growling at some people

Posted by Margaret-LeRoy
Jun 7, 2008
My dog P.D. 9puppy dog) has suddenly started to growl at some people, children and strangers or people he doesn't see very often. He has even tried to hide behind me when they try to approach him with a hand out and kind words. However, with some people, he contains to growl and snarls at them which makes them retreat and scares me.
Posted by Todd
Jun 19, 2008
Hi there Margaret and thanks for the post.

From the sounds of it your boy might have a few aggression issues. There are a few options that these could be 1) Fear and 2) Protection.

Fear is by far the most common cause of aggression in young dogs. The good
news is that with time, training and effort we can help him get through his fear and become a calm dog.

Firstly we need to look at building up his confidence....and this requires some socialisation. The key to fixing this is to ignore him when he is being fearful and scared. Scared dogs hide behind peoples legs, cower, tuck there tails under there legs and whimper.

When he does this you need to completely ignore him, this means not looking at him, not talking to him and not petting him. He needs to know that fear is not appropriate ever. So this means no matter how minor or major the fear is and no matter when he does it he needs to be delt with.

At the same time we need to reinforce him when he is being confident. So the second he starts coming out from cowering and coming forward to what scares him you need to quietly and gently praise him by speaking to him and petting him.

If he becomes fearful again go back to ignoring him. This is the general way we are going to deal with his fear.

But we also need to teach him that people, strangers and other dogs are not worth being scared of. This means gradual and controlled socialisation.

Start with people he is a little familiar and move towards more "foreign" people and situations. In this way it will give him the best chance to bet through things.

Find a section of your yard that is free from distraction.

1) Have the dogs or the strange person sitting around 5 metres apart. Have both dogs on their leads.

2) Make your dog sit. If he becomes fearful you need to ignore him just like above. Then when he shows confidence make sure to praise him so he gets the idea.

4) After him sitting quietly for 2 mins you can take a step forward. He should stay at your side and follow your order when you tell him to sit. Again reprimand and praise as appropriate.

5) Step by step get the 2 dogs closer and closer.

6)The first few meetings don't let them meet, this will only makes things worse.

7) After a few days the can meet face to face while still on the lead. Only gentle play is allowed. Again ignore fear and reward confidence.

After a few more days of this let them off together but always keep an eye on them.

Once he is comfortable with one dog, try another, and another. Once he is good on his section then you can extend this to out on walks. Make him sit and only let the other dog approach.

The same principles work for people. Let him gradually approach when he is confident, ignore fear and take things nice and slow. Giving 'strangers' treats to give to him is a great way to build up dog's confidence.

The more people and dogs he meets the better he will get. Start at home or in the yard. Then move to quiet streets and slowly build up to dog parks and other built up areas.

Good luck and please let me know how things are going.

Posted by dellani-collure
Nov 16, 2012
I have a 4 yr old cross breed who is v. aggressive towards strangers. He is ok with regular people in the house. What is the best way to introduce him to a stranger? He does not obey commands all the time and displays signs of the alpha dog. DC
Posted by KOPCaroline
Dec 5, 2012
Have you tried putting a lead and muzzle on your dog when introducing him? It may seem harsh, but is only a precaution, and will ensure safety for everyone involved. When introducing strangers, tell them not to approach your dog, but to let him come to them - its best if he's ignored and you continue talking with your guest and let him take the first steps to saying hello.