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What do I do about growling? Help!!!!

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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Keeva

My name is- Gaelic for- "Gentle"
 
 
Barked: Sun Apr 14, '13 7:36pm PST 
My year and a half dog has just started doing this and I want and need it to stop. If she is lounging on the couch and we go to move her for someone else to sit down she has started growling and showing teeth. This isn't making my DH very happy, let alone me. He grabs her by the scruff of her neck and tells her NO in a deep voice. She will continue to growl but will shake a little nervously. He will put her on the floor and she kind of slinks off and after awhile she is back to her sweet self. We are concerned. We cannot have a biter because of small grandchildren. What is the correct way to handle this. Please help!!!!!cry
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Ava & Nix

Suburban Farm- Dogs
 
 
Barked: Sun Apr 14, '13 7:52pm PST 
If you don't want her to start biting, my advice would be to STOP punishing the growl! A growl is the clearest warning you'll get that a dog is uncomfortable. Punish it, and the dog learns to give no growl, and go straight for the bite with zero warning.

Alternately instead of punishing her for growling, if you need to get her to move, then make a big fuss over the floor. Hold a treat to lure her off the couch. When she jumps off, give her the treat and lots and lots of praise! Sit down. If she gets back up on the couch and starts guarding it again, repeat the process until she learns the floor is a more rewarding place for her to be.

Definitely do not punish the growl though! I work with a lot of dogs in the grooming salon who have unfortunately learned to go straight for the bite with zero warning whatsoever. These dogs are extremely unpredictable and dangerous, and the worst part of it is... it all could have been prevented if only their owners had acknowledged their growling, instead of "beating it out of them"

Edited by author Sun Apr 14, '13 7:54pm PST

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UCH Onyx TT,- CGC

Do you even- lift?
 
 
Barked: Sun Apr 14, '13 8:05pm PST 
Agree that punishing the growl is a mistake. Much better that she growl than go straight to the bite. Physically grabbing a growling dog can also get you bit. Rather than trying to make her stop growling, try to remedy the reason she's growling.

I would work on teaching an "off" command. Make it a fun game for her. Like Ava & Nix said, start by using a treat to lure her off the couch and reward when she jumps down. I also have an "up" command which is basically the opposite of the off. That way you can tell her when she needs to get off and when she can come back up.

We practice both commands on walks, at the park, and in the house. Jumping onto and off of walls, picnic tables, the bed, ect. For Onyx, the up is self-rewarding because he enjoys jumping onto things, but of course use rewards if your dog needs them, especially while she's learning the off.
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Keeva

My name is- Gaelic for- "Gentle"
 
 
Barked: Sun Apr 14, '13 8:09pm PST 
Thank you for your quick response. Unfortunately I will have to work to convince my husband this is the correct response. He thinks that we would just be rewarding her poor behavior and is worried should a grandkid just go to move her a bit that she will growl and scare them. We are always with them and the dog but it only takes a second. We don't want that worry so need to get this under control. If we do it as you suggest will she eventually learn not to growl and be snotty about being moved or does it just set it up that she knows she gets a reward or treat each time she jumps off the couch? This really has me freaked out as my DH will not be tolorant of this at all. I do think the day this happened...yesterday....she was overly tired. Do dogs get in pissy moods when overtired....like little kids????
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Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
 
 
Barked: Sun Apr 14, '13 8:20pm PST 
Yes, dogs can get in pissy moods when overtired--just like little kids. Remember, they have about the same level of reasoning and conceptual ability as a two or three year old child.

You need to teach her an "off" command. I would also strongly suggest teaching her that she needs to wait to be invited onto the couch when people are involved.

Punishing the growl is a very bad idea, the most likely way to get to the bad result you hubby is worried about.

Have you done any obedience training with her--I mean a formal class? If not, you should seriously consider it. A good positive-reinforcement trainer will teach you how to understand and communicate with your dog better than you do, and explain why "punishing the growl" is in fact asking for worse trouble.
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UCH Onyx TT,- CGC

Do you even- lift?
 
 
Barked: Sun Apr 14, '13 8:23pm PST 
If it were my kids/grandkids, I would make it clear to them that if she, or any dog, growls at them, it's a sign to leave the dog alone. Obviously you don't want your dog growling at them, but it is preferable to a bite, and it sounds like chances are good they'll annoy her at some point and she'll growl at them. Better that they understand it means the dog is asking them to stop whatever they're doing and then you can deal with the situation.

As with most things, you can fade the treat over time. I don't treat my dogs for obeying an off and they still do it consistently. In your situation, I wouldn't give her a reason to growl in the first place. When you're working on the off or need her to move, get a treat/toy, say "off", lure her down, then treat/play/praise. You want a positive association with the command, not a negative one, so try to avoid the growl completely.

You can also do several repetitions in a row, so she gets a treat/toy for getting off, and also gets rewarded by being allowed right back up on the couch where she wants to be. That way it's more of a fun game and less of an unpleasant chore. From there, you can gradually increase the time between the off and the up, so that she learns she needs to stay off until you tell her she can go back up.

Edited by author Sun Apr 14, '13 8:30pm PST

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Keeva

My name is- Gaelic for- "Gentle"
 
 
Barked: Sun Apr 14, '13 8:53pm PST 
I have read your responses to my DH. We will try what you have suggested. He just reminded me that this started a couple months ago when she would be sleeping on the floor and it was time for bed and I would always pick her up and carry her into her bed on the floor in our room. One evening she growled and I just left her there in the floor as it scared me. From then on we just go to bed and she comes in when she feels like it. Hopefully this was ok to do and I didn't set it up so she thinks she is "boss." I have always been careful to be the first one out the door, have her wait for meals etc. Well, I guess time will tell......but I do wonder....... do dogs get crabby??????
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Smokey

Let's play tug!!
 
 
Barked: Sun Apr 14, '13 8:56pm PST 
I agree with everyone else. Intimidating her when she growls creates a very dangerous situation for the grandkids and everybody else- it discourages her from speaking up when she feels uncomfortable, which means she may bite without warning. Teach an "on" and "off" command, as mentioned. Use a light, happy voice and give great treats, like little pieces of bacon. Make jumping on and off the couch a fun game. You can do this when your husband isn't home. Keep a jar of treats near the couch, and when you need her to move, just give her the off command and reward her for obeying. Make sure her crate or bed is soft and comfortable and send her there when she's overtired.
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Keeva

My name is- Gaelic for- "Gentle"
 
 
Barked: Sun Apr 14, '13 9:22pm PST 
I appreciate all your responses so much! Since this is the first dog we have ever had from puppyhood it is nice to have this forum to go to for answers to any situations that come up. Thank you for taking the time to respond!smile
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Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
 
 
Barked: Mon Apr 15, '13 7:11am PST 
I'll second or third or whatever the idea of positive training your way through this. Treats, toys, affection to reward 'off'. Growls etc are communication... it's always a bad idea to suppress open 'talk'. You want a pup happy as all get out to do what you ask... and such exercises improve your bonding wink

Assuming this is change in behavior, I would also suggest that you thoroughly check your pup for sore spots/flexibility. You might even consider a vet check.
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