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greymom

Suddenly Growling at Dog Walker

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Hi, everyone. We've had our boy for about a month and a half, and he's very sweet and laid back. We crate him while we're at work, and we've had the same dog walker coming since Day 1. Within the last week, he's started growling at her when she approaches his crate.  He has been totally fine with her and was always excited to see her (we have a camera). A friend let him out of his crate last night and brought him to her house because we had a nighttime engagement, and he showed no signs of aggression.  He's never growled at anyone else, and he's recently had a checkup at the vet.  No other changes in medication or diet as well.  I had her come two days while I was working from home to walk him, and he seemed okay.  The dog walker seems very sweet and came highly recommended. Has anyone else experienced this?

Edited by greymom

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Firstly, I'd try to get away from the idea that growling=aggression. That's an oversimplification of the situation, and thinking that way can lead you down a bad path.

More accurately, growling=communication. He's telling the dog walker something by growling, maybe it's "don't sneak up on me" - especially if he's sound asleep right up until the time she approaches the crate ~ aka his safe space. Maybe it's "don't approach me head on, making unblinking eye contact," again, to him that can be seen as an aggressive approach to his safe space. Maybe it's "ugh, why are you here to make me go outside, I was having a nice nap!"

Can you see in detail how they are interacting when she arrives? She may not even be aware that her body language is different than the first few weeks and now making him uneasy.

Does she still open the crate and walk him? If so, how does he behave?

I'm not trying to put down your dog walker, but is it possible that they had an interaction out on a walk (away from the camera) that has made him less comfortable with her? These are sensitive dogs and need a bit different training/discipline techniques than your average dog, and if she doesn't know that, she may have done something that's normal with her other clients that has now made him wary of her.

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54 minutes ago, Bizeebee said:

Firstly, I'd try to get away from the idea that growling=aggression. That's an oversimplification of the situation, and thinking that way can lead you down a bad path.

More accurately, growling=communication. He's telling the dog walker something by growling, maybe it's "don't sneak up on me" - especially if he's sound asleep right up until the time she approaches the crate ~ aka his safe space. Maybe it's "don't approach me head on, making unblinking eye contact," again, to him that can be seen as an aggressive approach to his safe space. Maybe it's "ugh, why are you here to make me go outside, I was having a nice nap!"

Can you see in detail how they are interacting when she arrives? She may not even be aware that her body language is different than the first few weeks and now making him uneasy.

Does she still open the crate and walk him? If so, how does he behave?

I'm not trying to put down your dog walker, but is it possible that they had an interaction out on a walk (away from the camera) that has made him less comfortable with her? These are sensitive dogs and need a bit different training/discipline techniques than your average dog, and if she doesn't know that, she may have done something that's normal with her other clients that has now made him wary of her.

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. It's so nice hearing from other owners.  She hasn't been opening the door due to his growling.  My gut tells me something happened on a walk, so we let her go today. Your response makes me feel more empowered and secure in that decision.  Just trying to figure out next steps -- i.e. whether to pursue a new walker, daycare, etc. Thank you again.

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:) It obviously depends on your work hours and his exercise/bladder needs, but a lot of hounds can go a normal work day without a midday outing.

I think if it was me, and I was paying someone to come into my house and work with my dog, I'd rather pay a bit more and have someone who I knew for certain was familiar with dog behavior and training. Every time a human is interacting with a dog, especially a new one, it's an opportunity for training - how to walk nicely on the leash, how to stay focused on task and not on the neighborhood rabbits/dogs, how to politely approach other humans we encounter, etc. I want someone who knows how to do that the right way, but I also live in a larger metro area where someone like that would be an option.

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8 hours ago, Bizeebee said:

:) It obviously depends on your work hours and his exercise/bladder needs, but a lot of hounds can go a normal work day without a midday outing.

I agree. Grace goes during her early morning walk at 6am and then again during her afternoon walk at 4pm. She doesn't seem to need to go in-between times and isn't desperate to go even then....and yes she does have access to water all the time. I also think females can hold on longer than males.


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This IS my happy face!

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Good decision! You did the right thing by trusting your intuition. Also, there is a mantra in the professional dog world of 3 words. It is "trust your dog!". There is good reason for it.  Your boy is so lucky to have a smart mom like you! And you are already beginning to realize what a special blessing a greyhound is. :beatheart

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3 hours ago, racindog said:

Your boy is so lucky to have a smart mom like you! And you are already beginning to realize what a special blessing a greyhound is. :beatheart

Thank you so much for your kind words.  He's just the most wonderful creature, and I feel so fortunate that our paths crossed. :)

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This is probably totally irrelevant but it just made me think of a dog I met at the vets. It was a border collie, according to his owners he reacts really badly to ill people. They were telling me that he growls like crazy at a person on their street who has cancer. He was completely fine with them but one day the dog just started growling at him/her. The person was then diagnosed with cancer. They started to notice a pattern. Now they know if someone is ill just from the way their dog reacts to them! 

I think you were right to let her go. I would suspect something had happened on a walk and just in practical terms you'd always feel uneasy if you kept her on, worrying your dog might go for her, worrying she was doing something off camera etc and it's not worth the worry.

But it could be that she just smelled funny - maybe she was smelling like another dog she walked that yours does not like or she's wearing a perfume that the dog has a bad connection with etc. Could be entirely innocent but like I said, not worth the worry. 

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