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Spinoff: how do you think dogs should communicate

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  • Original Poster

    #21
    Originally posted by Rubyfree View Post
    All of my dogs have been allowed to growl at me, and I'm also pretty hard ass when it comes to behavioral expectations.
    define hard ass. It has come up several times in the two threads. I know what I mean by hard ass, but I suspect my definition is different from others.

    When I say they have been allowed to growl AT me- we explore the cause and train to remedy. A dog I have owned for years should not STILL be growling at me over, say, removing a toy. We work on those issues.
    and if he does still growl, or if he does not seem to be able to get past it, or if it seems to be habit, do you make allowances for that?

    There are certainly different growls. Current dog is a grumbler... low, grumpy, drawn out growl. That is how he complains about the multitude of injustices in the world. It is not serious "I'm going to eff you up" growling and it does not bother me in the slightest. The "serious" growls are reserved for strange noises and food aggression issues... which yes, we have worked on, for years, and have made much progress, but he still will growl if I push the line to far, and that is OK.
    you answered the question above with this quote.

    He will also still, very rarely, growl at the cats when they have crossed a line. I also think this is acceptable. The cats are trained (really, you can train cats people!) to respect that growl. He doesn't do it often and the felines understand. I would much rather he tell the cats "Please get out of my face" than just rip them apart. For the most part, the dog is trained that the cats are the lords & masters of the house and he must be polite to them. When they are blatantly being jerks, he may tell them to respect his space, as they have the whole danged house and his space is pretty clearly whatever footage he is currently occupying. They must respect that.
    so there is a lot of gray area between "accept everything" and "gonna kill you"?

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #22
      KT Rider, I'm glad that you've found some of my posts helpful. Wendy and I differ on a few minor points, but she's a good resource as well and there is another poster (can't remember exactly who it is right now) that offers well thought out, forward thinking posts as well.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #23
        Here is another thought. My first priority with anyone who has an issue with their dog is the safety of the people involved. Period. People must be safe. If there is doubt that the issue can be modified, worked around, trained through or otherwise managed safely, the dog goes. I'm black and white on that.

        But...I think often dogs are set up to fail, if they cannot tell you they are unhappy, painful, worried or frightened, how do you know?

        What dogs learn is important, how we teach them is equally important. Every interaction you have with a dog is a teaching lesson, so we need to be careful that the lesson we think we are teaching is also the lesson the dog is learning.

        I frequently read the posts from people who say "no growling is allowed" and think, what is it that you want the dog to learn? Is that the lesson the dog really is learning?

        Comment


        • #24
          Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
          so what does growling mean when a dog growls?
          Dog growl=something is going on I (dog) don't like.
          I LOVE my Chickens!

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          • Original Poster

            #25
            Originally posted by Megaladon View Post
            Dog growl=something is going on I (dog) don't like.
            I'm confused, there is something going on that the dog dosn't like?

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            • Original Poster

              #26
              Originally posted by Megaladon View Post
              Dog growl=something is going on I (dog) don't like.
              if you did mean there is something the dog doesn't like, how do you handle it?

              Comment


              • #27
                I had to take a step back and think, for sure. And I realized I have a very vocal dog - she moans, whines, roos. She rarely barks, but will actually do a silent bark when she knows I'm looking at her and wants to make a point about it being dinner time or play time. She growls when we play tug games, but it's a happy, prancey kind of growl. So, if I'm fine with her being vocal when she's happy, excited, hungry, whatever, why shouldn't she be vocal when worried or upset? And isn't that better than just going right to biting? It's very logical, but I think we are often just taught that growling is scary and bad, as a black and white concept.

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                • Original Poster

                  #28
                  Originally posted by KTRider View Post
                  I had to take a step back and think, for sure. And I realized I have a very vocal dog - she moans, whines, roos. She rarely barks, but will actually do a silent bark when she knows I'm looking at her and wants to make a point about it being dinner time or play time. She growls when we play tug games, but it's a happy, prancey kind of growl. So, if I'm fine with her being vocal when she's happy, excited, hungry, whatever, why shouldn't she be vocal when worried or upset? And isn't that better than just going right to biting? It's very logical, but I think we are often just taught that growling is scary and bad, as a black and white concept.
                  I agree that too we learn that growling = potential aggression, which must be stopped before it escalates.

                  I also think that once we learn to think about it a bit, we realize that there are other reasons and purposes for growling. Too often still, the response it to step in and physically discipline a dog, which I think often increases the risk of upping the aggression.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
                    I'm confused, there is something going on that the dog dosn't like?
                    I guess I'm equally confused, LOL, why else would a dog growl?
                    I LOVE my Chickens!

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                    • Original Poster

                      #30
                      and before this goes any further, thank you for each person who has responded and done it with such civility.

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                      • Original Poster

                        #31
                        Originally posted by Megaladon View Post
                        I guess I'm equally confused, LOL, why else would a dog growl?
                        perhaps to attract attention for a game of some sort? Have you never seen a dog with their forequarters low and the hindquarters high, growl and shake a toy to entice another dog into a game of chase?

                        edit: my dogs have done this with me as well. They are growling AT me to get me to play.

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
                          define hard ass. It has come up several times in the two threads. I know what I mean by hard ass, but I suspect my definition is different from others.


                          so there is a lot of gray area between "accept everything" and "gonna kill you"?
                          1. I'll try. I expect my definition is also different than others- differing priorities. I have rules for canine behavior that are not flexible. They may not be the same as other's hard and fast rules. I find most of the populations' pets to be insufferably ill mannered- jumpy, yappy, disrespectful. I expect my dogs to be polite, patient, mindful to the best of their abilities.

                          2. Lots of gray area. They have their own thoughts, feelings, motivations. I would never expect an animal to "accept everything", no holds barred- I've had dogs who were pretty close to accepting everything thrown at them and while I appreciate it, that saintly personality is rare (In humans, too ). I have had current dog long enough to understand his personal boundaries. Some of them are compatible with our lifestyle. I don't blame him a whit if he would rather the cats not attack his ear while he is sleeping. They're being dicks. I EXPECT him to tolerate many things and he understands those rules... the things he truly finds insufferable, I respect as well, unless they are blatantly incompatible with peaceful life in the house (snapping when I walk by food dish... no. Growling to let me know I am making him feel snappy- OK. We can work with that.)

                          Don't know how much any of that clarifies... I expect my animals to communicate their needs and feelings with the tools that are available to them. Growling is a tool.
                          bar.ka think u al.l. susp.ect
                          free bar.ka and tidy rabbit

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
                            \
                            But...I think often dogs are set up to fail, if they cannot tell you they are unhappy, painful, worried or frightened, how do you know?
                            This, precisely, is how I view a lot of "behavioral" issues that stem up both on COTH or other places I've visited - word of mouth from friends, old trainers, etc. Most dogs that are displaced or rehomed were set up to fail because they never had the proper tools to succeed in the first place.

                            The issue is that a lot of dog enthusiasts are not necessarily communicators. And that's fine. That's what trainers, books, and other resources are for. You can enjoy the company of a dog without being an expert on them. (:

                            But most issues are not organic to the dog: meaning, most issues are either "trained" into the dog or they are the direct result of improper handling. Training has to overcome instinct - which is something (especially in a dog like OP had in the other thread) that is very hard to do when you have "rescued" a dog you have no prior history of.

                            Like Threedogpack said, EVERY interaction you or someone else has on your dog is a building block in its "education". You have to think of it like the foundation of a house. If the earlier interactions are poor, the rest of the interactions are going to reflect this -- and in turn, no matter how expert the handler, are going to be difficult to correct. Which is why it is important (especially for people handling dogs with "no prior history" - rescues, etc) for every person who owns a dog to step back and carefully consider if what you are asking of your dog is "fair" to them. Some people would be surprised to find out that it is not.

                            For the OP's dog not to "fail" her expectations, you would have to go back to the rawboned basics - as if the dog had never had an education at all. Crate, praisetime, toy time, short-interval training time, exercise time - until you have "Rectified" the cracked foundation (BM in the house, growling at the child, chewing the nice vanity in your room..). It isn't easy, and most people don't want to do it - it requires a degree of discipline and patience most people do not have the time for. But it can be rewarding - and the dogs are less likely to "fail".


                            As far as dealing with the dog with an illicit item - that is a form of communication that is not okay, but needs to be addressed. You could do something as simple as removing the sock and giving it a better toy - and praising it when it elects to chew the toy instead. Teaching it to "drop it" or "leave it" would be the next step - I would, personally, use that particular instance to teach the dog a new command. I also think that teaching a dog to drop it and exchange it for a better thing (i.e, a treat) is a far more effective way to teach a dog to consistently drop it. I am a huge fan of positive reinforcement -- more so than negative -- because positive reinforcement is a longer, more rewarding tool than negative and has no "negative" effects such as trauma or feelings of abuse.

                            My long spiel aside: when looking at a dog that is a "problem dog" - and this goes for EVERY animal out there - horse, dog, child -- you have to truly step back and survey the situation and ask yourself if what you are expecting out of the dog/child/human is truly a fair question. You wouldn't take a horse through a preliminary course if it had no prior knowledge -- why would you expect a dog to behave correctly if it had no prior/consistent training?
                            AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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                            • Original Poster

                              #34
                              Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                              But most issues are not organic to the dog: meaning, most issues are either "trained" into the dog or they are the direct result of improper handling. Training has to overcome instinct - which is something (especially in a dog like OP had in the other thread) that is very hard to do when you have "rescued" a dog you have no prior history of.
                              I disagree that is very hard, but it may take some time and some thought and much observation to see if the behavior being addressed is being shaped the way the human wants it to go.

                              Like Threedogpack said, EVERY interaction you or someone else has on your dog is a building block in its "education". You have to think of it like the foundation of a house. If the earlier interactions are poor, the rest of the interactions are going to reflect this -- and in turn, no matter how expert the handler, are going to be difficult to correct.
                              difficult to correct depends so much on both the dog and the person(s) involved in the equation. There are plenty of nice dogs that might be slow to pick up on what the people want, and there are 4 dogs in my house who would take the information and learn immediately then expand on it. There are individuals in some of the more traditionally thought of breeds who would excel in a home with different circumstances. In one home it might be very slow progress and in another very quick.

                              Which is why it is important (especially for people handling dogs with "no prior history" - rescues, etc) for every person who owns a dog to step back and carefully consider if what you are asking of your dog is "fair" to them. Some people would be surprised to find out that it is not.
                              or you might find that the dog simply guesses wrong. Is this what that person wants? *insert yelling and grabbing by a human*.....oooooh, guess not

                              For the OP's dog not to "fail" her expectations, you would have to go back to the rawboned basics - as if the dog had never had an education at all.
                              yes.


                              My long spiel aside: when looking at a dog that is a "problem dog" - and this goes for EVERY animal out there - horse, dog, child -- you have to truly step back and survey the situation and ask yourself if what you are expecting out of the dog/child/human is truly a fair question.
                              yes again.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #35
                                Originally posted by beowulf
                                As you can see, I have no "never acceptable" instance: this is because EVERY dog has a reason for growling -- while it may not rack up as a good reason for YOU, it is certainly reason enough for a dog to announce it -- which means YOU (as the handler, owner, and companion) must figure out why -- and fix it.
                                and this, is what I was getting at. There are growls and growls and GROWLS. To say that you never want a dog to growl AT you, limits the information flow, even bad information is still information.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
                                  I also think that once we learn to think about it a bit, we realize that there are other reasons and purposes for growling. Too often still, the response it to step in and physically discipline a dog, which I think often increases the risk of upping the aggression.
                                  Glad to see there is someone else out there that doesn't believe physical reprimand deters a dog from growling!

                                  And as far as your response: I should reiterate, as I probably didn't word it very well and you're right- it is hard (for normal people) because you need consistency -- which is difficult for a lot of people to supply because of time, resource, or other restrictions. For an expert dog handler, it is not so hard - but it still requires a degree of time. I wouldn't call myself an expert dog trainer, as I do not formally train dogs for money -- however, all of my dogs (and there are a lot of them) came to me with behavioral problems that their previous owners (or handlers) could not address simply out of the fact that they either did not know the situation was unfair or did not have the proper time and tools to address it. Sometimes it is as simple as neutering the dogs or taking away the rawhide.. Sometimes, it requires a little more than that.
                                  AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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                                  • Original Poster

                                    #37
                                    Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                                    Glad to see there is someone else out there that doesn't believe physical reprimand deters a dog from growling!
                                    it will deter the dog from growling eventually. However, it doesn't address whatever the underlying problem is. That is where the side effects or fall out come from.

                                    And as far as your response: I should reiterate, as I probably didn't word it very well and you're right- it is hard (for normal people) because you need consistency -- which is difficult for a lot of people to supply because of time, resource, or other restrictions.
                                    this is it. I'm not perfectly consistent. I lose my temper, I handle the situation poorly, I'm tired. But I probably handle it more consistently than someone who thinks growling is always wrong.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      I've been guilty of getting frustrated too.. especially after a long day at work, a frustrating ride with a horse, or a spat with a coworker - the last thing I want to see when I come home is a steamy dump on the carpet anticipating my arrival.. but sometimes.. it's better to walk away than let my frustrations get the best of me. That's part of being not just human but an animal - everything alive has their bad days.

                                      Besides, my dogs are always happy to see me and I guess that makes up for the crappy days with crap in them (8
                                      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
                                        I'm going to make a slight curve in this conversation as well. Hope Wendy has a chance to step in and offer her thoughts as well.

                                        hypothetical situation: Dog has an illegal item (childs sock), you approach dog to take the sock away, dog growls at you when you are about 5 feet away. As you get closer, dog growls louder, and as you approach the 1-2 feet point, he tucks the sock back against his chest and hovers over the sock.

                                        how do you handle that, do you take the sock because you can and what do you think this teaches the dog?

                                        What is long term learning from this?

                                        Do you discipline the dog for growling here? If so, what do you think the dog learns from being disciplined?
                                        I'd go get a high value item/treat and call them to me and offer that, and remove the forbidden item. The last thing I would do is try to approach them and take it. that's asking to teach a dog to bite, and telling them that they need to guard better because I am going to steal things.

                                        I'm ok with growling in some situations. My Boxer/shep mix will growl when playing with the other dogs, or if I wrestle with her. But it's just a playful vocalizing. None of my dogs that I currently own have ever growled at me to guard or out of fear. If they did, I would train for the situation (growling because of fear= desensitize, resource guarding= trade up games).

                                        I believe that if you take away a dog's primary means of communication you can make a dangerous dog. If a kid tries to hug a dog (which generally they shouldn't be doing, since dogs don't like it/seems aggressive to them), and the dog growls, I would slap myself for not supervising appropriately and preventing inappropriate behavior from the kid. Then I would probably spend lots of time with dog and kid interacting to get the dog comfortable with close attention. But you don't punish the growl or you can teach a dog to bite instead of warn.

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          I will only speak for my dogs and my house as I don't really care what other people do with theirs.

                                          In my house if I am asking my dog to do something, like sit for a nail trim or give up a toy or move away from food or leave the cat alone, and I get growled at in a manner that makes me think the dog is purposely disobeying (which has never happened), they would get reprimanded. With my dogs all it takes is a stern voice.

                                          In my house if my dogs are playing with each other and growling in a playful manner and not getting over excited, that is fine. If they get a little too aggressive in their play, as some dogs can get, they get told to knock it off. And they do. If I am playing with a ball with my dog and they growl playfully, that is ok. And yes, I believe they know the difference.

                                          In my house if there is a squirrel outside and my dogs are growling and excited and want to go chase it, I let them outside.

                                          My dogs are not allowed to growl at people who have been invited onto my property or into my house. If they do, they are reprimanded or sent to another room, which to them is the ultimate punishment. In public, on a leash, they are not allowed to growl at people who are just walking by.

                                          There are a myriad of different growls that come with their own body postures that dog owners come to recognize and interpret. That's why there is no one answer when you are talking about growling in general. When people ask about growling I assume they mean the negative connotation, which is why I answered the way I did initially.
                                          My blog: Crackerdog Farm

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