Help! Puppy is growling at other dogs

J_sarahd

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So we took our boy out today and he met a few other dogs. He is always so interested in other dogs and doesn’t show behaviours such as lunging or snarling but when the other dogs came to say hello, he was growling.

We were told by the breeder that he’s fine with other dogs and we want to make sure he is happy with other dogs so we don’t have to worry and I can take him to the yard etc.

Any advice on what to do? Do we just keep socalising him with other dogs or what? The last thing we want to do is turn him into a reactive/aggressive dog!
 

YorksG

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Can you introducehim to a sensible older dog, on neutral ground, or the older dogs turf? We have found that most young dogs will defer to an older dog and learn their manners that way. Also ensure that any meetings are done without overwhelming the pup, so not allowing loose dogs to overwhelme the pup, when pup is on the lead
 

J_sarahd

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To be fair there is a dog on the yard that I want to introduce him to. He’s 6 and the most placid, lovely dog ever. So I am hoping, if it’s wise to do so, he will be good for our pup to meet. All the dogs we met today were on leads and not bombarding him
 

blackcob

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A few things: what were the circumstances around the dogs 'saying hello', were the dogs on or off lead, were they dogs you know well or ones you just met out walking, and was there any lead up to the growling, however subtle (tense movement, freezing, stiff or stiffly wagging tail, hard stare, whale eye, paw lift etc.)
 

meleeka

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I think the best way to introduce dogs is to just happen to be walking the same way, getting closer until you are walking side my side (assuming all is fine up until then). Do be conscious of your own body language. If you are nervous, your dog will know. Meeting ‘head on’ is likely to make a dog feel anxious. I always say in my best happy, jolly voice “Oh look who’s this coming? Hello dog” This has calmed my dog even when an unknown dog with a stupid owner is hurtling towards us. My dog picks up on my jolly tone and just expects the dog is going to be nice. Don’t force your pup to be sociable, they may just want to look from afar. That’s ok too while they are learning about the world.
 

bonny

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I would let him meet as many friendly dogs as you can, most dog owners are happy to stop and chat if you have a puppy and let the dogs have a sniff etc. Don’t just ignore all other dogs if he’s growling or you are letting him think there is a reason to be scared. That’s assuming he’s growling because he’s scared which hopefully is what it is.
 

J_sarahd

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I think you’re right and my own body language is not helping as I’m worried that he will growl and maybe even try to bite. I will do what you’ve suggested Meleeka and speak in a happy voice when we see dogs and try to stay calm. I think the growling is because he’s scared - but I’m honestly no expert
 

meleeka

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I think you’re right and my own body language is not helping as I’m worried that he will growl and maybe even try to bite. I will do what you’ve suggested Meleeka and speak in a happy voice when we see dogs and try to stay calm. I think the growling is because he’s scared - but I’m honestly no expert
Growling is usually fear based. He’s warning the other dogs not to push their luck and pretending he’s a lot braver than he is just in case they attack He won’t know most other dogs are friendly until he gets more experience of them. The important thing is not to tell him off, which will just create more stress around the situation.

Do have a look on Youtube for some tips, or join a behaviour/breed group on FB. Steer clear of anything that mentions using intimidation or force though.

Good luck I’m sure he’ll be fine eventually.
 

J_sarahd

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Growling is usually fear based. He’s warning the other dogs not to push their luck and pretending he’s a lot braver than he is just in case they attack He won’t know most other dogs are friendly until he gets more experience of them. The important thing is not to tell him off, which will just create more stress around the situation.

Do have a look on Youtube for some tips, or join a behaviour/breed group on FB. Steer clear of anything that mentions using intimidation or force though.

Good luck I’m sure he’ll be fine eventually.
Amazing. Thank you for your help. You’ve calmed me down a bit that he’s probably not an aggressive dog and it’s natural.

I will definitely do some more research.
 

CorvusCorax

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It's just your puppy telling you he is not happy with other dogs getting all up in his grill yet. This is fine. He is doing this because you are not stepping in/doing it for him. Please do not swamp him with unwanted interactions and control his meetings with others unless they are steady/aloof/safe. He may not ever be a social butterfly, and that is fine too. You never make sure a young dog is safe with others in a new place by letting strangers' dogs have unlimited access to him. Agree keep your tone light/airy and try not to have either him or the other dogs strain/put tension on the leash. You can also stand at his head/in front/straddle him to make him feel secure. Stroking or holding the chest also gives confidence. If he is out in front and you are behind him, he will feel less secure.
If his main focus is you in the first place, it makes things much easier, I prefer doing this sort of work when the dog is hungry and have his food with you so that eventually he thinks that you/the food is much more interesting than the other dog anyway.
 

blackcob

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Broad comments from my own experience: dogs meeting head to head on leads does not usually go well even for social dogs. Leads hamper communication - well socialised dogs would normally approach in an arc and offer out lots of mutual social signals to suss out if it's okay to greet, or move on if things aren't good. Being on lead removes many of the signals and any element of choice, so they can end up forced into an interaction they're not ready for. Goes without saying that it's important for dogs to be on lead in many situations and so it's up to us to advocate for them and say hey, you don't have to meet every dog we pass, I've got your back, focus on me and let's keep moving.

Lots of dogs 'just saying hello' are actually being very rude although their owners often don't recognise it; it's not appropriate to get up in the space of another dog that's clearly throwing out nervous signals. You don't need to socialise with these dogs, they are lacking in social skills themselves and aren't good role models.

I suspect this is a slightly controversial approach to socialisation for many but in this situation I would acknowledge that my dog is uncomfortable and fearful about other dogs, whether from prior experience, genetics etc.; it's not unusual or insurmountable, and may be a completely proportional reaction if he's saying 'I'm uncomfortable/scared' and it keeps on happening.

For the short term this would involve trying to avoid meeting strange dogs, especially on leads, while working on this fear response. This would probably involve counter conditioning, keeping well below the fear threshold, instilling lots of focus on me and working around dogs I know well - the yard dog sounds a much safer bet as a role model/stooge dog.
 
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twiggy2

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If he is frozen before a dog reaches him, the dog should not be allowed to approach, he is telling all who can see he is not ready to say hello, the other dog is as has been said be ing rude and no humans are stepping in on behalf of the puppy.
The dog needs to see the world not play or say hello to it all, confidence will grow with exposure, stop at a distance and talk to owners of dogs as long as those dogs are paying attention to their owners and if your puppy wants to say hello you decide if your happy with that or not. Your pup must be comfortable and the other dog well mannered.
 

paisley

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Try and bribe someone with a very steady older dog to come on a walk, and do just that- walk. Mine has been friends for at least three dogs that needed some support, and we followed the same pattern. Humans led the way and had nice chat, neither dog was pushed into socialising unless they both were okay with it (sometimes it took several walks). If random people want a puppy smooch its fine to say 'cant stop, sorry!' Your pup wants to take his time, and theres nothing wrong with that
 

CorvusCorax

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And it took me a lot of time to realise it, but please do not feel bad for advocating for your dog, just say, politely, 'do you mind keeping your dog back a bit please? We're just working on a few things/we're working some stuff out, thank you!' and if anyone offers unsolicited advice which involves their dog 'only being friendly', and keeps advancing, then you can firmly say, no thank you, maybe when he is older. After that, you can start swearing ;)
 

SusieT

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You need to go to puppy training classes which hopefully should include a bit of gentle appropriate socialisation - what age is pup?
 

Pearlsasinger

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I really wouldn't allow other dogs whose owners you don't know to let their dogs approach yours. Ours are trained to be dog neutral when out and about. They are allowed/encouraged to play with other dogs whose owners we know and which we know are sensible trustworthy dogs, in appropriate places.

Please don't think that your dog needs 'training' to allow other dogs to approach him, he doesn't! Other owners need training to keep their dogs away.
 

Bellasophia

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I would say this is normal for the breed..
https://web.archive.org/web/20070810225914/http://www.northeastshibarescue.com/traits.html
the shiba is a particular dog..it looks like a teddy bear,but is a hunting breed,aloof and very single minded.
Look at the link above and you may well have a pup who prefers to keep his distance and weigh up the scene.
Ive met three this year in my village..they are all strong willed dogs..beautiful,but particular.
My schnauzer pup growled from eight weeks..she is also a “particular” dog..never aggressive,but definitely meets dogs on her own terms.
I would read as much as you can on the breed..don’t force close on encounters..maybe start with female dogs..stay focused and walk away from male dogs coming into his face space..he is telling you he is uncomfortable when he growls.At this stage I would not read it as being aggressive.
 
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CorvusCorax

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Oooh I missed the Shiba memo.

I really like Shibas but with the best will in the world, they are not a dog known to seek out playmates they don't know to gambol around with. To be honest I'd be delighted with dog neutral/'other dogs do not exist to me', because that's exactly what it says on the tin your dog came in.
When your breeder said 'good with other dogs', that's likely exactly what they mean.

There are/were a couple of good knowledgeable Shiba people on the forum who could advise further.
 

J_sarahd

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Oh yes we knew that Shibas weren’t very sociable when we bought him but we were just worried today that it would turn into aggression. We know he’s not going to be excited and happy to meet every dog. We just wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing by him. I think we initially heard growling and thought aggression. From now on, we will only allow dogs we know to approach him.

In terms of puppy classes, our breeder advised against them. They don’t think that multiple puppies of all sizes in one room is healthy.

Thank you for your help everyone. Sorry if I’ve come across as a bit of a dog dummy!! We just want to make sure he’s a happy and healthy boy!
 
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