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Puppy growling..

April 27th, 2011, 12:16 PM
Our Shih Tzu/Lhaso Apso X is now 7 months old. He's just been neutered a couple of weeks ago but this is a problem that has been going on for a while now and hopefully someone can give me some guidance.
Buddy is a very sweet natured dog, full of love and kisses and tail wagging constantly. He loves to play, is never rough and in a nutshell is a wonderful member of our family. He has been to puppy education classes and did very well in getting along with dogs and humans.

The problem is when we are out for walks and he sees a stranger approaching he starts to growl. I tell him to quiet and sit but he strains at the leash and continues to growl. More often than not the 'stranger' will stop and talk to him and it's wags and kisses all around.
Yesterday tho, my friend came over and Buddy growled at her as well. The body language is friendly and approachable, head up, tail and bum wagging and kisses galore.
I worry about the growling part, and want to know if this is a trait common to certain breeds and how can I make him understand that growling at humans is not to be tolerated.
Thanks for taking the time to read this lenghty letter but I hope there will be some suggestions out there for us.:frustrated:

April 27th, 2011, 12:22 PM
How are you presently addressing the situation?

April 27th, 2011, 01:46 PM
Yesterday in the case of him growling at my friend I told him to stop growling and to sit. I then told Pam to let him smell her hand. After he had a good sniff I picked him up, thinking it would allow him to become aquainted face to face, and she patted his head and he licked her hand. Still standoffish tho.
When we're walking I tell him to be quiet and just keep on going. Most of the times people stop tho to talk to him. Lately I notice more and more being asked if he's friendly. I have tried telling him to sit but to be honest by the time he's started to respond to the people he's not listening to me and now I'm dealing with a young dog who is straining to get off the leash and talking to peole who want to meet him..........

April 27th, 2011, 01:56 PM
If his body language is all positive is it possible that this is play behavior? Is growling in excitement or anticitpation, as opposed to fear/aggression?

April 27th, 2011, 02:26 PM
Here's my :2cents:
I'd be happy to elaborate on any of this if you want :)

After he had a good sniff I picked him up, thinking it would allow him to become aquainted face to face, and she patted his head and he licked her hand. Still standoffish tho.

I wouldn't do this. Many little dogs dislike being picked up when stressed (well, actually most times :P). It dis-empowers them. If your dog is growling in fear/anxiety this could exacerbate it.
I would have the person get as low as possible, look away from the dog and offer small food rewards for increased proximity.

Is he reacting to new people coming in the house? You could work on de-sensitizing him to visitors entering and exiting to decrease his anxiety. You could also teach an incompatible behavior (something he can't do while being reactive) - like "go to your mat" - that you will ask of him when you have friends over before he is allowed to greet them.

When we're walking I tell him to be quiet
I'd nix that too. He has no idea what you are asking him to do, so why confuse him?

Your instinct to keep going is good if you don't want them to greet. In this situation I would work on a "watch me" to divert his attention while you move past. Alternatively, you could move off the path of the incoming traffic, put him in a sit and wait for him to offer the behavior you want to see (i.e. looking at people and not growling) and reward him then.

If you do want them to meet, walk him to several feet beside (never directly at) the individuals and let him move towards them on his own terms. If they can offer him something delicious that will also help - this will build a positive association with greeting new people.

Most are very accommodating if you tell them that you are trying to socialize a dog :)

April 27th, 2011, 05:29 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. :thumbs upI'll work on them. :) I like the idea that it's more of a play behavior, maybe that's his way of talking. I was thinking also that I will try the no talk no touch no eye contact when we have friends over. :lightbulb:Maybe that'll get him to relax abit before our company greets him.