When dogs growl or, indeed, when cats hiss, they should never be corrected, whatever the circumstances. The animal must learn very quickly that this verbal display will cause owners to walk away and ignore them. Any verbal correction on the part of owners can cause more problems. Our voices can actually encourage more aggression.
Properly socialized dogs should not growl at any human. It is a sad fact that I get many E-mails from people from all over the world worried about their dogs growling. If the dog does so as soon as people enter the house the answer is simple: put the dog somewhere secure.
Some dogs will tolerate children, who they see as being no threat, but will not allow adults to handle or go near them. In early every case of this type the fault has been with the owner who has not taken the dog as a puppy to dog training classes where it can socialize with other dogs and people. The answer with an older, unsocialized dog which growls is to find a
behaviorist to come to the house to deal with the problem.
There is no substitute for “hands on” work by a specialist. However there are a few things which should be done to reduce the dog’s dominant attitude.
Somebody E-mailed me about his dominant dog which growled whenever any adult came into the house. Children he tolerated. Two baby grand-children were to visit during the summer and he did not want them scared by the dog’s growling. “Please help,” he begged. I replied that his dog would regard the babies as little dogs. They would be little “dogs” entering his territory and “dogs” which would receive more attention than him. The result would inevitably create jealousy and could be potentially very, very dangerous. The answer was simple: “Put the dog into kennels while the babies are with you.”Better a dog in a kennel than a baby in a hospital.