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Rocky Hates Vinny... But Only When

Guest monasmom

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Guest monasmom


It has been a while since I've posted. Some of you may remember Vinny and Rocky (and Mona). Rocky (11yo male who has lived with us for 3 years) decided about 6 months ago that the sight of Vinny (8yo male) offended him. If Rocky was laying down and he could see Vinny moving at all (even down the hallway more than 4 rooms away), he would growl, starting slowly in his throat but escalating quickly to a snarly snapping.


If Vinny quickly lays down, Rocky stops growling.

If Vinny is laying down and Rocky enters the room, Rocky does not growl.

If they are both standing up (side by side in the car, vet's office, on leash, crammed into the bathroom with me so they can get pats), no growling.

If Rocky is on the bed and Vinny tries to get up, Rocky growls, BUT if Vinny comes up anyway, Rocky gets off the bed.


Recently, Rocky has begun also growling halfheartedly at Mona (5yo female), but she just ignores him.


We know Rocky is in some pain. Corns? (yes, but $450 surgery did not help) Arthritis? (maybe, doesn't show up on x-ray); He gets fish oil, condroiton, glcosamine, and next month at the vet I'l be requesting some pain meds. I know being old and crotchety and in pain would make anyone growly.


The weird thing is how specific the growling is. I've very curious to know if anyone has any insight.



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Do you correct him (a sharp "no") when he growls?

Have you checked his eyesight?


Those are the only things that occurred to me. Wish I had more to offer.


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Guest Gemma

If you can figure out whether he is pain or not, and then treat the source, you'll be more able to deal with this behaviour. If the issue is primarily pain based, you will see little improvement until that is addressed. Sudden space aggression would not be uncommon if he is suffering in some way. I hope that pain meds will help!

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I don't have a clue as to how to help but I sure am glad to see you back here. I've missed your stories about Vinny and Rocky.


Freshy (Droopys Fresh), NoAh the podenco orito, Rita the podenco maneta, Howie the portuguese podengo maneto
Angels:  Lila, the podenco, Mr X aka Denali, Lulu the podenco andaluz, Hada the podenco maneta, Georgie Girl (UMR Cordella),  Charlie the iggy,  Mazy (CBR Crazy Girl), Potato, my mystery ibizan girl, Allen (M's Pretty Boy), Percy (Fast But True), Mikey (Doray's Patuti), Pudge le mutt, Tessa the iggy, Possum (Apostle), Gracie (Dusty Lady), Harold (Slatex Harold), "Cousin" Simon our step-iggy, Little Dude the iggy ,Bandit (Bb Blue Jay), Niña the galgo, Wally (Allen Hogg), Thane (Pog Mo Thoine), Oliver (JJ Special Agent), Comet, & Rosie our original mutt.

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Wow - that's a tough one.


My first thought was a pinched nerve when he's looking up.


Being old and crotchety is also an option, and at his age he's allowed some of that, but you don't want it to escalate into something more.


It's good to see you back. It's been way too long since we've heard about the adventures of your delinquents greyhounds. :lol






Camp Broodie. The current home of Mark Kay Mark Jack and Gracie Kiowa Safe Joan.  Always missing my boy Rocket Hi Noon Rocket,  Allie  Phoenix Dynamite, Kate Miss Kate, Starz Under Da Starz, Petunia MW Neptunia, Diva Astar Dashindiva, and LaVida I've Got Life


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I have to wonder if perhaps Rocky has been stepped on accidentally by Vinnie and now he is just giving the 'HEY I'm laying here bud, watch out, go lie down somewhere so I can rest easy'.



That's what I was thinking. Rocky probably stepped on Vinny at some point and it hurt so he's making sure Vinny doesn't do it again.

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A fairly sudden behavior change in an older dog certainly warrants a good vet check as it is often due to a medical problem, such as pain, as you already suspect. I would agree with those who have speculated that he may have gotten stepped on at some point. But even if he hasn't, lying down is the most vulnerable position for a dog to be in, and another dog who is up and moving is more of a threat than one who is lying down.


I would not recommend correcting or punishing him for growling. Growling is natural communcation between dogs, and they growl for a reason. You need to address the reason he is growling, instead of trying to eliminate the growling itself, or you might end up with a dog who goes straight to lunging, snapping, and biting 'without warning.'


I'd definitely suggest starting by addressing any pain Rocky might have. This in itself might solve the problem. If not, Rocky may still be anticipating potential pain when Vinny approaches. Try positioning yourself between the two dogs and see if that helps. You can also try some training to change his association with Vinny's approach to a good one. For example, whenever Rocky is lying down and sees Vinny moving around, tell Rocky's he's a good boy and reward with treats. Ideally, you should get Rocky's attention before he starts growling. Or if getting between them stops the growling, you can use both techniques together. But even if he's growling, don't worry about rewarding the behavior. All you're trying to do is associating Vinny moving around with good things for Rocky.


And while rewarding while a dog is growling is probably totally against what most trainers would recommend, I don't think it's necessarily a problem. Rewarding growling doesn't mean rewarding aggression. You want dogs to continue to growl to express their discomfort with a situation. One situation I'd be cautious about this is if the dog has any food/possessive aggression. And of course, use your common sense, and if what you're trying seems to be making things worse, change tactics.


Here's a video that gives an example of why it's not always bad to reward even while a dog is growling:


Jennifer &

Willow (Wilma Waggle), Wiki (Wiki Hard Ten), Carter (Let's Get It On),

Ollie (whippet), Gracie (whippet x), & Terra (whippet) + Just Saying + Just Alice


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Guest avadogner

Our 12 yr old Ava has Spinal Stenosis and has a similar issue with Augie our 6yr old grey. She is in her last days (on pain meds) due to her rear legs being unreliable. She growls at Augie all night and it occurs whenever he gets up and moves around the living room. We have 3 giant dog beds in there for the two of them so they dont have to lay by each other. He wants to be near herbut she is defensive when laying down. I know she is nervous he may step on her (he is 90 lbs and has a history of getting excited and accidently stepping on her). Usually I go see if all is OK and tell them to go to sleep and it settles it. You may want to have your hound checked for pain issues to see if that is the cause. I hope they settle down for you!

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Guest monasmom

Any update on Rocky?


Hi there,

Thanks for asking. He's still growly, but we have a vet appointment in about three weeks and I plan to ask for pain meds. I like the idea that he's afraid of getting stepped on. Vinny is a clueless 85-pound galoot. I worry about him stepping on me! Also, I've found that if I gently cover Rocky's eyes so that he can't see Vinny, he stops growling.


Dogs are so weird, aren't they? :P

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