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Shih Tzu Growling 

Growling: When it comes to a dog growling, one should understand that this can sometimes be a good thing. How can this be? 

Because when a dog growls, this is their way of communicating that they are aggravated or feeling threatened. 

The noise that the dog makes:
  • Is a warning that a bite may be coming 
  • May go no further and is simply a way to communicate that the dog is asking for a situation to change.
Therefore, there are many situations in which it is not a terrible thing that your Shih Tzu growls. It allows you a chance to make changes - if it is reasonable to do so - before any more severe aggression takes place or the dog becomes more stressed. 

While you certainly do not want your dog to bite anyone or ever have someone feel threatened by your little pooch (unless there is an intruder in or near your home), this type of dog behavior can teach you a bit about your Shih Tzu and also can be controlled with proper training.

One must first make a determination as to what is causing the dog to growl. 

A dog will make this warning noise in many situations including:
  • When someone goes near their food
  • When a visitor comes to the home
  • When they see other animals
  • When sensing a threat
If your dog is suddenly and constantly growling, it would be wise to bring him or her to their veterinarian for a checkup since pain and illness can often cause a dog to feel vulnerable; he may then growl when approached. 

However, if your dog only growls during certain events, you can do 2 things:
  • Desensitize your dog to the triggers
  • Offer a more comforting environment
When should it be the owner who changes their behavior? When the dog growls when someone goes near their food. A dog has the right to express their natural instinct to protect their food; all dogs are prone to do this if someone is too close to the bowl or if there is constant stress when eating... this includes an area of high foot traffic, loud noised while eating (heated conversations, a blaring TV, etc.)
All dogs should have their dog food in a quiet area and be allowed to eat in peace.

A Shih Tzu may also give a small growl if they are tired and are being petted and played with too much. An example would be an adult dog that has played with children for an hour and has had enough. They may then growl a bit to say, "Please leave me alone for a little while". 

This is acceptable if the dog does not make any motions of attempting to bite. Those playing with the dog should cease for a while...even dogs need a break every now and then! 

In all other instances, the dog must learn that growling - this warning that a bite may be on its way- is not acceptable. Repeatedly showing your Shih Tzu that what they perceive as a threat is indeed not, will train them to become more accepting. If visitors cause your dog to become upset, have them bring a small treat to give to your pet. If going in the car causes unpleasant growls, be sure to use the proper seat (a booster seat is best) and distract your dog with the offer of fun new toy.

If your dog ever crosses the line from growling to aggressive biting, professional training should be implemented immediately.
Oh, what would we do without the lovable personality of the Tzu! However, as all Tzu owners know, this breed can be a bit challenging with particular behavioral issues, training, grooming and health care. If you're looking for a fantastic resource to help with every behavior issue this breed is known to have, have a look at the most comprehensive Shih Tzu book that exists.
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