Growling is an important way dogs communicate. It is their way of vocalizing discomfort, fear, and displeasure. And it serves as a warning. Other subtle signs will precede and accompany a growl: flat ears; dilated pupils; whites of the eyes become visible; the mouth hardens; the dog bares its teeth.
ALWAYS heed and respect growls. Ignore them—and a dog will bite. Growls provide you the chance to look away, step away and redirect the situation. Avoid direct eye contact, which the dog will interpret as confrontational. Confrontation can quickly escalate into a bite.
We recommend against reprimands or disciplinary action for growling. It is an important form of communication, a fair warning from the dog that he is uncomfortable. We also recommend against trying to ‘train out’ growling. Absent the opportunity to growl, a dog will skip straight to biting.
Because a dog’s cues can be subtle, and their growl quiet, ALWAYS supervise children—especially very young children—when they are in the company of a dog. Children lack the ability to recognize the dog’s cues. In addition to supervision, we recommend teaching children to respect—and avoid—the space around your B’s crate or safe area; their presence may cause your B to feel threatened.
Dogs growl for a reason. If growling becomes persistent, see your vet—the cause may be an underlying health issue, like hypothyroidism, causing him discomfort. If your vet deems your dog healthy, seek the assistance of a professional, certified behaviorist or trainer.