How to Train a Growling Puppy

Puppies naturally communicate through barks and growls.
i puppy image by Dušan Zidar from

Since he can’t talk, your puppy has only a few ways in which to communicate his feelings. Growling, like barking and licking, means different things at different times. Not all growls indicate that your puppy is a Cujo-in-training. Choose the training technique that best fits the situation.

Step 1

Play a game of fetch whenever your puppy issues a play growl. This type of growl indicates that your fur kid thinks of you as a valuable playmate. He will strike the play growl pose; rump high in the air and chest lowered with front paws spread. This is a nonthreatening growl, but you should control the games and end the play session before your puppy becomes tired. This lets your puppy know that you’re the boss.

Step 2

Sit on the floor and hand-feed your puppy when he issues the get-away-from-my-food growl. Offer just one or two pieces of kibble at a time and praise him when he takes them nicely. It's an investment in your time, but after a couple of weeks, your puppy should be comfortable enough that you can pick up his food bowl while he's eating.

Step 3

Enroll your little guy in puppy kindergarten if he growls when he meets other dogs or humans for the first time. The meet-and-greet growl is a sign of insecurity and anxiety. At a puppy kindergarten, your pup will learn the socialization skills necessary to make new furry friends and enjoy the attention of humans other than you.

Step 4

Banish your bounding boy to the bathroom for three or four minutes if he growls possessively when you try to take away a favorite toy. Resource-guarding worsens with maturity, but at the puppy stage it’s quite correctable. Any type of protective growling calls for immediate but brief banishment. In addition, offer treats only for exceptionally good behavior.

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