At the Woofs and Wags event in Storm Lake, IA.
Sometimes our dogs do things that embarrass us. It maybe the happy humping gig, the red rocket exposure, or even the leg lift on the neighbors truck tire. Our normal knee jerk reaction is to scold them by using a harsh tone and a firm ''no''. However, there is one embarrassing move we are told not to stop or correct, growling. I was recently at an event with both Boomer and Delta. We had been asked to participate in a dog walk/fundraiser for another shelter. I always try and take these opportunities to socialize them, a skill they seem to lack in.
Boomer is a nervous guy, always on alert, always scanning the scene. He struggles with feeling safe in unfamiliar surroundings. He's come a long way from the dog that entered my home in January. At that time, every sound or movement sent him cowering in fear. We've worked on his confidence level by doing a lot of walking and getting him out in the public. He was mortified the first few times we walked down Grand Ave. because of all of the noise, traffic, and the unfamiliarity of the world outside of his crate. He has mastered many of our frequent paths and trots along enjoying the new sights, sounds and smells.
I've learned with Boomer that I need to be his leader and he is learning to look to me for direction. I know that he needs some time to get used to new surroundings before pushing him to be social. Boomer growled at the lady that had invited us to come. She has been a Facebook fan of Boomer and Delta's and was so very excited and happy to finally be able to meet them. They were both all kisses and tail wags with Lisa when we arrived. The energy and stress levels increased as the day wore on. Many smaller sized dogs arrived for the walk, many barking and lunging. We made our loop and went back for prizes. When Lisa arrived with Boomer and Delta's sack of goodies, Boomer had had enough for the day and growled at Lisa. I was shocked and Lisa was heart broken, but we both remembered that growling is not something to ignore, nor is it something to correct. Growling is your dogs way of saying, ''I'm not comfortable, please stay away from me.''. When the growling does not lead to the desired results, it will more than likely turn into a bite. If you scold your dog for growling, pretty soon you will not be sent that warning growl and you will automatically get the bite. Respect a growling dog. For whatever reason, they are telling you they are not comfortable and would prefer to be left alone. It's nothing personal, it's nothing that should be ignored, nor should it be stopped. Calmly remove yourself from the dogs space and let him decompress. Everyone has a limit as to what they can take, even your dog.