Your Pet Question
I have a 4-year-old Doberman who is usually extremely sweet natured but growls menacingly at us and even at the cat if we walk by him when he’s lying down. We scold, put him outside, squirt water at him or try to cuddle him out of the growl… nothing works. What can we do besides physically punishing him?
Lorie Turpin, Hawkesbury
The Expert Says
This is a common complaint. Many dogs get grumpy if disturbed from rest. Much like some people! You must have heard the adage, “let sleeping dogs lie”. Keep some treats handy and try to toss him a treat BEFORE he growls as you prepare to pass by. Timing is critical as you don’t want to reward the growling. Cue him before you pass and he will learn to associate GOOD things with your passing. His behaviour should change to welcoming it. You can stage this with the cat as well, as long as your dog is not food aggressive. Be consistent and patient, it takes time and once the growling stops, remember to intermittently reward him for NOT growling to reinforce it. If the growling ever progresses to teeth barring or moving towards you, then you need a professional to come to your home and assist you for training. Never physically punish your dog as it actually leads to an increased level of aggression.