Puppy Growling – Is it Good or Bad?

Two young puppies are playing together, one is growling and the other one isn’t.  What will they grow up to be like?  Will the one growling be more aggressive?  Will the one not growling be submissive?  Many people worry about their puppy growling and ask whether or not it is bad.  Puppy growling doesn’t necessarily mean your dog will grow up to be an aggressive fighting dog.  Also the dog that is not growling doesn’t mean they couldn’t grow up to be aggressive either.

From what we have seen working with puppies is this: Puppies that growl when they play are more assertive and would typically grow up to have more problems than puppies that don’t growl.  You may have seen dogs that are 5 years old, the size of a horse and power of a bulldozer.  By all means they look like they could rip you in two if they wanted, however we have seen dogs that fit this description that might be male and still squat to pee.  It has never occurred to them to mark their territory, they never growl when they play and they get along with everyone.

If we were to raise a puppy we would discourage puppy growling.  It may start off as well-intentioned but during playtime the puppy may find that it scares the other puppies or dogs and the other puppies and dogs back off.  The growling puppy then learns a form of aggression to control a situation and new situations in the future.  It doesn’t take much for small occurrences to build up. 

You become what you do and that goes for any animal even humans.  There have been well trained undercover police officers who after years of undercover work become a part of the gang they are trying to take down and they eliminate ties with the police force that put them there in the first place.  Here are some other examples:

  • A well-mannered dog becomes and stays well-mannered by practicing good manners.
  • A piano player becomes a piano player by practicing piano.
  • A puppy that growls learns to growl more.

If you are wanting to stop a growling behaviour it is easy to do.  When your puppy is playing with another puppy or dog, if they growl give them a squirt with a water bottle or say “no” and give them a time out (away from that dog and people for 1-2 minutes).

If you are looking for a guard dog then growling and tenacity is a desirable trait.  If you want a dog who you can take anywhere and they will get along with anyone then growling is not a desirable trait. 

If you are getting a puppy or a dog that is new to you then be sure to speak with a Calgary Dog Trainer to get you on the right track.  It is imperative that you eliminate problem behaviours quickly and show your dog what behaviours you do want them to do.

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