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Growled At Me?!?


Guest Wasabi303
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Guest Wasabi303

Wasabi just growled at me and I am shocked and uncertain what the correct response is.

 

She was chewing on a 'chicken braid' rawhide thingy and I only let her have it for about an hour a day. I went to go take it from her and she growled. I understand that this is a reasonable/instinctual response, but I am wondering what (if anything) I should do if it happens again. This time I firmly said 'No' and then slowly took the braid away. Once it was in the other room I came back and patted her. She is used to me taking away things she is chewing on, we do this all the time.

 

Should I be worried that she might bite me in this same scenario again? Do your greyhounds growl at you? What is the correct response from a trainer's perspective?

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I do take high value treats off my dogs like bones etc. BUT only when they've finished with them. Otherwise, you need to trade up. Expecting a dog to be happy with you taking something like that away, I think, is unrealistic. I'd bite if someone attempted to remove chocolate I was eating. A growl is quite reasonable under the circumstances.

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I can reach into either dog's throat and pull out any nasty thing they're trying to scarf down.* It takes time and work, trading up for higher value treats like Brandiandwe says above. You're reacting very sanely, by the way. Some folks flip out the first time the dog growls at them.

 

 

 

 

 

*Does not apply to live animals, or (probably) recently dead ones!

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We never discourage growling. I believe it is quite proper for a dog to have the right to voice its displeasure at someone or something. If the dog is not in danger, respect the growl.

 

If you do have to get something away from the dog then trade up to something better. If there is no reason to take something away - don't just do it on principle.

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Really thorough explanation of guarding behavior, how it's a totally normal behavior in dogs, how to modify your dog's behavior, and what to do if you make a mistake and cause your dog to growl:

http://www.marysdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/WDJ_Resource_Gaurding.pdf

 

She is used to me taking away things she is chewing on, we do this all the time.

Think about this from her perspective. What you think is her being "used to it" was more likely her just tolerating it, or giving you subtle warning signs that you were missing/ignoring, which ultimately led to the growl. Info in the attached article, but in the canine world, if you have a possession it's yours and it's rude for another dog to take it. Even aside from that, it's a valuable possession, it's something she wants to keep. She has no clue that by human's artificial rules she's supposed to just be totally fine with you taking things from her mouth. So if her experience is you approach, you take it away, repeatedly, is she more or less likely to guard in some way in the future?

 

So you change her (normal dog) feelings about having you take things away, by repeatedly doing training exercises where she's chewing on it and you just walk up and drop other delicious bits and walk away. And then you repeatedly do training exercises where you trade her for something even higher value, then immediately give the chew back to her. You do this again and again and again so that on the rare occasion when you can't let her finish and need to take something away, or you really need to take something away because it's not safe for her to have, she'll be happy to give it right up because that history of being rewarded for doing so and not losing her possession is there.

Edited by NeylasMom

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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I do take high value treats off my dogs like bones etc. BUT only when they've finished with them. Otherwise, you need to trade up. Expecting a dog to be happy with you taking something like that away, I think, is unrealistic. I'd bite if someone attempted to remove chocolate I was eating. A growl is quite reasonable under the circumstances.

 

We never discourage growling. I believe it is quite proper for a dog to have the right to voice its displeasure at someone or something. If the dog is not in danger, respect the growl.

 

If you do have to get something away from the dog then trade up to something better. If there is no reason to take something away - don't just do it on principle.

Yes, to both of those! I never discourage growling - it's communication, and without it, they may go straight to a bite. And one of the first things I teach a new hound is to be fine with me touching them while they're eating. Just touching. No taking away. At first it's a fleeting touch on the shoulder as I put their food down or give them a treat. With a lot of time, work and patience, we progress to 'trading up' and then removing something without a trade. Having done that work, I then leave it (with the occasional trade-up reinforcement) knowing that if the day should come when I need to drag something from their mouth, they'll be OK with that. Without that work, you really can't expect them to be fine with you stealing their stuff. ;)

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The plural of anecdote is not data

Brambleberry Greyhounds My Etsy Shop

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One thing that I will add, and this totally depends on the dog, I agree that trade-up is very important. But - I need to be able to take something away from my dog right away if I NEED to. With a dog that's usually OK with you taking stuff, and if you've done trade-up training, I don't think you need to do it every time. IMHO you should get to the point where you can say "Time to let go" and be able to take it. If you get a growl - that means time to rethink how to do this. Maybe it a trade-off, maybe it's a "HEY. Let's go do something somewhere else, and I'm taking that". I believe growls should DEFINITELY be respected. But - I also think that sometimes I can over-growl when need be, and insist. Not putting my hands in the path of getting bitten of course - but firmly redirecting. I'd only do that with a dog a know VERY well and had a long relationship with.

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