Dog growls at old people?

posted 3 years ago in Pets
Post # 3
3009 posts
Sugar bee

@MsBlackberry:  my dog growls at kids. Not unprovoked- only if they approach him. I just don’t let kids anywhere near him at all, ever. 

Post # 4
6073 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

@MsBlackberry:  So he does not growl at ALL people while on leash?  Just some – are they always adults?  Is it coincidentally been mature folks?  I am not sure dogs can see age or not.


In additonal to making him sit when a dog passes, try to use “focus” command so he looks at you and hold a treat (even if it’s a micro treat).  He gets rewarded for having his eyes on you waiting for a release.




Try this link and see if her suggestions about leash aggression makes any sense to your situation.






My dog may growl but it’s usually if someone is approaching far away – not on walks, but maybe in our neighborhood.  I have a feeling she’s nearsighted.  She has done this with people she knows.


Post # 6
5697 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

I don’t have any advice but my shi-tzu is afraid of kids and barks at them. The cutest little girl asked me “can i pet your doggy” recently and I told her he doesn’t like being pet (a lie if you’re not a child) and she looked at me like I had two heads. So embarrassing!


He’s such a little “shi-t”. He’s actually my husbands dog so I refuse to claim his insane behavior.


Post # 7
5518 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: November 2012

@MsBlackberry:  maybe he was mistreated at one point by someone older.  my mom adopted a dog from the shelter and she only barked at men wearing baseball hats.  my moms bf walked in with one and she went nuts and once he took it off and bent down she calmed down. this happened a few other times with hats/hoodies with men so we think it was some memory of neglect.

Post # 8
65 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

Mine will sometimes be leary of certain people and give a little growl or whine (mine reacts when he’s suprised or when someone is doing something he considers odd).  His growl is telling you he’s uncomfortable.  Maybe it’s the way these older people move or something about their smell.  Anyway what we have done is always carry some sort of yummy treat with us.  We started out treating anytime we pass someone even if he didn’t react.  Now we’ve started only treating him when we need to pass very close to someone or when we think it’s something he might react to (bike, noisy children). If you see someone you think he might react to you can treat him & move away.  He’s gotten to the point where if he sees someone that he’s not sure about he’ll look to me for a treat instead of reacting.

We do the same thing for when we see dogs.  He’s great with them off leash but he gets over excited when we see them on walks and then is rude if we let him greet.  We’re able to get closer & closer to dogs without him getting worked up.


Post # 9
511 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

@MsBlackberry:  Your dog sounds so much like my dog!  Congrats on adopting 🙂

Sounds like you are doing all the right things – lots of exercise, bringing treats on walks, etc.  I would not be too concerned about the growling incidents, honestly.  Older people and children sometimes move in ways that probably seem odd or unpredictable to dogs, and your dog is letting you know that he’s uncomfortable.  You definitely don’t want to punish him for growling, because then you may remove his “warning signs” and he could progress directly to lunging or biting.  Instead, what I generally do when my dog reacts to something he sees as weird/threatening (so, he’s growling, or pulling away, etc.), I’ll tell him “no”, but in a reassuring voice, if that makes sense?  We also work a lot on our “look at me” command, so I might also ask him to sit and watch me until the weird thing has passed.  You’ve only had your dog for a few months, and he seems to have a sort of questionable past (just like my guy), so he still needs more time to learn that he can trust you to keep him safe.

Honestly, that’s probably the biggest difference between my first dog (who my ex and I got as a puppy) and my current dog – first dog was well-socialized as a baby and as a result, new things were interesting and fun, not scary.  Current dog spent most of his first year as a stray or with a very negligent owner – so, not socialized, and for the first six months or so after I pulled him from the shelter, all new things were TERRIFYING!!!  (pool noodles, flowers moving in the breeze, garden statues, you name it.)  I’ve had him for two years now, and he’s at the point where he’ll look to FI or me for guidance when encountering something new.  I’m sure your pup will get to that point, too, but in the meantime – keep giving him lots of space, and praise/treats for appropriate reactions 🙂


ETA: During a check-in with an adopter from the shelter where I volunteer, the gentleman told me that he discovered his dog would react loudly to, as he put it, “large people”.  The guy himself was not small, so he must’ve been referring to either really tall or morbidly obese people (or both).  Either way, so awkward!  Hope she grew out of that quirk 😛


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