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Encourage the growl or make it go away?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Kato

Birds!
 
 
Barked: Fri Dec 7, '12 12:42pm PST 
This really isn't a problem, and it doesn't matter which way it goes, but I just found myself pondering this.

I bring the dogs with me to work. On a few occassions, we get customers that come in to the warehouse. Kato always either barks or does a low growl. He is kept in the office and doesn't have contact with the customers. While he's not aggressive, it will certainly scare the customers!

But we have a service window that connects the warehouse to the office. And often, we'll be typing up stuff on the computer in the office and have the customer wait outside at the service window, which is open. That's when they can see the dogs. I've put a jar of treats there, so if anyone wants to give the dogs a treat they can.

And that's where my question comes in. Despite growling or barking, Kato will happily take the treats. So, hypothetically speaking, if every customer tosses him a treat while he is growling, will this encourage the growl or make it go away?
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Lucille

I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
 
 
Barked: Fri Dec 7, '12 12:56pm PST 
Depends on the association Kado makes. If he thinks he's being treated for growling and is food motivated, it's possible. Will he sit for a stranger? Maybe try asking people to ask Kado for a sit, then treat. Or anything else simple and suitable that he knows well. Maybe then the association would be different.

I really have to ask ppl to ask for a behavior from Lu before trying to give her anything. Sit just tends to be the simplest. She's generally trying to get one over on folks, so they tend to give her a treat when she's doing something less than stellar, if ya know what I mean. She KNOWS better, she's just creeping in on the margins. So if they cue, and she complies at least the naughty stuff I see that they don't notice isn't getting rewarded.
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Smokey

Let's play tug!!
 
 
Barked: Fri Dec 7, '12 3:38pm PST 
I suspect it would make the growl go away or have no effect. Dogs can certainly be rewarded by the effects of growling (like having scary people go away, successfully guarding a resource, or getting rid of another dog who's being pesky) but it just isn't a very natural association to think that growling causes treats. Then again, if the dog is all wiggles and kisses as soon as anyone actually comes in, it is probably just a reflex and there is not much actual fear there. (If he escalates as people approach, there probably is). But I agree that there's nothing wrong with having people ask him to sit. How about this, in a cute font taped to the treat jar "I'm learning to do amazing feats, so ask me to sit, and toss me a treat!"
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Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
 
 
Barked: Fri Dec 7, '12 9:04pm PST 
With Maya, she had a major tendency when I got her to growl, bark or even go as far as to lunge at strangers when she'd spot them close to where she was if she was in a house or yard, etc(never on a walk though unless they were especially scary!). Now.. I'm not saying Kato does this... But here's my experience with it..

When people began offering or tossing her treats, even without asking for specific behaviors, she began associating those people with treats. The barking began to dim, as did the growling and the lunging. By the end, the lunging was completely gone and she would only bark or growl at someone that was particularly scary(carrying something unusual like a bunch of lumber, etc, or wearing coveralls - or if there was a marijuana smoker around, she'd growl at them too).

But again, with the treats, those unwanted behaviors pretty well diminished because she associated the treat with strange people and eventually, pets too.

I'd do as was suggested above, and add a cute note saying to ask for a sit or something if you're particularly concerned about it, or to wait until he's quiet before tossing him a treat, etc. smile
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Farley

Farlekiin the- Dragonborn
 
 
Barked: Fri Dec 7, '12 11:52pm PST 
I used to bring Farley to work with me when I managed at a pet health store a couple years back. He was totally the same way. Growling/barking at strangers is just his thing, and he did it at work too. He is just alerting to the stranger and I don't believe the strangers giving him rewards made a difference. Regardless of getting treats from them or not, he is still going to do it, every time. It's just what he does. thinking
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Lupi

I\\\'ll do- anything for a- treat!
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 8, '12 7:11am PST 
It won't encourage the growl. It may or may not make him stop, depending on how frequently he receives the treats, how much he likes them, and how quickly he starts associating the customers with treats.
Lupi used to growl at the person at the drive-through window. Once she realized the person would be handing us food, she stopped. Probably took about 3-5 drive-through visits.
Depending how territorial Kato is at your work, he may always feel the need to growl. Lupi continues to bark at the pizza delivery guy, even though he brings food, but it's because her territorial instinct is stronger at our house than it is in our car. However, her barking stops much more quickly than it used to!
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Kashmir- ♥ CGC

Boxer Beach Bum
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 8, '12 7:11am PST 
Kashmir does this too. The other night my mom had some guests over and she growled at the one lady. Even at work she did this also..i think dogs do it because their strangers. But she has always done this with strange people.
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Kato

Birds!
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 8, '12 7:16am PST 
I think Kato may be the same as Farley.

Heck, Kato even growls/barks at me some times if he doesn't see it's me right away. It's more just a thing he does.

If the person he's growling at just comes in or ignores him, Kato will go up and sniff them. There was even a time where a truck driver threw a ball to Kato while Kato was barking and Kato happily ran and picked it up. If the person tries to engage him, like to pet, he'll back away. And if the person is being playful with their advances towards him, he'll even play bow sometimes. But he always has to keep his distance. He never lets people he doesn't know touch him.

I was just curious if at work specifically, what may happen if he was always given a treat by the person he's growling at given he's not really "serious" about it, if that makes sense. It may just not make any difference too.shrug
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Farley

Farlekiin the- Dragonborn
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 8, '12 12:16pm PST 
Kato- Farley also barks and growls at people he knows, loves, and sees regularly, when they first come to the door, either at home or at work. It's a behavior that happens before the stimulus registers as family/friend/stranger/threat/whatever. As soon as he realizes it's family/friend, he settles down and relaxes. If it's a random stranger, he acts aloof/ignores them. He is similar to Kato in that he has no interest in physical affection from strangers.

Edited by author Sat Dec 8, '12 12:20pm PST

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Member Since
12/02/2012
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 9, '12 8:14pm PST 
I'm with Lucille on this one. If people are going to give him treats when he is growling, then Kado might think that he is being rewarded for growling. Maybe you should put up a sign instructing people when they can give Kado a treat - and that would be when he is not growling, or when he stops growling.
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