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Discussion Starter #1
My golden growls while playing tug. (It's 100% a play growl, no aggression or guarding. Her ears are relaxed and her tail is wagging. She drops it when I tell her to.) I actually think it's adorable but I want her to stop so other people can play with her without being alarmed. Sometimes if we're playing outside she will start growling and the neighbor's dogs will freak out.

Is it as simple as dropping the toy and becoming a tree when she starts growling? Any other tips?
 

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Totally normal. I would even bother discouraging it if I were you. It's just how she plays!
 

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Anyone who gets alarmed by a dog growling during play is probably not dog savvy enough to be playing tug with a largish dog. It's normal behavior. I doubt you'll be able to get her to stop, regardless - because it's so innately part of play.
 

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Goldens can be SUPER play growly. It's common in the breed, and its common in the species. Agree it's not likely something that you'd be able to train out, and more importantly agree that if someone is feeling threatened by a golden growling at them in play they shouldn't be playing tug with a dog at all Tug isn't just about a dog tugging a toy, and there is some risk of re-grip and an accidental bite (with a golden its unlikely to puncture the skin, but could still hurt). There's also the factor that tug needs to have rules, and the person playing needs to be savvy enough to institute those rules. Enjoy the game, accept the play growling. Play growling is normal, healthy behavior.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Goldens can be SUPER play growly. It's common in the breed, and its common in the species. Agree it's not likely something that you'd be able to train out, and more importantly agree that if someone is feeling threatened by a golden growling at them in play they shouldn't be playing tug with a dog at all Tug isn't just about a dog tugging a toy, and there is some risk of re-grip and an accidental bite (with a golden its unlikely to puncture the skin, but could still hurt). There's also the factor that tug needs to have rules, and the person playing needs to be savvy enough to institute those rules. Enjoy the game, accept the play growling. Play growling is normal, healthy behavior.
Yes, she is absolutely vicious-sounding. It's kind of adorable because she's the least-threatening dog I've ever met and yet she sounds just feral. The re-grip thing is definitely another factor in why someone who doesn't know what they're doing shouldn't tug with her. I've gotten a couple of re-grip bites when I wasn't paying attention.
 

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I agree with everyone, don't change it, especially just for the neighbors. Goldens are not threatening except by size or by people who may fear dogs.

You can stop the growl by reducing the intensity of play. Everytime she growls, you can say something like "oops" and drop or let go of the the toy. The dog will learn to tug more gently.

Note that if you do this, it may be the same as playing baseball with a child ... and ending the game every single time he hits the ball with the bat. It may look and sound oK, but I think something dies inside when dogs aren't allowed to play as energetically as they can, within the Rules and with some level of control.
 

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I agree with everyone, don't change it, especially just for the neighbors. Goldens are not threatening except by size or by people who may fear dogs.

You can stop the growl by reducing the intensity of play. Everytime she growls, you can say something like "oops" and drop or let go of the the toy. The dog will learn to tug more gently.

Note that if you do this, it may be the same as playing baseball with a child ... and ending the game every single time he hits the ball with the bat. It may look and sound oK, but I think something dies inside when dogs aren't allowed to play as energetically as they can, within the Rules and with some level of control.
Aww, this makes sense. When she plays I do want her to give it her all and get that energy out.
 

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Who cares what your neighbors think? If they don't like the play growling dog, then they don't need to play with her. They can play fetch with her or something. Most likely the other dogs are freaking out because they want to play, too.
 
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