Different Dog Growls and Your Baby
Published by Alpha Dog Training
One of the scariest moments a new parent can experience is their beloved family dog growling at their baby. It can trigger feelings of anxiety, stress, and thoughts of having to rehome the dog. You may already be having these thoughts and feel guilty about it.
First thing's first, your dog needs your help. Growling is a form of communication for dogs. Different types can tell you what your dog is feeling and how to help. The
fact that your dog is trying to communicate its needs before taking action should be reassuring.
3 Different Types of Growls
Let's talk about a few different types of growls and how to differentiate them.
1. Play Growl
If you've ever watched your dog play with other dogs, you've probably already heard a play growl. This type of growl takes place in a playful state of mind, usually during the roughhousing and mock-fighting that makes up dogs' typical play behavior.
However, even though this means your dog is not being aggressive toward your baby, we still don't want your dog to see them as a littermate or playmate. The type of play dogs engage in with each other can contain behaviors such as nipping, mouthing, and physical contact that isn't safe or appropriate for human play, particularly children.
If your dog is play-growling while playing with your child, the best course of action is to monitor and rein in the play before it gets too rowdy. Keep interactions calm and positive, and choose interactive activities such as playing fetch instead of physical play.
2. Warning Growl
This is where we get into more serious growls. Generally, the two states of mind associated with threatening growls are defensiveness and aggression. Importantly, a warning growl when a dog feels threatened can easily escalate into a nip if ignored, which is why we don't want to correct it and eliminate our warning sign. Personal space and resources are common boundaries that dogs can feel threatened over.
Don't let your child harass or annoy your dog, even if it seems tolerant at first. Like people, dogs have thresholds, and an accumulation of stressors can cause them to resort to defensive behavior to enforce their boundaries. We don't want our dogs to feel they can correct our children; however, this means we have to step up and take that responsibility ourselves.
3. Controlling Growl
The issue arises when we have a dog growling in a controlling manner. This is not a dog that feels defensive or helpless or has had thresholds pushed. It is a dog who genuinely wishes to control the child within the environment and is confident in its ability to win an ensuing battle if necessary. Make no mistake; this is a serious situation that requires immediate intervention.
Creating a Safe Training Plan
Separating your child and dog until a training plan is implemented is the first step toward success.
Socializing your Puppy to Be a Good Neighbor
You understand that establishing good neighbor relations means being respectful of other peoples’ property and well-being.
This goes for your canine loved one as well. Here are a few helpful tips to keep peace in the neighborhood…
• When you walk your puppy, keep him off private property, unless you have permission from the owner first.
• Pick up after your puppy. Pick up your puppy’s waste promptly all the time, and everyone will be happier. If you have kids, this task could be an opportunity to learn about responsibility.
• Prevent fence running and barking. If your puppy does this, particularly if he is a large breed puppy, it could be something your neighbors won’t like. Supervise closely during social hour.
• Manage barking. If puppy is barking outside, bring him in. If he barks inside and you can’t control it, it’s time to get some professional training. After all, minimal barking makes for minimal headaches all around.
• Keep puppy on a leash. It may seem like common sense, but allowing your puppy to run loose outdoors can be dangerous for him, and possibly for others. Even if your puppy is impeccably behaved, it’s still a good idea to keep him on a leash for safety reasons.
• Keep puppy health. Feed him nutritionally complete and balanced puppy food. Take your puppy to the veterinarian regularly to keep his vaccinations current, and be certain he is free from internal and external parasites.
• Identification. Proper identification for your puppy is important. Puppies should wear collars with an identification tag. Be sure to follow your city’s rules and regulations regarding puppy registration.
• Have fun! Introduce your puppy to other neighborhood puppies early on. Go for group walks or take a trip to the puppy park with other owners in your area. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors, and your puppy may enjoy the company of a new playmate or two.