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I just brought Byron a rawhide bone. He loves it, but whenever I come near him, he begins to growl. At first it scared me, but now I'm wondering if I should take it away if he begins to growl. He is not like this with other toys, just edible chewies. Any advice? :confused:
 

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Our trainer said that growling was not acceptable. We seperate our two for those kind of treats as a precaution. They haven't growled at us - just each other.

Some of the dogs in rescue have resource guarding issues and that behaviour has to be treated differently - I think. There are some foster folks on the board who might be able to help if that is case.
 
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Byron did not come from a rescue situation. We have had him since he was a baby; he is nine months now. He has become very bold (stealing shoes, jumping up on the couch, bookshelves, and counters).

Is this a puppy thing? I want to make sure he does not have issues with food or toys as my husband and I want to welcome another dog into our home in the next year or two. I'm a little nervous to take something away when he is growling at me.
 
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Lucy has recently started to growl also. At first she just growled when we moved her from a comfortable spot on the bed (so we could use the bed too). Then 2 weeks ago she ran under the coffee table with a pencil so i reached under the table to take it away and she nipped me on the thumb. I just let it go and then she did it again so I GENTLY GENTLY GENTLY PEOPLE pushed her head down to the carpet and held it there for about 30 second to make it clear whom was bigger than whom, and to clear up any misunderstanding of who was the big dog and who was in charge. this worked for a couple of day then she did the same thing to my wife when she tried to take part of a piece of bark away from her. I again pushed her head down GENTLY and did the same routine. Lucy has not nipped at any one since. Hopefully this has solved the problem...we'll see.
 

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First a growl can be defensive. It can be a byproduct of play, I have a dog that has a happy purr type growl. A growl can indicate pain. Dogs have many vocalizations that are subtly different and mean different things. See Dog Owners Guide to Canine communications

You know your dog better than anyone else and therefore what the intent of the vocalization was. For continued discussion I will assume it was a defensive measure to protect the raw hide bone.

This behavior is commonly referred to as resource Guarding. It is in large part normal canine behavior, a holder over of survival instinct. Just because it is normal does not mean it is desirable or that you can't change it. A good resource isMINE! A GUIDE TO RESOURCE GUARDING IN DOGS

There are a couple ways to deal with the issue. One is modify the behavior through training, or manage the behavior by eliminating the situations in which it occurs.

To manage the behavior don't give Byron raw hide.
It is possible you will never have another guarding issue. However since the guarding has occurred and his behavior reward ( he kept the rawhide) it is more likely to reoccur.

To modify the behavior the first step is to manage the behavior so it does not occur. I do not recommend physical contact with a growing dog. Not because it is painful or injuries to the dog or does not work but the possible harm there is to the human. If you know your dog and know under those circumstances it will not bite then ok. But if you are scared when he growls what happens when he snaps? Fear/uneasiness manifests itself strongly through body language and is easily communicated to the dog. IMHO transmitting those signs of anxiety, fear, uneasiness puts the dog on edge and makes him more likely to bite. For you I would strongly recommend against any physical confrontation regardless of how mild or gentle.

The reason for managing the situation to prevent growling is this. Once the growl has occurred it is all but impossible not to reinforce it. This is how it works, dog growls you stop dog is reward for growling cuz he maintained possession.
You confront dog physically remove bone. Dog learns Physical force = retention to object not what you want. If you have a strong willed dog, it has learned next time use more force. Or You go of to get a treat to trade. That is even better dog growls mom leaves really strong reinforcement of the growl as a means to retain the bone. Ffinally, you come back with a more desirable treat. Oh boy! oh boy! I growl when I have something and mom give me a big reward, yep that is sure to illicit more growling. Not many instances when growling is not rewarded.

The purpose of the technique described is to change the mind set of the dog. So it no longer views you as a threat when he has ... whatever but to view your presence as a forbearer of good things. That is the purpose of teaching the dog to trade. Again we must start out with low value object because we want to avoid the dog growling for the reason stated above. Also it is best only to approach the dog once you have treats to trade. Therefore any initial approach is good and the dog does not develop the expectation that treat only come after the mom has been to the refrigerator. Again work your self up slow in values before attempting to trade for rawhide. It would not be unusual with a couple session a day of trading to take a couple - 6 months, With all this trading going on, usually with food stuff, be sure to adjust the amount you feed to compensate. Otherwise, the biggest modification you will make is the dogs waistline :p

When you get up to trading for raw hide this is what I would reccommend. I t can be easily use on other lower level food items and toys also. When give the dog the rawhide, would make sure you have an abundance of higher level treats already on hand, -in pocket, -easily within reach. Give the a dog raw hid. Ask for trade quickly, befor he becomes attached to the object. Give raw hide back and trade again. If this consistently works successfully over 3-6 time then you can up the ante a bit. Give the dog the raw hide step back a step, pause, step forward and trade. Your working on acclimated the dog to approaching him, something good will happen rather than bad. It takes time. but does work.

Don't forget to include all family member in the training and even friends and quest so the dog does only expect trading to occur with one person with the result being when any one else approaches he growls.

[ February 01, 2006, 04:10 AM: Message edited by: Mikey T ]
 
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Mikey-Thanks for your very thorough advice. My dog has this problem and your advice was very helpful. I even ordered the "Mine" book from Dogwise. In a way I'm kind of relieved that my Basset is not the only one who growls with a favorite toy in his mouth. There's actually hope!
 

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I have the same problems with Lily. We are working with the trainer as well as using some of the reference sources mentioned above. I trust Mike's advice he knows what he is talking about.
 

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The behavior modifaction works, but it takes time and practice. I try to remember that the growl is a warning sign, I would have much bigger problems if the dog didn't first give off a warning. I think a good positive type trainer is a real good place to start. It really helps to have an outsider look at the dog as see the little shift of ear or head tilt that the dog gives. Well, it helped me cause I couldn't read the small signs. The book Culture Clash is also real good.
Joan
 
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Thanks for the advice. I will definitely try it out!
 

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"I try to remember that the growl is a warning sign, I would have much bigger problems if the dog didn't first give off a warning."

Exactly having aquired a rescue basset the bites first and ask question later, all because growling was suppressed so rather than growl she just escallated to the next step. As bizzare as it may seem I actual reward her for growling.

It is also why it is important not just to end the behavior but change the dogs emotional state as it relates to the conditions/situation/stimulus that causes the behavior.
 
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Such a difference in animal sounds, My Wilson takes his bone and purposely hides it in a blanket and growls like crazy at it, so that I will come and growl right back at him and fight with him over the bone. Then he "soft mouths" all up my arm, my hands and my feet. It is all just a big game and I am not threatened by him in the least. For him, in this case, it is just a way of "talking".

The growls that accompany knocks on the door and the banging noises my next door neighbours make against the side of my house are different, much more threatening and scarey, but never, ever directed at the family.

Susan
 

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Couldn't tell if this was covered but at the age Byron is now he is going to start testing you to see how far he can go with some things.He has reached the stage where he isn't a puppy but he isn't a mature boy yet,sort of like the teen years. If one of my dogs growled at me,no matter what reason,I'm in their face,ahold of the lips and looking them square in the eye,speaking to them very gruffly. Like someone said only you know your dog.You must take their things every now and again while they are growing up so they do not challenge you. Good Luck
 
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