Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ontario Canada
Submit Photo: 3
Photo Submissions 119 Times in 117 Posts
Dr. Ian Dunbar said that dogs aren't like us- they don't have lawyers.Subsequently with meagre litigation abilities and penmanship growling is one of the basic ways that dogs can express themselve. and communicate with others.So if growling is a basicform of communication, why do so many owners reprimand their dogs for doing it? Dogs growl for all kinds of reasons. And thank goodness for that,because growling is an important part of their language. Sometimes growling is their way of telling others that their social space is being invaded , that they may be fearful and are being protective. Sometimes dogs growl during play. Andsometimes because the dog may simply be tired and cranky and doesn't want to be bothered. Even if we as owners are not able to identify the reason keep in mind there is always a reason . So what happens when we reprimand a dog for growling? We are essentially training them not to growl.Consequently, we are training them not to give imperative warnings. By doing this we are potentially creating a walking time bomb.- a dog that no longer gives warning signs whose frustration will build until it can not take anymore, then jump directly to a bite. Often after a person has been bitten by a dog, the owner will say things like, " There was no warning- my dog just bit- he has never done that before. But behaviour like this always comes from somewhere, in fact a stressful situation for a dog can easily be compounded by the anxiety of not being able to communicate by means of its instinctive language. A well socialized dog will, hopefully, give all kinds of warning signs long before he ever bites. Typical signs include growling ,barking, baring teeth, changing body posture, and maybe even a little snap. Some dogs with advanced socialization training can apply the method of "bite inhibition" - taught so that in case a situation arises where a bite occurs, the dog is able to vary the pressure of its mouth before leaving a puncture hole. This enables the dog to express the varying degrees of its intent. Dogs that are undersocialized- dogs that either do not have "growl language" of have had it taken away from them -do not have these skills. Personally, I like it when dogs growl. It gives me an opportunity to stop and consider the reason for that dog to be growling. Only then am I able to make a decision and take the appropriate action to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation. I may choose separate myself or others from that dog, or I can simply make that dog a little more comfortable by changing or removing it from its environment. Maybe the dog is lacking socialization in a particular area, and we need to work on it some more. We would be wise to watch our dogs and listen carefully to the many ways in which they express themselves. There is plenty they can teach us- especially about how we can learn to live our lives together in harmony.
Dave and Molly
Ian Dunbar was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from I.P.D.T.A. Here's a picture of me accepting the award on his behalf.
Member of IAABC ,International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants , Member of Pet Professional Guild