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Growling/Snapping increasing in frequency

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Hi there,

I could really use some perspective! I adopted my girl about three and a half months ago. In the first couple of weeks after bringing her home, I was careful to let her come to me, and she initially spent a lot of time in her crate (with the door open). After those first couple of weeks though, she would come lay down next to me on the floor or put her head in my lap. She seemed not to mind if I was close to her and would fall asleep next to me. She even didn’t mind if I approached her crate to pet her and would roll on her back for me. Since adopting her, I’ve learned that she’s prone to resource guarding as well as sleep startle. A few times now though, she’s growled and snapped at me without an obvious (to me) trigger. The first time it happened, she had laid down for me to pet her as I approached her bed, and I made the mistake of leaning over to kiss her face. I now know that this was definitely my mistake and she perceived my body language as threatening, and I’ve been careful not to do it again. She snapped at me again about a week later when I sat down next to her bed after I had given her a new toy that evening. It definitely took me aback, as I didn’t touch her this time or make any move toward her, but I understood this as resource guarding her new toy and that I got too close to her. Since these two initial incidences, we hadn’t experienced any other problems and it seemed that she was really starting to trust me more until recently.


About 10 weeks after her adoption, we had to move. It was a difficult trip for her (2 days) and she took nearly two weeks just to settle down in the new place. Within the last couple of weeks since then, there’s been several incidences of snarling/snapping at me when she’s lying down and I’m next to her. Knowing that she is sensitive, I’ve tried to be really careful about watching her body language, but the change seems to happen within a second. She’ll be completely content to be petted and close to me, and then suddenly jump up, bark, and snap. The most recent time, I was sitting an arm’s length away from her. She was definitely fully awake. Since then, I’ve stopped sitting with her or petting her at all unless she’s standing. It’s very confusing since she also seems to give me mixed signals. She’ll look at me and whine while on her bed as if she wants me to come pet her. She even started demand barking for pets and attention (which I’ve been careful not to reinforce). I want to be affectionate with her, but I’m very wary of her snapping at me again. It’s frightening when she does. My questions are:


  1. Is this normal? How concerned should I be that it's happened more and not less? I thought we were building up a trusting relationship between us. Could it be the change of environment that set everything back?
  2. How should I respond? I know I’m not supposed to punish a growl. Should I just move and ignore? Leave the room?
  3. Perhaps most importantly… will this stop? I’m new to greyhounds. I’ve never had a dog react this way to affection. I love her dearly, but I certainly imagined being able to snuggle and its disappointing that we can’t. I eventually hope to invite her up on the couch or the bed, but I can’t imagine giving her those privileges anytime soon. 


All in all it’s been really disheartening, and I’m concerned that she may never be a dog I’m able to cuddle with. I really want her to feel safe and not push her past her limits, but its certainly disappointing to not be able to be close to my dog.

Thanks so much for reading.

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glad to read that you have reached out for help. i'm just going to list my suggestions, this is something out of the ordinary. so, PLEASE, stay on top of it.

report this to adoption group and ask for help

vet check- thyroid, blood work, manipulation of joints etc just to make sure nothing physical is going on.explain exactly what is going on to your vet.

ask around for an animal behaviorist- adoption group or vet might have a referral

if this doesn't work out, it's not you. some dogs are totally insecure and lost w/o a pack or a partner. this might be the case. don't feel like a failure.

best of luck 


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It sounds like the honeymoon period is over when your greyhound has let things happen and has decided to start to show her personality a bit more. She may calm down and trust that she can totally relax with you but she may not and things could escalate.

cleptogrey has given you some good advice but if things don't improve it is NOT a failure on your part or your greyhounds if she is returned to the adoption group. Greyhounds are like people, they all have their own personalities, likes and dislikes. We don't get on with everyone we meet and some people take an illogical dislike to one another but another person they will get on well with. The same with greyhounds.

Grace (Ardera Coleen) b. 18 June 2014 - Gotcha Day 10 June 2018 - Going grey gracefully
Guinness (Antigua Rum) b. 3 September 2017 - Gotcha Day 18 March 2022 - A gentleman most of the time


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I'm a huge advocate of muzzles--they may hate wearing them, but it keeps everyone safer.

Current Crew: Gino-Gene-Eugene! (Eastnor Rebel: Makeshift x Celtic Dream); Fuzzy the Goo-Goo Girl (BGR Fuzzy Navel: Boc's Blast Off x Superior Peace); Roman the Giant Galoot! (Imark Roman: Crossfire Clyde x Shana Wookie); Kitties Archie and Dixie

Forever Missed: K9 Sasha (2001-2015); Johnny (John Reese--Gable Dodge x O'Jays) (2011-19); the kitties Terry and Bibbi; and all the others I've had the privilege to know


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10 minutes ago, palmettobug said:

I'm a huge advocate of muzzles--they may hate wearing them, but it keeps everyone safer.

yes, they keep everyone safe. but one generally does not adopt a dog to end up having to use a muzzle- unless they are one of the fine/few/dedicated people who rehabilitates dogs that are difficult to place. 

as to a new dog owner i can only recommend that my remarks be taken seriously and you act quickly.

please update us at to your actions/decisions

Edited by cleptogrey
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My Nate is more a bit like your girl with the added element in the mix that he's blind. I can wholeheartedly recommend the ladies at Behave Atlanta .  One is an trainer and the other is a certified animal behaviorist.  They work via Zoom meetings for those outside that Atlanta area.  I was impressed with their questions and the thorough, detailed, insightful written assessment and game plan for me that came out of each session.  Worth every penny. The Zoom format was surprisingly effective.  They could watch Nate and watch me working with Nate.  

I am a little sad that it may not be in Nate's nature to ever be a "cuddle-bug" dog, but I love the fact that Amy and Lillian helped me see that Nate really loves working with me (training, doing things together) and that the sense of cooperation we are building is bonding and precious, just in a different way than the cuddling and endless petting my other hounds have enjoyed.  Each of my Greyhounds has been different in personality and I think it's important for the humans in the equation to be willing to meet each particular dog where he or she is.

Lucy with Greyhound Nate and OSH Tinker. With loving memories of MoMo (FTH Chyna Moon), Spirit, Miles the slinky kitty (OSH), Piper "The Perfect" (Oneco Chaplin), Winston, Yoda, Hector, and Claire.

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Thanks everyone for your replies! I’m taking her to the vet on Monday. I’ve also asked to speak with the adoption group. I did speak with the group a couple months ago after the first two times I described, and they initially told me they thought it was typical and workable. I backed off from approaching her space and she seemed to be doing a lot better... but it definitely feels as if something has shifted now.

Edited by Tulip
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The other thing I would mention is that many times we see regression in extinguished behaviors following a major life change like moving.  Sometimes you have to completely start over with retraining and desensitization at big transition points.

In the meantime, just call her over to you, so she's standing on her feet, for attention.  And don't take any of her guarding behaviors personally - it's just a reaction she can't control.

Something that's worked for me with space resource guarders is to sit a safe distance from the bed and quietly read or watch tv - something you can do for a while that's stationary and not moving around a lot.  Every once in a while, if she laying quietly and NOT reacting, toss her a YUMMY treat.  If she does react, just ignore her.  Do *not* reach for any dropped treats.  Talk to her, read out loud, let her know you are there with her, but don't touch her.  Do this at least every day, and more than that if you have the time.  It's a bonding exercise so she learns to trust better.

For toy and treat resource guarders I typically just use the "trade up" method.  Do not try and remove anything she values with your bare hands.  Offer a very high value alternate treat, and toss it away from whatever she's guarding, then pick that item up when she goes to get treat you tossed.

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

52592535884_69debcd9b4.jpgsiggy by Chris Harper, on Flickr

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, Lilly

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