Is growling ever acceptable?

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rmk
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Hello to all.....We now have an issue that concerns me and I'm not sure if I'm making too much of it....I've noticed since we brought Sasha home that Major has gotten "grumpy" over is chew bones....not all times as a matter of fact alot of the time she will take one from him.....if he has a new or special treat (she would have one also but his is better :) ) he will give a growl that lets her know to stay away....that's normal and not of concern to me b/c he never attempts to hurt her just keep her away....the thing that concerns me is now if we go to touch them he growls at us....we maybe just wanting him to move or sometimes just trying to show him we aren't trying to "take" it from him....honestly I'm afraid to actually grab it and move it out of fear he'd bite me....I've been surprised by this behavior b/c he's never cared if i grabbed it to move one....i feel this is normal but not sure it should be allowed and not sure how to handle it without getting a bite....

any suggestions? thx

Lady Kate's picture
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Growling is their way of communicating..Major is saying 'back off!"

 It all depends on you.. if you accept their decision. If it's unacceptable.. let him know by communicating as the pack leader would do.. Growl back. grab the nape of his neck and tell him "NO" taking the 'prize' away.

I'm not a dog trainer, and I honestly hope you get some experienced answers here.. I just know that if you show hesitancy or even fear, he will sense it and he becomes the pack leader.. hope this makes sense.. keep in touch.and stay tuned.. I know you're going to get a lot of suggestions.. this is a great site for that!

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In my opinion, growling towards you is never acceptable.  You should be able to take anything at anytime without the fear of being bit.  Obviously this is a new behavior because of the new pup.  My suggestions to you is to go back to the basics.  When we got our new pup they were not allowed to have chew bones of any sort together for a few months becuase we did not want to have any guarding issues.  Once Athena learned that she wasn't going to get any more or less becuase of the new dog, we slowly started giving them bones under extreme supervision.  Now they will still try to take each others bones, because well the other one must be better.  Also, feed them separately so you don't start having issues later.  I have never dealt with resource gaurding so I don't want to give you any suggestions that could get you bit or cause more problems in the future, but I know I would never put up with it.

rmk
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did you give them chewy's when they were in their own kennel or separate?

rmk
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Lady Kate that's what I thought but I'm not sure how to do it without him sensing my fear :o...also he is potty trained and once last nite and 2xs today he went in the house....he didn't stop he was walking and p'n....where is my angel??

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I don't get too bent out of shape when my dogs do quick a 'low growl' at each other when they have had enough play from the other one, or when they have something that they dont want to share with one of the other dogs, even though I do let them know that I am ultimately the one in control of the situation, so it doesn't escalate to more than just a 1-second warning signal, or when it's obvious that it's just a play mood and not aggression.....but, I NEVER allow any of my dogs to growl at me in A SERIOUS tone.  If they do, I immediately take away whatever it is that they think is more important than respecting me, even if I have to scoot it away from them with a broom handle or something that protects me. I keep the prized posession and dont give it back for a long LONG time, then will offer it to the dog, and take it away again, offer it back, and take it away again, always telling them that it's ok to let me have it.  YOU are the boss, the alpha, and your dog shouldn't be able to make you afraid.  They sense even the slightest amount of fear and some dogs can and do use it as leverage to get their own way.  I personally just dont think it's a good idea to ignore growling at a human family member for any reason.

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I would look up resource guarding, and learn about it, just so you know what to look for and how to handle it.  If you are scared of getting bitten, (I'm not sure if that's a justified scare, or if you're nervous just because the dog is growling) I would look into some help asap.  The last thing you want to do is be in the middle of a fight.

If your dogs have solid obedience, I would tell the dog that is going to take the bone to knock it off.  A leave it, or back up, or whatever gets a good response.  If you don't get a response, I would start working more on these commands.

The only time I consider growling, or grumbling to be ok towards a person is during play, and only if it's simple vocalization.  An aggressive growl (it can be tough to know the difference) should never be allowed towards you, and should only be allowed when the situation calls for it.  Taking a bone is a no-no, that should not get a growl.  But I would def. look up the info on resource guarding, and see if it helps at all.

I have high obedience expectation, but put the time and effort in to get those.  As an example, my dog LOVES to play tug, and she gets very worked up, and we play very rough.  But at any time, if I tell her to stop, or drop it, or whatever, I expect her to listen, doesn't matter how much she's worked up.  If you were in the other room listening, you would think I was being eaten by a demon dog lol.  THAT kind of grumbling I don't have a problem with.  If I got the grumble when I told her to drop it, or ended play, or tried to take the tug, that's a completely different story, and would be unnaceptable.  So, it's up to you to determine what you consider "ok" in terms of vocalization.

Towards other dogs, I feel the same.  I don't mind vocalization, as long as it's not aggressive.  If I sensed aggressive attitudes, I would step in and stop it immediately.  But I don't care what kind of sounds are coming out of the dogs as long as they are doing it in a way that's not aggressive.

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I agree with what everyone is saying here... It is Never acceptable to growl at their  human unless like Kevin says it is in play! I was having issues that just popped up recently after having the 2 of them together for 5 months. Cisco started to not let raven eat. So now they eat seperate. They also do the growl, I want your bone its better thing. But I can take it from him or her no problem. Don't be afraid and reassert yourself w/ him. Don't just go in and grab it from him. Give him a drop/leave command and go from there- see what works. Read up like Kevin said. Try Kate's suggestion of CF's. If you want to give them bones, treats, etc. It may be a good idea to do so only in there crates.

Good Luck, Having to can be such a joy and such a challenge...

Mandy

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As Kevin said, not unless playing or vocalizing to the others to back the heck off. When he growls... growl back... I know your not a dog, but doing this mey be the only thing needed to remind him who you are. If not, and you are sure he won't actually bite you, grab him by the scruff of the neck and drag him away from the bone, then take it away. If you are worried that he would actually cross the line and bite you, use a broom handle, as Paul said, and take it away. Don't give it back for a LONG time, and when you do, take it away five minutes later, then give it back ten seconds after that... this is to show him that it's okay to give things up to you, because, if it's his, he's more than likely going to get it back at some point. Do it a couple times... then let him have the bone. This is what we did with Skye... she had resource guarding issues when she was a pup... and she hasn't had problems since.

rmk
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thanks for all the advice! i took up all bones this am or so i thought....he found 1 under the book shelf and growled at her and took off so i followed him and was able to get it without him growling at me but he wasnt laying down and chewing yet so i dont know if that was the diff or not....i don't think he would actually bite me but i do think he would snap as if to say back off....i will try the growling and do research online about resource guarding....im not sure if i need to start a new topic or i can ask in this one....kevin talked about solid obedience....we sent him to a trainer for 6 weeks and he knows basic commands but follows them only when he wants to....i try to be alpha but i feel as though i fail most times b/c i dont get stearn enuff....or thats what hubby says....i didnt want to buy a shock collar and i dont know how to really make him know i mean business without giving him a pop and i dont like doing that either! for those of you that have been successful please point me in the right direction...i have dog whisperer set on my dvr and watch it faithfully and it gives me hope that it can be done but doesnt always show all the steps taken....i say that b/c it hasnt been that simple for me :).....thanks again!

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Glad to see you're looking into all this.  If your dog is listening only when he wants, I would call that a poor obedience foundation.  One of the biggest reasons why I don't like sending a dog away for training is that you get nothing out of it, except maybe a few classes for yourself.  It's very important for you and your family to be involved in the training.  The biggest thing is consistency.  You can't let your dog get away with something sometimes, but not others.  Dogs don't rationalize, and that is confusing.  So, the rules are the rules, and they get followed ALWAYS.  If you give a command, it gets done.  That bears repeating, and I would say that over and over to yourself to get it ingrained.  You give a command, it gets followed.  End of story.  Every time.

What training method do you use?

In terms of getting your dog to know you mean business, there's not any reason why you have to be mean, tough, physical, or anything negative.  It is as simple as following through with your commands.  Like above, you tell your dog to sit, he sits.  You tell your dog to come, he comes.  How?  if you're not, you should be working on training daily, and I like to also incorportate training into play and work.  If you have to, use a long lead, so you have control of your dog.  If you tell him to come, and he doesn't, you are now holding a leash.  You don't have to yank it, choke him, etc.  But you can reel him in, and praise the crap out of him when he gets to you.  If you have to, be stubborn.  Don't give in, ever.

When I was doing initial training with Dakota, she could be very stubborn.  Slow to listen to commands, sometimes.  I would sit there and just wait, until the command was followed, because I knew she understood.  Occasionally, it felt like I was sitting for hours.  Even off leash, I would just sit and wait.  Example, I wanted Dakota to sit before we go outside, so she didn't just knock me out the way and bolt into the yard.  One time, I sat there for what felt like a million years, hand on the knob.  She just looked at me, didn't sit.  (she knew she was supposed to sit, and chose not to) I waited, waited, waited, and finally she came and sat.  The EXACT instant she sat, the behavior was marked, and the door opened.  So now, not only is she learning that she has to listen, but she is also learning that listening makes good things happen.  That's just one of many examples.  "rewards" can be more than a treat, and I think alot of people forget that.  In this case, the reward was the door opening.  Yes, that's a reward!  When we are playing fetch, and I tell her to bring it back and heel, the reward for heeling nicely is having her ball tossed across the yard.

This is a small, small portion that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface, but I hope it gets you pointed in the right direction.  If you look through some of my posts, I would recommend the thread I started on creative training ideas, and making training fun.

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Hello, I haven't had the chance to say welcome since my good computer is in the shop and this one is cantankerous to say the least----(sorry to all because I can't even get into some threads let alone reply, but today is a good day LOL, but I've gotten off track..)  What I would like to say is much like everyone else as said, NO growling to family members.  Period.  But I do disagree with the "grabbing the scruff of the neck" and putting him down.  As you admit, you are not "alpha" enough to do this to him, and all it will do is make him mad, scared or nervous, all of which may easily cause him to bite in defense.  Don't try this until you're sure that you're in control. I do admit that sometimes this MAY be the correct action, but not until you're confident.  I tend to get a little slack on fine tuning the training around here, so when I start getting the deaf ear it's time for an attitude readjustment.  Fairly short but intense (NO MESSING AROUND) training sessions a few times a day, with lots of praise for a job well done.  It so helps our relationship.  She's proud of herself and I've regained her respect, they all test us constantly.  Also I've found that alot of their response to us is body language.  For instance, if I tell Fancy "off" as in off the bed and she doesn't move, all I have to do is sit up and "puff up" and the message is loud and clear.  I have never ever hit her, nor would I so it's not coming from fear.  Her response is because she knows (as the kids would say) I'm the boss of her.  You move forward to what ever it is that you want to take away from him, claim your turf even if it's a little at a time, and don't put your hands down there until he has backed off.  Once you claim the bone, you could hand him a treat or toy in exchange. 

Please please don't resort to a shock collar for something like this.  IMO it will really undermine your relationship with him, just use time time and more training time with him.  I wonder if your husband is unknowingly undermining you with him.  (No offense hubby!).  My husband has a deep booming voice when he wants to and even the minpin (oh what a spoiled little dog-ugh) listens to him.  I'm sure that it's more fear that anything else.  Good luck, and don't get discouraged!

Hi and welcome to the site!!

"Major has gotten "grumpy"". He's not "grumpy" he's climbing a social ladder. From the day he was born, he started to ascend this ladder to get the best teet, most of the food,  affection from the mother. Whatever.

Like Lady Kate said, he IS communicating. He's communicating that he is higher on this ladder than you are, AND, he will take control over this pack and you are a subordinate. Like Control Freak said, UN-AC-CEP-TABLE!!!! You MUST be the Alfa, the Dominate, the boss, the BIG dog, whatever you'd like to call it.

My dogs live in, what I call "NILIF" (nothing in life is free). For ANYTHING they get from me they will do something for it. Even if it's as small as a sit for their treat, it's something. Like Kevin K said, rewards come in many forms, a treat, a pat on the head, a atta boy, a open door.

When I feed my dogs, before I put their bowls down, they WILL be sitting and patiently waiting. When I do put the bowls down, they're STILL waiting for me to say it's O.K. go eat. When they're eating I play with their food, pet their heads pull their heads out of their bowl, fool with their feet. As long as they continue to happily eat and I get NO gruff, they can eat, if I get as much as a stare, I'll pull the offender out of the lineup and make him/her "SIT-STAY" watch the other two eat (for a few seconds, lets say 5) then let him go back to eating. I feed mine within inches of one another. If there's a squabble, the offending party gets to watch the one eat. This is controling food, a "resourse" the reward. They sat, they stayed, they eat.

Around here, there's ALWAYS squables over bones. I can have 100 bones (real bones, chew toys, they are all called bones around here) laying about the den but all three of them (the dogs) want "THAT BONE". If the squabble starts to get out of hand, I'll go and collect the bone, (just swoop in and take it, give them NO time to think about what's getting ready to happen) go sit back down and lay the bone at my feet. Now it's mine!! and I DARE you to come and take it from ME! I'll get six confused little eyes looking at the bone then at me then the bone... Then the first to laydown, no command, gets it. Now this takes about 10 seconds and all three are laying down. Jax picked this up pretty quick. Again, controling a "resourse". Never FEAR your dog. He will pick up on that. Then he'll try to control YOU.

I think KevinK put it matter of fact, your "obedience foundation" is shakey at best. Not that he doesn't know the "commands" he has been given a choice whether or not he wants to follow the commands. The command here is "Give me MY bone" There is no choice, they are commands. I don't ask my dogs to do anything, I command them! Go back to your BASIC obedience work. But now think about (and this is a EVIL word) corrections. A correction can be something as mundane as a "eh-eh" to severe as a good yank of the leash (sideways, never up into his larynx). We stop at red lights because we "know" something bad could happen to us. He should know that something good happens when he obeys, as well as something not so good could happen if he doesn't. If he is given a command, lets say sit, and he doesn't, the correction would be a push on the rump to compel him to sit followed by the ever popular "ATTA BOY" the "reward". The command "come" with a long line, call the dog, if he doesn't come within a second or maybe two, reel him in. When he gets to you, atta boy the heck out of him. The correction was the "reeling in" followed by the reward, "atta boy". I said it on here before, "correction severity befitting the dog". The reward "only" thing is just fine for puppies. I will not give corrections til they are at least 6 months or older. By then they KNOW their basic commands, sit, stay, down, come etc. But when they are old enough, there will be a correction for something. And it doesn't take very long and you will not need a correction. Let me say this though, TIMING IS EVERYTHING!!!! You can't go correcting willy nilly. You will ruin your dog. If you miss the opportunity for the correction, we're talking seconds here, DON"T CORRECT! Always leave a training session on a good note. A command obeyed with a reward. A big ol ATTA BOY!!

I find, though personal experience, that when you have more than one dog, this totem pole thing starts to happen. Major is maturing and doing what dogs do, trying to be leader of the pack. And Major is at that age where he thinks he should try and take control of the pack. It's a dog thing! So no matter how you go about doing it, you are in charge and you have to communicate that to Major. When you find what works best for Major, he will fall in line in short order.

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I agree  with getting a strong obedience foundation, and a good working relationship.  I kinda skimmed through Kevin and Happy's response so I might be repeating.  We had lots of issues with Athena and respect.  We really started working on obedience and it has made a HUGE difference.  

You want to make it fun, but the dog also needs to know that you mean business, he is old enough now that he needs consequences for is misbehaviors.  I suggest working with a lease so he can't walk away and choose to be done on his own.  I use a prong collar for training as well.  When we are going to train I always mark it with a keyword.  I get excited and happy and say "do you want to go to work?"  So they know what we are going to do and what I expect of them.  I also like to use high value treats, hot dogs work great, there cheap and have a inticing smell.  You say that he already knows the commands so its different than trying to teach.  If you are trying to teach you don't want to use any negative corrections because the dog simply does not know what you want.  SO anyways, tell your dog to sit, ONE TIME!  If he does mark the behavior with a word you use all the time, I use "yes"  or you can use a clicker, this tells the dog he did what you wanted.  Then reward him immedietely with a treat and good boy.  Don't let him get up from the sit or down or whatever until you say ok.  Sit means sit!  If he chooses not to sit give him a collar correction, up for sit, down for down.  When he sits say yes and good boy but no treat.  He will learn very quickly if I do it then I get rewarded if not I get nothing.  Dogs are smart and will learn how to manipulate you if you let them.  Change it up do a sit, down, then stay...or down, sit, stay, or down watch me. You get the point, don't let them get bored.  Then end the game on your terms when he is succeeding...don't go for just one more and let him fail.  Another thing you can do is a restrained recall.  You might want to do this on a buckle so he doesn't get any correction.  One person hold the dogs leash and is a "tree" boring, doesn't say or do anything but hold the leash.  The other person has treats or a toy and gets the dog really excited and then runs away.  When you get to about 15 feet turn around and say come, at this very instant the other person drops the leash and as soon as the dog takes one step towards you get excited and good boy good boy goos boy!  Make it the coolest thing he is ever done he has to know that coming to you means that he is awesome.  After time make the distance further and further.  This is a game for the dog and you reap the benefits.  

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Well said Gunny, you must have responding when I was.  You touched on a lot of important points that I missed.  I just started giving Sully corrections for his misbehavings (which aren't often he is my little angel)  But a good example is we have been struggling terribly with downs.  He would paw at me, stick his but in the air chew at my hand to get the treat and then maybe lay down.  One good collar corrections and he now goes into a beautiful down immedietely.  Most of the time but we are still working, rewards for good behavior none for bad+a correction.  We made a lot of mistakes with Athena and still working through them sometimes, not to mention she is a stubborn little wench, but the bottom line is I said it I mean it.  And the corrections should match the behavior.  Make it one correction and not 10 nags.

rmk
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wow....thanks for all the advice....i know that my obedience foundation is not what it should be....alex tells me i've got to quit thinking of them as "babies".....there are things that i've tought him so i know he's capable and understands....come is one that he hardly EVER does but i am going to buy an extended lead and work that way....also one common thread i see here is your feeding process.....i keep food and water in their bowls all day and they eat when they want....i never thought about it being important for me to "allow" them to eat....i think i will change that today....sasha will be harder b/c she's not 3 months yet but we'll start now....thanks again for the help and if you think of anything else please let me know!

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Great suggestions.. there's only one thing that I can see missing..rmk said she's  a little fearful.. Now here's where it gets really tricky..

Of course Major is aware of the trepidation.. that's the first thing he's picked up on..and no amount of voice control or body language is going to go anywhere if he senses that she's fearful.. 

( I'm talking about her like she's not here aren't I.. Sorry rmk!!)

I remember the first time I dremmeled Sofia's nails.. the look I got sent shivers down my spine. "There's some mighty big teeth you have there Grandma!"

I had to get myself in the 'calm and assertive' mode FIRST before I did anything..

So rmk.. Take a deep breath.. Repeat to yourself.. I am alpha.. I am alpha.. convince yourself first. Stand tall.. do not look away when he stares at you and keep breathing. Practice on Sasha and see the difference in the dobertude.

rmk
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no worries lady kate haha....i find it hard to be calm assertive when he refuses to listen or grabs something he's not supposed to have and he runs off with it and im telling him to drop it and come here....i refuse to chase him 1-because he's faster than me and 2- i think i shouldnt have to....also when he was growling last nite at alex over the bone he wasnt even looking at him he was steadily chewing and would let out a low growl....alex did end up putting his hand on majors head and then the bone but i have to say no matter tough he thinks he is (alex) he never took it away from him....we both didnt know what to do but i'll share all of this with him....and i will start each day saying to myself "i am alpha!"

 

just wanted to practice come with him and i am def going to have to go buy a long lead....all i have is a short leash so i didnt use that and he didnt come....just looked at me...but we will get there!

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rmk

please private message me- you do not have yours set up- I think I may have some advice and stories that will help you. I have gone/am going thru some stuff w/ Cisco and just would like to chat later off thread - so there is not a million opinions getting tossed in!

If you don't want to I understand but I thought I would extend the offer.

Mandy

rmk
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let me see how i do that :)

Control, I think I hit the button half a second before you did LOL. Fate, go figure huh?

When I posted I was talking about Major. Sasha gets nothing but rainbows, unicorn milk and pixi dust. She's just a baaaaaabbbyyyyy... Sasha is the one that is ALLLL reward. Jax is 4 months old now and hasn't so much as heard "no". At this age, it's all about learning not training.

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Gunny.. How do you milk a unicorn??

rmk
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and where can i get some pixie dust??? haha...thanks again to everyone for your advice and help....that's why i joined :)

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Here's a thought and something I saw Cesar Milan do.... I actually tried it on Sofia ( she's easy) and a nasty little terrier/lab/sumpin sumpin mix... I just stood there while Milo was trying to come into a forbidden room.. I looked him straight in his beady little eyes and pointed to the other direction. I stood firm and felt confident ( after all he was only 16 inches tall) GUESS WHAT!!?? Much to my amazement he turned tail and slunk off to another part of the house.. WOW.. did THAT boost my confidence level!! So if you practice with sweet Sasha, just to make you FEEL more Alpha-ish ( its a word)you're half-way there.

and BTW... Have you tried the "Look at me" thing with Major? Get his attention then the command..

will save you some unicorn milk and pixie dust.

xoxox