguing back might be the most likely route, it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. If your pup is growling a warning, the last thing you want to do is punish them for warning. All you’ll teach them is that they aren’t supposed to growl, not that they’re not supposed to get mad at you.

BT, good for you, good for me

The best thing to do is train your pup with a few basic skills. If you haven’t spent the time to teach that rascal a few tricks, this process definitely helps them bond with you and understand that there is a give and receive relationship here. When your pup does something good or right, appreciate them, even if it is just being calm as they chill on their favorite rug. Now here’s the other part that I like, have used, and definitely works: When they’re doing something wrong, ignore them (pawing, whining, or begging). This is basic training for pups and gets them into shape and adjusts them to accepting you as the alpha.

Now it’s time to address the reason your pup is growling at you. When does it happen? What are you doing? What is your pup doing? This combination allows for a wide variety of scenarios. Fortunately, it’s likely that growling problems arise when they are either eating, sleeping (sofa, bed, a favorite blanket), or you may have something they want (toy, bone, piece of paper). Here is where the attitude has to stop. It’s important that your pup perceives you as the alpha, so the idea that they have to earn the right to do things, such as get on the bed or sofa or even play with toys, needs to be earned. This may require the use of a leash or restraining them from accessing these areas without your permission.

The first step is to prohibit access to areas where they have growled at you (an eating area may be difficult to do this with if your pup has a tendency to fight over food). Then, a command should be taught here. A simple word with hand motion, such as patting on a seat or bed, tells them that it is now alright for them to get up. For practice, prevent them from getting up on the bed by use of either leash or holding them back. They’ll likely fight, so if that rascal is strong, be prepared. Then, go through a few basic tricks they’ve learned. When they’ve accomplished what you want them to, treat them with access. With a bit of practice, your pup will acknowledge your authority. So when it’s time to get off, use another command to signify your desire. Now that they understand that that area or object is yours, and that you’re in charge, you won’t have to argue with them…at least not as much.

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