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Growling/barking On Walks

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DH is the primary walker in our house. We don't have a fenced yard, so Opie gets walked 4-5 times a day. There are often loose dogs running around the neighborhood, and Opie will growl and bark at them. This is understandable. Sometimes he will bark at deer, sometimes not.

He also growls/barks at some people - all of them women. Let me back up a bit and say that he has always seemed to favor men more than women - he immediately goes to them. With women, its hit or miss. When we first got him, he and I were on a blanket in a park, and a woman approached us to talk to me about greyhounds. Opie growled at her. This too was understandable, as we were on a blanket, and a stranger approached, bending over to talk to me.

I have never had a problem at dog parks. He goes to anyone and everyone there, leaning, wanting to be petted, rubbing his muzzle on them. Yesterday DH was walking him, and a new neighbor (woman) came out to say Hello, and Opie started growling and barking at her. DH does pull him back behind him when this happens. Shortly after this, another couple was walking down the street, and the woman approached DH and said this was the dog she heard about and wanted to meet him. He proceeded to growl and bark, and actually snapped in her direction. Obviously this behavior is unacceptable. DH is at a loss as to what to do. I personally think that he has let this behavior go on too much (barking at stray dogs, dogs behind fences, deer, crows - he hates crows!) and it has escalated to people he deems unacceptable.

Could really use some advice, as do not want to walk him with a muzzle on.

For background info - Opie is 9 years old, male, already on thyroid med, no medical problems. He has growled at me in the beginning, over resource guarding (treats), and we had couch issued. I practised NILF with him, I am the sole provider of food, treats. We worked through this issue - and this was shortly after we got him, at age 4.

So why this issued with strange women? It never happens with men. And why on walks and not the dog park? Oh, and I want to add that some strange women he is fine with, so its not all women.

Thanks, could use your help on this one.

Mom to Toley (Astascocita Toley) DOB 1/12/09, and Bridge Angel Opie (Wine Sips Away) 3/14/03-12/29/12

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

First question is why is he on thyroid medication if he has no medical problems? I assume you meant "other" medical problems. When you had him put on thyroid meds, what tests did you have run? I am not sure if you are aware, but most, if not all, greyhounds if given the simple t4 blood test will come up extremely low.


Why does he bark and growl at women, well maybe the women that he has had issues with are the ones that stare at him and approach him directly. He may see this as a threat. Maybe the women that he has had a problem with (since you say its not all women) are wearing something that bothers him (such as a large hat, big glasses, etc.). I know of a lot of hounds that dont like men wearing hats, go figure. Another issue could be that since his behavior to bark at things may have actually been encouraged, then he sees this as somewhat of a game. The other thing, when you say he growls and has even snapped, are you sure it is not super excited behavior? I do know of some hounds that air snap when they are really excited and even growl. What is the rest of his body language? Is his tail up, straight out, down between his legs? Is his body tense, is he bouncing around? Is his hackles standing up? There are a lot of other subtle body language things to look for during this behaivor.


To help resolve this, I would find a woman that is willing to help you, that he may have a problem with. Have her approach, but not look at him. Then as she passes at a comfortable distance (comfortable distance means your hound does not get upset), and she tosses a treat to your boy, then continues on. Repeat this many times. See if as the training continues, the woman can approach closer and slower. Eventually you want him to look for treats when he sees her. He will start to then want to approach the woman to get a treat directly from her (this is the goal at least).

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This is probably not what's happening with your dog, but I just wanted to mention that my hound will often growl (and twice even barked) at strangers, especially women, whom he adores, when he gets really happy-excited. He also is a dog that doesn't seem to know that his tail can be used for wagging, so he doesn't actually LOOK happy-excited to the uninitiated. This alarms people at first, but when I explain what's going on, and demonstrate by rubbing his butt (to elicit more growls), they relax and keep on petting Tracker.

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