why does my dog growl when i kiss him
It is very helpful to recognize early warning signs of stress and remove the dog from the stressful situation. If the dog owner recognizes for instance, that touching the head, neck and shoulder area of a dog is too much, removing him from the situation may prevent an ugly case from going forward. Yes, removing him may reward the behavior but this will be taken care of later on. Taking him away from the situation may cause your dog to think ''Ok, growling worked, good to use it next time again''. Indeed, if the mom told the child upon hearing the dog growl '' Sweet heart, do not hug Rover, it makes him uncomfortable'' and the child stopped the hugging attempt the dog will think ''Weew, that growl sure worked in keeping those arms away from me, a good strategy to continue''. But a good dog owner will put the dog up for success while ensuring the safety of the child. Close supervision is a must with children and dogs, and no child should be left with a dog unsupervised. While hugging a dog is not recommended, the dog may be conditioned to accept it though effective training techniques. If the dog dislikes being hugged, it may help to touch the dog's neck slightly and give a treat. Pat the dog's head and give a treat.
Place an arm on the dog's shoulder and then give a treat and so forth, in a step by step approach performed on a routine basis for days, weeks or months. Eventually the dog will learn that great things happen upon being hugged. Any dog owner can accomplish this if willing to lose some time on it. Safety though should be top priority and rushing is out of question. Guidance from a dog behavior professional is a must before engaging in such training. The use of a muzzle may help but the muzzle shouldn't mean that you can relax and subject the dog to anything that makes him uncomfortable. While a child must be taught that hugging makes the dog uncomfortable, if the dog is counter conditioned to associate hugs with great things like treats, in the worst-case scenario, should the child still hug, there are good chances nothing will happen. The same approach can be gradually applied to dogs who growl upon having their paws touched, nails clipped, and so forth. This method if applied correctly should work deep inside the dog's mind and change the dog's emotional state which is what one wants to overcome serious issues as these. Some puppy classes, indeed have decided to incorporate ''hugging time'' in their program so puppies are de-sensitized to being ''huggable adults''
As seen, a dog's growl is something that should be treasured.
As Pat Miller, a dog trainer with more than 35 years behind puts it "a growl is something to be greatly treasured'' ultimately goes a long way. Dog owners indeed should be thankful dogs have been equipped with such means to avoid conflicts. Listen to your dog and give him a chance to prove himself worthy of living with you if only you can understand him better and address issues before they are given the opportunity to escalate. Disclaimer: if your dog is experiencing behavioral problems, please report to a professional dog behaviorist. Make safety your top priority and do not attempt fixing behavioral problems on your own. Patricia McConnell, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist in her famous book ''On the other end of the leash'' likes to refer to our need for hugging as a primate instinct. Hugging indeed is a hard-wired behavior common in both primates and humans. The reason behind this is that humans and primates appreciate ventral to ventral (chest to chest) contact because it may bring back unconscious feelings of pleasure associated with nursing. Dogs do not have this sort of positive association therefore they do not by nature appreciate this form of contact.
Dogs may be conditioned to appreciate hugs though by associating it with good things such as tasty treats or pleasant scratches behind the ears. If a dog that has been used to being hugged out of the blue decides to growl, this may suggest something may be medically wrong. An ear infection may be starting or there may be something causing pain. A vet visit is in order to figure out what may be causing the problem. Growling upon being hugged is generally not a rational thought response. Do not take it personally if this happens. It is rather an innate response triggered by the dog's self defense system. The dog may feel alarmed and he may go into a ''fight or flight mode'' but since a hug restraints him, he may more likely go into fight mode and react aggressively by giving a warning growl or a straightforward bite. So should you avoid giving your dog hugs all together? You can work on de-sensitizing your dog by counterconditioning him. Start by touching him slightly near the neck area and giving treats. As each day goes by, practice taking baby steps on performing all the movements and contact needed to give a full hug. Give treats for every session and go very slowly.
If you are persistent enough, your dog will start appreciating being hugged. Do not use this approach on a dog who has manifested aggressive/defensive behaviors upon being hugged;rather consult a dog trainer/behaviorist before trying anything on your own. Patricia McConnell suggests adding instructions on how to condition puppies to accept or even enjoy hugging in puppy classes, since this primate behavior is so strong in all humans. This may ultimately bring up generations of dogs who love (or at least tolerate) to be hugged and perhaps reduce the incidence of dog bites related to our ''primate'' behaviors. Never put your face too close an unknown dog or attempt to hug it or kiss it; many dogs dislike people invading their space and may become defensive, as dogs do not hug or kiss. Rather allow the dog approach you first, sniff you and then if the dog appears friendly and the owner allows it, your best bet is to give a pat on the chest. Disclaimer: if your dog exhibits aggression at any time consult with a veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions and then follow up with a dog behaviorist. Make safety your top priority and don't attempt behavior modifications programs on your own.
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