I hear the craziest things being a dog trainer… Yesterday a client growled at his dog. I dismissed it the first time, thinking I'd misunderstood. No, sure enough, it happened again, so I asked about it.
This was his answer: We had a training company come in and they said to growl at the dog – that dogs understood growling because that's what dogs do, growl. (This is the same company I posted about earlier regarding their misinformed and dangerous dominance.)
Picture this: you have a 2-month old baby who is crying. So to communicate with him, you cry back at him. How effective will your communication be? Isn't that the craziest thing?
Best case scenario if you growl at your dog — you'll get his attention because you've made a novel noise. Worst case scenario – you'll get bitten in the face.
I used another example to illustrate the fact that growling at your dog is not only silly, but dangerous advice. Let's say you're going to visit France. You don't know the language, but you can make up words that sound decidedly French. That should be enough – it sounds French, it should work, right?
Wrong, of course. You get to France and you start talking with words that might sound French but are really nonsense – or worse are offensive French words!
So what good does sounding French do? Just about as much as growling at your dog.
One last reason not to growl at your dog. Growls serve many purposes for dogs. Dogs growl during play, they growl during sleep, and they growl to display anxiety or threats. So when you growl at your dog, how do you know (and how does your dog know) what your growl means?