1) Rule our health issues and playful growling.
As we discussed, any sort of pain or illness can leave a Poodle feeling vulnerable and this can cause him to growl as a form of canine preservation instinct. Since issues can develop soon after a health check, you will want to have your Poodle evaluated no matter how much time has or has not passed by since the last visit to the vet. In addition, you will of course want to make sure that it is indeed an issue of aggressive growling and not just an innocent vocalization done during play or times of pleasure (being petting, etc.)
2) All members of the household
must understand the following training and be on board to follow it. If just one person strays from this, lessons will not be learned. A Poodle that does not get what he wants from one owner will quickly learn to approach a more abiding one. Try to include children as well, depending on their age, maturity level and ability to follow the training.
3) Understand why the Poodle is growling
- The main reason that a Poodle will growl is due to the dog trying to take charge. When a dog behaves nicely, he knows his place. From a canine's perspective, each den (house) holds a pack (the group of humans and/or humans and pets that live in the house). And the pack has an Alpha (leader) and a follow (Beta).
If a Poodle believes he is the alpha or if he challenges a human's role as alpha, he will then dictate things. He will try to be the one to decide when he is touched… who is allowed near him… if he will give permission to let a toy be touched… where he sits and so forth. If something is not to his liking, he will growl, this is his vocalization that he better be listened to or else. And this is not a situation that should be tolerated.
4) Take steps to fix the issue
of item 3 (above). Owners must make it exceedingly clear that the Poodle -while loved and cared for - is not allowed to hold such a status… that the humans will be in command. When this is taught, a Poodle then has respect for his owners and he would not dare growl at them. Betas do not growl to Alphas. It is not the canine way.
Luckily, there are some reliable and somewhat easy methods to train a Poodle for this. Resolution does not happen overnight. And, once lessons are learned, these rules should be followed, essentially for life. If a dog senses that his owner is slipping back, perhaps tiring of his leadership role, the Poodle may challenge the hierarchy, with growling and other unacceptable behavior coming back into the mix. In addition, this will not work if it is done only some of the time or when owners have the energy. Changing a dog's viewpoint takes constant, diligent training and must be taken seriously.
Finally, if a Poodle is biting or if aggression is so exceedingly high that an owner feels a bite is eminent, this is your sign that one-on-one personal and professional dog training is in order. This is particularly true if there are children or seniors
in the house, however for any owner of any age, biting must be dealt with in a more serious and urgent fashion. The following advice is for growling only, without a history of nipping that breaks the skin.