If your best friend is growling at you, or anyone, don’t allow this fixable problem to bloom into aggression. Aggression usually takes six to nine months to develop. You may see it earlier or later, but it most commonly presents by about nine months or the time of sexual maturity. Overconfidence is usually at the root of aggression, mostly from a lack of obedience. Being a naturally submissive creature, a dog has to work up to aggression.
He ignores your commands. You ask him to sit, but he looks at you and walks away. You tell him, “off” the sofa, and he ignores your demand and makes it difficult for you to remove him. He may give you a stare and a slight growl, but even at playtime, a growl is not acceptable. If your dog is growling, trouble comes next.
Remember, not every dog gives a warning growl before a bite, so you need to be aware of other signs of possible future aggression. Here’s one good tip: The very first time you are afraid of your dog, get professional help from a reputable trainer or animal behaviorist. It won’t work to hope it goes away, and it doesn’t take long for a gentle bite to build confidence in a dog, and send someone to the hospital next. Since there are many reasons for a dog to growl or bite, it is best to have a professional assess what is missing from the household.
There is fear aggression, and then there is downright serious, damage-causing aggression. Lack of structure and a proper “leader” role is typically at the root of it all. Most people just do not know how to begin to set the proper roles in the home. This is precisely why we call professionals and go to dog training classes.
You must be the leader, and here are just a few simple tips to help you get started until you can get a good trainer to help.
Get your dogs attention:
Make eye contact, and make him practice just looking at you during basic obedience like sit and stay practice.
DO NOT Free Feed:
Your dog needs to know that his sustenance depends on you. He depends on you for survival. Feed him/her twice a day, and leave the food out for 15 minutes, no more. Pick up any leftovers.
Make sure you show him that you are the leader:
Leaders eat first, simple as that. After you have eaten your meal, then go ahead and take care of him.
Make him work for every treat he gets:
Even if it’s just a simple “sit,” make him earn every treat, every time.
Make sure you walk through doorways first:
Leaders go first. Put him in a sit and stay position and release him once you are through the door.
Displace your pooch:
When you are on the sofa and he’s at your feet in your way, make him move so you can pass through. Do not step over him to avoid disturbing him. Show him leadership.
Play – relax – fetch:
Do it all on your time. You make the rules, not your dog. When he brings you a ball, ignore him. You play ball on your terms, and you quit on your terms. Always show him who the leader is by ending the game when he is at the height of his excitement, not when he’s finished.
Most importantly, whoever is in control, IS THE LEADER.
You must always play the leader. I know this seems simple, and you may be skeptical about whether this will make a difference, but these subtle actions make a big statement at home. Just spending 15 minutes each day practicing a little obedience, along with the steps above, you’ll have a dog that respects the leader, and is comfortable and confident NOT being in charge.
Jamie Michael has worked with many dog trainers over the years from whom she learned these techniques. She owned a doggie daycare/boarding center and has saved numerous Pitbulls. She has used these techniques with her Pitbulls.