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My puppy is 8 almost 9 weeks old. He loves playing tug of war with all of his toys, and sometimes he lets out a small growl. Is this ok? I don't ever want him to become aggressive and plan on socializing him with other dogs in a few weeks. (he was around other dogs before I adopted him and he is just getting over parvo so i can't take him anywhere public for 2 more weeks so he doesn't spread it)

Will he become aggressive? is this little growl ok?
 

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I think a little growling is okay, it's only when he starts to escalate is when you have to worry. Growling doesn't always mean aggression. If he starts biting or anything like that, play stops. If you don't like the growling, you can always discourage it and train him not to.
 

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Well he nibbles and bites hands sometimes but in a playful way. We do redirect him to his toys when he bites and we stop playing if he bites. I heard some biting is normal so they can get what I believe is called soft mouth? where they learn there biting limit and to be gentle with people.
 

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There's nothing wrong with play growling. Dogs play hard, especially with other dogs. Sometimes they growl, bark, and depending on breed, even snarl. It's usually nothing to worry about, but you want to make sure to pay attention to body language. If he's jumping around, loose and energetic while he plays with you, ears alert and tail wagging, it's just a normal play growl. But if you ever see his fur stand on end, his ears flatten, and a flicker of teeth along with the growl, you'll want to stop any interaction immediately and give him time to cool down, whether it be with you or another dog.

But it doesn't sound to me like that will happen, so long as you play nicely and gently with your puppy, and don't get too crazy. My dog used to snarl and growl like crazy when I played with him, and it was all in good fun. :3 It's one of the many ways they communicate.
 

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Absolutely. IMO growling is always ok. It's just a form of communication, the same as a person showing fear or anger in their voice. You should never punish a dog for growling (even in seriousness instead of play) because your dog's growl is a vital form of communication for you and others. It can be a signal that your dog is uncomfortable so you can remove them from a situation or begin desensitizing them to something that scares them. A dog that has learned that it's not ok to growl is a dog that will skip straight to biting when they face a perceived threat.
 

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If you are okay with it, its fine.

I view growling as another form of communication. Buster growls instead of barking when he sees something he feels needs my attention, he growls when I clean his ears as if saying "oooh that feels soooo good!", he'll growl during play and he'll growl as a warning to back off. He's one of the most social dogs Ive ever known. He's quick to greet anyone that approaches like they're his long lost best friend, including the mailman.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have never punished him for growling. I assumed it was normal but just wanted to make sure. I am doing my best to raise him to not be aggressive and he is such a smart little guy. He only growls when we play tug of war or when he plays with his stuffed toys. Never at people or my cats.

thanks everyone!
 

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I let my dog bite me too... In fact wrestling is our favorite "game". So I disagree with stopping the play when teeth touch skin but that's an individual thing really.
 

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Absolutely. IMO growling is always ok. It's just a form of communication, the same as a person showing fear or anger in their voice. You should never punish a dog for growling (even in seriousness instead of play) because your dog's growl is a vital form of communication for you and others. It can be a signal that your dog is uncomfortable so you can remove them from a situation or begin desensitizing them to something that scares them. A dog that has learned that it's not ok to growl is a dog that will skip straight to biting when they face a perceived threat.
Definitely this. It's okay if he growls, that's just communication. Dogs don't have a way of saying to you what they want to communicate in words. They have barking, growling, body language, and biting. You want to learn to read that. Another poster mentioned body language. Definitely try to learn your dog's play growl, and how it's different from his "real" growl. If he's frustrated or angry he'll likely show signs like raised hackles, and raised lips, ears back, stiff tail. You want to learn to recognize that sort of thing so that you can diffuse the situation before it becomes dangerous. Just growling in play (tail wagging, relaxed, happy mouth, etc.) is totally fine and nothing to be worried about. A lot of dogs growl in play and it can be scary sometimes if you don't know the growling dog in question...but once you learn to read body language it really helps.
 

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I think play growling is ok if it's just exuberant noise-making - like little kids laughing when they play. If there's any seriousness behind it - like resource guarding a toy you're playing with, just as an example - I would work on whatever the problem is. But true play growling is no big deal IMO.

ETA: Squash sometimes play growls on recall as he gets close, especially if he's a bit overtired. Occasionally scares the crap out of people in his Rally and Obedience classes who don't know him or the first time they hear it. It IS kind of a scary noise, it would scare the crap out of me, too, if I didn't know he doesn't mean it. He just gets so excited he can't contain himself.
 

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I encourage my Boy, Oliver to growl when playing tug or wrestling, I've even taught him a few tricks that include growling, I think it helps him relieve his extra predatory energy, in all honesty. It's a great, engaging game for him!
 
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