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We were visiting with some kids today and my 9 week old puppy was doing so great! He was having a blast and putting up with all their kid antics. I was supervising to make sure things didn't get too rough on either side. He got tired before they did and I think he needed a break, so he growled at one of them to back off. I told the kids he was done playing and took him away to give him some space. I was trying to respect his signals, but now I'm second guessing - should I have corrected him somehow? I don't want him to be afraid of kids or regularly growl at them in the future. But I do want him to give warning signals if he's thinking of biting. What should I do in the future if this happens again or if he starts growling regularly?
 

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I personally don't correct growling if its a "back off" kind of a growl. To me, there's not a whole lot of reason to correct that. Correcting it isn't going to make the dog less uncomfortable and it isn't going to make the dog less likely to lash out, and the dog isn't going to understand I don't like the emotional state behind the growl- they're probably going to think I don't like the noise, if they make any connection at all.

What I will "correct" (ie, with a verbal "no" and re-direction) is territorial/alert barking and sometimes play howling/snarly barking. My parents dog is an unbearable alert/territorial barker and growler. If there's a dog outside the building (which there very often is, since we live in a fairly busy NYC neighborhood and people walk their dogs on our block a lot because it's in a less heavy foot traffic area of the 'hood) she will growl very low, and slowly escalate to all out barking. She also growls at people passing by in the hallway outside our door, and god forbid if they stop to check their mail and/or there are more than one and they are talking. She does not like that at all. I've suggested (and been practicing for the few more week I'll be living at home) that my parents walk over to her when she starts growling calmly tell her no, and then bring her into the back of the apartment (away from the doors) and ask her to sit, then treat, then for a hand touch, then treat, and distract her that way from the common outside. I'm also going to have them practice having people go up and down the stairs and elevator outside out apartment and work on engaging her before the reaction starts and then have her practice ignoring it. My own dog will make a terrible play bark/howl/chainsaw-like snarling noise when she wants someone to play with her while running around crazily. That I correct by shushing her and taking her toy away until she's quiet, and then after she's been quiet for a minute or so I get the toy again and play.

Not correcting a growl also doesn't mean he's going to start growling regularly or try to bite, and a growl doesn't necessarily mean he's thinking about biting. A warning growl is a normal noise that's just saying "hey please don't do that, I don't like it and I may escalate if you keep provoking me". If a dog is growling regularly, IMO it means there's underlying emotional issues that need to be addressed. Maybe he doesn't enjoy being touched in a certain place, maybe he's guarding his food/bed/toys, maybe he's fearful or anxious, maybe he's grumpy and doesn't like his space invaded. All of these things can be trained out without the use of force, and IMO most things that cause a dog to growl are better trained out exhausting force free methods first.

All that to say: IMO, yes, you did the right thing, although I might suggest stopping rough child/puppy play in the future before the pup feels the need to growl. Whenever he seems like he's having less than a spectacular time, have a little time where the kids goes and does something else and don't teach the puppy he needs to warn others away from him- teach him you'll do it for him!
 

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You did the right thing, growling is incredibly important. The dog will be tired or uncomfortable either way, and growling is the warning before the bite. If you correct the growling, the dog may grow up to just bite with no warning which is something you don't want.

Sounds like your pup just had enough and you were right in removing him from the situation :)

I'd like to add that play growling is very common and normal. Cosmo sounds horrendous when he chases a frisbee or ball or when he's playing with other dogs. He sounds like an angry bear but he's just playing and it's easy to tell the difference. I don't correct play growl because it doesn't bother me.
 

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when we got Jasmine, she was 9-10 weeks, and while she loved the kids, she did need frequent breaks, due to over excitement/tiredness.

It'd always good to give any dog (especially a puppy) breaks as soon as they become over excited, anxious or tired. If you have a crate, you can entice them in with a treat, so they get a 3 way training benefit, they learn that whatever was making them anxious isn't that bad, that the crate is a nice place to chill out when the world gets too much for them and if they were removed from the situation because of over excitement they learn that if they get too crazy doing something fun, it gets stopped.

I would encourage you to learn as many of the stress signs as you can so you can stop play at the earliest sign of stress. Also as you get to know your puppy, you will know when within seconds.

Growling is a good natural thing, while in your case it clearly meant "back off" sometimes it can be part of play or (in our case) a warning to us when something strange is going on outside.
 

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You did fantastically. A lot of parents do stupid things in the heat of the moment when they feel that an animal is threatening their kids, and in doing that they sometimes create a safety problem where there was none before.

It honestly sounds like it just was what it was: a tired puppy having a lil meltdown. If you ever notice the puppy growling over specific things like when you approach while they have food or a chew, or when their body is being handled (petting on the head, handling the feet, etcetera), make note and consider contacting a trainer to get the puppy over the issue while their brain is still young and pliant.

Until then, good work handling your cranky fur baby like a pro.
 

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I can't really add to anything else the rest of the members said but I will reinforce that yes, you did the right thing. It's also important to tell the kids that since dogs can't use words, they use other sounds and body language. This was just the dog's way of saying he has had enough, and he wanted play to stop. If they seem upset that their puppy growled at them maybe just tell them that sometimes when they get annoyed at each other or other kids they yell a bit. It's the same with the dog.
 
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You did great!
He sounds very gentle for a 9 week old. Growling is a form of communication and is not always aggressive. He simply told them to back off which is exactly what he would do with his siblings. Just make sure the kids don't exhaust him.

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