Growling to protect his food or favorite toy is your dog’s way of telling people or other animals to back off. While it comes naturally to dogs as a form of aggressive communication, teaching your dog not to growl over possessions is an important part of the obedience training process.
Train Your Dog to Stop Growling
Make training fun. Play a game with your dog that will entertain him while teaching him not to growl over possessions. Start by sitting on the floor holding a squeaky toy in one hand and tasty treats in the other.
Engage your dog in the game. Squeeze the squeaky toy to get your dog’s attention then toss it a short distance away but still within your reach. Once the toy is on the ground, encourage your dog to pounce on it.
Trade the squeaky toy for a tasty treat. As soon as your dog pounces on the toy, grab a hold of it with one hand and entice him to let it go by offering him a treat with the other hand. If he growls or refuses to let go of the toy, dangle the treat in front of his nose until he releases the toy and takes the treat.
Praise your pooch for letting go of the toy. Once he stops growling and releases the toy, give him the treat while saying “thank you,” “good boy,” or any other verbal cue that praises him for a job well done.
Practice makes perfect. For best results, practice playing the retrieval game with your dog at least a few times each day in five-minute intervals. Gradually increase the distance that you toss the toy and repeat each step consistently.
- Your dog growls at you over possessions because he is afraid that you will take them away from him. If you take your dog’s possession away without exchanging it for a treat or another acceptable toy, you may actually be reinforcing the aggressive behavior that you want to eliminate.
- Bad habits do not disappear overnight. Be patient with your dog while he learns to enjoy giving you his possessions. Remember that for it to be effective and long lasting, training takes time and plenty of practice.
- There is a big difference between growling over possessions and attacking over possessions. If you suspect that your dog may physically harm you for trying to take away a toy or other possession, consult a professional dog trainer for assistance.
Kristina Barroso is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, a break-up survival guide, in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.