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Old 02-26-2012, 09:36 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Draco View Post

First: the infamous growl!
This is a sound that can be made for various reasons. Most people think of a growl as a sign that a dog is vicious. This is falling far short of the full scope of its potential meaning. Obviously a dog can growl as a warning that says 'back off!' When this is the case there is usually a body sign that supports this. One will typically see some of the following: eyes wide and showing the whites, or the hackles (ridge of fur that runs along the spine) rising up, bodying stiffening or going stalk still, lips turning up to bare the teeth, perhaps the tail that was previously wagging stops and changes height either going between the legs or up above the body ... these are a good indication that this dog is feeling uneasy. The warning growl can be serious! Step back and look at the situation. Does it involve food, a toy, a person nearby, another dog? First and foremost: disarm the situation by removing the 'bad stimulus' from your dogs proximity, or your dog from the situation! Do not gamble and let it escalate further! At this point, you know a potential trigger, later you can work on desensitizing.
i've noticed that my dog growls only at certain dogs/individuals and when i'm taking him for walks, either early in the morning when it's still dark out or at night. my guess is that he growls because when he sees (or doesn't see) another dog/person he's in protective mode. he did the same growl when we encountered a raccoon on our walk the other night - both the raccoon and my dog stopped and just looked at each other from a distance, but my dog kept making that low-pitched growl. I had to lead him away because I didn't want to take the chance that the raccoon would try and charge us.

so, is my dog just being over-protective when he growls at other dogs and people that he can't see? I haven't seen him do this during the day or at the dog park, so he clearly gets along great with others, if he can see them.

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