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Correct Response To Growling/snapping


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Hello all! My Jake is almost perfect... almost :D

Besides not liking other dogs much (which we've come to accept) he very occasionally will growl or snap at us (very, very occasionally, but we are NOT accepting of this). I know growling is communicating, so we don't do anything about that except give him his way (it's almost always if we try to move him from somewhere and he doesn't want to move). This morning, he skipped growling snapped as my husband tried to move him by grabbing his collar. I know you will all say this angered/frightened him and don't grab him by the collar anymore... BUT what I'm wondering is how to handle snapping situations when they happen.

 

It's honestly been less than 5 times in the past year we've had him, but I don't think snapping at us is ever right, especially when we respond to growling. My coworkers keep telling me to use force to make him know he's "submissive" to our "dominance" but I know that's an outdated theory. One says we should lay on him when he does this so he knows we're in charge. How do you guys deal with snapping situations?

 

Sorry for the drawn-out post!

Edited by NeedlenoseJake

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Photographer in Phoenix, AZ www.northmountainphoto.com

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Don't listen to your co-workers, first off :lol

 

The deal with growling is this: yes, it's the way a dog communicates, but it's up to you to counter-condition and desensitize so that his triggers aren't triggered in the future. In other words, you know what bothers him, so you need to train him so that it no longer bothers him and you don't need to make him growl in the future. He'll have been trained to enjoy or tolerate whatever it was that was pissing him off before. Make sense?

 

Since the behavior is centered around times when he is being manhandled, you need to train him a "let's go" command so won't ever need to manhandle him :) Train him using something really, really tasty, so that when you call him over to you, he's greatly rewarded.

 

In the meantime, put a leash on him instead of grabbing him by the collar, and give a cheerful "Let's go!" when you need him moved.

Edited by turbotaina


Meredith with Heyokha (HUS Me Teddy) and Crow (Mike Milbury). Missing Turbo (Sendahl Boss), Pancho, JoJo, and "Fat Stacks" Juana, the psycho kitty. Canku wakan kin manipi.

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Good lord (that's at the misguided "advice" you're getting, not at you). Teach an "off" or "move" cue so you don't need to grab him by his collar, problem solved.

 

How to teach? Say "off", toss HIGH VALUE treats on floor (make sure he sees you toss them so he's motivated to get off whatever he's on). Encourage him to get back up, say "off", toss food, let him eat it, repeat a bunch of times. When he's clearly got the idea of what's going on, try saying "off" then waiting. If he jumps down, reward HUGELY - tons of praise and stream of treats. If he doesn't, after 3 seconds, toss food onto floor and try testing the cue later on. Eventually he will learn what it means. And in the future, when he does respond, always reward. I have small glass jars from Ikea with locking lids that I keep around the house iwth treats in it for things like this so I'm never without reinforcement when I need it.

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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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Or better yet, when you and your coworker have a disagreement, throw him down and lie on top of him so he knows who's in charge :rotfl


Meredith with Heyokha (HUS Me Teddy) and Crow (Mike Milbury). Missing Turbo (Sendahl Boss), Pancho, JoJo, and "Fat Stacks" Juana, the psycho kitty. Canku wakan kin manipi.

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

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By the way, you haven't "given him his way" if you continue to try to move him by grabbing his collar. Not that it's about giving him his way in the first place, but the issue here is that he doens't like being moved by his collar. So stop doing it. He's escalating because you continue to do it when he doesn't growl at you. Who can blame him? He's asked you nicely a bunch of times not to do it. :)

 

And while I'm on a roll, anyone who gives you "training" advice based on dominance theory, RUN don't walk the other way. Those theories are disproven and unfounded at this point. Anyone who's still spouting that type of advice is getting their ideas about training from a certain TV personality who has no actual understanding of learning theory, or worse. Glad you were smart enough to second guess it and ask here. :)


Or better yet, when you and your coworker have a disagreement, throw him down and lie on top of him so he knows who's in charge :rotfl

:rofl

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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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By the way, you haven't "given him his way" if you continue to try to move him by grabbing his collar. Not that it's about giving him his way in the first place, but the issue here is that he doens't like being moved by his collar. So stop doing it. He's escalating because you continue to do it when he doesn't growl at you. Who can blame him? He's asked you nicely a bunch of times not to do it. :)

 

And while I'm on a roll, anyone who gives you "training" advice based on dominance theory, RUN don't walk the other way. Those theories are disproven and unfounded at this point. Anyone who's still spouting that type of advice is getting their ideas about training from a certain TV personality who has no actual understanding of learning theory, or worse. Glad you were smart enough to second guess it and ask here. :)

:rofl

Yes I tried arguing with them but it only gets so far. I think those kind of methods CAN work with SOME dogs, but I know they wouldn't work with mine! I'd get a nice bite and stink eye for my trouble! By the way, they even mentioned said TV personality by name :hehe Yes, I know better :shakefinger

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Photographer in Phoenix, AZ www.northmountainphoto.com

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Guest daytonasmom

I found the leash works wonders. Daytona isn't fond of bath time - a pain to get him in there, then another pain to get him out. Putting the leash on him works like magic. It's like an invisible force field or something, he still isn't happy but no more growling and arguing with me about it.

 

He gets this sad, defeated look, but I don't buy it :)

 

And I'm so glad greyhounds don't need baths all the time!! LOL

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I found the leash works wonders. Daytona isn't fond of bath time - a pain to get him in there, then another pain to get him out. Putting the leash on him works like magic. It's like an invisible force field or something, he still isn't happy but no more growling and arguing with me about it.

 

He gets this sad, defeated look, but I don't buy it :)

 

And I'm so glad greyhounds don't need baths all the time!! LOL

Here's the potential problem with this in the OP's case - it can be an interim solution if you *need* to get him up for some reason, but if you don't work on teaching a cue, he'll connect the dots and then you may get the reaction as you reach with the leash. The safest thing is to not have to physically move him, but to have him get up willingly when you ask.

Yes I tried arguing with them but it only gets so far. I think those kind of methods CAN work with SOME dogs, but I know they wouldn't work with mine! I'd get a nice bite and stink eye for my trouble! By the way, they even mentioned said TV personality by name :hehe Yes, I know better :shakefinger

If by "work" you mean it suppresses the behavior so the dog becomes a ticking time bomb, then yes, it works with some dogs. ;)

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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Guest HeatherLee

Every time you say something about one of Jake's behaviors, it reminds me SO MUCH of Gambler. They seem to be a lot alike, Jake is just a bit more intense. I learned early on that G does NOT like to me manhandled or forced into anything. I completely get that, I wouldn't either. He does growl and snap sometimes. A couple things I've noticed (and I don't know if these will all be helpful but they've helped me figure out my boy's grumpiness).

 

1.) I started using a harness on him. He get's more leash reactive, prey driven, and just plain a pain in the ass when I walk him in a collar for the most part, and will growl and snap when it's pulled accidentally.

 

2.) His growling/snapping increases exponentially the less real exercise he gets (completely understandable). But in the heat, or times when I work a lot and can't take him to run in the park as much, he growls a lot more and I know to just give him extra space during this time and cut down on petting.

 

3.)Whenever he does growl, I usually just stop doing the thing that made him growl. Snapping however, gets a firm "No".. then I stand tell him to get up from wherever he is and go lay down on the floor ( I don't yell). (Mostly because he snaps when he's on the couch or bed with me). He'll stay down and sulk a bit, but then after a few minutes I'll invite him back up and give him space and less attention unless he asks for it.

 

4.) His collar (or harness) comes off when we get home after a walk. When the collar/harness comes out he know's its walk time and it gives him something to be excited about.

 

5.) I would work on teaching him "get up", "come here", and "lay down". Treats really help with this, especially because if he's really comfortable he won't get up for anything else.

 

6.) I hardly ever manhandle him. I have been slightly teaching him to yield to pressure (kind of like you do with horses). I'll place a hand on his shoulder and with very light pressure, say "move over" (in a gentle voice), if he moves away, he get's a treat and a "good boy". If he doesn't respond I invade his space a little more by standing closer, and the second he does anything to move over, even if it's a lean in the other direction, he gets a treat and we build on it.

 

7.) If he does growl when I'm trying to get him to move a certain way I stop, grab a treat and ask him to do something else I know he can do to get things back on a positive note, then find a better way to ask to do the thing I wanted (if that makes sense)

 

I don't know if any of these help specifically, but this is just what I do. It really helps to do things that help bond you with the dog, like grooming, playing, etc. And just learning how they move and react.

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Have you done a vet check? You're getting great behavioral advice (as always), but I always wonder if the dog could be in pain--he could have a muscle issue or some arthritis that's hurting him when you grab his collar.

Beth, Petey (8 September 2018- ), and Faith (22 March 2019). Godspeed Patrick (28 April 1999 - 5 August 2012), Murphy (23 June 2004 - 27 July 2013), Leo (1 May 2009 - 27 January 2020), and Henry (10 August 2010 - 7 August 2020), you were loved more than you can know.

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Guest KK_The_Grey

Lots of great advice. We have a dog who gets snappy once in a while. We have only had her for about three months and she has improved a lot but incidents still happen.

 

Getting snapped at is scary but I agree with motivating them with food and trying to let go of any anger or resentment.

 

When our girl doesn't want to go for her night pee break, we lure her out with treats. I wouldn't try to grab her, as that probably wouldn't end well. She always responds to being called and the crinkle of treat bag. Whenever we try to teach her something new or desensitize her, we're like treat dispensers and she responds well.

 

Good luck :)

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This is really helpful - happened for the first time at the weekend, this was when Charlie was very tired, thought I was being helpful getting him up as he'd slipped most of the way off his bed but certainly wasn't thanked for it.

 

I would not be willing to attempt lying on any greyhound I'd met for any amount of money :s

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Every time you say something about one of Jake's behaviors, it reminds me SO MUCH of Gambler. They seem to be a lot alike, Jake is just a bit more intense. I learned early on that G does NOT like to me manhandled or forced into anything. I completely get that, I wouldn't either. He does growl and snap sometimes. A couple things I've noticed (and I don't know if these will all be helpful but they've helped me figure out my boy's grumpiness).

 

1.) I started using a harness on him. He get's more leash reactive, prey driven, and just plain a pain in the ass when I walk him in a collar for the most part, and will growl and snap when it's pulled accidentally.

 

2.) His growling/snapping increases exponentially the less real exercise he gets (completely understandable). But in the heat, or times when I work a lot and can't take him to run in the park as much, he growls a lot more and I know to just give him extra space during this time and cut down on petting.

 

3.)Whenever he does growl, I usually just stop doing the thing that made him growl. Snapping however, gets a firm "No".. then I stand tell him to get up from wherever he is and go lay down on the floor ( I don't yell). (Mostly because he snaps when he's on the couch or bed with me). He'll stay down and sulk a bit, but then after a few minutes I'll invite him back up and give him space and less attention unless he asks for it.

 

4.) His collar (or harness) comes off when we get home after a walk. When the collar/harness comes out he know's its walk time and it gives him something to be excited about.

 

5.) I would work on teaching him "get up", "come here", and "lay down". Treats really help with this, especially because if he's really comfortable he won't get up for anything else.

 

6.) I hardly ever manhandle him. I have been slightly teaching him to yield to pressure (kind of like you do with horses). I'll place a hand on his shoulder and with very light pressure, say "move over" (in a gentle voice), if he moves away, he get's a treat and a "good boy". If he doesn't respond I invade his space a little more by standing closer, and the second he does anything to move over, even if it's a lean in the other direction, he gets a treat and we build on it.

 

7.) If he does growl when I'm trying to get him to move a certain way I stop, grab a treat and ask him to do something else I know he can do to get things back on a positive note, then find a better way to ask to do the thing I wanted (if that makes sense)

 

I don't know if any of these help specifically, but this is just what I do. It really helps to do things that help bond you with the dog, like grooming, playing, etc. And just learning how they move and react.

Thanks, this is all good info! I should mention it was his tag collar, because his regular collar only comes out when we're going out. Jake and Gambler are just two grumpy old men I guess :gramps

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Photographer in Phoenix, AZ www.northmountainphoto.com

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