It's perfectly normal for a puppy or dog to growl when playing a game like tug of war. However, it's also a sign of aggression and can be a sign the dog may bite – so be careful!
You need to know if the growling is appropriate or inappropriate. If your puppy or dog is at a meal or playing with a toy and growls when you come near, that isn't behavior you should allow. Your dog is being aggressive.
If the growling just starts out of the blue, you should take the puppy or dog to the vet to make sure there isn't a medical cause.
Growling can be a sign of your dog exerting dominance over you. So, the next thing you check is that you position yourself as the leader of the pack in your house. This will set a firm foundation which can solve many behavior problems.
To become the pack leader, you should adopt the approach of NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free). This means that before you give your dog anything, he must obey a command. This includes that you must not allow your dog to demand your attention. If you permit him to demand attention, you have lost dominance. Just ignore him when he pushes you for attention. You must choose when to give him attention. He may try harder but you must not give in or all you have gained is lost.
With NILIF everyone in the home needs to be persistent and consistent.
So, for example, you request your dog to sit and wait patiently before you lay his food down or before take him out for a walk. Don't allow your dog to offer a behavior before you ask for it – that doesn't count.
You should be the first to walk through the door when leaving the house. Eat a small biscuit before you set your dog's meal down, so that he sees you eating first. You only need to repeat this for two weeks to set yourself as alpha dog.
Everyone needs to engage in similar processes to place them higher in the hierarchy than your puppy or dog.
The pack leader goes to higher ground to sleep, so do not permit your dog to sleep on your bed if you want to be more dominant.
You should do consistent training sessions with your puppy or dog. Every training session should be short and fun. This will start you on the path to a better behaved dog.
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