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Greyhound Growling


Guest AmazingGreys
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Guest AmazingGreys

Hey everyone,

 

I recently adopted a retired racing greyhound. He is 3 years old, neutered.

I brought him home where he has his own crate, toys, and a big doggy bed in the living room, which he enjoys laying on about 95% of the day.

He seems to be calm, quiet and friendly. He literally sticks to me like velcro when he is not napping on his bed.

However, over the past few days, he will randomly growl at me and I don't know why.

The first time, I was petting his while he laid on his bed. He was rolling over on his back, asking for more rubs. He then laid down and I stopped rubbing, letting my hand just lightly rest on his side. Out of nowhere, he growls and rears his head up and at me. It startled me and I got up and left him alone.

The second time, I was sitting on the floor and he came over and was seemingly acting cute/cuddly while getting rubbed. I laid back on the floor and just kinda stayed beside him while he was laying there as well. I believe I had finished rubbing him and had my hand just lightly resting on his back and he did the same thing again. Growled and kind of lunged in my direction.

Then tonight, the same thing. He was wallowing on his back and being cute trying to get rubs. So I was giving him a rub and then he put his head down and I put mine down and just laid with him. Out of nowhere he started growling at me.

I couldn't believe it because I didn't/still don't know why he is doing it or what is triggering it.

I got up and went to sit on the couch.

My boyfriend came and sat with him and was occasionally rubbing him, but then would stop and let his hand rest on/beside the dog. This went on for about 10 minutes and he started growling again and acted odd. He (my grey) got up, walked away, then came back and growled again.

 

I have grown up with dogs (and other pets), but this is my first greyhound. Based on everything I had read and heard in my research, they are typically very non-aggressive, calm, loving and sensitive. I don't know if this is normal behavior for ex-racers or not, but I do not know how to best handle it and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a it worried not just when/why he will do it again, but what if he becomes increasingly aggressive?

 

I don't want to have a pet (esp a big one) that I am afraid of, I just don't know what to think of the situation and how to best handle it.
Please let me thoughts and experience with this. I really appreciate it.

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He is setting a boundary--he wants the pets, but not the touch or no physical contact in his space. You did the right thing by moving away. I would limit contact to the pets, maybe of short duration, ending with a positive note and your moving to a people-only spot. Do not allow him on the furniture or your bed, as he can become posessive of them too.

Me & John Reese (Gable Dodge x O Jays) and the 4 kittehs!

36938152140_1a2fd29a1f.jpg

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You may have had dogs, but this is your first greyhound! This isn't aggression and it's very normal.

 

Consider that this dog has never had to share his space ever in his life. Since he was a puppy, no one has come up to him when he wasn't fully aware of it. Yes, he likes getting his pets and rubs, but then it stops and he gets anxious sharing space so closely.

 

So, he lets you know in a way that is completely acceptable to dogs - he growls. It's NOT a sign of aggression, it's one of the only ways he has to communicate with other beings. If he was truly aggressive he could have easily escalated his anxiety response to something more forceful, but he didn't.

 

So, for the time being, don't lay around on the floor with him. Either have him come to you for rubs and attention, or pet him on the floor for a few minutes and then move away. It could also be a case of resource guarding his bed, so be careful when you approach him when he's laying down there. Limit his furniture and bed privileges until he's a little more settled and confidant.

 

And don't take his growling personally. It's just a vocalization he uses to tell you something. When you're more familiar with him it won't be so hard to figure out what he's saying.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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What Greysmom said!

 

Consider his vocalizations (better than growling, no?) as communication. He can't talk. He's saying, "That was awesome, human. Enough please."

 

As Chris (Greysmom) said, that's not aggression.

 

You need to learn to speak dog.


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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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I agree with what's been said. My grey growled at me in the first two weeks that I had him in very similar situations. He wasn't comfortable with me getting that close.

 

Now, a year later, I can cuddle with him anywhere, and his body language continues to open up!

Sarah with P Kay Ruger "Rogue"

gc2Re0q.jpg?2

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Guest AmazingGreys

Thank you for the responses, everyone. I tried to take the advice given so when I came home from work, I gave him attention, fed/walked him, gave him a few rubs and then left him alone, figuring that I would let him come to me to seek out affectionate/attention. So I then went and sat on the couch. For the first time ever, he came and laid beside me on the couch. He was being sweet and we laid there for a couple hours. I went to lay my head back own on my pillow and out of nowhere, he started growling at me! I lifted my head and he stopped growling, but when I tried to lay my head down again, he growled again.

 

I got him off the couch and back on his dog bed. I guess I've always had submissive dogs because while I know that it's completely normal for dogs to try to establish their "rank" in the pack, it's hard to not take it personal because despite my efforts, it starts to feel like it doesn't make a difference...and it's hard when I see him being more outgoing, showing more affection, and I think we are making progress, start to let my guard down, try to trust him and then this randomly (to me, at least) happens. I feel like I can't fully relax or be comfortable around him because I don't know when he is going to act like this and worse, if/when he might actually bite me.


He is setting a boundary--he wants the pets, but not the touch or no physical contact in his space. You did the right thing by moving away. I would limit contact to the pets, maybe of short duration, ending with a positive note and your moving to a people-only spot. Do not allow him on the furniture or your bed, as he can become posessive of them too.

 

Does this behavior eventually get better or stop?


I agree with what's been said. My grey growled at me in the first two weeks that I had him in very similar situations. He wasn't comfortable with me getting that close.

Now, a year later, I can cuddle with him anywhere, and his body language continues to open up!

 

Did he ever lunge, snap or bite you?


You may have had dogs, but this is your first greyhound! This isn't aggression and it's very normal.

Consider that this dog has never had to share his space ever in his life. Since he was a puppy, no one has come up to him when he wasn't fully aware of it. Yes, he likes getting his pets and rubs, but then it stops and he gets anxious sharing space so closely.

So, he lets you know in a way that is completely acceptable to dogs - he growls. It's NOT a sign of aggression, it's one of the only ways he has to communicate with other beings. If he was truly aggressive he could have easily escalated his anxiety response to something more forceful, but he didn't.

So, for the time being, don't lay around on the floor with him. Either have him come to you for rubs and attention, or pet him on the floor for a few minutes and then move away. It could also be a case of resource guarding his bed, so be careful when you approach him when he's laying down there. Limit his furniture and bed privileges until he's a little more settled and confidant.

And don't take his growling personally. It's just a vocalization he uses to tell you something. When you're more familiar with him it won't be so hard to figure out what he's saying.

 

I'm trying not to take it personally, but it's hard when I try so hard to express that I love him and he does this.

How do I know if this might escalate and he eventually starts snapping or even biting me?

Will he eventually get past this?

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I'll list my scenarios for you, I think they'll give you peace of mind.

 

First and second incidents happened during the first week of bringing Rogue home. I was giving him pets at his dog bed and laid my head on his side for a "hug". Got a firm growl. I corrected him with a "no" and continued to pet him just not as close. After doing research online, I realized I had not had the correct response. So the next time he growled at me, again on his bed, I simply left the area and gave him the space he wanted.

 

The couch incidents were that after 6 months with me, Rogue figured out how to get on the couch. It was lovely and we had wonderful snuggles! However, he would occasionally growl and snap at me when I moved and he was laying on me or next to me. After research here I came to the conclusion that he just wasn't ready for couch privileges and maybe had a bit of sleep startle too. For a month, Rogue was only allowed on the couch if there were no people on it. When people wanted to use the couch, we lured him off with a yummy snack (never pushed or forced him off) and redirected him to his bed. After a month, I slowly allowed him back on the couch with me and we have had zero issues.

 

There's a huge difference 15 months after adoption. Rogue is used to me and my weird human ways and he's more comfortable as a house pet. Last night I laid next to him on the floor and he rolled over on top of me! That would never have happened in those first months. Every hound is individual and you'll get some good advice here. It's hard, I know, but do try to not take it personal, your dog is trying to communicate with you and we have to try and figure it out!

Sarah with P Kay Ruger "Rogue"

gc2Re0q.jpg?2

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We had some incidences of this when we first brought Ringer home. It was typically when one of the kids was on the floor near his bed, or as you described, stroking him for awhile and then stopping but "lingering". He would bark/growl in a threatening way and kind of lunge (he never bit us, it was always just a warning). It was quite alarming for us as well, especially since we have 3 children. I can honestly say I questioned our choice altogether, as we had just added him to our family and were longing to bond with him. I posted on here and contacted our rescue group, all of which reminded me of the importance of honoring their space boundaries, especially at first. Going forward, we did not touch him when on his bed. If we bumped him accidentally, we would toss him treats (we also did this on purpose to get him used to being jostled on occasion). We would call him over to us for affection and pet him only when he was standing up and off of his bed. We have never allowed him on the furniture. We are now at about 18 months into this, he hasn't growled/barked since those first few weeks. We can pet him even while he is lying on his bed. Just the other day, my son bumped him while playing and he hardly even looked up. We still toss him cookies as reinforcement, of course :) He still typically won't approach us on his own for affection, but it is starting to happen. As someone else posted, you really have to learn to speak dog with these greys, and their body language opens up more over time. I have had other dogs too, but you kind of have to forget your other dog experience, they are different. Patience is a virtue. We also learned to connect with Ringer in other ways then just touching/petting...we really enjoy walking him on trails and in wooded areas, or watching him run and play with squeaky toys. Best of luck.

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I'm trying not to take it personally, but it's hard when I try so hard to express that I love him and he does this.

How do I know if this might escalate and he eventually starts snapping or even biting me?

Will he eventually get past this?

 

It won't escalate if you don't exacerbate the issue. He wants attention, but only on his terms, for the moment. I've had several dogs with serious space issues and all but one has gotten much better - but it take TIME. Time and patience.

 

And if he had *wanted* to bite you, he could have and would have already.

 

Read the book, use her suggestions. Use treats to help him learn. The dog you have right nwo will not be the dog you have in 2 weeks or 2 months.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

35764734494_93de5b5963_b.jpg

Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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What Greysmom said!

 

Consider his vocalizations (better than growling, no?) as communication. He can't talk. He's saying, "That was awesome, human. Enough please."

 

As Chris (Greysmom) said, that's not aggression.

 

You need to learn to speak dog.

 

100% in agreement. My first Greyhound, Wendy, was with me for almost 12 years. In all that time she never, ever showed any aggressive behavior. However, she would not tolerate an arm resting across her back when she was lying down. She'd growl and walk away. Not aggression, just communication.

Irene ~ Owned and Operated by Jenny (Jenny Rocks ~ 11/24/17) ~ JRo, Jenny from the Track

Lola (AMF Won't Forget ~ 04/29/15 -07/22/19) - My girl. I'll always love you.

Wendy (Lost Footing ~ 12/11/05 - 08/18/17) ~ Forever in our hearts. "I am yours, you are mine".

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I’m assuming her no longer has furniture privileges (I only skim read). You are trying not to take it personally, just trying to show him you love him. This caught my attention.

 

Remember he’s a dog, not a human. He doesn’t know what you are trying to do and hasn’t gained your trust yet. But he does know that he doesn’t like some things you’re doing.

 

For example, Most dogs don’t like to be hugged, but some will “tolerate “ it. Doesn’t mean they like it though. What you refer to as love may not be the type of loving he wants right now, so perhaps be more mindful of his needs and put yours aside until you create a stronger bond. Patience is key.

Jan with precious pups Katie Crazykatiebug, 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; and Brooke Glo's Destroyer 7/09/06-21/06/16. 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 heal and 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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OP, check out books by Dr. Patricia McConnell, particularly The Other End of the Leash. It's a well written, easy to understand book on dog-human interactions. Might help you understand your dog's behavior (which is, as others noted, perfectly normal). I have a growler, too. He *has* bitten me, but it was a warning snap, didn't hurt (he got my ponytail) and it was utterly my fault for doing something stupid and not listening to his initial growl (I was sniffing the futon he was lying on, trying to see if the cat had peed on it :lol).

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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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OP, check out books by Dr. Patricia McConnell, particularly The Other End of the Leash. It's a well written, easy to understand book on dog-human interactions. Might help you understand your dog's behavior (which is, as others noted, perfectly normal). I have a growler, too. He *has* bitten me, but it was a warning snap, didn't hurt (he got my ponytail) and it was utterly my fault for doing something stupid and not listening to his initial growl (I was sniffing the futon he was lying on, trying to see if the cat had peed on it :lol).

 

It's always the cat's fault! :catscat

Irene ~ Owned and Operated by Jenny (Jenny Rocks ~ 11/24/17) ~ JRo, Jenny from the Track

Lola (AMF Won't Forget ~ 04/29/15 -07/22/19) - My girl. I'll always love you.

Wendy (Lost Footing ~ 12/11/05 - 08/18/17) ~ Forever in our hearts. "I am yours, you are mine".

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Our greyhound will growl/snap/lunge also. He has bitten my face hard enough to draw blood. He despises my son's girlfriend to the point where we can't have them in the same room. She has 3 dogs and a cat and we think it may be the scent.

 

A couple things I'd suggest that have helped us:

 

1. Get a more thorough check up. Ours, it turned out, had a heavy hookworm infestation. This took months to clear up. After that, very expensive blood work revealed he is hypothyroid, so he's on meds for that as well. Point being, if your dog doesn't feel well, it could be part of his issue.

 

2. Don't pet him when he's laying down. Let him come to you for now. When you know him better you can explore what he will tolerate in terms of petting, but err on the side of caution. Mine is at the point where he will paw you if he wants more, but if he doesn't, time to move on.

 

3. Exercise him, often. Lately mine is so wound up in the evening I have to take him in the yard and run him (this is after 3 miles of walking). This week it has rained too much and evenings are not fun because he does his laps on the hardwood floor. But he will finally settle down when he's tired.

 

4. Keep him off furniture and don't let him lay in the same spot if it isn't his spot. Ours got very territorial of a spot on the living room carpet. We had to block access to it.

 

Finally, (and I remind myself of this after every incident,) if the dog wanted to kill you, you'd know. He is just telling you that something is bothering him. When these moments occur, I leave the room and he usually follows with what I assume is his version of an apology.

 

Hang in there and best of luck.

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Agreed - so long as you don't escalate it, I would think this would resolve over time. Sometimes on a chilly night, our grey would be curled up in a tiny ball to keep warm. Seeing how cute and pathetic that looked, I had the natural urge to "tuck him in" with some nice warm blankets. He never moved but gave a long low growl to let me know he didn't appreciate it. I mostly stopped trying to do that (tho sometimes couldn't resist) and instead try to make sure his house coat is on before bed. He also used to have certain quirks about his "space" - especially the bed. We have had him two years now and he turned into a total cuddle-bug at some point.

 

I'd also mention that if you want extra assurances you might try a basket muzzle. They're totally used to wearing them from the track and they can drink water and breathe / pant / yawn normally. For instance, if you want an extra layer of protection when a little kid is in the house - can never be too careful, even with a watchful eye. (The muzzle came to mind because ours recently had stitches for a couple cuts and he hates The Cone of Shame - so the muzzle with a stool guard was recently on him for a good while to prevent licking).

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Guest AmazingGreys

I’m assuming her no longer has furniture privileges (I only skim read). You are trying not to take it personally, just trying to show him you love him. This caught my attention.

 

Remember he’s a dog, not a human. He doesn’t know what you are trying to do and hasn’t gained your trust yet. But he does know that he doesn’t like some things you’re doing.

 

For example, Most dogs don’t like to be hugged, but some will “tolerate “ it. Doesn’t mean they like it though. What you refer to as love may not be the type of loving he wants right now, so perhaps be more mindful of his needs and put yours aside until you create a stronger bond. Patience is key.

 

Yeah, he was allowed on the couch...but any/every time he growls, he loses the privilege for at least a couple hours.

And you are right, what I think is expressing love/affection may not be interpreted as that by him as that right now or maybe just mot what he is in the mood for.

 

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Guest AmazingGreys

Our greyhound will growl/snap/lunge also. He has bitten my face hard enough to draw blood. He despises my son's girlfriend to the point where we can't have them in the same room. She has 3 dogs and a cat and we think it may be the scent.

 

A couple things I'd suggest that have helped us:

 

1. Get a more thorough check up. Ours, it turned out, had a heavy hookworm infestation. This took months to clear up. After that, very expensive blood work revealed he is hypothyroid, so he's on meds for that as well. Point being, if your dog doesn't feel well, it could be part of his issue.

 

2. Don't pet him when he's laying down. Let him come to you for now. When you know him better you can explore what he will tolerate in terms of petting, but err on the side of caution. Mine is at the point where he will paw you if he wants more, but if he doesn't, time to move on.

 

3. Exercise him, often. Lately mine is so wound up in the evening I have to take him in the yard and run him (this is after 3 miles of walking). This week it has rained too much and evenings are not fun because he does his laps on the hardwood floor. But he will finally settle down when he's tired.

 

4. Keep% of the % of the and don't let him lay in the same spot if it isn't his spot. Ours got very territorial of a spot on the living room carpet. We had to block access to it.

 

Finally, (and I remind myself of this after every incident,) if the dog wanted to kill you, you'd know. He is just telling you that something is bothering him. When these moments occur, I leave the room and he usually follows with what I assume is his version of an apology.

 

Hang in there and best of luck.

 

Thank you for the suggestions. I am working on all of the above, trying to remain consistent. After reading all the comments, I can now see how he is not being aggressive or trying to kill me, but instead is simply saying he doesn't like something I am doing, such as rubbing him while he is laying down (which is hard to find a time to rub him when he is laying down, sleeping at least 90% of the day!).

I guess here's my other question to the group - if I leave him alone, move away, or leave the room every time he growls, wouldn't that re-enforce the behavior? Would't it teach him to do that any/every time he feels annoyed or doesn't like or want something?

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No--it means you got the message and he won't progress to a lunge and bite. Couch privledges should be suspended for the time being.

 

Johnny is space protective, he will growl at the cats who dare to get on the bed with him or touch his feet while he's resting. I can give him a quick belly scratch after first making sure he is awake and aware--and I've had him three years. So give him and yourself time, Rome wasn't built in a day!

Me & John Reese (Gable Dodge x O Jays) and the 4 kittehs!

36938152140_1a2fd29a1f.jpg

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I guess here's my other question to the group - if I leave him alone, move away, or leave the room every time he growls, wouldn't that re-enforce the behavior? Would't it teach him to do that any/every time he feels annoyed or doesn't like or want something?

 

When you recondition your reaction to the growl, you will see it as a good thing. It is a warning before a bite. I wish mine would growl more honestly, as he tends to combine the growl with the lunge.

 

The other thing you may want to do is contact your adoption group. Mine paid for me to do a phone consult with a behaviorist. One of the suggestions was to stop petting him for 10 days. The theory was to make him miss being pet. This lasted about 3 days, but we modified it to only petting him when he comes to you.

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Guest AmazingGreys

 

When you recondition your reaction to the growl, you will see it as a good thing. It is a warning before a bite. I wish mine would growl more honestly, as he tends to combine the growl with the lunge.

 

The other thing you may want to do is contact your adoption group. Mine paid for me to do a phone consult with a behaviorist. One of the suggestions was to stop petting him for 10 days. The theory was to make him miss being pet. This lasted about 3 days, but we modified it to only petting him when he comes to you.

 

That does make sense. I do need to see it as better than him just straight going to biting, without warning.

I have held off on contacting the adoption group because I felt like the person withheld some information from me and didn't give me a very good impression.

But I did hold off on petting him just because I didn't know what else to do other than leave him alone and he has got to where he approaches me for rubs and attention, which was a surprisingly nice change!

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Glad to hear things are moving in a positive direction. It won't be a fast process, but there will be moments that make it worth it. We have had ours 9 months and we are still working through a lot of issues. Reading some of the stories on this forum helped me to realize our situation was not unique.

 

Hope you continue to have success.

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