Growling Dogs Need TRAINING not Excuses - Robert Cabral Dog Training

Pets & Animals 

Growling Dogs Need TRAINING not Excuses – Robert Cabral Dog Training

The Gift of a Growl is a meme that is going around. Basically a remake of a previous one in which we were led to believe that if dogs growl, we should NOT correct the behavior. The term that is used here is “Don’t Punish a DOG that is Growling.”

Those of you who know me, know that I am against punishment in dog training. Usually it becomes a case of semantics where people interchangeably use the word correction and punishment to mean the same thing. BUT it DOESN’T

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59 Thoughts to “Growling Dogs Need TRAINING not Excuses – Robert Cabral Dog Training”

  1. Robert Cabral

    check my complete online dog training lessons and courses at :

  2. Vasile Constantin

    Regarding the “Positive only dog trainers”, i can speak from my experience i had with one of this type of trainers:
    – German Shepherd – 9 months old.
    – Issue: Lunging at other dogs and people to play. Not aggressive.
    – After 1 month of “positive only training” still no results. Depending if she was tired and/or the other dog/person was not paying attention to her she would move along, but otherwise lunging/jumping would instantly start.
    – Ended the collaboration with this trainer and moved to another one that used prong collar, corrections (mostly verbal but used the collar when needed) and rewarding the dog ONLY when the lunging/jumping on/at dogs or people was not occurring WITHOUT previous corrections/mentions (Like “No! Don’t!”) to raise awareness for the dog that is not allowed.
    In 1 week and 2 days of daily intensive training, now i can even walk off-leash with her and she dont even look at dogs that are barking at her….

  3. zcalex

    When i play tug with my corso, people think he will kill me the way he sounds 😅

  4. Damaris Tighe

    “PUNISHMENT” Regarding the disgusting video of Tina Frey abusing the Cane Corso. This was not any kind of sane “punishment” for the dog’s behaviour, it was simply a sadistic torture of the poor dog. So sad to see him heeling with her out of the room like a good boy.

  5. Rivkha Garcia

    QUESTION: My dog barks at dogs all the time. He’s not cornered or threatened. He simply barks but also goes crazy because he wants to go after the dog. I believe he just wants to play but I don’t take a chance. I tell him to stop ans tell him it’s wrong but he just doesn’t listen to me. He’s extremely head strong. How can I correct him? I don’t believe in punishment but he also doesn’t listen to my corrections.

  6. eyemall ears

    Robert is giving us GOLD here people.
    Thanks for your analysis Bobby! 🙂

  7. Dave C

    Great content thanks for sharing 👍

  8. Allen Szykula

    See I’m listening to what your saying. And I can tell as a matter of fact any day of the week I would prefer to here a growl or some sort of warning in a proper context then a quite aggressive because someone corrected or punished the growl out of a dog. I own one that is a rescue at some point he was either over corrected or over punished and now snaps then growls and barks their is zero warnings unless you can see his eyes.

  9. Carol Chapin

    Amen, thank you so much. I have been saying this for 25 years of dog training. So true, all of it.

  10. robert kezer

    Very good video. Punishment and Correction are often used to mean the same thing. I do like to have a the definitions be clear. Growling is a complex behavior and occurs in Context. Play of course and protection. Two different context. I had a dog I took from the shelter that started to growl when I walked by his kennel. He learned it made me stop and address him. This dog, and I learned as well, was getting attention. He so played me. If you went up to his kennel after he growled he would start getting happy and wanted to go out. This dog figured it out. Of course, once I realized I was being played I did change that behavior. However, what a smart dog!!!

  11. Laura's Life Dog Training & Dog Vlogs

    Well said. Love how you advocate for the Dog in everything.

  12. aussiegrace

    Must be like bashing your head against a brick wall with these positive only “trainers” Robert! Makes a person wonder if some “brains” were obtained from a weeties packet!

  13. EverythingisEverything

    Hi Robert,
    Married At First Sight [Season 15, Episode 7] “Real Life Reckoning” has an incident of dog bite caught on camera.
    I thought it’d make for an interesting “reaction video” from you.
    Just an idea

  14. Pat Munro

    Years ago I had a Jack Russell, who would “resource” guard dirty marks on my white lino. He would growl ferociously, lunge and snap. always missing. Until I picked up a floor cloth and wiped it up, right under his snapping jaws, always missing. He also would suddenly growl and attack trouser hems and shoelaces. As soon as you said “enough” He’d trot off and go to his bed.

  15. Erin Dugan

    Excellent explanation! Thank you!

  16. PbasR

    Robert i love your content but I would have to strongly disagree with how you put it. Punishment is punishment. It is not abuse. Punishment has a very logical and well thought out projection. Abuse is emotional. If you ground your kid because they did something wrong and the grounding is proportionate to what they did, that is punishment. If you ground your kid for no reason or because they didnt take out the trash 2 months ago, that is abuse. Correction is just a punishment followed by a reward for the correct behaviour. Just as an abusive relationship is not one where the couple fight when someone does something wrong but it is when a response is out of proportion or unprovoked even.

  17. Space Coast Dog Trainer

    Most of what I have seen out of the pure positive trainers is nothing but a lie.

  18. niwliam

    I am interested in understanding what the different definitions for punishment and corrections? @robertcabral

  19. Rico4you

    So elegantly and well said Robert…all Dogs should be give a fair chance of structure, a fair chance of reward and fair chance at a good life! Do not ignore Growls! Thank you for such an important video. 👋👋👋

  20. 337 337

    Uh, Mean, hard to train Mastiffs often growl, right before they rip your crotch/butt/whatever, off!
    Conversely, a Mastiff that decides it loves you, will stop at nothing to be together.

  21. Finesse03

    That graphic is not logical and beyond asinine.


    Has anyone seen those clowns on YouTube. Called Rottweiler life. They literally have there dog growling in there faces and making a joke of it. Seriously you gotta check these peanuts out it’s absolutely pathetic

  23. David Provan

    So how do I correct my 100 pound GSD in a fair way for growling?

  24. Pam Penttinen

    Really like your training techniques. So helpful. It makes a lot of sense.

  25. Keeping Anonymous

    Robert, how do you correct an off leash 55lb pet dog who might growl randomly inside a home? What exactly does a correction look like?

  26. Parker Brown-Nesbit

    We have a Belgian Malinois mix. If a dog is lunging at her, she will growl (and sometimes bark). If it ignores her, she will ignore it. (She’s always on a leash). Should we be correcting her when she lunges and growls? I merely turn around and walk away.

    I think (from the other dogs’ body language) that they just simply want to play (they’re all very relaxed, although excited). My dog is definitely not.

  27. Handsome Devil

    I have a half chihuahua and half toy poodle. It’s a very calm relaxed dog well trained. He does have 1 annoying habit that is frustrating. How do I get him to stop crying and screaming when some knocks on the door or rings the door bell. He even does it when he sees me doing it. Love the help if you have the time.

  28. smidohu

    Thank you so much for your posts and videos. Access to your guidance, knowledge, and experience helped us immensely in understanding, responding, training and teaching Smaffles. While we’ve previously had dogs, this was our first rescue …complete with aggression, fear, anxiety, biting, reactivity,snarling at humans and dogs, resource guarding and leash issues. Your patient, calm,clear, and determined approach gave me confidence to learn, be patient and believe in the bond we finally created…and the possible transformation Smaffles underwent.

  29. ElainesDomain

    Well done Mr Cabral. Even though this video is about growling it covers your basic training methods.

  30. Jared Diaz

    Thanks for your wisdom Robert Cabral. Every now and then, the gobbledygook from the PO crowd can seem rational…. until you break it down. Your logic and experience are second to none!

  31. john mortison

    Bravo!! You make clear the difference between correction and punishment which I think many people do not understand. I was taught that punishment is abuse since it is delivered after the fact, while correction is simply redirecting the dog from an inappropriate behavior to a more appropriate behavior. This reinforces your role as pack leader, not some enemy. The pack leader’s job is to provide food, protection, guidance and love, pretty much in that order. Dogs respect and follow good pack leaders. I try to do this with the dogs at the shelter that I volunteer at. It really seems to work.

  32. marvona


  33. Anthony Bernstein

    Agree with the general message, if you have an aggressive dog, the last thing you want to teach him is that aggression works. What I don’t agree with is the part at 13:33. I try everything to avoid it, but if SHTF and a dog is coming after me, I’d do all of that and more until I can make him stop.

  34. Pond Elf

    Robert, how can you correct a dog that isn’t wearing a leash. For example a dog is growling and barking when someone comes into your house? Especially when the dog isn’t listening to a verbal correction.

  35. Eddie Vrocher

    I agree with you. This kind of thing is also dependent on the dog itself and the situation. If a growl is in the middle of the night then something is not right to the dog and you need to check into it. If it is around a child playing then it certainly needs a quick correction .

  36. Eddie Vrocher

    I agree with you. This kind of thing is also dependent on the dog itself and the situation. If a growl is in the middle of the night then something is not right to the dog and you need to check into it. If it is around a child playing then it certainly needs a quick correction .

  37. Feelin’ Supadupa

    Also, ask yourselves …has your dog been at the vet recently and/or been given any medication? Some meds can create abnormal temporary changes in behavior! @Robert What is your opinion on how it effects a dog when being allowed to growl & show aggression (for bite “work”). Can the majority of dogs understand when owners want that negative energy to be completely on or completely off? Doesn’t it put the dog in danger with mixed signals (owner’s fault), and leaving too much room for confusion? I suppose my bottom line question is …can the dog 100% turn on and off this learned “aggressive” behaviour? I worry for the overall safety of the dog 🐾❤️ P.S., I rescue & train (so-called) aggressive shepherds from kill shelters 👍

  38. Ganggang

    How do you correct a dog for growling?

  39. Lisa Lindberg

    So agree with this and thank you for bringing this topic up! I have been around dogs that growl for all kinds of reasons. If it’s inappropriate for the situation they get corrected. Period. Also, I don’t let dogs growl at each other to a point of escalation. It’s not necessary for them to work it out. I’ll be the judge of that! Love your channel, Robert, thank you.

  40. Mark Wyse

    If the growl is related to fear, you have to find out how to change the dogs mind about what it is afraid of. My definition of punishment is a stimulus or event that decreases the likelihood of a behavior happening in the future. So using that definition I can certainly punish my dog for lunging after a person they are growling at but people don’t understand that is only half the problem. The hard part is changing the dogs mind to actually like people and not be afraid. Punishment or “corrections” will not resolve this mindset

  41. Cheri - Pat's Recipe & Essentials4All

    Robert, you have a gift for teaching,. Thank you.

  42. AdogUSA

    You are 100% correct. Don’t ignore the growl because it will escalate.

  43. gregory silas

    I disagree with what you said about building confidence in the dog. Building a protection dog is complex. However if a dog is growling or barking and it is not affecting the threat, then the dog will escalate its response. That could be a bite from a stronger dog, flight, or submission.

  44. TPinesGold

    Is there any reputable dog trainer that agrees with your definition of punishment? Where did you come up with it? Not from the field of animal behavior terminology.

  45. gregory silas

    A growl doesn’t mean you need to correct the dog. It means you need to correct the issue that caused the growl. That may involve correcting the dog. That may involve a medical issue.

  46. Meg L

    I had a puppy with resource guarding issues. We did not correct the growl and followed our positive trainers advice. It worked very well. I was skeptical but I could not find clear enough instructions from anyone but positive only trainers. It did take some time. She is 1.5 now. She had never bitten anyone and does not resource guard.

  47. Catwithmeow J

    Dogs who growl will if not sorted bite . They do need correction at the time and dogs are very bright they will realise if they have done wrong if you fix it at the time. My dog 🐕 wished to growl at my kids if he was laying on my bed . Possive … This I corrected by getting them to tell him no and tell him down from the bed . If he didn’t get down I would tell him down . He has soon learned that the kids are allowed on the bed just like he is.

  48. George Affonso

    Robert, thank you for covering this topic on growling. Our 3 yr old female Shephard growls often at our 2 yr old male Shephard; never at people. It appears to be a dominance reaction and territorial behavior. Verbal corrections alone have no results. One minute they could be playing, the next minute it’s a full on attack over a toy. What is a method of correction I should try?

  49. Remy

    So true! My trainer helped me assess and create intervention immediately.

  50. Victoria Torkelson

    Agree 100%.
    I got bit by my neighbors dog and he did not growl one time before biting my arm.

    My husband and I adopted a 65lbs 2 year old Bluetick hound that we quickly realized had resource guarding issues. He would growl and lunge at us. Through the help of your videos, we corrected the behavior by providing structure and basic training and haven’t had another problem in the 3 years we’ve had him.
    Ignoring behavior does not solve problems. Another great video. 👏

  51. WonderTwig

    My female GSD growls at dog’s she doesn’t know when we are out walking on a trail. How should I correct this? She’s on a herm sprenger collar. I’ve tried popping but it hasn’t helped.

  52. Jennifer Forde

    Thankyou Robert another informative video .

  53. Maddie Kiley

    Robert, I just did my 2nd orientation at the boarding facility I’m starting at and I’m very excited about this opportunity to gain the experience. Now I know they don’t take in aggressive dogs mostly due to lack of trainers, and they’re still figuring out business since covid. None the less I noticed one GSD that’s nervous to the point that walking past the run he darted back inside fast enough that I only knew a dog was in there because I saw him from the social yard. How should I be treating this dog (it didn’t seem immediately reactive, just nervous/skiddish. I would like to help this dog out because really if it was mine I’d be a bit embarrassed for people to see him being so scared, because I’d feel like people might think I’ve abused it.

  54. SlickRick 757

    What if they only growl at night time with a stranger, foxes or cayote on the property .

  55. Virginia Pursley

    Thank you!💝

  56. Sanne Hansen

    Thank you!!!

  57. MonkeyMagic55

    Agree 100% Robert.

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