Should we correct this?


Honored Member
What would YOU do if your dog did this?

Our dog Buddy, often play-growls with us when we do tog-of-war with him. We have never corrected this and do not see this as a problem.

Unless we ARE PLAYING tug-o-war, Anyone in his pack can and will be able to take any toy away from him, no growl, no problem.

Yesterday, a 9 year old girl reached down to pull a toy Buddy was chewing on away from him. Buddy did move but did growl. This frightened the girl and she backed away. Until i saw her surprised face, i hadn't thought much of it, but now i am thinking, should i correct that when Buddy does this?
He never ever does this when WE take his toys away, if that is helpful info to respond.
Also, if we are supposed to be correcting Buddy growling at someone taking his toy, do we just say "no" or what?



Experienced Member
In my opinion, tug of war growling is completely unrelated to the growling your dog did when the girl took away the toy. Tug of war is playtime and I highly encourage my dogs to growl even :) But Buddy growling at the girl was his way of guarding his toy and telling the girl no. I would not of punished him in that moment. Growling is his warning system, and if you yell at Buddy for growling it doesn't change his feelings (scared the girl will take away toy), but it will tell him he can't growl. NExt time he skips that warning and goes to the next warning system (air snap maybe?) and if you keep punishing he will be think that warning doesn't work and will go straight to a bite.

That being said, you DO need to teach Buddy that people reaching for things he has is a very fun game. Go back and reteach this using yourselfs as the grabbers, and trade for a very special treat. then give the toy back. Do this with other adults. when you are fully confident, have a kid do it with supervision, but only if you are fully confident. Or, an alternative solution is to teach Buddy to get up and leave the toy on his own on your cue. This could be a "go to mat" trick or a simple back up. but that way you don't have to worry about having your hands on it first, he volunatarily backs up when you say "out".

So please don't yell at Buddy for growling, but do take this seriously and work on training a new response from all types of people.


Honored Member
Excellent reply, fickla. Tigerlily, I think you're lucky that when Buddy growled, and she pulled the toy, he only moved away. That speaks volumes for Buddy. I'll just say again what fickla said - don't ever ever punish a growl. It's their only way of saying ... I don't like what you're doing, please stop, I don't want to bite, but you may push me to it. When a growl is punished (as so many people do, cuz they either don't like growls, or are afraid of them), the dog then gets afraid of growling (different in play), and goes straight to bite - that's where so many dogs get into trouble.

Do work on sessions like ficka suggested, getting Buddy used to trading toys/chews for treats, dropping and backing off when requested, etc. Pay him well for this, as giving up his favorite toy or treat is hard, make it worth his while, no matter who is asking.

And play-growling IS fun!! Dogs do set up very clear boundaries when playing, and growling when playing is just that - PLAY! So even growl back, and have fun!! :-)


Honored Member

I guess i did know to never correct a growl, in other situations, but, when i saw the frightened look on the girl's face, i got confused if i am not being a responsible dog guardian in THAT situation, ha. Lucky for Buddy, i have D.T.A., to keep me going in the right direction, ha ha!!
THANK YOU so much for helping me!!


Experienced Member
Excellent advice. I ALWAYS trade for everything. That way if it is truly dangerous I can always get it and not play keep away. I would never let young kids esp or anyone "take" anything from my dogs. For one it subverts all of my trade training and lets them know how MUCH FUN keep away is, and that they can outrun us very very easily.

I also agree tug-of-war growling is totally unrelated to the toy growling incident. My two sweetest dogs that never growled at a human in their lives in warning were both fierce tug growlers and had great fun with it. The advice is very good. Never scold for growling-the result is a dog that bites without a warning which is much worse. Better to avoid the situations and teach excellent positive behavior as Fickla suggests.