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Dog behaviour question (growling)

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  • Dog behaviour question (growling)

    I have a 4 yr old JRT male. For most of his life he has done this growling thing, but it seems to be more pronounced the last few months. Basically, he will be doing some random thing and when I go to see what he's up to, he will growl. He wags his tail the whole time and pushes his head under my hand to pet him, but he sounds like he's going to rip my arm off sometimes.
    If I walk away from him when he growls, he follows me and jumps up by me when I sit down, and tries to lick my face.

    I'd like to know what sort of behaviour this is- aggressive, submissive- and how best to handle it. Any suggestions?
    Rhode Islands are red;
    North Hollands are blue.
    Sorry my thoroughbreds
    Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :

  • #2
    does it worry you? Is it just talking? Some dogs talk with a growl, some mean "get/stay away".

    Comment


    • #3
      My dog seems to talk with a growl. I have never ever heard her bark in 6 weeks of owning her. Her foster mom, who had her 6 months, hadn't heard her bark either, so they thought she may have been de-barked. I can definitely tell the difference between her "talking"/playing growl and her "warning" growl. The warning one is kinda deeper.
      "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
      "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

      Comment


      • #4
        To me, that sounds like a "please don't take it away" sort of growl, something a talkative dog would express. He's making the noise but the rest of his behavior sounds friendly and respectful, correct?

        Maybe trade up a treat for a few times and see if it stops?
        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
          does it worry you? Is it just talking? Some dogs talk with a growl, some mean "get/stay away".
          It doesn't really bother me, but he's done it to other people that come to the house, like my mother, and it bothers her.

          It's different than just talk/play growling. It sounds like real, no joke, I'm going to rip your hand off if you touch me, growling.

          Examples of when he does it are:
          1. He loves baths. When I ask if he wants a bath, he runs into the bathroom and many times will jump in the tub on his own. If I have to get him out of the tub, or if he hasn't jumped in on his own and I have to put him in the tub, he will growl like this.
          2. If he is under the covers in my bed and I reach over to check and make see if he's still in the bed, he will growl when I touch him. When I move my hand, he immediately climbs out from under the covers and wants to snuggle up.
          3. If I am in my bedroom with the door closed, he will scratch at the door when he wants in. Often, when I open the door, he will just stand there and not come in. If I reach down to pet him or try and coerce him to step across the threshold, he will growl. I will just pick him up anyway. He then starts doing his lovey dance and wanting to give kisses.

          He's a very cuddly JRT and climbs into my lap anytime I sit down on the couch/loveseat for more than 10 seconds.
          Rhode Islands are red;
          North Hollands are blue.
          Sorry my thoroughbreds
          Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :

          Comment


          • #6
            My dog has several growly sounds...it's all just talk; not threatening talk. One of her voices means "I need you to help me with something" usually meaning I can't reach the biscuits by myself or you need to play with me.

            The few times she has seriously guarded something, she has snarled but remained frozen in her spot and SILENT.
            Ride like you mean it.

            Comment


            • #7
              what does the REST of his body language say? many dogs make "happy noises" that sound vaguely like a growl to (some) people.
              It's also possible you hit a tender body part, so he said "hey watch it, avoid that spot but keep doing what you are doing".
              You have to look at the whole dog to really figure out what they are saying- they have a limited number of noises they can make.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by RacetrackReject View Post
                It doesn't really bother me, but he's done it to other people that come to the house, like my mother, and it bothers her.
                then it matters. If *anyone* is worried, it matters.

                It's different than just talk/play growling. It sounds like real, no joke, I'm going to rip your hand off if you touch me, growling.
                if you think it is real, it probably is. And it matters.

                Examples of when he does it are:
                1. He loves baths. When I ask if he wants a bath, he runs into the bathroom and many times will jump in the tub on his own. If I have to get him out of the tub, or if he hasn't jumped in on his own and I have to put him in the tub, he will growl like this.
                2. If he is under the covers in my bed and I reach over to check and make see if he's still in the bed, he will growl when I touch him. When I move my hand, he immediately climbs out from under the covers and wants to snuggle up.
                3. If I am in my bedroom with the door closed, he will scratch at the door when he wants in. Often, when I open the door, he will just stand there and not come in. If I reach down to pet him or try and coerce him to step across the threshold, he will growl. I will just pick him up anyway. He then starts doing his lovey dance and wanting to give kisses.

                He's a very cuddly JRT and climbs into my lap anytime I sit down on the couch/loveseat for more than 10 seconds.
                all of those situations would make me think he is worried and at some point might carry through. I would start a desensitization program with him, teaching him that good things happen when you jump out of the tub on your own, when I touch you under the covers and I'd teach a good solid recall so he feels comfortable coming into the room. I'd use a high value food for all of it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  are you always leaning over him/ reaching for him/ grabbing at him when he does this? many dogs, particularly small dogs, find that to be scary- that might trigger a warning growl.
                  So you need to de-sensitize him to these behaviors of humans. Do an abbreviated version of the behavior, not so extreme that he actually growls, and give him a treat. And gradually make your movements more and more extreme. Treat when he doesn't growl, and if he does growl, you know you went too far and need to take it down a notch.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks! I guess the weird thing is that he doesn't consistently do the growling with any certain behaviour/activity. It's just random.

                    I don't always lean over him as I know that is an issue with some dogs. I will often sit/lay down on the floor and ask/allow him to come over to me, but then he will growl anyway.

                    I will try these exercises though and see if it gets any better. He's such a great dog, has a great recall normally (can call him off of chasing furry animals that might zing by while we are in the pasture playing easily), and is generally well-behaved all around.
                    Rhode Islands are red;
                    North Hollands are blue.
                    Sorry my thoroughbreds
                    Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I also have a JRT that growls a lot At first it concerned me, but the body language does not back up the growl as a warning. It is funny to see her race down the hall going grrr, grrr as we go to get her leash for a walk.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        One of my dogs play growls. He is not much of a barker so I think growling is one of his main ways to "communicate". He sounds pretty real/threatening IMO, but his body language says play. He growls during normal playing situations and will growl, along with what appears to be attempting a headstand when he wants attention. It's a bit different from your situation though as his body language clearly demonstrates he wants to play/wants attention.

                        Is it at all possible you're startling your dog which causes him to growl? Sometimes I scare my dogs when I think they're well aware of my presence, especially the old deaf one.
                        come what may

                        Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

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