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Change in Behaviour - Growling and Nipping at Partner

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My partner and I have had our adopted grey for about 4 months now and he's been settling really well for the most part. He is generally a very sweet boy who loves cuddles, although is definitely on the more anxious end of the spectrum.

Just in the past week, he has suddenly started acting oddly towards my partner, showing his teeth and growling at him.

The first time it happened he was on the couch with my partner and was cuddling with him. He looked up at him with an open mouth grin, gave him a lick, lowered his head, then 2 seconds later showed his teeth and growled at him. Then a second later, buried his head into his leg and went to sleep. My partner wasn't patting him, just sitting there.
We assume he is trying to claim the couch as his own, so we have revoked his couch privileges. 

Then in the past couples of days, he'll be lying on the floor (not on his bed) and will show his teeth or lurch and nip at my partner's heel as he comes nearby, or growl at him, which he has to do if the dog is lying in the middle of the room.

He hasn't showed any previous signs of sleep startle and it's only with my partner he is suddenly showing this behaviour. 

We will have my partner do more obedience training with him to try and strengthen their positive bond, but not sure what the best way of handling this is.

Some additional possibilities:
- Have my partner drop treats whenever he walks by to create a positive association
- Is it appropriate to do a gentle 'ah ah' at this behaviour? Or will that worsen things?
- Both of us to immediately leave the room and ignore him? As in, withdrawal of our presence as a negative punishment for that behaviour. (He will almost always follow us whenever we both leave his sight).

We do have a good behaviourist to consult but they're booked out for the next few weeks.

Any thoughts on the best way to proceed for the moment?


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Hi. A good behaviourist who uses Positive Reinforcement type meathods could assess your and your dog's situation first hand. Sometimes the smallest details matter. It sounds like you're responding appropriately, so well done. I would personally announce my presence with a calming voice, and give ample personal space when walking past (every time), in addition to dropping the tasty treat. I wouldn't punish/chastise the growl, but do take notice of the circumstances. For the moment, less eye contact, less sustained touching, and *no* sustained eye contact should help. A behaviourist could make a hands-on assessment. Cheers and best wishes.


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More erratic behavior today. Most of the day he was friendly and asking for pats etc

But twice he got up off the floor and took a couple of short paces in order to nip my partner. The first time he was getting a shirt from the couch. The dog was lying about a metre away. Partner picked up the shirt and the started to leave and the dog got up, closed the distnacr and nipped at the shirt.

The second time was just as we were going to bed. We have his bed positioned on the floor at the foot of our bed. Dog was on his bed and my partner sat on the bed towards the end. With his back to the dog to take his socks off. I was in bed already, and saw the dog intensely eyeballing my partner and then he got up and nipped him on the arm. Not enough to break the skin but both times he escalated straight passed growling or snarling to bite.

So I'm now increasingly concerned about the escalation.

We've removed furniture privleges and I've moved his nighttime bed out of the bedroom.

I'm finding it quite upsetting because the rapport has been very good up until this past week but suddenly he's wanting to guard his space, but seemingly only against my partner. He's all cuddles with me. Practically speaking, our home isn't big enough that he can lie down in a room and expect my partner to stay more than a metre a way, as there often. Isn't that much free floor space. We did work with dropping treats today but will need to ramp it up another level. My partner doesn't want to walk around the house with a pocket full of dog treats (cooked chicken bits currently) but I'm going to really dictate his behaviour. It's really frustrating for me because the behaviour is not directed at me which means I can't really do much myself to correct it. I am somewhat concerned that my partner won't be careful enough and the next bite wont be as restrained. Or if not the next, the one after that. It's really bothering me because he's been a very sweet natured dog otherwise to until now, and something strange is going on in his brain 

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Who feeds him and takes him for walks? If it's you get your partner to do it with you or on his own to see if that gets him to accept that your partner is above him in the pack

Grace (Ardera Coleen) born 18 June 2014
Raced at Monmore Green, Wolverhampton UK - 68 Races, 9 wins, 5 second places
Gotcha Day 10 June 2018 

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