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Guest brookiebaby

Hi -- My husband and I have been reading this forum for a while now, but haven't posted. I wish our first post were under different circumstances, but here it is.

 

We adopted Nittany (originally Brook) about six weeks ago. She is a 3 year old female and can be so sweet, happy, and affectionate. I have been around dogs my whole life, but this is my first dog as an adult, and my DH's first dog period. When we first brought her home, she had some pretty bad separation anxiety. We were in pretty constant contact with our adoption group, and she seemed to turn around really quickly. Now, we are having a different problem. She has been snapping at us, mostly at night, mostly when we are on the couch with her, and last night she bit DH's arm hard enough to break the skin, and this morning it seems bruised as well.

 

At first, we thought it could be sleep startle, so we made sure she was awake before petting her (she sleeps with her eyes open so we call her name and make sure she looks up). However, it seems that she will still snap at us when awake. It is also not consistently when we are petting her, sometimes she will start growling/baring teeth/snapping when we are simply sitting next to her. She is a huge velcro dog, she always chooses to sit next to us and follow us around. She will even lay her head on us sometimes and try to cuddle. I grew up with dogs being allowed on the couch, but after last night she has lost that privilege for the time being.

 

We had talked to our adoption group in the last week, since she had started snapping a bit more frequently (prior maybe once a week, now every other day or so) and they suggested that we reprimand her - give her a sharper "no" with a 2-finger tap on the nose. She stops growling right away and looks rather forlorn, but it didn't seem to cut down on the frequency.

 

I'm starting to feel more nervous and scared around our dog. I feel as though I am a failure as a dog owner, and really don't know what to do. I do not want to give her up, but I don't want to keep her if we are not a good environment. We are talking more with our adoption group, and they are going to refer us to someone with bite experience, but I wanted to know what you guys think. DH and I are both committed to working with her, but we are both out of our depth here.

 

Thank you

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You mentioned that she snaps when you are on the couch with her ... can you list ALL the other times that it happened and what you were doing with her.

 

As you already did, do not let her up on the couch.

 

She may just not want anyone in her space but, you need to identify all the other times that it happened.

 

You may also want to hold off on tapping her nose until you understand why she s growling and snapping. The growling is a warning and the snap is sometimes a result of not listening to the warning and continuing what you were doing. But, maybe not ...

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Did you take her to a vet to make sure she is not hurting? Sometimes dogs react to hurt the way you describe her behaviour.

Sorry for butchering the english language. I try to keep the mistakes to a minimum.

 

Nadine with Paddy (Zippy Mullane), Saoirse (Lizzie Be Nice), Abu (Cillowen Abu) and bridge angels Colin (Dessies Hero) and Andy (Riot Officer).

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Guest GreyOrchard

Providing that she does not have some neurological problem, it might be that she needs to learn the boundaries of good behaviour. Perhaps she has always lived in kennels and never had much close interaction.

 

As I write, I have here a friend's whippet visiting. Small but mighty, when she wants something she glares at me and starts a deep chesty growl, very loud and very threatening. I know she doesn't mean a thing by it....it's how she asks for things. I hate it. So during her visit here I have let it be known to her that I don't react to such loud and bossy demands. I realized the other day that some people would find her threatening.

 

Maybe your girl needs to learn the rules: 1) no biting, no mouthing; 2) growling is ignored or gets a verbal admonishment; and 3) you are in charge, not her, and so start using your voice a bit differently when you want to admonish: a bit louder, sharper, and lower octave. Think of her as a 3 yr old child who has never been exposed to basic manners, and it's your job to teach them to her......am a bit surprised that a dog with such behaviour was adopted out to you, however.

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Guest Lenslen

I'm having a similar problem with my greyhound. I've had my greyhound for about a year now, and he recently started snapping when someone tries to get him off a bed, or get him to get up from laying down so that he can go for a walk or whatever. Basically, any time someone tries to move him from him relaxing, he begins to get aggressive. With me it's only been a growl, and a small snap. But my sister said that he growled and snapped at her really aggressively. I'm not sure what to do!

 

Sorry to add to the thread offering no advice, and instead adding questions of my own!

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Guest GreyOrchard

I'm having a similar problem with my greyhound. I've had my greyhound for about a year now, and he recently started snapping when someone tries to get him off a bed, or get him to get up from laying down so that he can go for a walk or whatever. Basically, any time someone tries to move him from him relaxing, he begins to get aggressive. With me it's only been a growl, and a small snap. But my sister said that he growled and snapped at her really aggressively. I'm not sure what to do!

 

Sorry to add to the thread offering no advice, and instead adding questions of my own!

 

Very sorry to hear this. Someone contacted me the other day about a greyhound I have known for a few years now. Happy, sociable, tail always going. But in recent weeks he has started to do the same thing. At first glance it looks like he suddenly is showing "rest aggression" or "space aggression" - but for what reason? A little investigating and it turns out the household atmosphere has changed in recent weeks....two small dogs were brought into the house, and although the greyhound lives with a tiny dog and has no problems at all with it, once the two new ones arrived he has been oddly cranky.The owner then realied that yes, he has been going off on his own a lot, to one of the spare bedrooms. And when they are all watching tv at night, the two new ones are constantly jumping up and down from her husband's lap. They are always in everyone's face. It made me cranky just hearing about it.

 

Imagine how the dog feels.

 

They are making some adjustments with this in mind now.

 

So I wonder if in recent weeks or more there have been some changes in your house or the routine where things are a good bit more hectic. I also wonder if he is not getting out for walks as much. He sounds like he is saying "Get away from me, leave me alone! Don't touch me!" Now he also might have some health issue bothering him, and his reaction is to go into isolation-mode. You might have him checked by a vet for any tender areas or other problems. If nothing is found, then it is likely some tension or activity in the house that is making him want to be by himself, which is a bit out of character for a greyhound. The behaviour doesn't come from nowhere,,,,there has to be something that initiated it.

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For aggression issues, I always recommend working with an animal behaviorist or at least a very skilled, qualified trainer who uses only reward based methods. Given that your group is recommending physical punishment, which is only likely to increase your dog's aggression, I'm not sure I'd trust a trainer they referred you to. I'm happy to see if I can refer you to anyone if you let me know where you live.

 

In the meantime, removing couch privileges was smart. If she does get on the furniture in the meantime, before she gets settled run and get something yummy from the fridge and just toss it on the floor where she sees it so she jumps down on her own. Trying to grab her collar and remove her physically from the couch is asking for a bite (large proportion of dog bites happen over collar grabs). She's new to your home and still adjusting so give her her space while you seek out professional help.

 

It may also make you feel better if you see things from her perspective - she's uncomfortable with you being in her space, not something she's had to deal with her entire life and her only way to convey that to you is through vocalizing, growling, snapping or biting. The fact that she gives warnings is a good thing. Heed them, try not to put her in positions where she needs to use them and try not to take it personally (tough, I know, but this is how dogs communicate even though we may not find it "acceptable").

 

Last thing I'll add, not only can punishing her warnings increase her aggression, you may end up inadvertently suppressing her warning signs. That's the last thing you want to do as a dog who will growl or snarl first is much less of a danger than a dog who goes straight to biting.

 

Please let me know if I can help with a trainer referral.


I'm having a similar problem with my greyhound. I've had my greyhound for about a year now, and he recently started snapping when someone tries to get him off a bed, or get him to get up from laying down so that he can go for a walk or whatever. Basically, any time someone tries to move him from him relaxing, he begins to get aggressive. With me it's only been a growl, and a small snap. But my sister said that he growled and snapped at her really aggressively. I'm not sure what to do!

 

Sorry to add to the thread offering no advice, and instead adding questions of my own!

Any sudden behavior change first requires that you rule out any potential medical issues.

 

My next question would be why are you trying to move him? Why can't you just call him off of the bed and then put on the leash, etc.?

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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 brookiebaby

Providing that she does not have some neurological problem, it might be that she needs to learn the boundaries of good behaviour. Perhaps she has always lived in kennels and never had much close interaction.

 

As I write, I have here a friend's whippet visiting. Small but mighty, when she wants something she glares at me and starts a deep chesty growl, very loud and very threatening. I know she doesn't mean a thing by it....it's how she asks for things. I hate it. So during her visit here I have let it be known to her that I don't react to such loud and bossy demands. I realized the other day that some people would find her threatening.

 

Maybe your girl needs to learn the rules: 1) no biting, no mouthing; 2) growling is ignored or gets a verbal admonishment; and 3) you are in charge, not her, and so start using your voice a bit differently when you want to admonish: a bit louder, sharper, and lower octave. Think of her as a 3 yr old child who has never been exposed to basic manners, and it's your job to teach them to her......am a bit surprised that a dog with such behaviour was adopted out to you, however.

She is a retired racer, so I expect that she didn't get much in the way of cuddling or social interaction in her previous life. She went through a prison training program, and they did not report any aggressive or defensive behavior, but they did note that she was a bit fearful of loud noises and big cars (she still seems uncomfortable around buses or busy streets on walks, but nothing major - we just avoid those areas). That program lasted about a month, and they had pretty much only positive things to say about her. Then, she went to a foster home for about a month and they completely fell in love with her there. She showed "sleep aggression" once, and snapped at the resident chihuahua once over a rawhide, but since she was going to be an only dog we didn't see that as a big problem, since they got along well the rest of the time. At her foster home she was not allowed on the couch or on the bed.

 

I can't recall the exact details of every incident, but here are some I remember. Once I was sitting on the floor knitting, and she followed me into the room and laid down next to me, almost touching (which of course melts my tender heart). We sat in peace for about a half an hour, until she growled and snapped at me simultaneously. She did not make contact with her teeth. I gave out a bit of a yelp involuntarily and left the room immediately while telling her "no". If she gave a visual warning, I missed it, because I was looking at my work. I was not petting her.

 

Earlier this week, I was sitting on the couch, and she was also on the couch with her head towards me. She was awake as far as I could tell, but it was after 9pm. We had been sitting next to each other for about an hour I think. I gave her a pet, and she tolerated it for about 20-30 seconds, seemed normal, and then growled and bared her teeth. I gave her a tap and a stern "no" and she quieted down and moved to the other end of the couch. I think about an hour after that, she growled again, and I again said "no" and held her muzzle. She did not escalate or act out again that night.

 

This time, DH was sitting on the couch, with Nittany next to him, laying with her head right next to his leg. He called her name to see if she was awake, and she lifted her head. He started petting her head and neck, and turned back to watch the tv. Some 30 seconds or so passed, and that's when she bit him. He doesn't remember a growl. I was out of the house, so I can't confirm. She again moved to the end of the couch with her head away from DH, and snarled at him again about an hour or so later.

 

We think she is getting protective of the couch, and just doesn't want people in her space at night, but she usually chooses to get pretty close to us. She can also be mouthy when excited, which we are also trying to work on.

 

Edited to add: I have never before used physical punishment with a dog, and have just been giving this a try in the last two days. I'd like to avoid using this approach if possible.

Edited by brookiebaby
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She showed "sleep aggression" once, and snapped at the resident chihuahua once over a rawhide, but since she was going to be an only dog we didn't see that as a big problem, since they got along well the rest of the time.

Still resource guarding. Whether it's a high value food item like a rawhide or the couch, resource guarding is resource guarding. A lot of people don't realize that though so don't predict that a dog that may guard food in one situation may guard other things in another. The sleep aggression incident in the foster home should have been a predictor though (just speaking from the perspective of the group educating adopters about potential issues).

 

Those amounts of time she was in the prison program and in the foster home aren't long. Not necessarily long enough to see these types of behaviors. Also a lot of moving around in a short period of time for her = stress. The more stressors in a dog's life, the more likely the dog is to react aggressively to some trigger.

 

All of this to say, you need a trainer to help you identify and reduce/eliminate the stressors in her life and give you a behavior modification plan for the guarding. Again, please let me know if you'd like a referral.

 

And trust your gut on not using the punishment, it will only make the situation worse.

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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 Greyt_dog_lover

You adopted through Midwest? email me and I will give you the number of someone that may be able to help you with some suggestions:

 

shoebooty1 "at" gmail "dot" com

 

My name is Chad

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I wonder if your dh got bit because she's been punished for growling. Growling is their way of communicating and letting you know she doesn't like what you're doing, even if it's sitting close to you. If you punish for growling they may not growl, rather just go for the bite next time. You may also want to look up calming signals. Tongue flicks, licking their mouth, yawning are all signs of a dog who may be anxious or uncomfortable and is trying to let you know.

 

Don't hit her with your fingers. You're more likely to increase her fear of you and end up with worse problems which is why you should seek out a trainer who only teaches positive reinforcement. Dogs learn by association and consequence, so it's difficult without further details to know what may be going on here. I hope you can get the help you need, because she'll sense your fear and anxiety.

Jan with precious pups Emmy (Stormin J Flag) and Simon (Nitro Si). Missing my angels: Bailey Buffetbobleclair 11/11/98-17/12/09; Ben Task Rapid Wave 5/5/02-2/11/15; Brooke Glo's Destroyer 7/09/06-21/06/16 and Katie Crazykatiebug 12/11/06 -21/08/21. My blog about grief The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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For aggression issues, I always recommend working with an animal behaviorist or at least a very skilled, qualified trainer who uses only reward based methods.

...physical punishment is only likely to increase your dog's aggression,

 

...removing couch privileges was smart. If she does get on the furniture... run and get something yummy... and just toss it on the floor where she sees it so she jumps down on her own. Trying to grab her collar and remove her physically from the couch is asking for a bite (large proportion of dog bites happen over collar grabs). She's new to your home and still adjusting so give her her space while you seek out professional help.

 

...see things from her perspective - she's uncomfortable with you being in her space, not something she's had to deal with her entire life and her only way to convey that to you is through vocalizing, growling, snapping or biting. The fact that she gives warnings is a good thing. Heed them, try not to put her in positions where she needs to use them and try not to take it personally (tough, I know, but this is how dogs communicate...).

 

... not only can punishing her warnings increase her aggression, you may end up inadvertently suppressing her warning signs. That's the last thing you want to do as a dog who will growl or snarl first is much less of a danger than a dog who goes straight to biting.

 

 

Please do not hold her muzzle -- a good way to get bitten. She should have NO couch or bed privileges for a very long time.

 

 

Still resource guarding...

 

Also a lot of moving around in a short period of time for her = stress. The more stressors in a dog's life, the more likely the dog is to react aggressively to some trigger.

 

All of this to say, you need a trainer to help you identify and reduce/eliminate the stressors in her life and give you a behavior modification plan for the guarding. Again, please let me know if you'd like a referral.

 

And trust your gut on not using the punishment, it will only make the situation worse.

 

 

Growling is their way of communicating and letting you know she doesn't like what you're doing, even if it's sitting close to you. If you punish for growling they may not growl, rather just go for the bite next time. You may also want to look up calming signals. Tongue flicks, licking their mouth, yawning are all signs of a dog who may be anxious or uncomfortable and is trying to let you know.

 

Don't hit her with your fingers. You're more likely to increase her fear of you and end up with worse problems which is why you should seek out a trainer who only teaches positive reinforcement.

 

Many extremely important points highlighted in quotes above.

 

Try to think proactively by setting-up your dog's home environment for success, including her safe, undisturbed personal resting spaces.

 

When a dog is resource guarding something (like a human's bed, sofa, or dangerous bone, etc.), try to redirect dog to something different by offering a delicious higher value "trade-up" food that the dog can eat safely without it being taken away -- either by tossing on floor where dog can see it, or running into another room happily calling dog to follow you for a super special treat. A safe toy works well for some dogs, or if dog loves walks, ask dog to "go for a walk" in a happy voice (and follow-through immediately with a real leashed walk).

 

I agree with others. Please do not use any punishment based (or dominating methods); especially not on a growling dog who is trying to communicate their personal discomfort the only way they know how. Negative based methods have been scientifically proven to cause and/or increase dogs' aggression and distrust in humans. Try to consider a growl as a "gift" of a caution/warning. If the cause of the dog's perceived human threatening behavior continues (meaning human doesn't back off immediately) it forces the dog to escalate his/her communication severity to get his/her point across (potential snap or bite).

 

Below is one of my responses from another GT thread re: biting:

 

Many adoption groups discourage allowing dogs on human furniture, especially during the first year or longer while settling into a new home. Some dogs should never be allowed on human furniture due to sleep startle, canine space needs, etc.

 

We usually give hounds affection for a couple of minutes (of their time choice) whenever they are standing up and approach us seeking attention, but we don't disturb them while they're resting on their beds for excessive petting. We abide by the common guideline for dogs to "let resting dogs lie undisturbed". Whether awake or asleep, their beds are considered their undisturbed "doggie safe zone". (Same reason we don't trim nails or brush teeth while they're lying on their beds.) When dogs know they can feel completely safe on their own beds, it helps them develop a more trusting foundation with their humans and helps them feel safe and relaxed in their home environment. Racing Greyhounds weren't reared in family homes and most are not used to being showered with excessively close attention. They were left undisturbed inside their racing kennel crates to rest and eat meals They are accustomed to having their own personal space and resources. It takes time and positive experiences for them to understand, trust, and adjust to their new family life. :)

 

Any dogs can feel threatened by direct eye contact, or reaching overhead for petting, etc. Safer to approach from the side and pet their shoulder so they don't feel cornered/trapped from the front.

 

Below are some important warning signals that dogs often show as their discomfort to stimuli increases. If you see any of these canine body language behaviors, please ensure petting or whatever is causing the dog to feel discomfort ceases immediately. Any person should calmly back away from the dog. (This quick list is off the top of my head so isn't complete.)

 

- Yawning (early sign of discomfort when dog is not tired)

 

- Quick lip lick (early sign of discomfort)

 

- Turns head away from person (early sign of discomfort)

 

- Dog may watch with peripheral vision if dog appears to be looking away with head turned.

 

- Whale eye (you may see the whites of the dog's eye)

 

- Lips: a dog about to bite often forms a "C" at the mouth's inner corners with forward, tense lips and muzzle with whiskers forward.

 

- Frozen/hardened eye stare with dialated pupils.

 

- Brief tense body freeze (just before launching forward to bite).

 

- Body's center of gravity in a forward position (potentially preparing for action).

 

 

Please see this excellent excerpt about racing Greyhounds previous life experience:

What Greyhounds are Thinking: http://www.northerng...ghtsOfAGrey.php

 

 

End quote.

 

 

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To the OP--Don't know where you go​t the idea that racers don't get much handling or social interaction. Virtually ALL of the dogs (except puppies and "ooops" dogs) on this board are retired racers. Many of us have human friends actively involved in breeding/training/racing, and I assure you that these people, without exception, love their dogs very much.

 

Racers are handled constantly. They have social interaction daily, with multiple people in all sorts of ways.

 

Just had to toss that out there!

 

And I agree--the growl is a warning. Never punish a dog for warning you. Next time they might not bother.


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Guest GreyOrchard

Excellent advice from 3geytjoys and neylasmom

 

The only thing I would add is that if you are going to prohibit the dog from the sofa, then if possible provide something similar that might have sides to it and is even slightly raised off the floor....some greyhounds use the sofa because it's comfortable, but others also use it to avoid drafts coming in that you would not necessarily be aware of. Being thin-skinned, they will certainly feel a constant draft.

 

As a breed, they have been kept well up off the floor for centuries, and I have researched in books and treatises on hound care from about 140AD onwards that they insist on building benches well up off the floor for the hounds....some even provide precise dimensions and other details. So the greyhound inclination to be up off the floor is something they have been doing for centuries, perhaps until a few generations ago.

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Guest Lenslen

 

Very sorry to hear this. Someone contacted me the other day about a greyhound I have known for a few years now. Happy, sociable, tail always going. But in recent weeks he has started to do the same thing. At first glance it looks like he suddenly is showing "rest aggression" or "space aggression" - but for what reason? A little investigating and it turns out the household atmosphere has changed in recent weeks....two small dogs were brought into the house, and although the greyhound lives with a tiny dog and has no problems at all with it, once the two new ones arrived he has been oddly cranky.The owner then realied that yes, he has been going off on his own a lot, to one of the spare bedrooms. And when they are all watching tv at night, the two new ones are constantly jumping up and down from her husband's lap. They are always in everyone's face. It made me cranky just hearing about it.

 

Imagine how the dog feels.

 

They are making some adjustments with this in mind now.

 

So I wonder if in recent weeks or more there have been some changes in your house or the routine where things are a good bit more hectic. I also wonder if he is not getting out for walks as much. He sounds like he is saying "Get away from me, leave me alone! Don't touch me!" Now he also might have some health issue bothering him, and his reaction is to go into isolation-mode. You might have him checked by a vet for any tender areas or other problems. If nothing is found, then it is likely some tension or activity in the house that is making him want to be by himself, which is a bit out of character for a greyhound. The behaviour doesn't come from nowhere,,,,there has to be something that initiated it.

That's interesting that you said that. My boyfriend is in the military and does not live with us. This past weekend he was home and Ziggy got someone new to play with and tons more attention, and then he left, and that's when Ziggy started acting out. He usually just is kinda mopey when my boyfriend leaves after visiting us for a few days. I'll keep an eye on his behavior. He just went to the vet two days ago for a check up, and is completely healthy. So I think it has to do with confusion over my boyfriend coming and leaving, and my longer work hours as of lately. Thanks for the input!

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Guest Lenslen

Any sudden behavior change first requires that you rule out any potential medical issues.

 

My next question would be why are you trying to move him? Why can't you just call him off of the bed and then put on the leash, etc.?

He just got a check up at the vet and looks all good. I should have clarified, he knows he's not supposed to be on the bed, but every once in a while he'll sneak up there. He always has done really well with a small push to guide his body off the bed and saying "no". It's just been the past few days (with my sister trying to get him off the furniture) that he's growling.

 

Also, he has a really set schedule, but is the laziest dog in the world. So without motivation to go outside, he will fight it as long as possible and will have an accident. Sometimes I'll call him to go outside, and he'll lift up his head and get excited but will not move his body, and instead just want to keep sleeping. So I grab his harness, and walk over to him and rub his head and then he slowly decides to get up and stretch and will come for a walk. It's like he needs extra motivation to get up, even though he knows he needs to go outside really badly. If it weren't for me bringing his harness and lead to him, he would not get up to go outside.

 

I'm not trying to disrupt him in his personal sleep space or anything like that. I don't touch him when he's sleeping in his crate, or on any of his beds. But if he's somewhere he's not supposed to be, I give him a little nudge. For the past year, he's responded super well. Like a said in a previous response, all of this behavior started after my boyfriend came home for the weekend and then left again. I think Ziggy got excited having extra attention and someone new to play with, and then was sad when he left again.

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See my comment to the OP above about how to get a dog off the furniture without physically moving him. Honestly, if you were sleeping soundly and your boyfriend started nudging you to get up and you didn't see why you needed to get up, wouldn't you grumble? There are situations where we should just let our dogs be. Let them eat in peace, let them sleep in peace. If you really need to get him up to get him outside, then train a recall cue properly (with high levels of reinforcement) so he's actually motivated to get up when you call him. Definitely start with a word you haven't used because by now there are negative associations with anything you've been using before physically moving him.

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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 Lenslen

See my comment to the OP above about how to get a dog off the furniture without physically moving him. Honestly, if you were sleeping soundly and your boyfriend started nudging you to get up and you didn't see why you needed to get up, wouldn't you grumble? There are situations where we should just let our dogs be. Let them eat in peace, let them sleep in peace. If you really need to get him up to get him outside, then train a recall cue properly (with high levels of reinforcement) so he's actually motivated to get up when you call him. Definitely start with a word you haven't used because by now there are negative associations with anything you've been using before physically moving him.

 

Again, I'm not messing with him while he's sleeping. He's not "sleeping soundly" while I nudge him. I was only asking for insight why he has started jumping on furniture he knows he's not supposed to be on, and then growling while he's on it. He has been completely responsive and well behaved for the past year. When I catch him eyeing the furniture and I say "No, down", he listens. When he sneaks up without me watching, and then sees me he will usually jump off himself; if not, he's always gotten down if I say "down" and give him a small nudge. He's always gotten right up (non aggressively, and with no issues) and gone to lay in his bed. It's just been a change the past few days, which was why I asked. I appreciate the advice, and we'll work on getting off the furniture without touching him for in the future.

 

He doesn't have any issues with me petting him or cuddling him while he's laying down. I never touch him while he's sleeping. He doesn't have space aggression. He completely understands recall phrases and "outside". My issue is with him acting out (twice in the last week), and not responding to his usual cues. Again, it's been a year with no problem, two days with problem. But like someone pointed out, it might be because of change in his environment. I think that was the issue, as he was a little naughty for a few days after my bf was home for the weekend and then left. Now, Ziggy is back to his normal, lazy self, following me around constantly, and trying to sit on my lap.

 

I was just wondering what his behavior change might be from, but I think I got my answer. Thanks!

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Again, I'm not messing with him while he's sleeping. He's not "sleeping soundly" while I nudge him. I was only asking for insight why he has started jumping on furniture he knows he's not supposed to be on, and then growling while he's on it.

He gets on the furniture because it's more comfortable for him than the other options. He's growling when he's on it because he doesn't want to be disturbed when he's nice and comfy. You're probably only seeing the reaction now because your boyfriend coming and going was a stressor and when stressors increase, the risk of aggression increases as well. If you really don't want him on the furniture, think about giving him a better alternative than what you've currently got. A bolster bed with a second bed on top for extra cushiness, tucked into a corner of the room with a blanket on top for nesting should do 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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Guest brookiebaby

Just wanted to give an update -- we had a good day yesterday! I moved Nittany's bed to the space between our couches so she's still close to us, put down an extra couple blankets for her to nest in, and hand fed her dinner in bed. She hasn't even tried to get back on the couch, and I think this means she needed a safer space. She spent the day looking forlornly at our sushi, getting belly rubs, and cuddling her blankies. We are trying hard not to pet her unless she asks, and only approaching from the side. I am used to dogs that want affection constantly, so this is a new experience for me. I'm thinking we need another dog bed -- one for the bedroom and one for the living room.

 

We're hoping that by giving her a bit of space, we will prevent aggression. However, I have a question about how to respond to aggression. It seems that we get two different suggestions: dominance (from some in adoption group) and definitely-don't-do-dominance (here). If we don't use the tap, how would we respond to growling in a way that doesn't in some way positively reinforce the aggression? Is leaving the room positively reinforcing the growling? I don't want to use punishment, especially physical punishment, but I'm a little confused about how to react to growling, snapping, or biting without it.

 

I'm hoping that all her recent moves are the major stressors, and with time she will feel more comfortable. I'll try to keep an eye out for anything else we might be doing to cause her stress.

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I have never tried to move a new hound from a location by pushing or poking. Rather attach a leash to a collar, step back and give a slight tug to indicate that you want them up/off. Getting into close proximity with a dog and it's pointy end that you are still trying to get to know and pushing her limitations at the same time is a bit of disaster waiting to happen. It also sounds like she's training you really well. You'll need to learn how to be the boss but also have to accept that she also needs her space to acclimatize to her new life. It's a fine line, and this is all new for both of you. Some greys get with the program in weeks, some a year. Her life and surroundings are all new to her as well. Good luck.

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Guest GreyOrchard

I find myself wondering first of all if referring to and indeed thinking of this as "aggression" is appropriate.

 

Maybe she can instead be thought of as being unsettled, uncertain and a bit confused, and trying to find her place in the world. Her reaction to being disturbed is certainly unacceptable and aggessive in nature, but is she really an aggressive greyhound?

 

If and when you really need to move her, having a slip lead and looping it quickly over her might be a lot better than grabbing her collar. Better yet would be getting her to get up on her own, even if for the first few times means placing an irresistable morsel about 3 feet in front of her and then using the slip lead.

 

In the meantime, when she is not lying down, you could start trying to work on name recognition (if she does not already know it) and bidding her. To reinforce her name, every time you give her a treat or maybe a gentle scratch on her throat and chest, say her name in several ways, so she associates it with something nice.

 

For bidding (which is not to be confused with recall), any time you see her walking towards you, pat your thigh and say her name several times, cheerfully. Offer her a treat, and gently pat her chest and shoulder in a similar way that you pat your thigh. After several times she will associate the thigh-patting and name calling with something nice. Eventually you will be able to sometimes have her come to you by just patting your thigh. Working on bidding her to you is a way around the growling, of breaking the habit of growling.

 

How to react in the coming days if she growls or shows her teeth again is tricky. Certainly no nose-tapping or hitting. If you get up and leave the room, however, you are on the path to letting her take over. You seem to have had one good day already, so you are probably doing something right. Perhaps it is best to take it a day at a time for now. Perhaps a day or two from now she will growl, but it will be a half hearted growl, and not really worth reacting to anyway.

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Just wanted to give an update -- we had a good day yesterday! I moved Nittany's bed to the space between our couches so she's still close to us, put down an extra couple blankets for her to nest in, and hand fed her dinner in bed. She hasn't even tried to get back on the couch, and I think this means she needed a safer space. She spent the day looking forlornly at our sushi, getting belly rubs, and cuddling her blankies. We are trying hard not to pet her unless she asks, and only approaching from the side. I am used to dogs that want affection constantly, so this is a new experience for me. I'm thinking we need another dog bed -- one for the bedroom and one for the living room.

 

We're hoping that by giving her a bit of space, we will prevent aggression. However, I have a question about how to respond to aggression. It seems that we get two different suggestions: dominance (from some in adoption group) and definitely-don't-do-dominance (here). If we don't use the tap, how would we respond to growling in a way that doesn't in some way positively reinforce the aggression? Is leaving the room positively reinforcing the growling? I don't want to use punishment, especially physical punishment, but I'm a little confused about how to react to growling, snapping, or biting without it.

 

I'm hoping that all her recent moves are the major stressors, and with time she will feel more comfortable. I'll try to keep an eye out for anything else we might be doing to cause her stress.

If you don't think she will escalate you can stay in place and remain still until she's quiet, then move away. Then think carefully about what you did to provoke it so you don't repeat it. In an ideal world, you don't provoke growling at all while you work through getting her comfortable being approached, etc (with the help of a trainer preferably). But if there is ANY question about whether she may escalate the growling to snarling, snapping or biting, you need to just back off and not worry about reinforcing the behavior. If it helps, just think of it in terms of hearing her express her boundaries and respecting them.

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

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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Yes. multiple dog beds are a great thing! :) Costco sells large, cushy dog beds for $28.99.

Two dog beds for 1 hound would be helpful. (We happen to have 7 dog beds in the family room for up to 5 dogs. 14 beds throughout the house.)

 

Prevention is key. Please do not do anything that knowingly triggers a dog to growl, snap or bite. The most important thing is keep yourself safe, and not do anything that your dog perceives as threatening. These are primary reasons to happily and freely call the dog off the furniture (preferably into another room) for high-value food/treats, toy, fun game, or walk reward. You are keeping yourself safe by remaining at a safe distance away, and rewarding the dog for coming to you in response to your happy call. If your dog doesn't respond to your call willingly, as mentioned drop treats on the floor several feet away from the sofa so the dog sees the treats. The action of moving "off" the sofa is the rewarded behavior. (You are not sitting on the sofa feeding treats while the dog is still lying on the sofa -- that would be reinforcing undesirable behavior of dog staying on sofa.) If she refuses to move off the sofa when called, unemotionally leave the room until she moves off willingly (she may try to follow you just to see what you're doing). Thereafter, do a better job of preventing her access to the sofa.

 

Many dogs will bite if they feel confronted, threatened, frightened if a human tries to get close enough to place any type of leash on the dog in a guarding situation. Most bites are based from dogs' fear as self-defense and/or underlying stress anxiety (stress that could be building silently over an extended period of time).

 

Another important key in this situation is human + dog + environmental management. Now, you've succeeded by setting-up a thick, comfortable dog bed in your most used family room so your dog still feels included as part of the family. Next step (if needed) would be to block off dog's access to the sofa, either by empty boxes, temporary free-standing make-shift gate -- large flat piece of cardboard, etc. Last resort, If needed on the sofa itself, you could place an uncomfortable object on the sofa like an upside down chair mat (pointy side up), etc. Whatever you use, just ensure it won't fall off or harm the dog. Most dogs won't want to lie down on an uncomfortable surface. These barriers are temporary only until the dog develops a solid habit of resting on her own dog bed.

 

There is no punishment because confrontation, dominance, or aggression by a human begets confrontational, dominant, aggressive REactions from animals. If a dog doesn't react to negative confrontation with an immediate growl or bite, it still deeply stresses the dog emotionally and often resurfaces later -- whether with reduced bite inhibition, increased existing negative behaviors, new negative behaviors, increased distrust in humans, increased fear, and increased anxiety, etc.

 

Dogs do remember the way they are treated, and dominance methods change dogs' temperaments in magnified negative ways. Most sadly, even today some TV personalities and others perpetuate old school methods of dominance/aversive training used since long before the 1950's. Fortunately, concerned, well-educated dog trainers began teaching positive, reward-based (non-aversive) methods in the 1980's after much scientific research proved the wide-spread damage dominance training had on animals, and their relationships with humans.

 

A good way to teach is thinking in terms of your dog as a respected, young canine partner. Consistently and happily capture and reward your dog's natural good behaviors. "Learn to earn" exercises would be helpful in teaching impulse-control, and helps build a good foundation between human and dog. (e.g., teach your dog to stand and "wait" (or lie down) for a moment before human places the meal in the dog's raised feeder; "wait" before going through an open door, etc.

 

Greyhounds are a highly sensitive breed that respond much better to respectful, kind, calm, positive, reward-based (non-forceful) methods of communication. :) Thank you for your willingness to inquire about how to handle your situation. Obviously, these suggestions are made without us seeing your dog in person, so a local positive-method certified behaviorist would be recommended. (NeylasMom offered referral assistance if needed.)

Edited by 3greytjoys
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