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Growling - Leave Her Alone?


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Guest rennina

My 6 month old greyhound puppy has always been sweet and tolerant enough to let me pet and play with her on her own bed with no problem. No space/sleep/food aggression.

 

Today when I was petting her and talking to her on her dog bed, she was happy and trying to lick my nose. Then suddenly she stopped the licking and lowered her head (not looking at me), with a very deep belly growl sound, but without curling her lip or showing me her teeth. She growled 3 or 4 times when I finally realized she was growling, and she suddenly turned her head to my face and snapped in the air.

 

I told her NO! (in an angry tone because I was shocked and angry at that moment). I took her collar and led her off her bed and asked her to sit. After that, she went back to her bed, everything back to normal. I petted her again and she was fine.

 

I didn't understand what was the actual reason for her growling. Maybe she suddenly decided she wanted to be alone, or maybe she saw or hear something, or maybe she didn't have enough exercise today...I did shorten her play time in the dog park this morning because I found a minor scrape on her leg after she was chased into the shrubs by an always-growling-and-barking labrador mix, although that scrape didn't bother her very much.

 

So here comes my question: What is the right thing to do when your dog starts to growl at you when you pet her? Should I just back off and let her alone? Or tell her no and stop the behavior? I know growling is a normal thing for a dog, a warning. But I don't want my puppy to start having any space issue. However I heard other people saying that if you stop the growl/snap behavior, next time the dog may bite without those warnings.

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Sounds like she was warning you! Often their beds are their own space and don't always want to be disturbed. Looking away is also another sign, I would watch for warning signs before entering her space.

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Guest Giselle

In this context:

Licking is an appeasement behavior. It means, "Please stop. I'm getting scared."

Growling means, "Please back away. I'm really getting scared."

Snapping means, "Alright! Back away already!"

 

Were you leaning over her on her dog bed?

 

If she was licking you with a fast "tail twitch", it really meant that she just wanted her own space.

 

As for punishment - Always think of what alternate behavior you can reward, instead of thinking of all the behaviors that you want to punish. Instead of yelling "NO!" for growling when she's on her bed, try to reward her for a "Come!" and getting her off the bed that way.

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Guest rennina

In this context:

Licking is an appeasement behavior. It means, "Please stop. I'm getting scared."

Growling means, "Please back away. I'm really getting scared."

Snapping means, "Alright! Back away already!"

 

Were you leaning over her on her dog bed?

 

If she was licking you with a fast "tail twitch", it really meant that she just wanted her own space.

 

As for punishment - Always think of what alternate behavior you can reward, instead of thinking of all the behaviors that you want to punish. Instead of yelling "NO!" for growling when she's on her bed, try to reward her for a "Come!" and getting her off the bed that way.

 

I was sitting on the floor by her bed. I've been paying attention not to lean over her, but I don't remember exactly what happened at that moment. She was sniffing my nose and mouth and then trying to lick my nose (not her nose), so I might be trying to avoid her lick and made some sudden movement (my guess). Anyway, I think she was giving me enough warning to stop and back away. It's just a little sad to see your dog doing this to you for the first time. (She's my first greyhound/dog.)

 

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll think about that and figure out a way that can work for her. Right now I'm still having a hard time getting her to come or stand up when she's laying down. But I'll work on that.

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You may have already tried this but if not . . . If you are having a hard time getting her to stand up put a leash on her and give a brisk "let's go" and a bit of a tug on the leash as you start walking away from her. Good luck.

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Guest rennina

Sounds like she was warning you! Often their beds are their own space and don't always want to be disturbed. Looking away is also another sign, I would watch for warning signs before entering her space.

 

Thanks for pointing that out. I will pay attention to those signs from now on. I was just wondering if dogs can be "trained" to be more tolerant on sharing their personal space? Or in other words, am I nurturing a "bad" behavior or reinforcing her "personal space concept" if every time I see those signs, I stop the petting and back off? She's just a puppy so I wanted to do things right and avoid future problems...

 

You may have already tried this but if not . . . If you are having a hard time getting her to stand up put a leash on her and give a brisk "let's go" and a bit of a tug on the leash as you start walking away from her. Good luck.

 

Thanks :-)

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Guest grey_dreams

...I did shorten her play time in the dog park this morning because I found a minor scrape on her leg after she was chased into the shrubs by an always-growling-and-barking labrador mix, although that scrape didn't bother her very much.

 

You probably want to really limit anything like that from happening, so that she doesn't develop fear aggression to other dogs. Being chased into bushes by a large, growling, barking adult is not desirable for a 6-month old puppy. Only let her play with dogs that have good, stable temperaments. This might mean not going to the dog park at all when it is really busy crowded, like on the weekend afternoons.

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You must show leadership, they want a leader to make them feel secure. So reward the good behavior, be calm and patient and have mutual respect for each other. Harsh discipline may damage the trust, and never use physical punishments.

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Just throwing this out there to see what others think. Kevin does a growl when he is happy- it's different than his aggressive growl but it's a growl nonetheless. And he will often air snap afterwards. I thought he was a mental defective when we first got him. But he does it all the time and it means he is happy. Without knowing your dog and seeing the body language I cannot say whether this was a possible explanation. So it's safer to assume she's warning you. And it's good she snapped and didn't just bite.

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YES, dogs can be taught to share and trust you in their personal space. My dogs have their own beds, but I am allowed on or near them at any time. I would especially be working on this with a puppy...if you don't it might progress and become worse. Working with puppies is actually a lot easier in most cases. If she is uncomfortable or scared, you will often see signs in their body language long before a growl (head held back, licking, looking out of the corner of their eye, etc), so look for that and try to redirect then, before it escalates. I personally like to use a clicker (you don't have to) and really tasty food like cooked chicken. I start by just sitting near them, no direct eye contact or talking and click and treat. Gradually this moves into touching their feet, or other more sensitive areas, moving closer, etc. and rewarding good behaviour. Puppies especially, are usually very open to "oh great they're on my bed, I get the tastiest treats ever!" idea, and soon they will love you on their bed. Even if your pup is fine with most of this already, it is still great to practice as a preventative and reinforcement. :)

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Guest mbfilby

Just throwing this out there to see what others think. Kevin does a growl when he is happy- it's different than his aggressive growl but it's a growl nonetheless. And he will often air snap afterwards. I thought he was a mental defective when we first got him. But he does it all the time and it means he is happy. Without knowing your dog and seeing the body language I cannot say whether this was a possible explanation. So it's safer to assume she's warning you. And it's good she snapped and didn't just bite.

 

This is was my first thought. All three of our hounds growl and air-snap at us in play. It sounds to me like your pup was trying to play with you.

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Guest HoundWorks

I may be in the minority here but I am a believer in correcting this type of behavior especially with a puppy who is just learning. Our whippet who we got at 5 months old learned that even play growling or rowdy play is not acceptable if we say so. It's about them learning your boundaries not the other way around. Any behavior that was too rough or any type of growling was corrected with a no. If he did it on the couch or bed we would do what you just did remove him and not let him up until we said ok. I think a balance of correction and praise is needed. Correction shouldn't be angry although I understand when you get caught off guard it happens to all of us. Correction just needs to be firm and authoritative but do praise for all the good behavior. As other said learn your dogs body language over time you will be able to pick up what signals mean and correct them at the earliest signs.

 

Granted you could have spooked your pup by doing something you didn't realize they were uncomfortable with which is why you received that reaction. I still would do the same thing which is correct and remove from the bed. Even if it is play you should be able to tell your pup that thats enough and they need to stop now. Overall I think it was a learning experience for you both and now you know some of the signs to look for whether it is play snapping or something else. Good luck!

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Guest Giselle

Whenever there is a temptation to punish an animal, I always try to remind myself not to conflate two key issues: 1) How we understand our dogs and 2) how dogs understand and learn about us. As far as we know, dogs don't have a highly developed theory of mind, even though we have tendencies to anthropomorphize them ;) They can't understand our intentions, so we need to reward explicitly the behaviors we want and to remove rewards for the behaviors we don't want. It also means that, to dogs, a non-angry "NO!" is the same as an angry "NO!". A non-angry "NO" may make us feel better, but, to a dog, a punishment is a punishment. So, if we want the dog to tolerate us being in their space, we need to do it slowly and make it a pleasant experience (as outlined by RedHead's post). If we don't want the dog to growl, first, we need to understand why he's growling. In this situation, it was likely discomfort with a person being in his space. Then, we need to remove the stimulus that makes him uncomfortable and find a way to restructure the situation to make it pleasant for him and for his family.

 

Growling in this context is a behavior ultimately rooted in fear/discomfort. In my opinion, if the creature is so uncomfortable as to show growling, our primary concern should be restructuing the situation so that it is not uncomfortable and to make it pleasurable for both people and dogs (again, see RedHead's post). Lastly, if people are ever concerned with their interactions with their dogs, videorecord it! :) Watching a video of yourself will help you pinpoint exactly what was disturbing the dog and, likewise, it helps you evaluate the efficacy of your training techniques. I've recorded myself using punishments, like a verbal "NO!" or pennies in a can, and... let's just say this is why I only use punishments as a last resort.

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Guest rennina

She did this again today when I was tickling her on her chest. She told me with a deep and short growling that she's tired and wanted to sleep. So I'm pretty sure she didn't not growl because she's happy. She just wanted to be left alone.

 

Honestly I do want to be able to stop her from growling at people even if she's on her own bed, because growling can be not so pleasant to some guests. I do respect her needs and try not to make her uncomfortable or stressed by doing something she doesn't like.

 

After reading all the replies, I was thinking maybe here is what I should do:

 

Reward her when she's happy to share her space with people. And try to do this "training" as much as we can.

Look for signs that she starts to get uncomfortable and stop what I'm doing and redirect her attention before she growls.

If she growls, stay calm and stop her right away by redirecting her attention, calling her off her bed, or letting her alone if she really just wants to take a break. Again reward her for behaviors that I like.

 

I was just confused on whether or not to correct her growling. I don't want to be trained by my pup, but I'm also afraid that she will bite without warning if she learns growling is not a right thing to do.

 

 

 

I may be in the minority here but I am a believer in correcting this type of behavior especially with a puppy who is just learning. Our whippet who we got at 5 months old learned that even play growling or rowdy play is not acceptable if we say so. It's about them learning your boundaries not the other way around. Any behavior that was too rough or any type of growling was corrected with a no. If he did it on the couch or bed we would do what you just did remove him and not let him up until we said ok. I think a balance of correction and praise is needed. Correction shouldn't be angry although I understand when you get caught off guard it happens to all of us. Correction just needs to be firm and authoritative but do praise for all the good behavior. As other said learn your dogs body language over time you will be able to pick up what signals mean and correct them at the earliest signs.

 

Granted you could have spooked your pup by doing something you didn't realize they were uncomfortable with which is why you received that reaction. I still would do the same thing which is correct and remove from the bed. Even if it is play you should be able to tell your pup that thats enough and they need to stop now. Overall I think it was a learning experience for you both and now you know some of the signs to look for whether it is play snapping or something else. Good luck!

Just throwing this out there to see what others think. Kevin does a growl when he is happy- it's different than his aggressive growl but it's a growl nonetheless. And he will often air snap afterwards. I thought he was a mental defective when we first got him. But he does it all the time and it means he is happy. Without knowing your dog and seeing the body language I cannot say whether this was a possible explanation. So it's safer to assume she's warning you. And it's good she snapped and didn't just bite.

YES, dogs can be taught to share and trust you in their personal space. My dogs have their own beds, but I am allowed on or near them at any time. I would especially be working on this with a puppy...if you don't it might progress and become worse. Working with puppies is actually a lot easier in most cases. If she is uncomfortable or scared, you will often see signs in their body language long before a growl (head held back, licking, looking out of the corner of their eye, etc), so look for that and try to redirect then, before it escalates. I personally like to use a clicker (you don't have to) and really tasty food like cooked chicken. I start by just sitting near them, no direct eye contact or talking and click and treat. Gradually this moves into touching their feet, or other more sensitive areas, moving closer, etc. and rewarding good behaviour. Puppies especially, are usually very open to "oh great they're on my bed, I get the tastiest treats ever!" idea, and soon they will love you on their bed. Even if your pup is fine with most of this already, it is still great to practice as a preventative and reinforcement. :)

Edited by rennina
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i am no expert but it sounds like you are handling all of this well. Perhaps your relationship with her should be training primarily for a little while. Use MILF and positive re-inforcement. Maybe don't get in her space or let her onto furniture, etc., unless you have her working for you via positive training. Once she learns boundaries and expected behavior she will be better. I think avoiding situations where she growls key for now. You don't want her to resort to growling. It's hard because you want to correct her but you also don't want her to inhibit growling and go straight for a bite. Good luck!

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Guest HoundWorks

I completely understand. There are so many different theories and methods of training out there and I have spoken with many trainers. We have stuck with the one that we felt the most comfortable with. I do think consistency is the key whether it is positive reinforcement training, clicker training, or corrections for behavior you do not want. I would suggest if you are really concerned talk with a few trainers and get a feel for them. I love having a trainer that I trust and can go to for advice about anything.

 

The one thing that I learned from watching my puppy grow and talking with trainers/behaviorists is that dogs learn what works for them. Let's say your pup feels uncomfortable and growls and you back off to give it space it has just learned that growling is an acceptable behavior to get you to do what they want. Timing is very important and watching for those signals whether it's ear position, tail position or licking. I'm no expert by far, but after trial and error having a pup and working with trainers we had quite the learning curve. There are just so many beliefs when it comes to training so ultimately my advice just stay consistent and find a trainer to work with as your pup grows and you'll be fine!

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You said that she growled when you were "tickling her on her chest". Was this a right-away thing, or had you been petting her for a while and then it happened? I know that cats can get over-stimulated by petting, so I am wondering if that is happening with her. If it is, the only real way to handle it is "pet less". I have taught Katie to give an "initiator signal", so that I can tell if she wants to be petted or not. It's pretty simple: teach your dog the Touch command, where you present your hand and they touch it with their nose. Now, when you want to pet her on her bed, ask for Touch. If she gives it, go ahead and pet. If she doesn't, then (and, I will admit, this is very hard) you don't pet. Stop every so often while petting to give her a chance to tell you whether to go on petting (yes to the Touch) or if she has had enough (ignores the Touch). This may be a useful skill to teach your girl.

 

Here's a relatively short video that shows it in action:

77f6598d-2.jpg

My blog about helping Katie learn to be a more normal dog: http://katies-journey-philospher77.blogspot.com/

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I am surprised that she would do this so young. I am in my 70's and not yet a grey owner (planning on it) and have had many dogs of different breeds (mostly GSD and JRT and now mixed) in my life. They have all slept with me and have never, ever had one growl at me for petting it or laying next to it =:0 brit

My 6 month old greyhound puppy has always been sweet and tolerant enough to let me pet and play with her on her own bed with no problem. No space/sleep/food aggression.

 

Today when I was petting her and talking to her on her dog bed, she was happy and trying to lick my nose. Then suddenly she stopped the licking and lowered her head (not looking at me), with a very deep belly growl sound, but without curling her lip or showing me her teeth. She growled 3 or 4 times when I finally realized she was growling, and she suddenly turned her head to my face and snapped in the air.

 

I told her NO! (in an angry tone because I was shocked and angry at that moment). I took her collar and led her off her bed and asked her to sit. After that, she went back to her bed, everything back to normal. I petted her again and she was fine.

 

I didn't understand what was the actual reason for her growling. Maybe she suddenly decided she wanted to be alone, or maybe she saw or hear something, or maybe she didn't have enough exercise today...I did shorten her play time in the dog park this morning because I found a minor scrape on her leg after she was chased into the shrubs by an always-growling-and-barking labrador mix, although that scrape didn't bother her very much.

 

So here comes my question: What is the right thing to do when your dog starts to growl at you when you pet her? Should I just back off and let her alone? Or tell her no and stop the behavior? I know growling is a normal thing for a dog, a warning. But I don't want my puppy to start having any space issue. However I heard other people saying that if you stop the growl/snap behavior, next time the dog may bite without those warnings.

Edited by brit1
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Guest rennina

Thanks for the video. I actually just started to teach her the "touch" command. I didn't know this can be useful, just thought it would be fun to teach her a new trick.

 

The tickling was not a "right-away" one and was very gentle. But she did look sleepy at that moment. She went to sleep right after the growl. So this one was kinda understandable to me.

 

Well, 99.99% of the time she's VERY VERY tolerant of petting. I don't know if she really enjoys it, but she allows us to hug her or touch any part of her body. Even if I hug her and give kisses when she's on her bed, she allows me to do it and snuggles with me. No problem until yesterday. It looks like she suddenly realized that she can growl to me and order me to back off.

 

I've just had her for 3 weeks. I don't know if it's a "trying to dominate the master" thing. I'm a soft person. DH is not. She never growls to DH and likes to suck-up to him.

 

You said that she growled when you were "tickling her on her chest". Was this a right-away thing, or had you been petting her for a while and then it happened? I know that cats can get over-stimulated by petting, so I am wondering if that is happening with her. If it is, the only real way to handle it is "pet less". I have taught Katie to give an "initiator signal", so that I can tell if she wants to be petted or not. It's pretty simple: teach your dog the Touch command, where you present your hand and they touch it with their nose. Now, when you want to pet her on her bed, ask for Touch. If she gives it, go ahead and pet. If she doesn't, then (and, I will admit, this is very hard) you don't pet. Stop every so often while petting to give her a chance to tell you whether to go on petting (yes to the Touch) or if she has had enough (ignores the Touch). This may be a useful skill to teach your girl.

 

Here's a relatively short video that shows it in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7Yep9zOHNY&feature=g-upl

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Guest rennina

Yeah I was surprised, too. She has been very sweet and easy going since I got her. I checked her legs and paws today but didn't find anything that could cause her pain or discomfort. So maybe she just learned that she can growl. I didn't let her sleep on our bed. She's not allowed on furniture. I've never owned any dogs/puppies before, so I'm still learning.

 

Greys are wonderful dogs. Love their look and personality. I'm glad that I got a greyhound as my first pup :)

 

I am surprised that she would do this so young. I am in my 70's and not yet a grey owner (planning on it) and have had many dogs of different breeds (mostly GSD and JRT and now mixed) in my life. They have all slept with me and have never, ever had one growl at me for petting it or laying next to it =:0 brit

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Hmmm... interesting. What's her personality like in general? And what do you do with her?

 

My pup is only 14 weeks right now but every day I work on handling her feet, looking in her mouth, in her ears, her eyes, squeezing her belly, etc. I also play with her on her bed. Hug her to me, put her in my lap, lay over top of her. All while giving treats every few seconds to reinforce her tolerance. I also make weird noises and sometimes scary faces. It's of course best to start as young as possible, but if you haven't been doing these things I'd start introducing them and rewarding her for accepting.

 

My pup is very confident and outgoing though. Not much phases her, at least so far. We've been doing TONNES of socialization. I'm hoping we will never have an issue with growling.

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

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I may be in the minority here but I am a believer in correcting this type of behavior especially with a puppy who is just learning. Our whippet who we got at 5 months old learned that even play growling or rowdy play is not acceptable if we say so. It's about them learning your boundaries not the other way around. Any behavior that was too rough or any type of growling was corrected with a no.

 

This type of approach seems to make the assumption that growling is simply bad behavior that shouldn't be tolerated in our dogs. Many people seem to feel that growling is a threat and a challenge, but I believe that it is often just a form of canine communication - one that is greatly misunderstood by humans.

 

This perspective also lumps defensive, fearful growling in with play growling and rough play, which have completely different underlying emotions. It can sometimes take an experienced observer to determine the difference, but I believe that they need to be addressed differently. Simply correcting a dog for growling out of fear or stress may temporarily suppress the response, but if the underlying emotion isn't addressed, the dog will have no choice but to resort to stronger responses like snapping or biting.

 

The one thing that I learned from watching my puppy grow and talking with trainers/behaviorists is that dogs learn what works for them. Let's say your pup feels uncomfortable and growls and you back off to give it space it has just learned that growling is an acceptable behavior to get you to do what they want.

 

I believe that dogs have the right to tell us when they are uncomfortable with what we're doing. It's a good thing when they learn that they can communicate with us and we'll respect their needs and desires. This can often help build trust. This is not to say that we should simply stop doing whatever causes the dog to growl. But the moment when the growl has already been triggered is not the best time to work on this. You can work on the situation that makes the dog uncomfortable enough to growl by approaching it differently in the future, proceeding gradually and using positive reinforcement to teach the dog a more pleasant association with a previously stressful interaction.

 

I was just confused on whether or not to correct her growling. I don't want to be trained by my pup, but I'm also afraid that she will bite without warning if she learns growling is not a right thing to do.

 

Don't worry about being "trained by your pup". Building a bond and relationship with your dog is about learning from and respecting each other.

 

Well, 99.99% of the time she's VERY VERY tolerant of petting. I don't know if she really enjoys it, but she allows us to hug her or touch any part of her body. Even if I hug her and give kisses when she's on her bed, she allows me to do it and snuggles with me.

 

If you're not sure she really enjoys it, I'd suggest making the effort to just observe her and learn to read her more subtle body language. It may help you recognize when she's beginning to get stressed or uncomfortable, before she gets to the point of growling. A good place to start is to study calming signals. I'd recommend the book and DVD by Turid Rugaas, but this article provides a good intro.

 

It looks like she suddenly realized that she can growl to me and order me to back off.

 

Dogs do not growl to order us to do things. Growling usually starts off as an emotional response. Yes, it can become a learned response over time, which is why we do need to address the situations that trigger growling to teach the dog that she has need to growl.

 

I've just had her for 3 weeks. I don't know if it's a "trying to dominate the master" thing. I'm a soft person. DH is not. She never growls to DH and likes to suck-up to him.

 

I know others feel differently, but my suggestion would be to forget the whole dominance idea. I really don't believe dogs think this way. There are many possible reasons why she doesn't growl at DH that has nothing to do with you being 'soft' and him not.

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Guest rennina

She is very sweet and tolerant, in general. She can be a little stubborn sometimes, but she learns quickly and is improving. I wouldn't say she is super confident because she is usually very cautious when we take her to a new place (first time at daycare, first training class). But since we've only had her for less than a month, it could be because she's still adjusting.

 

Except these recent two growlings, she has no problem with me doing all those things you mentioned. I didn't use a lot of treats, though. She's trained by professional before I got her at 5 month old, and is not afraid of loud noise or sudden movements. I take her to places, dog park, obedience classes, doggie daycare, Petco, friends' places, nursing home, play dates...

 

Is it possible that she is coming out of that submissive puppy stage? Or going into a fear stage?

 

Hmmm... interesting. What's her personality like in general? And what do you do with her?

 

My pup is only 14 weeks right now but every day I work on handling her feet, looking in her mouth, in her ears, her eyes, squeezing her belly, etc. I also play with her on her bed. Hug her to me, put her in my lap, lay over top of her. All while giving treats every few seconds to reinforce her tolerance. I also make weird noises and sometimes scary faces. It's of course best to start as young as possible, but if you haven't been doing these things I'd start introducing them and rewarding her for accepting.

 

My pup is very confident and outgoing though. Not much phases her, at least so far. We've been doing TONNES of socialization. I'm hoping we will never have an issue with growling.

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Guest rennina

You're right. The best approach is to eliminate the stress before she has to growl. I've read that article before, although those calming signs are more subtle than I thought so sometimes I may not catch them.

 

I did start to pay more attention to her reactions when I pet and touch her body when she's on her bed. No growling or signs of discomfort since this morning. But again I might miss that, so maybe I should consult the trainer next time and let her watch us.

 

I just realized that the two growlings both happened after she came back from her morning exercise.

 

I may be in the minority here but I am a believer in correcting this type of behavior especially with a puppy who is just learning. Our whippet who we got at 5 months old learned that even play growling or rowdy play is not acceptable if we say so. It's about them learning your boundaries not the other way around. Any behavior that was too rough or any type of growling was corrected with a no.

 

This type of approach seems to make the assumption that growling is simply bad behavior that shouldn't be tolerated in our dogs. Many people seem to feel that growling is a threat and a challenge, but I believe that it is often just a form of canine communication - one that is greatly misunderstood by humans.

 

This perspective also lumps defensive, fearful growling in with play growling and rough play, which have completely different underlying emotions. It can sometimes take an experienced observer to determine the difference, but I believe that they need to be addressed differently. Simply correcting a dog for growling out of fear or stress may temporarily suppress the response, but if the underlying emotion isn't addressed, the dog will have no choice but to resort to stronger responses like snapping or biting.

 

The one thing that I learned from watching my puppy grow and talking with trainers/behaviorists is that dogs learn what works for them. Let's say your pup feels uncomfortable and growls and you back off to give it space it has just learned that growling is an acceptable behavior to get you to do what they want.

 

I believe that dogs have the right to tell us when they are uncomfortable with what we're doing. It's a good thing when they learn that they can communicate with us and we'll respect their needs and desires. This can often help build trust. This is not to say that we should simply stop doing whatever causes the dog to growl. But the moment when the growl has already been triggered is not the best time to work on this. You can work on the situation that makes the dog uncomfortable enough to growl by approaching it differently in the future, proceeding gradually and using positive reinforcement to teach the dog a more pleasant association with a previously stressful interaction.

 

I was just confused on whether or not to correct her growling. I don't want to be trained by my pup, but I'm also afraid that she will bite without warning if she learns growling is not a right thing to do.

 

Don't worry about being "trained by your pup". Building a bond and relationship with your dog is about learning from and respecting each other.

 

Well, 99.99% of the time she's VERY VERY tolerant of petting. I don't know if she really enjoys it, but she allows us to hug her or touch any part of her body. Even if I hug her and give kisses when she's on her bed, she allows me to do it and snuggles with me.

 

If you're not sure she really enjoys it, I'd suggest making the effort to just observe her and learn to read her more subtle body language. It may help you recognize when she's beginning to get stressed or uncomfortable, before she gets to the point of growling. A good place to start is to study calming signals. I'd recommend the book and DVD by Turid Rugaas, but this article provides a good intro.

 

It looks like she suddenly realized that she can growl to me and order me to back off.

 

Dogs do not growl to order us to do things. Growling usually starts off as an emotional response. Yes, it can become a learned response over time, which is why we do need to address the situations that trigger growling to teach the dog that she has need to growl.

 

I've just had her for 3 weeks. I don't know if it's a "trying to dominate the master" thing. I'm a soft person. DH is not. She never growls to DH and likes to suck-up to him.

 

I know others feel differently, but my suggestion would be to forget the whole dominance idea. I really don't believe dogs think this way. There are many possible reasons why she doesn't growl at DH that has nothing to do with you being 'soft' and him not.

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