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Spinoff: how do you think dogs should communicate

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  • Spinoff: how do you think dogs should communicate

    to the people they live with?

    Is growling ever ok?

    if not, do you think there is such a thing a muttering (low level growling around other dogs)

    what does growling mean to you?

  • #2
    Growling, to me, is like the dog saying that its' strike one. It's not something to be taken lightly and the reason should be investigated.

    I'd rather a dog that growls than one that just snaps out of the blue.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by Superminion View Post
      Growling, to me, is like the dog saying that its' strike one. It's not something to be taken lightly and the reason should be investigated.

      I'd rather a dog that growls than one that just snaps out of the blue.
      do you think there are different types of growling?

      Comment


      • #4
        I do. Our JRT will give a deep rumbly growl when DD gets to pulling on her ears... it's kind of a 'quit it kid'. She won't ever act on it, I don't think she even opens her eyes!

        However. When our house got broken into, she puffed right up, stuck her tail in the air, pulled her lips back from her teeth, and really growled... more of a 'dude, I'ma 'eff you up." She did act on that!

        Our hound growls at the cat, but based on his posture (butt up, tail wagging) it's more of a playful growl... I don't think that he has a mean bone in his body.

        I think that body language is a big indicator in how they are going to act on, and the reason for the growl.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          So some growling is ok?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
            do you think there are different types of growling?
            Absolutely! I have a dog that communicates with a variety of whines, yips, growls, and barks. For her, it isn't so much a warning as just a noise she makes. She most often makes the growling noise when she is stretching. She once gave a warning growl to a puppy pulling her hair, and that was a more menacing growl (and the puppy stopped pulling her hair and all was well).
            To me, growling can mean different things in different situations. I do think that all dogs are capable of biting and hopefully they growl first so that you know that they are in fight mode. Sometimes, I think growling is a very reasonable response. When one of my dogs was in extreme pain, he growled as I was trying to get him transported to the vet. That to me is a very normal response to that situation, and I knew that it was a response to being in such severe pain. At other times, I would take growling as a sign to get professional help with the dog or at the least to work with the dog on something. If one of my dogs were aggressively growling at me on an unpredictable basis, then I would definitely be considering euthanasia. It is very situational.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
              So some growling is ok?
              It is! It's a vocal thing and can be a very useful warning... just like tail posture, or barks.

              Comment


              • #8
                Dogs, like people, are very vocal animals - they cry, they whine, they howl, they weep, they growl, they snarl - there are a varying degree of emotions that can be expressed by one singular utterance. However, it is very clear to a dog: to people, it may not be so black and white.

                To a dog, there a multitude of different growls that express different things. I've sure everyone has heard them before if they witness two dogs playing together. There is the "play growl", the "frustrated growl", the "angry growl", and the "warning growl". I've heard every one used in different context - they are varying pitches, varying resonances, and varying tones. To a human that isn't acclimated to dogs, one growl may be the same as every other one. But to a dog, the meaning is very distinct.

                I know this thread is a spinoff (and I stated my opinion there) but there is a HUGE difference between a growl and a snarl. A snarl, IME, is always prelude to an act of aggression - from a feint snap to a bite. You can easily identify a snarl because it is followed by a radical shift in posture - one that is threatening. A growl could be just as loud, but you may not see the same shift: maybe the teeth aren't bared, or the ears are pulled back and the eyes are very wide. Some dogs will not snarl before they bite - some dogs (and in my experience, MOST dogs) do not bite after they growl.
                AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                Comment


                • #9
                  In addition to the sound of the growl, you must take into consideration where and when they are growling. My old man growled at me last night. In bed when I rousted him out of a sound sleep to move over. He was just startled and warning me to be careful. A sharp HEY and he moved w/o another sound. When the young bitch is on the couch and growls under her breath to warn others against jumping on the couch, it's HER butt that goes flying because all the other dogs are older and have had couch rights way longer than her.
                  ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                  Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                  "Life is merrier with a terrier!"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Obviously I have some issues with ours but yes, I'm grateful for the growl, if that's her way of saying what she is trying to say. The intent behind it is what we need to get to the heart of.

                    Ours has a happy growl she gives when it's playtime. Mostly when we get home. She stands on the stairs and does a rowwww, rowww, rowww kind of growl.

                    At first I didn't understand it was happy. Then a trainer friend said, if you can cease the growl, it's a happy one. If you tell them to stop and they don't, that usually means it a serious one.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Towards me, growling is never okay. I'm a hard*** when it comes to my dogs and their manners (a dying breed that's for sure). Growling at other things such as a knock on the door, something strange they don't yet understand (like a noise, weird happening, suspicious person) is okay until I say "that's enough".
                      I LOVE my Chickens!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree with Megaladon, growling at me is not ok, ever.
                        My blog: Crackerdog Farm

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Megaladon View Post
                          Towards me, growling is never okay. I'm a hard*** when it comes to my dogs and their manners (a dying breed that's for sure). Growling at other things such as a knock on the door, something strange they don't yet understand (like a noise, weird happening, suspicious person) is okay until I say "that's enough".
                          so what does growling mean when a dog growls?

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Crackerdog View Post
                            I agree with Megaladon, growling at me is not ok, ever.
                            what is the dog saying if they growl at you? What does it mean?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              In general, it's a warning and you can come up with a thousand different situations where it's acceptable and when it isn't. For me, it is not acceptable to be growled at, I am the top of the pecking order here.

                              For clarity I am talking about the serious, I am about to bite/f-u growling and not the playful growling.

                              eta: It can be very difficult to explain the difference in growls. If you were at my house I could easily explain to you the difference in my dog's growls. It must suffice to say that I can tell the difference and know when to reprimand, although with these two cattle dogs, I have never needed to.
                              My blog: Crackerdog Farm

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                My dogs are both allowed to growl. I read it as "I don't like this situation" or "I'm uncomfortable". I have no qualms about either one of them telling me that. If they don't tell me, I can't fix it.

                                I don't think my older dog has ever growled at me; I can only think of one situation where she's growled at a human. We had a toddler visiting, and the dog had played nicely with her for a while, then retreated under the kitchen table. The child started to follow her under the table, and the dog growled once and came to me. I put the dog upstairs in my bedroom so she could have a break. No problem. It isn't her job to entertain the child.

                                My younger dog went through a phase where he would occasionally growl when I went to pick him up, either off the ground or out of a chair. Being held or picked up is not something he likes unless it is on his terms. We did some counter-conditioning with me being able to grab him (gently at first) and then treat the heck out of him. For a while, I was picking him up just about every time he got a treat. He still doesn't *like* it, and I respect that and don't whip him up into my arms to snuggle like I will my other dog. But I can reach out and pick him up at any time without a negative response and that is all I need.
                                "Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle." ~Mal, Firefly

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Crackerdog View Post
                                  In general, it's a warning and you can come up with a thousand different situations where it's acceptable and when it isn't. For me, it is not acceptable to be growled at, I am the top of the pecking order here.
                                  so wait...some growling is ok?

                                  For clarity I am talking about the serious, I am about to bite/f-u growling and not the playful growling.

                                  eta: It can be very difficult to explain the difference in growls. If you were at my house I could easily explain to you the difference in my dog's growls. It must suffice to say that I can tell the difference and know when to reprimand, although with these two cattle dogs, I have never needed to.
                                  so if your dog is shaking a tug toy & growling at you, then it's ok to growl at you?

                                  Truly I am not trying to pick a fight. I'm trying hard to understand why people are seeing growling as more than a warning. For me, it's information, "I am going to bite you if you don't back off", "let's play", "mutter mutter I hate this" which would be one of my dogs....he mutters under his breath. I don't think he even knows he's doing it sometimes.

                                  if a dog is growling at you and you think it means " I am about to bite/f-u growling and not the playful growling."

                                  then do you rush in and confirm that he had something worth fighting over?

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    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?

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Hmm. I think I see where you are going with your line of questioning here.

                                      All of my dogs have been allowed to growl at me, and I'm also pretty hard ass when it comes to behavioral expectations.

                                      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.

                                      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. We work patiently and with mutual respect, and as I expect him to know his limits, I must understand mine as well, and I appreciate him letting me know when I have made him uncomfortable.

                                      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.

                                      There are, of course, boundaries and limits; excessive growling, growling over issues we've already resolved or worked on- no. I'm sorry you don't like this, but life isn't fair. You have to learn to accept this.

                                      I don't think it's any different than a horse who pins his ears. It is just a form of communication and it is unfair to throttle our animals means of speaking to us. Exploring the causes, training to address those issues, is fair, but no dog should be punished for trying to tell us they what they're thinking.
                                      bar.ka think u al.l. susp.ect
                                      free bar.ka and tidy rabbit

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I am one that used to think that growling was just unacceptable. And when my Chessie growled as I went to take a bone away I thought that was it, no bones ever again.

                                        But then I started reading some of the very helpful posts by people like threedogpack and got a little smarter about my dog. A bone in general is a rare treat, so I could understand that being so high value, she was upset about it going away. So, I changed my approach - she gets the bone for a certain amount of time. When time is up, I get out a treat, I call her over, she leaves the bone for the treat. She waits politely while I put the bone away and gets another treat. And since changing my approach, it's just worked. She understands she doesn't have to guard it, she knows treats are part of the process, all is good. I give her a space where she is allowed to have the bone. If I walk by and get that little mutter-growl, I ignore it, because there's no real threat, just a little anxiety. Hopefully I'm doing this right and reading the situation correctly.

                                        All that to say I'm hugely appreciative of the measured and intelligent methods I've learned here. My girl is a very kind and obedient Chessie who came to me completely wild, possibly abused and terrified of many things. She would pee out of fear if you raised your voice cheering at a football game. I just wish I had known some of you then!

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