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   Family Dog Growling or Snapping at Family Members

Once you get to the point that a dog growls *at* you or a family member it is time for professional help. You have no time to waste. The first order of business keeping the dog and the children apart, and avoiding doing anything likely to cause aggressive behavior.

Second is a complete physical to make sure there is no physical cause (e.g. pain) that is causing this. This is NOT normal for a well bred dog. Explain the problem to the vet and ask for references to a qualified trainer or behaviorist. Some advice givers are fond of telling people you could just kill the dog - I don't think much of that as a first step. Instead have the dog evaluated so that you can tell if the situation is stable, and if it can be improved. Just getting rid of the dog might solve your problem with this dog, but unless you determine the cause you will be unable to prevent it in future dogs.

The reasons for such behavior vary widely and the best response is very individual to the dog and the situation. What works beautifully for one dog will be worse than useless for another. No book or on-line advice can tell you whether this is a simple problem readily resolved, or a difficult one in which the dog cannot remain a member of the family. You need to have someone come to the house and observe the situation.

Body language, noise, dog-human interaction are all critical factors in evaluating and correcting such situations. Do not wait for it to get worse. I can't tell you how likely it is you can correct the situation now, but I can tell you that it will not get better on its own. It is a minor price to pay for addressing a potentially dangerous situation without just giving up on an important member of your family.

Your veterinarian, other veterinarians, trainers, your SPCA or humane society, shelters and rescue groups are all good sources to check for recommendations.

If you decide that the dog cannot remain a member of the family, please do not lie or mislead about the reasons you are giving the dog up. First you can be held liable for any injuries, perhaps even criminally liable. Second, a person who is aware of the dog's problems will be better able to evaluate it, and if possible place it safely. If the dog is unsuitable for your home do not endanger someone else, seek and accept the advice of shelter/rescue/SPCA. For additional links and resources check:

Behavior, Socialization and Training Links

Just some additional resources, and e-mail discussion groups.

Kids and Dogs References and Information

Just some additional resources, and e-mail discussion groups.



Professional Resources from Dogwise
Behavior Problems in Dogs    
Behavior Problems In Dogs by Bill Campbell    
Handbook Of Applied Dog Behavior And Training, Vol. 3: Procedures And Protocols Handbook Of Applied Dog Behavior & Training, Vol. 2: Etiology And Assessment Handbook Of Applied Dog Behavior And Training
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Problem Solving and Prevention book and video resources from Dogwise Dogwise  is a USA resource

Additional articles on dog training and dog behavior related topics.

Dog Training and Behavior Books and Videos from Dogwise

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The Truth About Dogs Series

Copyright © 1997-2003, Diane Blackman
Created: January 17, 1997     Updated November 12, 2007

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