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New dog growling at us! What to do?

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  • New dog growling at us! What to do?

    So four weeks ago I was in the arena riding my horse when I look over to the road and see from a distance a Black and Tan Coonhound stagger out of the woods and start limping down the road. The dog was a walking skeleton and I dismounted and approached him and he was friendly and extremely weak. I took him home fed him up (spent a week removing hundreds of ticks), took him to the vet to be dewormed and vaccinated, and he is doing great now. All throughout this he was extremely well behaved and tolerant of everything. He is not neutered yet, and the vet said to wait until he was healthier. I already had three dogs, but after their initial disgruntlement they have all come to a understanding with him being the new top dog.

    This whole time he has been a major love. He is extremely appreciative of being fed, in a house, and loved on. It is obvious he has spent his life outside in a crate or dog run (He was afraid to enter the house the first couple of days, then he never wanted to leave it. He actually weaves like a horse neurotically when he is confined anywhere) He thrives on petting.

    A couple weeks ago we (me and my two sisters) started having occasional incidences with him growling. I have had dogs my whole life, but have never had a problem with this before. Usually it is if he gets in one of our bedrooms and lies on the top of the bed in the evening (We try to keep him out, but the other dogs know how to open the doors). If we go to move him he starts growling (yet if he gets on the bed in the day he is fine, and if he gets on the foot of the bed, or if you are already on the bed he is fine). It started after he got to sleep at the foot of the bed one night instead of in the crate. He is fine with food. Twice he growled when my sisters tried to take a toy he was chewing on from him (he is fine if you have the toy first or are playing with him). He is fine away from the house, meeting other dogs, and other people.

    When he first did this I did some research and started the NILIF approach of not petting unless he sat when asked (he picked that up real quick, now he tries sitting to ask to be petted so I am teaching him to shake), and not letting him jump on the couch or bed with us unless invited, ect.. Now if he growls at me I am trying to redirect him and call him to me, ect.. I am not sure if it is working, and with one of my sisters he has gotten worse (he is fine with me there and she approaches and he growls at her)

    What should I be doing? I have only had him four weeks, and otherwise he is a great dog, but I want this addressed. I can not afford a behaviorist!

  • #2
    When I have a foster that growls, he works for his food.

    He also drags a long line so I can remove him from the bed without needing to put my hands directly on the dog.

    If I have to remove him from a place he wants to stay, we do some work before I leave him alone again. For instance, dog is on the bed, I have to remove him, I do so and we practice sit/down discrimination for some boring food like kibble for about 10 or 15 kibbles. Then he's free to go somewhere OTHER than the bed. If I can't close the door, I put up a baby gate to keep him out.

    I'd also start to work on open door crate training. http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/...tetraining.txt

    For the toy guarding, make trades. Get a great piece of food and ask the dog to leave his toy for the treat, toss the treat a short distance, pick up the toy.

    I do a modified NILF program. My dogs don't have to work for petting, but they often have to work for some of their breakfast and dinner.

    Comment


    • #3
      3DP, you can train my dogs anytime!
      "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
      "With all due respect.. may I suggest you take up Croquet?" --belambi
      Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club!

      Comment


      • #4
        I have a foxhound who growls and gets protective if he's allowed up on furniture. Not just the chair or bed he's currently guarding, but it seems to escalate to rooms, doors, etc. So, he's not allowed on furniture or the bed. Period. Ever. The others are. Occasionally he'll try...but he understands GET DOWN very well.

        We did keep a leash on him for a while so we could "help" him down if he was resistant.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by BetterOffRed View Post
          3DP, you can train my dogs anytime!
          Thanks BOR! I just love dogs (and horses). I feel sorry for this poor dog, he was handed a crappy life before the OP got him and he's probably afraid he's going to lose the good thing he landed in.

          Comment


          • #6
            also OP, keep in mind that this dog has hit the end of the honeymoon period. He's going to try to figure out the rules now, and part of that is what to do when he wants to stay/keep where/what he has. Don't confront him, it will worry him and put you in danger. Simply manage the hot spots for him till he can relax a bit again. In another month you may very well have a different dog yet again.

            Comment


            • #7
              this is just resource guarding- it means, first and foremost, that he doesn't trust you (not surprising since he barely knows you), and expects you'll try to use force to take his stuff/ evict him from his bed. If he was starved and deprived, he may really WANT his stuff and expect you to try to steal it.

              Dogs who resource guard are often rather fearful, mistrustful dogs, so they tend to thrive on positive rewards and simple consistent rules; they tend to get worse if you use force, punishments, inconsistent rules, or "dominance/respect" approaches. NILIF is an ok approach, because it forces you to be more consistent in your rules.

              So first: never use force to take stuff from him or move him- since you'll need to take stuff from him or move him, you have to teach him how to do this without force. To move him, using rewards and making it a fun game, teach him to jump down off beds/couches/ etc. on command. Then when you need him to move, you just ask him to move. Alternatively, you can teach a "come here" and just call him to you, which makes him move. No fuss, no fight, no growls, no breakdown in trust, nothing but communication on both sides. During the training, since you won't be sure he'll move on command, be careful to limit his access to beds etc. so he can't get up until you're sure you can get him to move on command. Set him up for success.
              Next, teach him to drop things on command-one method, only use if you feel comfortable handling his mouth: take something he doesn't particularly want, anything you have handy, stick it in his mouth, and quickly give your Drop it command as he spits it out.
              Other method to teach the Drop it! command, if he has something, try trading him something even better for it! he has your shoe, you offer him liver, when he starts to drop the shoe you say Drop it! good dog and give him the liver and quietly lead him away from the shoe while you feed him liver.
              Once he has a clue as to what Drop it means you can play "trade it" games, where you ask him to drop what he has, you give him something better, take and admire what he had in the first place, and then GIVE IT BACK to him. This simple little game will blow some mistrustful dogs away- WOW I get good stuff plus my stuff back???? they'll drop anything on command after one little trade it game.
              You should also teach him you won't steal his dinner- while he eats, quietly approach and drop something tasty in his bowl. If you're not sure this is safe, start by giving him half his meal, wait until he is done, approach and give him the rest plus a tasty treat. So he learns people moving towards him during dinner is a good thing, and people handling his food bowl is a good thing.

              growling is good- don't punish growling. It means he isn't comfortable, and is telling you about it rather than simply attacking you. If a dog growls, find out why, and fix the why, not the growl. If you can't fix the why right then and there, walk away. Don't risk a bite or a confrontation. If you walk away, you teach him that you respect his communication, and that will build his trust. But you can't just walk away and forget about it- you have to go fix the why later, when it's safe to do so.

              The other dogs you've had probably never growled because they trusted you and didn't care as much if you want to take their stuff- they've never been deprived.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
                When I have a foster that growls, he works for his food.

                He also drags a long line so I can remove him from the bed without needing to put my hands directly on the dog.

                If I have to remove him from a place he wants to stay, we do some work before I leave him alone again. For instance, dog is on the bed, I have to remove him, I do so and we practice sit/down discrimination for some boring food like kibble for about 10 or 15 kibbles. Then he's free to go somewhere OTHER than the bed. If I can't close the door, I put up a baby gate to keep him out.

                I'd also start to work on open door crate training. http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/...tetraining.txt

                For the toy guarding, make trades. Get a great piece of food and ask the dog to leave his toy for the treat, toss the treat a short distance, pick up the toy.

                I do a modified NILF program. My dogs don't have to work for petting, but they often have to work for some of their breakfast and dinner.
                Great advice!!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'd be for neutering him sooner and not later.
                  “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Also have him tested for tick diseases and thyroid

                    aggression can be a symptom and since you mentioned ticks....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by wendy View Post

                      growling is good- don't punish growling. It means he isn't comfortable, and is telling you about it rather than simply attacking you. If a dog growls, find out why, and fix the why, not the growl. If you can't fix the why right then and there, walk away. Don't risk a bite or a confrontation. If you walk away, you teach him that you respect his communication, and that will build his trust. But you can't just walk away and forget about it- you have to go fix the why later, when it's safe to do so.
                      Very good point. The top behaviorist Jean Donaldson says the most dangerous dogs are the ones that DON'T growl--they give no warning, just turn and nail you. A growling dog is saying, "I'm really upset, but I'm giving you a chance to correct this situation!"

                      Not that you should give in to those issues--in fact you don't want to reinforce the growling by appearing as if the growling gets him anywhere at all, and the previous advice is great for counter-conditioning and management--but do appreciate that he is trying to communicate his problem in the best way he knows how right now. Just because it seems to us humans as if it shouldn't even BE a problem, he truly believes it is.

                      Speaking of Donaldson, her book DOGS ARE FROM NEPTUNE is highly recommended. If you feel this is an issue that will take a more systematic approach, you can use her book MINE! which contains extremely detailed instructions for counter-conditioning resource guarding. Be warned that MINE! is written for behaviorists and will seem almost excessively detailed, but when you want to bullet-proof an animal, sometimes it takes real commitment.

                      This dog is really lucky to have you, and hope it works out!
                      Ring the bells that still can ring
                      Forget your perfect offering
                      There is a crack in everything
                      That's how the light gets in.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MTshowjumper View Post
                        ....... I already had three dogs, but after their initial disgruntlement they have all come to a understanding with him being the new top dog.

                        ..........
                        A couple weeks ago we (me and my two sisters) started having occasional incidences with him growling. I have had dogs my whole life, but have never had a problem with this before. Usually it is if he gets in one of our bedrooms and lies on the top of the bed in the evening (We try to keep him out, but the other dogs know how to open the doors). If we go to move him he starts growling (yet if he gets on the bed in the day he is fine, and if he gets on the foot of the bed, or if you are already on the bed he is fine). It started after he got to sleep at the foot of the bed one night instead of in the crate. He is fine with food. Twice he growled when my sisters tried to take a toy he was chewing on from him (he is fine if you have the toy first or are playing with him). He is fine away from the house, meeting other dogs, and other people.

                        ........... Now if he growls at me I am trying to redirect him and call him to me, ect.. I am not sure if it is working, and with one of my sisters he has gotten worse (he is fine with me there and she approaches and he growls at her)

                        What should I be doing? I have only had him four weeks, and otherwise he is a great dog, but I want this addressed. I can not afford a behaviorist!
                        I'm reading this a bit differently than the others

                        I think that he's establishing that he is not just top dog but is also top of your entire household

                        I'd work on realigning the pack hierarchy
                        Nothing says "I love you" like a tractor. (Clydejumper)

                        The reports states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidently put down this pony, ........, at the show.”

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          BTW, Donaldson was the director of the SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers in San Francisco (known as the "Harvard of dog training schools) for 10 years. She is incredibly experienced and effective at teaching both dogs and people.

                          Another really excellent book of hers is THE CULTURE CLASH. Quite funny and very illuminating.

                          Just discovered she's got a website. I haven't had time to really look at it, but it appears to be another good resource.
                          Ring the bells that still can ring
                          Forget your perfect offering
                          There is a crack in everything
                          That's how the light gets in.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by SGray View Post
                            I'm reading this a bit differently than the others

                            I think that he's establishing that he is not just top dog but is also top of your entire household

                            I'd work on realigning the pack hierarchy
                            that is also how I read it.
                            “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by cowboymom View Post
                              that is also how I read it.
                              Originally posted by SGray View Post
                              I'm reading this a bit differently than the others

                              I think that he's establishing that he is not just top dog but is also top of your entire household

                              I'd work on realigning the pack hierarchy
                              I'm afraid that I couldn't disagree more.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by SGray View Post
                                I'm reading this a bit differently than the others

                                I think that he's establishing that he is not just top dog but is also top of your entire household

                                I'd work on realigning the pack hierarchy
                                This 100% as hes gotten more comfortable hes starting to try to find his place in the pack. He'll take being in charge especially if its not challenged.

                                "I'll be the boss if you let me"
                                "I would not beleive her if her tongue came notorized"

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by MTshowjumper View Post
                                  I am not sure if it is working, and with one of my sisters he has gotten worse (he is fine with me there and she approaches and he growls at her)

                                  What should I be doing? I have only had him four weeks, and otherwise he is a great dog, but I want this addressed. I can not afford a behaviorist!
                                  I'm not sure that you can't - what will it cost when he bites or even attacks.

                                  He definitely needs to see a vet to rule out physical issues (thyroid, pain, etc).

                                  If you are adamant about not bringing in a trainer or behaviorist, then you need to manage him much more, eg, crated whenever you're not there to monitor interactions with your sister.

                                  Talk to your local shelters/rescues/vets/trainers about getting some assistance with this dog at rates that you can manage.

                                  ETA if crating is absolutely not possible, then muzzle train him.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by alto View Post
                                    I'm not sure that you can't - what will it cost when he bites or even attacks.
                                    or you could just work with him, letting him earn his privileges and see where that goes.

                                    this doesn't have to escalate, if you handle it and give him some time and space, he just might turn into a nice dog.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Zipp help in the what to do area but to me he sounds like he is trying to be the top dog of you like he is with your other animals ... you probably already work that one out. Like horses you need in my opinion to teach/show him that you are number one as is every ohter human. I am not suggesting being mean but possibly all the treats and fussing is giving him a higher expectation than he deserves "now". Definitely don't let him get away with growling at you ever with out some big "no" response after all he has you to thank for taking him in! Best of luck I am sure you will sort it out.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Be firm but don't escalate. The simplest way to avoid escalation is to remove the triggers for them. No more toys lying around, close/lock the bedroom doors to keep him off the bed, etc. A real PITA dog will invent new triggers, but most dogs just have a few and if you shut them down and work on establishing rules in less pressurized situations, you can gradually work your way back toward a more relaxed state. The sister situation is trickier; the solution might be to make a point of putting sister first - ie, if all 3 of you are in the same room, the 2 humans enter talking/interacting and not engaging the dog.

                                        He seems to have a problem with guarding things - the bed, toys, you when your sister approaches. I don't think it's a straight line to death row, but I do think it's something you need to always remember, even if he improves. You can train them, you can change their behavior and maintain them, but the temperament stays the same. He obviously has some comfort level with physically guarding desirable things, and with using the threat of violence to keep them. That's not exactly rare in a dog, but it's not really the norm, and it's not optimal. Worst case scenario, the dog's true personality is starting to emerge with better health, and it's not a nice personality. Best case scenario, he's seeing what the deal is in his new home, and displaying his less-than-stellar philosophy on using his teeth to get his way. Because while growling is better than biting without a warning, don't forget that it is a warning that the dog intends to bite if you don't change your wicked ways.

                                        Comment

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