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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I\\\'ll do- anything for a- treat!
Barked: Mon Apr 15, '13 7:45am PST 
You mentioned the first time she growled was when you went to pick her up at night-it seems like many dogs do get "crabbier" or more sensitive in the evening. Also, many dogs are nervous about being picked up in general. I would follow the suggestions given, but also add general handling to your training program. Spend some time each day gently touching her ears, paws, and whole body. If she seems at all shy about having any part of her touched, make it very rewarding (give treats).
The problem with scruffing her, as your husband has done, is that she will associate unpleasantness with human touch, not her growling. So definitely work to build her trust, and make sure your hand coming towards her=good things, not punishment.
Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Mon Apr 15, '13 7:57am PST 
I agree with all the others' advice, use positive training to teach her an off command. Also, it might be a good idea if she has a crate or safe place she can go that's kid free when kids are visiting.

I wouldn't worry that she didn't want to be picked up and taken to bed---she has a right to her opinion--if she's not in the way or o.k. where she was, why "make" her sleep in her bed at night? My dog has several places she chooses to sleep during the night--often I think it has to do with how she wants to keep an eye and ear out for suspicious activity in the night-- and though I like it when she sleeps with me, I invite her, but I don't make her.

I had to teach my roommate not to force the dog out of a spot too. . . . while the dog is allowed in the bed sometimes she'll take your spot if you get up--she's 60 lbs and if you try to shove her she will growl, but if you ask or tell her to move her own body, she'll politely get up and move no problem.

I think dogs, like us, think being pushed or shoved out of a comfortable spot is pretty rude!laugh out loud

Do you even- lift?
Barked: Mon Apr 15, '13 11:34am PST 
Augusta's post reminded me I also use a "budge over" with Onyx. He, too, will often take my spot on the bed if I get up and leave for a minute. If I try to push him, he'll make himself dead weight and refuse to move. He actually likes it when I attempt to move him, he thinks it's hilarious. But if I ask him to move or tap the bed in another spot, he'll jump right up to move.

I would focus on the "off" before anything else, but once she's willingly getting down every time you ask, a "move over" command can be nice if you just need her to move out of a specific spot on the couch. Agree with Gus that dogs are often more willing to do things if you give them the option of doing it themselves.


My name is- Gaelic for- "Gentle"
Barked: Mon Apr 15, '13 7:11pm PST 
Ahhh...thank you again so much. This growling is such an infrequent thing. She does like to growl when these big dogs walk by the house every day with kids going for the school bus. She used to bark at them but we shook a can of pennies to stop the barking so now she is growling. I guess she just needs to say somethingbig laugh Husband is onboard with the positive training I am happy to report. big laugh We do not have a dog trainer around...we live in a very small town not near a bigger city. We were able to put her through puppy kindergarten through our vet and that helped show me how to train her a little. She does go a little beserk when we go into our little town and she sees a big dog....doesn't seem to do it so much with little dogs like her. Also once a month I take her to a doggy daycare. Financially that is about all I can do right now except love her and do my best. Thank you.

When the night- closes in I will- be there
Barked: Tue Apr 16, '13 12:06am PST 
If she is growling while on the couch, I would make the couch a dog free zone.
I owned a dog for several years that was never allowed on any furniture because he would growl and snap when you tried to move him. One bite was all it took and he spent the remainder of his days on the floor.
Some dogs once elevated off the floor will decide they hold a better status. I've had a few dogfights occur over the years by loading the dogs in the truck in the wrong order. My black GSD was normally quite submissive but I learned in a hurry to never put her in the truck first, or she would attack the other dogs. Same thing with the bed, if Sabi was already there they would snuggle but if we let Lex up first she'd attack Sabi.

Fritz, cats are- fun when they- run
Barked: Tue Apr 16, '13 3:48am PST 
You have received some very good advice. Follow it and things should work out. Also don't worry about letting the dog through the door first etc. That is a dumb idea from a TV show. Dominance theory has been disproven, dogs don't think people are dogs and aren't out to take over your home because you let them go through a door first or respected their request not to be picked up. I would also second the idea of a thorough vet check. You may be getting growled at because it hurts to be picked up.

Good luck
Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
Barked: Tue Apr 16, '13 6:59am PST 
I agree with everyone's advice so far.

I have personally made it so I have some furniture that is allowed on, and some that is not. The main couch is off limits - especially with a coming baby who will be getting bum changes, etc on said couch. I don't want dogs jumping on my son, lol. I've also made my own bed off limits, etc.

My foster dog, Beau, would growl every time you'd try to get him off ANY furniture. Growl, bark and snap. He had bitten previous foster parents over it. He was fear aggressive and pushing him off only escalated the behavior because nobody was heeding his warnings. I taught him a solid 'Off' command, which helped a lot. Until that was taught, however, I did have him drag a leash around the house so I could safely grab the end of the leash to guide him where I wanted him without repercussions or him feeling threatened.

Definitely teach the grandchildren that if Keeva growls - back off, leave her alone and go inform an adult of what caused it or that she was growling when they did so and so. It'll keep the kids safer, teaching them to respect her space when she gives a warning, and it reinforces that nothing needs to go any further than a growl. I would far rather be growled at or have my children growled at than bitten without such a clear warning prior.

That was another thing with my foster. He never growled or gave CLEAR indications that he was uncomfortable. I had to learn MORE about other signs that were more subtle(looking away, lip licking, whale eye, mussed up whisker bed, tense muscles, etc) to watch for. He'd been punished previously before we rescued him for any and all growling, so he resorted directly to biting without clear warning. All this achieved was getting several people bit. So I definitely recommend NOT punishing for this, but instead, redirecting her. Dogs live in the moment - so you rewarding her when she does a good 'Off' when asked, is going to do just that. It isn't going to reward her for the growling or behavior on the couch.

Work on it several times for a few minutes at a time throughout the day should have her knowing it pretty quickly and understanding what you're asking of her. smile
Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Tue Apr 16, '13 1:41pm PST 
I'd get Pat Miller's book, "The Power of Positive Dog Training" if you can---lots of good training basics and things you can teach your pup to deal with the situations you've mentioned. It's perfectly o.k. for her to express herself about dogs walking by . . . . I think it's a great thing that my dog barks when people are too close to the house or knocking on the door . . ..

But if it's too frequent or annoying, or you just need an off switch-- there are ways around it--curtains to block her view perhaps, but definitely a "go to place" command, where she has a bed or mat or crate out of view of the front that you reward her for going to lay on. It's handy for all kinds of situations.

My name is- Gaelic for- "Gentle"
Barked: Tue Apr 16, '13 6:22pm PST 
Again, thank you for all your auggestions. She hasn't done that growl anymore when on the couch. Actually, she only gets up on the couch a couple times during the day or evening. She usually just lays on the floor. She has such good qualities. She loves people, she is very funny and makes us laugh, she is a good sleeper, doesn't require a lot of excercise, she travels well in the car and loves going for walks. The things that I am working on are:
1. Walking on leash without pulling....it is getting better since I have started "being a tree." I would like to find her a nice harness to use instead of a collar..perhaps they make a no-pull one that would help her.
2. She barks like crazy if we come across a large dog. She stands on her hind feet like she is trying to make herself bigger. She doesn't growl....just barks. I notice she doesn't do this much if the dog is the same size as her.
3. I absolutely have to leash her.....she runs off to explore if I don't and I have to go get her. She was doing well but now I don't trust her and our yard is not fenced...we live on acreage in,the country.
Really these are about my only problems I have with her. She is a fussy eater but loves earning treats. I can throw a piece of cheese on the ground and tell her to "leave it" and she will sit and stare at the cheese for the longest time until I tell her to "take it.". She is a good snuggler...does not sleep in our bed but now chooses where she wants to sleep. She is a good companion dog. We boarded her at our daycare/kennel facility which is nice for two nights and she did well although she did have some diarhhea when she came home....I think she may have some stress issues when it comes to boarding her although the lady that runs the place who I trust says she does fine. This fall we will need to board her there for 8 nights so I am praying she does well. So folks....how do you think I am doing. There are days I think I made a big mistake taking on a puppy at my age but I do love her and will care for her the best I can. I love getting your suggestions and feedback. Thanks.................
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