Growling is an aggressive dog behavior that must never be tolerated for any kind of reason. Smaller dogs will often growl at strangers, or even close family members, to show their dominance. Never permit your dog to dominate a human! Contend with growling quickly and firmly; always keep a spray bottle of water near the door and any other place in which growling is very likely, and use it.
Spray the dog directly in the face and tell it, “no,” in a loud, clear voice. The water will surprise your dog, and it will soon find out that growling is inappropriate. If this strategy seems harsh, keep in mind that small dogs could be killed with a single kick from a frightened child.
Though mouthing could be playful in most dogs, and is generally harmless, dogs have to find out that using their teeth on a person is wrong. Mouthing can in some cases result in unintentional biting, especially when smaller kids are playing with your dog, which means that all kinds of mouthing, nipping, and biting must be discouraged.
If licking is satisfactory in your household, you can encourage licking rather than biting by putting butter, bacon grease, or salad dressing on your hands. Allow the dog to lick it off, yet move away and say, “no,” if your dog attempts to nip or mouth you. In due course, the dog will understand that growling leads to losing a treat, and will quit trying to bite.
For dogs who are truly out of control, it is good idea to learn how to stop your dog from growling will be the next step. A good trainer will work with you and your dog to figure out the causes of the aggression, and will then work step by step to train your dog to behave.