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My grey is coming up to my husband to growl at him

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I’m sorry the post is so long I just don’t want to miss any important information.


We brought Barry home almost two years ago. Recently his behavior towards my husband has changed during specific situations. I would love any insight or advice any of you have. 


Since we brought Barry home I have been his person. Although he loves my husband and is affectionate with him, I’m the one he follows around the house and just seems to have a special connection with. I’m sure a lot of it is due to the fact that before the pandemic I worked from home without my husband, walked him on my own most of the time, and fed him most of his meals. 


Three weeks after we brought him home he bit my husband due to sleep aggression/startle. (He’s a good boy and it was our mistake). Since then we’ve never touched him when he’s lying down. He’s also not allowed on the furniture.


Barry occasionally growls when he wakes up from deep sleep, it’s usually at my husband. He also has occasionally growled if my husband was bending over near him or in a position that we assume seems threatening to Barry.


The growling incidents have slowly dwindled down over time. Every few months he might growl at my husband if he wakes from a deep sleep but after a quick, “no or Ah Ah,” he will just go back to sleep.


We recently started leaving him home alone again for the first time since the pandemic started and the growling after deep sleep incidents have escalated to maybe once or twice a week. We think there is a correlation due to his higher stress levels.


We always try our best to make our leaving him alone not a big deal (give him frozen kongs, walk him beforehand, don’t make a big deal out of coming home or going, change up our getting ready routine, leave the radio on, etc). 


Recently things have gotten worse, for about a week or so if my husband is eating, Barry will stare at him from his bed and then eventually jump up and come over. At first, we were not sure if it was aggression or begging. He’d stare at him and put his head on his lap but then growl or stand close to him and growl. We’d scold him with a sharp No and send him to his bed, but often he’d just jump up again. So I’ve been working on his ‘place’ command to help with that.


Although my husband wasn’t eating last night Barry started staring at him from his bed and then jumped up and started coming over towards the couch. We said ‘no’ sharply and got up off the couch. Then my husband had a quick training session with him to put Barry in a better mindset. It freaked me out and is starting to make me worry about my husbands safety although I understand that Barry is just trying to communicate by growling and I'm grateful for that. I'm just having a really hard time understanding what he's trying to say.


This behavior is only happening to my husband and not me. It makes me believe that Barry has trust issues with him or is challenging him but I am not an expert and he’s our first grey. My husband also pointed out that it only happens when I’m in the room so maybe it’s possessiveness over me? 


Today my husband fed some of Barry’s breakfast by hand and will start being the one holding the leash on our daily walks. I’ve also been encouraging training sessions with them. On top of that I'll increase his walks to help with his stress levels.


Is there anything we should do differently?

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It does sound like he's becoming protective towards you.

When he growls at your husband do you tell him off or mainly your husband? If the latter perhaps you should do it all the time so he knows that his behaviour is wrong in your eyes too.


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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Barrysmom, that behavior does sound unsettling.  I've been working with an animal behaviorist for some help with my hound Nate--he is blind (PRA) and sometimes growls when being petted and sometimes wakes from sleep with ferocious growls and snarls.  Not the same as your situation but similar enough that I feel for you.  Anyway, my input is that I found a wonderful resource for working with an animal behaviorist even though there was not such a person anywhere near where I live.   https://behaveatlanta.com/  Nate and I have had a great experience working with the animal behaviorist and trainer at Behave Atlanta via Zoom.  They did a detailed assessment and after each session, they followed up with detailed, insightful written documentation--their assessment, specific suggestions for our situation, training strategies.  It's been a great experience and has made a dramatic difference in Nate's behavior.  I'd never have thought that Zoom would work for this sort of thing, but we managed very well.  I could even place my laptop in a location where they could watch me work with Nate and make very helpful suggestions.  Not inexpensive but so worth it.

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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