There are two kinds of growling: play growling and 'I mean it' growling. Play growling can safely be ignored. 'I mean it' growling should be taken seriously and evaluated by an expert. Play growling naturally occurs during play. The whole rest of the dog's body is expressing playfulness. Play growling uses shorter syllables and the pitch goes up and down rapidly. It's almost as if the pup is trying to talk. I think they sound like crusty old pirates. "Arrr Arrr, Me Hardy!"
There's also something that sounds a little like growling, but is actually groaning. Again, the dog's body language gives a clue. If he is relaxed and not making eye contact, odds are it is a groan.
However, if a dog stares you straight in the eyes and emits a long, steady, low growl, with his body tense, he is warning that if you persist he will bite. If he's growling at you, you have a problem that should be addressed with the help of an expert. Handling it wrong or trying to fix it yourself based on something you've seen on TV about dominance can get you seriously injured.
If you're insistant on trying it on your own, try a non-confrontational approach like the NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free) program. This program may be effective if the problem is resource guarding (ie growling when you try to take food or a toy away or try to move them from a chair or the bed).
== == * Sometimes it's not a good idea to teach your dog not to growl. This is especially true if there are aggression issues. A dog's growl can be his way of telling you something is making him uncomfortable to the point he is going to snap. I've seen where people have taught their dog not to growl, so now they just bite without warning. Before I took courses to become a certified dog trainer I was a fan of "The Dog Whisperer". That style of teaching is not well thought of in the positive reinforcement community of trainers. There was an article in the New York Times entitled "Pack of Lies" that pointed out the dangers involved with trying to dominate an aggressive dog the way Cesar does. I personally think you have to be crazy to use an alpha roll on any dog especially an aggressive one. When I see Cesar forcefully exposing a dog to its fear over and over (flooding) I know there are more humane ways of training a dog. The whole idea treating a dog as though it was a wild animal is not needed considering they have been domesticated for about 15,000 years. There are several teaching styles but I find using positive reinforcement to be the most effective. * We must realize that dogs growl for many reasons. Dogs can sense when something is wrong or if a person isn't what they appear to be so pay attention to when your dog growls. It doesn't matter if it's a family member, friend or someone you just met. Dogs that may growl at children could be the cause of a child tormenting the dog that you aren't aware of or at least neighborhood children that antagonized the dog to the point it doesn't like children. If this is the case then the dog should be put somewhere away from any children that may visit your home or muzzled until you get the dog trained. Also tying up your dog in the yard is a no-no. Dogs can be 'shamed' when they do something wrong (one should never hit a dog) and loved and praised when they do something right. My husband and I hired a good trainer instead of going to over-crowded classes. Our dogs listen to commands well and also watch our hand signals. Believe it or not we use "grunts" if we are displeased with them or want them to do something such as coming back to us if they are chasing something. For instance, if they are growling we will get up and investigate as to why (usually it's the mailman, paper boy, etc.) but there were times when strangers came to our house that we had our doubts about. We simply say, "eh!" in a sharp tone or "huh" in a different tone. Then we pet the dog and tell them to lay down while we investigate the problem. There are times it's been dark in the backyard and I'll let my dogs investigate, but then give the command after a minute or two for them to come to my side. A well trained dog is a total pleasure to have around and others get to enjoy them as well. * Training is the key to all behavioral problems with animals. You first have to teach your dog that you are the leader or "Alpha Male," and then you need to communicate to him what kinds of behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable. There is an excellent television series called "The Dog Whisperer" that teaches and demonstrates how to deal with behavioral problems in dogs. * Try to coax him off with a treat. If there's one thing my beagle can't resist, it's food. Then, whenever he gets off the furniture without growling or biting or takes criticism without howling, give him a reward. Hopefully, this will encourage him to continue his good behavior and stop the bad behavior. * No don't use a treat, that only reinforces bad behavior. Something deeper is going on then just him wanting to sit on the couch. Your dog is acting like a pack leader would act. He sees you as lower then him in the pact and he's letting you know that he doesn't like it when you move him off the couch. * I'm going to guess that in general, he acts out or behaves badly in a lot of situations. This is because you as the owner are not being the pack leader like you should be. He is seeing weakness in you and by his nature as a dog, is assuming the role as pack leader. * You need to be taking the attitude with him that what you says goes. I'm not talking about beating him into submission, you should never, ever beat a dog. Your voice needs to be firm and you need to stand firm when dealing with him. And reward behavior that is good, such as submitting to you or doing what you want. A reward doean't have to be a food treat. A few warm words and a head rub goes a long way toward reinforcing good behavior. * You might also check you local paper to see if there are any trainors in your area. And I'm not talking about just training your dog. You need to be trained also on how to be a proper pack leader for a dog. == ==