How to stop 'play growling?'
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Thread: How to stop 'play growling?'

  1. #1
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    How to stop 'play growling?'

    I have a 2.5 year old Alaskan Malamute. Lately he has started growling whenever he wants to play and during play. When I take him to the dog park and he tries to play with other dogs, he starts growling and a lot of times the other dog's owner thinks he's being aggressive, especially due to his size.

    I'm wondering how I might train him to not growl when playing? I thought about telling him 'no' when he starts growling when I roughhouse with him, but I'm afraid he might interpret it as 'no playing.'

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  3. #2
    Super Moderator Curbside Prophet's Avatar
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    Re: How to stop 'play growling?'

    Why exactly should an ignorant people problem be the dog's problem?

    Welcome to our forum btw!

  4. #3
    Senior Member Spirit_of_Cotons's Avatar
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    Re: How to stop 'play growling?'

    I wouldn't roughhouse with him as it brings out their growling behavior. Also when Luke does this (he's a pup though) I just stop playing with him or ignore him. You could try to ignore him, and when your Malamute (cute dog by the way) growls take him out of the park. When he stops, let him enter again and repeat. When he doesn't growl reward him and tell him he's a good boy.

    That's what I would do at least, you can also call up a trainer to see what to do. Good luck.

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    Senior Member FourIsCompany's Avatar
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    Re: How to stop 'play growling?'

    Growling doesn't equal aggression. Not at all. If anyone mentions it, just tell them it's how he plays. If the other DOGS are okay with it, then the owners need to back off. I wouldn't even consider changing my dogs' natural behavior because someone was uncomfortable with it.
    You can train people, honest; It's just harder than it is with dogs.
    ~Patricia McConnell The Other End of the Leash

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    Senior Member Cheetah's Avatar
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    Re: How to stop 'play growling?'

    Play growling is a totally normal and acceptable behavior. It doesn't hurt anyone. Both my dogs growl when they're playing. Eevee takes it further and makes these really loud "old man" groans.

    Sometimes an uneducated person at a park gets scared and thinks she's eating their dog, but I've had Eevee for nearly a decade and can tell the difference between her play growl and her serious growl. And that is what I tell anyone at the park who tries to tell me otherwise.

    I also think it would be pretty cruel to try and train it out, as your dog isn't doing anything wrong.

    Eevee ~ 14-year-old F Border Collie Mix - My Heart Dog!
    Ravinel Fox Magick, CGC (Shippo) ~ 8-year-old M Pembroke Welsh Corgi

  7. #6
    Super Moderator cshellenberger's Avatar
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    Re: How to stop 'play growling?'

    Growling is a form of communication and should NEVER be messed with be it in play or as a warning signal. IF others are worried about it explain that it's part of his play rituals and be sure YOU know when he's playing and when he's serious.
    Carla
    "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control" Proverbs 29:11

  8. #7
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    Re: How to stop 'play growling?'

    Play growling and play biting are perfectly normal play behavior. The problem with people is when they think he is aggressive it is because they have no knowledge of what normal dog play behavior is.

    A better thing to do would be to find out who is in charge of the dog park then perhaps you can pass their name on to a dog trainer that is educated in dog behavior. The trainer could then contact the person who is in charge of the dog park and setup some kind of seminar where people that want to be educated on dog play behavior can attend.

    I attended one of these in the past few months and while it was informative I did not take anything from it I did not know already but others there took a lot from it as they did not know what was normal dog play behavior and what was aggressive behavior. It also would be good to have one because it should also show that some dogs should not be in a dog park, such as fearful ones. By educating people about the proper behavior at a dog park people will know what to look for and be able to advise others if there dog is going to cause a problem.

  9. #8
    Senior Member Cracker's Avatar
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    Re: How to stop 'play growling?'

    I agree wholeheartedly. Vocalization in play is normal. I wouldn't take away any of my dog's communication skills...the growl can be play, can be a warning etc...take that away and you lose a real sense of your dog. I use the growling TONE and intensity as a clue to whether dogs ARE getting too excited and need a break but never correct it. The lower the tone (like a growl you FEEL instead of a growl you hear) is a warning that things are going to change and stepping in then is a good idea..but if the body language shows that play is happening (both dogs taking turns "on top", no fear on the side of either dog, lots of play bows and pawing) the dogs are enjoying themselves and there is no reason to stop them.

    Keep in mind though, that Mals have their own way of playing and some dogs find them too rough so it's important that your guy have similar play styles to his new friends. Cracker is a big "pawer" when it comes to little dogs so I watch carefully and try not to let her do it to the short nosed breeds especially...I worry about their eyes. If the other dog shows signs of discomfort (trying to get away, showing fearful body language) you need to call off your pup. It's the polite thing to do.

    As for the humans..well, many don't know what normal communication between dogs looks like. I was at the park with a 7 month old golden..a 1year old Lab came bounding over TOO exuberantly and basically bowled over the GR..she got up and gave him what for (a snap and bark) and he just squealed and then stopped. The owner thought the GR was rude..but seconds later the two pups were running around playing and having a great old time. The GR simply told the Lab he was TOO MUCH, TOO SOON and to back off a bit. Message delivered and received and all was fine. The owner should have realized it was her dog that caused the correction...

    Education is key.
    Maggi and Cracker, Dog about Rosedale


  10. #9
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    Re: How to stop 'play growling?'

    Thanks for all the comments.

  11. #10
    Senior Member MissMutt's Avatar
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    Re: How to stop 'play growling?'

    Quote Originally Posted by cshellenberger View Post
    Growling is a form of communication and should NEVER be messed with be it in play or as a warning signal. IF others are worried about it explain that it's part of his play rituals and be sure YOU know when he's playing and when he's serious.
    100000% agreed. I tell people this ALL THE TIME.
    Sam and ARCH UCD Marge CGC MX MJB RL1X RL2X

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