My dog growls at puppies every time he encounters one, how can this be fixed?

asked 2018-03-08 13:38:27 -0500

I have a four year old German Shepherd mix, and he's generally really friendly towards other adult dogs. However, whether he's walking on a leash or at the dog park, he always barks at puppies, snarls at them, and sometimes knocks them down so he can stand over them. I think he has a hard time handling their energy, but doesn't seem to respond in an appropriate way. I'm not sure how to correct this behavior. Does anyone have any thoughts? Thanks!

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answered 2018-03-09 21:56:49 -0500

It's hard to say whether it is typical or dangerous dog behavior without observing the dog's behavior in person. I'd suggest finding a dog trainer experienced with aggression and ask if they can do a consultation appointment, as opposed to ongoing training sessions, to have them assess his behavior to determine the cause and normality/abnormality.

We started dog boarding when we first got our puppy, and almost ALL the adult dogs we cared for didn't want anything to do with our pup and would growl, bark, snarl, even charge and snap at her when she approached. Never once did a single dog bite her, and we never turned a dog away for boarding, so we got all kinds. From my experience, most dogs do not allow puppies to crawl all over them while they sit there like lazy lumps - adult dogs either play or express their disinterest in playing by growling, etc. Since your dog isn't outright biting puppies, I'd guess he's asserting boundaries and expressing his disinterest in playing, which he has to do loudly since puppies have thick skulls. This may not be the case if he's actively pulling towards puppies while he's on leash and they're far away.

Correcting the behavior may not be necessary if it's typical adult dog behavior, which is why I suggest finding a trainer to help you figure that out (or doing lots of research yourself). Either way, to change his behavior, you need to know the cause. Assuming he doesn't like puppies, then you need to create situations that give him a positive association with puppies. Expose him to as many puppies as you can. Give him treats, praise, pets, toys, etc as soon as you see a puppy and keep giving him treats until the puppy passes. Never punish him for his behavior (jerking the leash, scolding him, poking/hitting him, etc) around puppies because this will only cause him to be silent until he snaps and can increase the likelihood of him becoming aggressive by making him associate puppies with pain and punishment. I hope this helps. Good luck!

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