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Puppy growling and barking at me with his bone...Minimu please help!

(23 Posts)
Kingsroadie Wed 15-Jun-11 12:43:24

Right, am a little shaken by this <disclaimer - pathetic> but I just gave my 10 week old puppy a raw bone with some meat on it and he ran into the garden and under the table. I then went out and tried to get him back inside as I wanted to keep an eye on him and he just kept running away from me. Then he ran inside into a little cat house thing - like a den. I was worried he might bite off too much bone or something so I went over and he growled really aggressively at me. But I still wanted to get the bone away so bent down and he growled v loudly again and sort of snapped. Clearly guarding his bone. I put loads of treats down and he ran out, snatched them but growled going back in. By this point I was pretty scared as he was behaving very oddly. So I put more treats down and hoped he would drop the bone but he didn't. I then picked him up and held treats close to his nose and he dropped the bone, I said good boy and picked it up, put him down and then left his playpen.

But I was actually quite scared. He has never displayed any signs of food aggression before - I could take rawhide away which is his favourite and always said good boy etc and can move bowl, put and take things out of bowl while he is eating. This bone seems to have been so amazing for him his wild guarding instinct came out, and it is a bit frightening as I was certain he would have bitten me very hard (for a puppy) given the chance...

What should I do!? Is this normal? I have temporarily gone off him! Def no more raw bones for the time being. Thank you in advance...

Nospringflower Wed 15-Jun-11 12:59:31

Our puppy did that when she was 9 weeks old whenever we did something she didnt want to do e.g. if she had gone into one of the bedrooms and we wanted her out she would growl and snap, especially if it was my children. They were starting to get quite scared of her and it was off putting but we persevered with doing whatever it was despite her growling her displeasure and she has now stopped doing it completely. It does seem like she really loved having the bone so much that she didnt want to give it up and that is the only way of her saying 'leave me alone' but that she has to learn that this wont work for her. I'm sure people with more exerience (I have none with puppies) will tell you what to do but it sounds like you handled it well by distracting her with treats but still managing to take it away.

ellangirl Wed 15-Jun-11 13:01:00

It is normal yes He thought you were going to take the bone off him and he was defending it. Whatever you do don't subscribe to the theory that you should be able to remove food/bones from him whenever just to prove you can. If you want to give him a bone personally I would do it in a small room where he can't hide in anywhere and sit in there with him (on the floor and not staring at him or standing over him). Find the stinkiest lovely dog treats you can and offer one to him while he is eating the bone, praising him like crazy when he leaves the bone to eat the treat. Then get on with something else for a minute before doing it again. He needs to learn that you coming near the bone won't always mean it's going to be taken away, and that your hand coming near the bone means treats and good things. Sometimes you will need to take it away of course, but if you remove it every time he growls he will only learn to defend it more! Just my opinion- it's what I do with my dogs.

TechLovingDad Wed 15-Jun-11 13:03:03

We used to regularly just take our dog's food bowl / bones away while she was eating them so she wouldn't get defensive over them. She's quite happy to let us do it and doesn't think it won't be coming back.

Though she does run off with a bone or toy sometimes. Never any growling or barking when we get near though.

Kingsroadie Wed 15-Jun-11 13:11:13

Hi ellan - yes I follow that logic and he has been fine with everything else - I don't see the need to take things off him to prove "dominance" or whatever. Thing is, he seemed to be growling very aggressively, I was actually frightened of him as he really was going to bite me which was a bit of a shock. I didn't even want to take the bone off him - just move him to where I could watch him and I wanted to be able to take it away as I was a bit worried about it tbh - due to things I have read so was really just giving it a trial. Got his fave treats out and was doing just that. I would have to give him another raw meaty bone to train him (and am now scared) with this though as he doesn't do it with anything else. Probably why it was such a shock and sounded so scary!

Thanks everyone for comments and advice so far - glad to hear I haven't got an abnormally aggressive pup...although perhaps more aggressive than some?!

foolserrand Wed 15-Jun-11 13:16:50

If you're worried about him biting, use a tennis racket or some such as an extension of your arm. Walk towards the dog, put the tool between dog and bone and slowly separate them. You're in charge. If you want the bone, you take the bone.

Don't give him treats again though. You're rewarding the negative behaviour in his eyes, even if its a distraction tool to you.

My second rottie tried this once. She never did again. No aggression is allowed in my house. From them or me.

foolserrand Wed 15-Jun-11 13:19:32

Ooh... love what Ellan said about sitting in a small room. Another here who won't take food / toys off the dogs for no reason. But I know I can take anything from them any time I need to.

ellangirl Wed 15-Jun-11 13:28:45

I disagree with you foolserrand, I really don't think treats are rewarding his growling, I think it is teaching him that people being around his food, even really nice food like a bone, is a good thing. If he growls, I would use a verbal correction (e.g. ah-ah) and praise him when he stops and takes the treat. minimu where are you? Would love your input here!

foolserrand Wed 15-Jun-11 13:31:27

But op didn't mention a verbal correction, just scattered treats on the floor as a diversion. I totally agree treats are fine if the dog has stopped the growling.

ellangirl Wed 15-Jun-11 13:34:19

Ah, I see what you mean. No I agree I wouldn't give the puppy treats while he is still growling. The treat is a positive reward for not growling and leaving the bone for a few secs.

foolserrand Wed 15-Jun-11 13:37:58

Sorry, perhaps I wasn't clear! Think we are pretty much on the same page here, Ellan.

throckenholt Wed 15-Jun-11 13:43:38

thinking about it - the other reason we encourage finishing the plateful is that we have one really skinny one who talks a lot a meals, eats very slowly and then ends up with a 2/3 full plate when everyone else is finished - the others want to go off and play - either they have to stay and wait for him, or he gets upset because he is missing out while they play. He needs his food and will definitely turn up 1/2 hour later saying he is hungry if we let him not finish his main plate.

So we do the - you eat what in on your plate, and we all wait until everyone is finished. Probably very old fashioned - but it works well for us.

throckenholt Wed 15-Jun-11 13:44:02

oops- wrong thread blush

Kingsroadie Wed 15-Jun-11 14:01:01

Fool - I actually did both - he wouldn't let go and I was a bit afraid to get near him so put them on floor, when he stopped growling at me. I did verbally correct - ie "no" firmly. Then used a broom but the bone was in the cat house and i couldn't get it out. Thank you for your help! Need to read up on how to deal with this in my dog books.

Really going to have to work on this with one of the raw bones but am now scared! hmm

minimu1 Wed 15-Jun-11 15:49:00

Ok first off growling is not aggression - it is actually to prevent aggression. It may be undesirable, but it is not aggressive in itself.

I think humans and dogs are very similar with their approach to food. If someone tries to steal my chocolate cake I would ask say "that is my cake leave it alone" as a dog may growl to say the same re a bone.

You have two options:-

If you give him a bone make sure that it is one that can be totally consumed by the dog, put him in a small safe area and leave him to it. When he has finished the bone he will come back all happy and loving you to bits for the fantastic treat you gave him. But the key is to leave him to it - let him eat it all and do not bother him.

or you never give him bones at all.

Do not now think that you have an issue with guarding - do not take the old fashioned approach of feeling that the dog is being dominant and that you have to take away his food to be boss - that is one sure way to escalate the problem.

If your dog knows that you never take away his food he will not have to guard it.

It is quite a good idea to approach him while eating and actually add something even better to his food bowl eg some liver or mince. Then he will think when she comes to me I get even better food and have no need to guard as you never ever do anything to worry him near food. Also a good idea in case children accidently approach the dog while eating (I tell children not to do this but it can happen in a busy house)

This is not meaning that he is being dominant it just means that he can relax and no need to guard.

I would prevent the situation above from occurring again but what I would have done is just left the dog to it - he would have finished the bone and left it and then you could pick it up and no growling at all. If he now does guard when he leaves the bone eventually call him to another room (when he has forgotten about the bone) play with him and have fun while someone else gets the bone.

Kingsroadie Wed 15-Jun-11 16:26:04

Minimu thank you!!!!!

So helpful to have it explained like that. I have added more food to his bowl when he has eaten as he has clearly been starving and I gave him a little more. No problem there at all. Haven't taken any food away though and having an 18 month old didn't want her to accidentally approach him etc as you say. He always eats in his play pen so hopefully that won't happen.

And yes, have realised that growling is a precursor to aggression such as biting - like a warning signal - a bit like me shouting "bugger off"! And I don't believe in the dominance thing, it's just a dog being a dog, but I just got a bit of a shock as he is my little puppy - have had a reality check now . grin

Could you tell me which bones (if any) are safe do you think. It was my first time giving him one and the advice is so conflicting re whether safe or not or which types etc. My butcher gave me some lamb bones (it was attached to rib cage so assuming the back bone) which he cut into about 3 inch long chunks. He has a dog so said they would be fine. But obv he may not know! What are your thoughts? Can they actually eat all the bone? Would that not be dangerous to a 10 week old puppy? I probably shouldn't have given him one but I naively assumed I could get it back if I felt a bit nervous about him eating it or something - what an idiot!

Do you think there is any merit in doing the treat thing suggested above (ie offering a treat and praising for dropping the bone or object) in case, when out, he finds something really "delicious" (but which may not be good for him) and you want to be able to get it back?

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply - I really appreciate it. If only I could offer something in return - not likely - feel like I am all "take take take" at the moment! smile

emptyshell Wed 15-Jun-11 16:32:59

Growlings just an "oi bog off and quit doing that" in dog-speak. Consider the reaction of the average PMSstressed woman if a man tries to remove chocoalte from her at that time of the month and the dog reaction is pretty mild really!

minimu1 Wed 15-Jun-11 17:24:07

lol Kingsroadie take take take grin

I doubt any treat will be really high enough reward for the puppy to give up a fresh bone - it may work if the dog has had the bone for a while and beginning to get fed up with it.

I would certainly do the "give" command with yummy treats but not yet with a bone. So if the puppy is holding anything put a really smelly treat right on the end of his nose and say "give" hopefully the sniffing will encourage the puppy to drop the item. Praise give the reward.

As opposed to leave it which means don't pick it up in the first place - depends on your timing as to which one is relevant.

Kingsroadie Wed 15-Jun-11 18:13:49

I am doing "off" with treats and he is very good with that. "Drop" for retrieving. And he will drop his toy for the treat too (also "off")

What is your advice on the raw bones thing? Are they safe? How does one know which bones are safe to give to dogs/puppies?

midori1999 Wed 15-Jun-11 18:37:05

Marrow bones will be impossible for your puppy to chew bits off to swallow, but the bone marrow can cause upset tummies at first, so maybe scoop some out before you give him it? Other than that, all raw bones that are too big to swallow whole should be safe, but I have found mine found pork bones harder to digest at first for some reason and also that a 12 week old Golden can easily swallow a large pork rib whole! shock

You will probably find that although he'll always hold bones as very high value, after a while he will see them as slightly less so and once he knows you aren't going to come and steal it, he'll relax about them a lot.

Kingsroadie Wed 15-Jun-11 18:58:35

Thanks Midori! Might give him it again tonight as I feel a bit bad for taking it off him when he was clearly in his element. He LOVED it.

Wow re golden swallowing a whole pork rib at 12 weeks - long and thin I suppose. What happened next!?

midori1999 Wed 15-Jun-11 19:06:27

I can't remember whether she kept it down or brought it back up, but I remember being mortified. I am convinced she did keep it down, but equally convinced I must be imagining that! grin

Kingsroadie Wed 15-Jun-11 19:26:37

Imagine pooing that out! grin

He is happily tucking into his bone now. I have walked past a few times (he is practically sitting in the doorway out to the garden) to get outside (wanted to do it too so he realises I don't intend to rob him) and he hasn't made a sound. Phew!

Thanks to everyone for your advice and sorry for being an idiot and having a mini moment!

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