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Tuesday, 14 July 2015 20:00

A dog that growls is not a bad dog

While a dog's growl can be frightening and disheartening, it also serves the very useful purpose of alerting us or another being that the dog is feeling threatened, uncomfortable or angry. It is the dog's way of saying, 'If something in this situation does not change, I may have no other choice than to bite.' Growling is a communication tool that is designed to increase the distance between the dog and that which the dog perceives as a threat.

While a growl is usually associated with aggression, it is important to understand that there are many causes of aggression. Pain or other medical issues can cause an aggressive response, as can fear. Fear arises for many reasons: a reminder of a previous negative experience, a perceived loss of a resource or space, expectations of punishment and associated pain and maternal protective instincts can all cause a dog to react aggressively. Sexual competition, barrier frustration, low tolerance for frustration, differences in personalities between dogs and genetics may also cause or contribute to aggressive behavior.

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