The intent of this blog is to facilitate a deeper understanding and connection with your pet(s).
If your pet has health or behavioural issues we always recommend contacting your vet and/or a certified trainer/behaviourist.
have you ever been somewhere waiting in line and had a person cozy right up behind you to the point you can actually feel them invading your space?
if you're at all like me it probably made you feel uncomfortable, even irritated or angry.
did you move up a little hoping they would get the hint?
did you give them "the look"?
did you turn and politely ask them to give you a little more space?
or...did you wheel around and punch them right in the kisser?
which option seems like the best one (assuming you want a positive outcome)?
can you see where i'm going with this?
when dogs feel nervous or scared most of them will give a number of subtle, and not so subtle, signs to indicate they're uncomfortable.
wouldn't most of us prefer to be told we're making someone uncomfortable rather than having them punch us in the nose without warning?
dogs may not use speech the way humans do, but they have very clear ways of communicating with us. iT'S OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO UNDERSTAND their BODY LANGUAGE AND RESPECT WHAT THEY'RE TRYING TO TELL US. if a dog growls, it's very likely they have already shown many of the behaviours listed above and we just haven't noticed or understood.
so what happens if a dog is continually punished when they growl?
they learn that growling equals punishment. Dogs that are punished for growling can become dogs that revert to more serious behaviours in order to cope with discomfort or fear, and they often do so without warning.
so what should you do if your dog growls?
don't yell, yank their leash, or punish them. instead, immediately remove them from whatever is the source of their stress.
this article offers some sound advice regarding what to do if your dog growls. if you aren't comfortable making these changes on your own, you're having difficulty determining the cause of your dog's stress, your dog continues to growl, or their behaviour escalates, consult a trained professional. taking the wrong action will only make matters worse for your dog and for you.
next week's blog post will cover how to go about choosing the right pet professional. your dog's well being depends on it!