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Guest ms3569

We adopted a new male greyhound several months ago. Over the past couple days he's been growling more at people and other dogs. He's sporadically growled on occasion in the past. The growling seems to be space related, if other dogs or people get close to him he growls. He hasn't shown his teeth or snapped. He growled at me tonight when I sat down beside him to pet him. I'm not comfortable with his growling. It makes me concerned about putting medicine or flea and tick treatment on him. He also growled at 2 different dogs who were close to him this weekend. Neither of the dogs were in his face or were behaving aggressively at all. He also growled at a women who was petting him yesterday. How is the best way to handle the growling when trying to care for health issues or with other people petting him? I feel anxious when he's around other dogs, kids, or people that his growling may turn into more aggressive behavior. Please help!

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He may feel over-stimulated in his new world. He's trying to communicate in dog language that he is very uncomfortable in those situations. Please do respect his communication by backing away and giving him his space immediately.

Important: Please do not reprimand a dog for growling. If they're scolded for their "caution" growl, the next time they may skip the growl and go directly to a nip/bite. Dogs need to be able to communicate their strong feelings of discomfort some way, so better a caution growl than a bite. There are many reasons dogs growl: fear, invasion of space or resources, etc.

 

A veterinary visit could reveal whether a dog is in physical pain from a previous injury. Some dogs are just sensitive to being touched on certain areas like ears or spine, etc.

 

Newly retired racers are not used to having as much attention as many of us like to show new pets, nor are they used to sharing space or resources. Greyhounds need time to adjust to a whole new world. Humans need to earn the dog's trust. This takes a variable about of time; could take months, a year or more. After you earn your new hound's full trust, he will be more accepting of your attention and handling him for flea treatments, etc.

 

Some general rules for families of newly adopted dogs:

 

- Let resting dogs lie undisturbed. Do not approach a dog while he is on his dog bed. That should be considered his own private safety zone. It doesn't matter if he's sleeping or awake. (BTW, many Greyhounds sleep with their eyes open.) It's okay to toss a treat to him from afar while he is on his bed, but please respect his space. Greyhounds are not used to intruders in their resting zone.

 

- Wait for the dog to stand up, and approach a human before offering him attention. At the very least, wait until he's standing up and well away from his bed before petting him.

 

- Do not lean over a dog, petting his head or body from above. Reaching an arm over the top of a dog's head is threatening behavior in dog language, as is a direct frontal approach from humans (or dogs).

 

Better for a person to approach the (standing) dog from the side, and pet the dog's shoulder (same side, not leaning over the dog), but only if the dog would enjoy the attention.

Otherwise, the dog shoudn't be forced into situations that make him feel too uncomfortable or fearful. Some dogs are fearful of strangers: it may be unnoticed outwardly, but the dog may feel fear internally. Baby steps may be required for some dogs. Its most important for the dog to feel safe and comfortable with his own family and home environment first. After the family has earned the dog's trust, then slowly expand to public situations while staying below the dog's comfort threshold.

 

- If visitors are invited into a new dog owner's home, they should be educated to allow the dog his own space until the dog is ready to stand and approach the human visitor for attention. If young children are visiting, the children should be supervised at ALL times. The dog should be in a safe place like his crate or behind a baby-gate. Young children should never be left in a room unsupervised with any dog, nor should they be allowed to get too close to a dog's face. Babies in carriers should not be placed on floor level.

 

- Polite dog-to-dog meetings involve arcing around from the side for a brief introduction (not head-on, face-to-face). Then move along. Remember that racing Greyhounds are reared only with other Greyhounds. Other breeds often look and act like aliens from a newly retired Greyhound's perspective. Of course, be extra cautious around smaller animals or avoid them completely.

 

Set him up for success by ensuring your interactions with him are respectful, happy, positive, and reward-based. (Please do not dominate a dog, it's decades long proven to cause serious aggression in many, many dogs.) Please let us know how things go.

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If you adopted him "several months ago" and this is NEW, I would consider taking him to the vet. He could be feeling ill and thus doesn't want anyone near him.

 

Also, if you're afraid of your own dog, you might consider having someone from the group you got him from come over and observe him and see if they spot something you're missing. He's going to know you're afraid and then neither one of you will relax.


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Guest k9soul

My guess, as long as nothing medical is going on, is that he has been uncomfortable with those things in the past but has reached a point where he is starting to express himself about it as it is an ongoing stressor. Last November I added a new hound, Cole, to my household, and for the first few weeks/months he was completely silent and just generally seemed "fine" with everything. My other hound, Rudy, has a very strong personality and can be pushy about lying where he wants to and voicing his displeasure if he is disturbed.

 

Then one day, Cole started growling when he was on his dog bed and Rudy came near. I was surprised as it seemed he had been fine before. I watched the situation and I saw if Rudy wanted to lie in that bed he'd plop down next to Cole, and Cole would give him a sidelong look but accept it. Then when they'd go to sleep if Cole moved Rudy would do his usual snark about being disturbed, and Cole would get up and move. It seems so obvious in hindsight that that was becoming an increasingly stressful situation for Cole, but I just did not really realize it until Cole became more and more adamant about not liking Rudy in his space when he was on that dog bed. It started escalating and I decided then I needed to make Cole have his own space where he didn't have to worry about Rudy taking his bed, even when he was up and about and not in the bed. So I used gates to create his own little corner of the room and began working with Rudy that that one area is off limits to him. Cole is much happier now. He's overall become more relaxed and tail-wagging, and even seems on friendlier terms with Rudy. I have a dog door, but they always go outside together, come in together, and stand close to each other when they are up and about.

 

So the point of my own little story is that your boy may be dealing with some constant stress and strain that is causing him to reach the end of his tolerance level more and more quickly. It would be a good idea to back off and I fully agree with the advice given above as well. I hope some of what is posted here can help.

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Try not to read too much into it. This is something most, if not all first-time greyhound owners experience at one point or another. Greyhounds are more growly than some breeds (which a lot of people find challenging or aggressive, but really, is just your dog's way of trying to communicate with you). It's most likely an anxiety/stress response. He's telling you something is making him uncomfortable. As the others have mentioned, the best course of action is to figure out what his triggers are and work on desensitizing him to them. Most often, the growliness lessens or fully disapears over time. In the meantime, don't punish him for growling. And if he doesn't want you in his space, don't force it.

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