This is a repost. Some things need repeat.
There was a huge and very scary dog who was growling and barking at people. Lots of information and work to do for this lady and her dog.
As I lay sound asleep on a very cold morning I was slowly awaken by a deep grumbling. Luke was growling, a rare occurrence these days. I listened and smiled; it makes me happy to know that he thinks he is still the man. He growled for a long while; deep and very scary, he was bothered by the sound of my son moving about. I don't know why he felt the need to growl this morning, he hears it every morning. But growl he did, never lifting his head but it was steady and it made me happy. Standard Poodles are amazing guard dogs; most people don't know this fact.
So, what was Luke saying with his deep and low growling? He was sounding a warning and letting us know that he thought something was not right. A vocalization from a dog is a communication and can sometimes grow out of control. Growling and barking and two different things. Annoying barking should be stopped; it can become a bad habit. They can learn that a few barks is all that is necessary to give you the required information. But a communication from your dog is important and should be listened to. When a dog has something to say, they should be allowed to say it. This gives us a means to understand much better than if they are silenced. Many people have told me that they don't allow growling or barking in their house. This silencing can do a great deal of damage.
A dog who loses their ability to communicate can become unpredictable and dangerous. When a dog growls at a person, dog or object it lets you know how they feel at that moment. You can then take that information and deal with what you now know. Maybe your dog doesn't like people wearing hats and growls when someone with a hat approaches. With the information given you can now deal with creating a positive association to people wearing hats. At our party on the weekend Elsa was running around having fun when she was stopped in her tracks in the dining room. She started barking and as soon as I saw what she was barking at I asked the guy to take his antlers off. :) Yep. He had forgotten that he was wearing them and thought that Elsa was barking at him. "Oh, sorry" he said. As soon as he took them off she was fine. Elsa is very, very aware of everything and she knows that a guy wearing this on his head is not right. :)
If you take away your dogs communications, you take away your access to information. Luke use to bark at people who approached our car. He was fine if they walked by but if they walked directly at the car he wasn't comfortable. He let us and everyone else know that they were not welcome in the car, that is unless he knew them. Dogs can become more vocal in a car or small area. They cannot move away from someone or something so are more defensive. It is also his car and he will defend it; after all it is a really great red Xterra. :)
When your dog talks, listen. There are dogs that talk too much just like there are people who talk too much. But if you know your dog like you should, you will know when they are just jaw wagging and when they are saying something serious. These days Luke likes to go in the back yard and let the neighborhood know that he lives here. It makes me smile. The bark is loud and non threatening; there is a good amount of time between the barks as he once again shows that at 12.5 years old, he's is still the man.