Why Do Dogs Growl At Certain Family Members


Why might my dog behave aggressively toward me?

A dog may act aggressively toward family members for a variety of reasons. Conflict aggressiveness, fear-based, defensive aggression, status-related aggression, possessive aggression, food guarding aggression, and redirected violence are some of the most frequent reasons. An aggressive dog toward family members can make life challenging, hazardous, disappointing, and infuriating (see AggressionDiagnosis and Overview).

Should I keep a dog that is aggressive toward family members?

To have a pet in your life has many fantastic benefits. Our lives are enriched by their companionship, shared experiences, nurturing, amusement, and enrichment, therefore choosing to live with a dog who is hostile toward you is not a decision that should be made lightly. The ability to ensure the safety of those who will be around the dog must take precedence in the choice. The number of family members in some families, daily responsibilities, and other factors could make maintaining and rehabilitating an aggressive dog risky and unrealistic. Placement in a different home may occasionally be an option, although this is not always the case. The only way to ensure a dog won’t become hostile again is to euthanize it for aggression.

How do we assess the risk of keeping an aggressive dog?

Half of the 800,000 people who seek medical attention for dog attacks annually, according to the CDC, are youngsters (see AggressionChildren). Dog bites are not uncommon; they are typical occurrences in everyday family life, and 15% of dog owners are said to have had a dog bite. A dog is more likely to bite after biting because he has demonstrated his willingness to employ biting as a behavioral tactic, at least in that circumstance. Rarely are dogs who are willing to use violence to alter the course of events again healed. The severity of a bite can be determined by carefully analyzing the circumstance, the harm the bite caused, the decisions the dog took, such as his readiness to prevent escalating to a bite by growling, snarling, or snapping, as well as the type of aggression identified. A board-certified veterinary behaviorist may have the necessary experience to evaluate and prioritize this examination in complex circumstances.

Aren’t all bites the same?

Even though all bites should be taken seriously, the situation and decisions the dog made during the incident may provide some clues as to the alternatives the dog explored before acting aggressively. The majority of dogs can generally manage how hard and how long they bite.

“Dogs who will use violence to alter the course of a situation are rarely healed.”

Some bites are prevented and may not leave any skin traces. Other bites may cause the skin to bruise, squeeze, or indent without causing bleeding. More severe bites can result in skin breakdown, puncture wounds that are deep or superficial, many punctures, or tearing or shearing injuries. Some canines’ bites have the potential to break bones. Some dogs bite once and then back off, while others bite repeatedly within the same episode. When provoked or when they are nearby, some dogs bite; other dogs rush from across the room.

How do we avoid aggression and keep family members safe?

The first step in keeping family members safe and starting the behavior modification process is safety and bite prevention. Determine all potential triggers for aggression first, then prohibit the dog from coming into contact with them (via crate or confinement, muzzle, or environmental manipulation), or control the dog in any other situation where a combative circumstance might occur (e.g., leash and head halter control, tie down). In order to prevent future harm and learning, it is imperative that these scenarios be avoided. Although reducing or eliminating the possibility of hostility in these circumstances would be the long-term objective, each new incident could result in harm and worsen the issue. Even within the house, aggressiveness can be controlled and avoided by using a head collar and leash. Even more efficient at preventing bites is a correctly fitted basket muzzle, which may also be useful in specific circumstances. Limiting the dog’s opportunities for more hostile encounters will help prevent the dog from developing new bad habits because the dog learns from every occasion to practice hostility (see AggressionGetting StartedSafety and Management).

When a family decides to start an aggressive behavior modification program, they must continually assess their capacity to keep everyone safe and stop hostile outbursts. The decision to maintain and treat this dog must be reviewed if there are regular safety failures, accidental bites, or fresh bites occurring in novel and unexpected contexts.

Don’t we just need to show our dog that we are alpha or dominant for the aggression to stop?

Neither dominance nor social standing are likely to be factors in aggression toward family members. This is a widespread misunderstanding that may result in the aggressive conduct getting worse and ineffective treatment methods. AggressionDiagnosis and Overview, Dominance, Alpha, and Pack LeadershipWhat Does It Really Mean?, and Canine CommunicationInterpreting Dog Language all discuss how these emotions are frequently the driving forces behind a dog’s aggression. It follows that training programs intended to enforce the human family members as alpha or dominance using confrontation or intimidation-based interventions will increase rather than decrease anxiety and associated aggressive responses if underlying anxiety and fear are the cause of aggressive responses. Strategies intended to establish pack leadership, alpha status, or dominance over your dog do not address the root causes of the issue, which are fear, anxiety, and a lack of knowledge about what to anticipate or how to respond in a certain circumstance. While maintaining control and having regular encounters with the animal is ideal, these goals should be attained in non-confrontational methods that lessen tension and conflict rather than boosting these underlying feelings.

How do I gain effective control of my dog?

Family members should establish themselves as capable parental figures as soon as possible in their relationship with their dog. Good dog owners care for their animals in a similar manner to how good parents or teachers care for their charges. It’s crucial to provide consistency, patience, persistence, regularity, and predictability as a pet owner. Rewards for positive activities give the dog information, and this information acts as a guide for the dog’s interactions with you. assuming the role of the leader or “in control means that the dog’s behavior is proper and will remain so without severity or punishment. Reward-based training, physical restraints, and supervision are used to achieve this. By teaching your dog which behaviors will result in rewards and which ones won’t, consistent responses lessen anxiety and conflict in your dog. In a sense, your dog learns control over its actions while you acquire control over your reward system by “giving you the actions you want it to practice (see Learn to EarnPredictable Rewards). Because some puppies are more assertive, excitable, fearful, easily distracted, or difficult to motivate and as a result more difficult to train (see Training Basics), the methods needed by the owner to become the leader will depend on the individual temperament and genetic predisposition of the puppy. Learning, Training, and Modifying Behavior; Getting Started; AggressionDiagnosis and Overview; Behavior Management Products; Teaching CalmSettle and Relaxation Training; and Handouts on How to Train Specific Commands).

Equally crucial is the ability to spot deference when it occurs. When your dog turns away from you, lowers its head, or avoids you, especially when you are correcting it, this is an act of deference, appeasement, and submission as well as an effort to put an end to the interaction (see Canine CommunicationInterpreting Dog Language). From the dog’s perspective, the interaction is over, and if the human continues to correct or punish the dog, the dog may react out of fear or with defensive actions. Do not assume that because the dog deferred once, he will do so again. Each situation is distinct, and the response takes the dogs’ desire for the resource into account.

How can I treat my dog’s aggression?

Teaching your dog what you DO want him or her to do will be the first step in any treatment plans. A training program based on positive reinforcement typically accomplishes this. The tasks that are taught will vary depending on the dog and the circumstance, but they may include teaching a dog to go to a containment area when called, sit and remain in exchange for rewards, or get off/on furniture when told to (see Reinforcement and Rewards, Learn to EarnPredictable Rewards, and Working for Food). Leashes and head halters help with control and safety without using harsh, strong corrections, and they also reduce the likelihood of aggression (see Training Products) Head Halter Training and Training Materials (Synopsis of Head Halter Training).

Once safety and aggression-avoiding precautions have been put in place and fundamental control exercises have been mastered, advanced exercises can start. Traditional counter-conditioning, desensitization, and exposure gradients are some behavior modification techniques for particular problematic interactions that prevent the dog from becoming overwhelmed to the point of aggression or defensiveness. Instead, the dog is gradually exposed to previously arousing stimuli at such low levels that no arousal occurs, and is then rewarded for the appropriate response. The dog is simultaneously in charge of adhering to new instructions and is lavishly pampered for making fresh, sensible choices.

What can be done if my dog refuses to obey my commands?

Any conflict or circumstance that could result in harm or in which the owner would not be able to gain control safely must be avoided. It could be feasible to create conditions and an atmosphere that force the dog to conform. Forcing or confronting your dog is ineffective because this could result in resistance and violence. Instead, determine whether or not compliance can be attained in each case. If not, do not move forward; instead, alter the circumstance to effectively achieve the desired result. As previously indicated, fitting the dog with a remote leash and head halter that may be used to lead the dog on walks and remain attached while the owner is at home will provide you more immediate control (except for bedtime). The leash and head halter can be utilized each time a command is issued to the dog and it is not obeyed to attain the desired result. You won’t have succeeded until the dog responds to your vocal orders without the need for leash pulls, even though the head halter and remote leash are fantastic tools for success and physical control.

What is the prognosis for dogs that show aggression toward their family?

Dogs that are willing to use violence to influence a situation’s result are rarely healed, but they are frequently controllable. A good daily routine of exercise, play, and social engagement, as well as the avoidance of situations that cause anger, can all contribute to improvement. Some dogs, however, might still pose a threat to individuals who live with them because of their violent behavior toward family members. It might be impossible to safely rehabilitate an aggressive dog while protecting people in some family scenarios. Each case needs to be evaluated by a veterinary behaviorist, and development in each case must be monitored regularly (see AggressionIntroduction and AggressionGetting StartedSafety and Management).

Exactly why does my dog growl at that person?

When a dog growls or barks specifically at one member of the household, he is expressing his fear or mistrust of that person. He might have had a bad experience with that person, or perhaps the person’s scent or appearance makes the dog think of someone else.

Why does my dog snarl towards my family but not at the other members?

“Another human trait we project onto our pets is a protective attitude. If not specifically trained for protection work, the “The most likely explanation for your dog’s protective behavior is resource guarding.

The people who provide food, drink, and affection to their dogs are valuable resources in their eyes. Your dog may be protecting you if you observe that he growls or snaps at other family members only when they approach you.

When Fido is being protective of you, it may initially seem innocent and even endearing. After all, how adorable is it that he loves you so much that he won’t want to share you with anyone? However, a growling dog is one that is issuing a warning; if his behavior worsens, a bite may occur shortly after.

It is crucial to recognize this in any home with young children. Ineffective teaching makes it difficult for kids to comprehend dog body language. A toddler who doesn’t understand guarding behavior combined with a guarding dog can lead to disaster.

If your dog behaves in a guarding manner, contact a positive reinforcement trainer right away.

It’s crucial that you stay away from trainers in this situation who employ harsh techniques like positive punishment and negative reinforcement. When a resource is perceived to be in danger, guarding dogs become very emotional and attempt to prevent its loss.

Why does my dog detest a particular individual?

It has been discovered that dogs prefer the scent of people to other odours. Usually, a dog will smell a person they are uneasy with because of the pheromones the person emits. Those pheromones may represent a danger or an alert warning the dog to take caution.

Why just snarl at my kid, my dog?

The three most frequent causes of a dog’s hostility toward family members are as follows: illness and/or discomfort. Resource protection. Issues with body handling.

What’s with my dog growling at my son now?

This might sound counterproductive and even go against what your dog trainer or other dog trainers you’ve seen on TV have to say. If your dog growls at your child, he is clearly signaling you that he is very uncomfortable with what the child is doing or being so close to. Be thankful that your dog decided to growl as a warning rather than bite. If you punish the growling, you might stop the dog from growling as a warning the next time, and the dog might bite without first growling. Punishment or reprimanding the dog will not make him feel better about the child; rather, it may make him feel more uncomfortable and increase his likelihood of biting in the future, particularly if you are not present to control the situation. Yamei Ross, a canine trainer, says “It’s analogous to deactivating your smoke detector’s batteries to punish a dog for growling. The threat is still present even though you don’t want to hear the noise.”

The dog and child should be kept apart until the child learns to treat the dog with compassion and respect if they are unable to follow instructions or have developed a pattern of being rough with the dog.

  • the level of supervision
  • To ensure that your dog is not ill or in discomfort, take him to the veterinarian.
  • Consult a dog behavior expert for guidance. This person will employ positive reinforcement to assist in teaching the dog to adjust his attitude and to love the child’s company.

Because the dog hasn’t bitten yet, you shouldn’t presume that he won’t. Dogs may grow less tolerant as they age. The dog’s tolerance for hard treatment can decline as kids age. What a tragedy if your child’s final recollection of a devoted, long-time family member is of them biting them. For more information on the causes of dog bites and growls, visit our Why Dogs Bite page.

Always remember to thank your children when they tell you whether the dog growls. Avoid criticizing them or making them feel guilty about something they did (even if they did do something you have told them not do). The next time, they won’t come to you with this knowledge after getting in trouble for making the dog snarl and then informing you about it. The child may also need some behavior correction.

You may have read or heard that it’s crucial to be the alpha in your household and that you must establish your dominance over the dog in order to regulate his behavior. Your dog may be accused of dominance, and you may be instructed to frighten or coerce him into taking his rightful place at the bottom of the pack. The dog may become more agitated and prone to bite if you take a tougher stance.