Q. My 5 month old puppy is friendly with other animals and most people but occasionally someone will try to pet him and he'll growl but not bite. Why?

Answered By

A. It sounds like he is not comfortable with being approached and crowded. Rather than people going up to pet him, they should crouch down, sit sideways not forward and staring as the dog may view that as a challenge and especially no reaching over the top of his head. Let him go to them, smell them, and they can quietly and gently show their hand palm up for him to smell. If he seems comfortable, a gentle scratch under the chin is fine. At 5 months, he is entering adolescence which is a time dogs can become nervous again so everything should be approached carefully and with positive reinforcement. Don't punish him for growling as that is his way of letting you know he is uncomfortable. Without the growl, their warnings may go unnoticed in their body language and the dog could just bite "out of the blue."

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