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Puppy growling when touched

(7 Posts)
Tooloudhere Mon 29-Oct-12 12:57:25

We have a lovely 12 week old puppy who we have had from 8 weeks. He has always growled when collar held to put lead on etc and he growls when he is groomed. We have just got back from a walk and his legs were soaking so I dried them with a towel. I had a handful of treats going him one at a time whilst drying his legs telling him he was a good boy but he appeared to really growl nd go for me. I say appear as his tail was wagging?

His nipping has upped a level the last few days after getting better. His nips seem to be getting harder and more purposeful but this could be teething. We tried the yelping thing when he nips but this just excites him so the trainer at puppy classes says when he starts just end the game and ignore him which is slightly easier said than done when he follows attached to your trouser leg.

Is this all normal and any tips please.

RedwingWinter Mon 29-Oct-12 20:21:45

It's good to get him used to having his collar removed/put on, being groomed, towel-dried and hair-dried, etc, as a puppy so that he will be used to it later on. You're doing the right thing using treats to show him that it's a good thing.

It sounds like - at least some of the time - it might be a play growl from excitement rather than him being scared? In which case ignore him and wait for him to calm down. You can still ignore him when he is attached to your trouser leg, you'll just have to stand still until he's let go!

Dr Sophia Yin has a great fact-sheet on training dogs and cats to be groomed, here and also a video about getting dogs used to having their nails cut here. (It mentions a manners minder in the factsheet, but it's basically just a treat-dispenser, so you can dispense the treats yourself instead).

With the nipping, yelping can cause excitement so keep doing what your trainer said - completely ignore him until he stops.

He must be a lot of fun smile It sounds like you are doing great with him so keep up the good work smile

RedwingWinter Mon 29-Oct-12 20:22:46

I forgot to say - never tell him off for growling. Growling (when it's not a play growl) is his way of saying that he doesn't like something. If you tell him off for growling, then one day he might go straight to a bite without any warning, and you wouldn't want that.

Lougle Mon 29-Oct-12 21:18:28

Could you try a harness instead? He might not like the sensation of his neck being tugged.

Tooloudhere Mon 29-Oct-12 22:43:35

Thanks that sheet is really good, I have been giving treats but to kind of get the job done. Am going to try the short bursts of whatever needs doing then stop the treats and job and have break start again.

We did try a harness as he does have a very skinny neck but he hated that with a passion it really upset him. Whereas when lead is actually attached he walks really well on the collar he doesn't pull and certainly never seems bothered by the lead once it's there.

He is very playful and gets into a state of overexcitment very easily, he does I am certain growl in a grumbly way too though.

We don't think he has been handled as much as we were led to believe by the breeder we were perhaps a bit gullible there over a few things. He is being well socialised and is certainly friendly and keen to meet people and dogs which is a good start.

Our old dog was a rescue puppy with no history at all but was some sort of Disney puppy who never nipped at all and never growled at us was the most laid back dog, only crime was food theft if left in reach. I know she was the exception but I am sure the growly little land piranha will get there in time.

daisydotandgertie Tue 30-Oct-12 12:07:59

He sounds super touch sensitive - and I think you have hit the nail on the head when you put it down to the very early weeks of his life and a poor breeder.

We have a Labrador who was exactly the same with regard to touch and mouthing and over excitement for exactly the same reasons.

Growling in a pup that young is nothing at all to worry about - it is a display of their general discomfort, so a warning that they don't know how to cope with what's going on rather than anything agressive. He's not going for you in the sense of an agressive dog - rather in the way of an over stimulated (by touch) and confused puppy.

Is your dog also very keen on food?

Confrontation in this situation isn't the way forward - jolly your dog out of it instead. Lots of silly, calm, singsong voice while you're drying him and avoid common touch sensitive areas for the time being (top of head and back). I also used a very small piece of towel so she didn't feel overwhelmed by that too. Little, matter of fact and often worked with toweling her down - and lots of a very cheerful, singsong, soothing 'who's a silly girl, biting and growling me? it's never going to work, biting and growling you have muddy legs and they need to be clean sort' of nonsense. The words are irrelevant it's all in the tone of voice. Try not to over compensate either - that will also freak him out!

It is very hard to work through issues caused by a poor start; I am a pretty experienced dog owner and have found our poor start girl a real challenge.

She needed to be taught in a thoroughly positive way what to do and how to behave. She doesn't have the equipment to work out for herself how to react to a new situation. Our girl also struggles with a very low thyroid function which can have a negative affect on dog behaviour.

We also found that rewarding behaviour with treats for her wasn't the way forward. Food was far too big a deal for that. Gentle strokes on the chest and calm praise get the most out of her. She so BADLY wants to be good!

Tooloudhere Tue 30-Oct-12 14:36:56

Thank you, being touch sensitive does seem to explain him very well. He is recently appearing to really want our contact and coming for cuddles whereas in the beginning he didn't want it.

We are not being confrontational at all when something needs to be done we se treats. He is very food motivated but has never been possessive over it.

We were led to believe that he was brought up in the family home (was on a small farm). The litter and mother were in the house when we viewed and there were outside play areas too which were fenced off. After picking him up we saw two other litters advertised which were only a few weeks younger which we saw no signs of on our visit or when we collected. The total number of puppies made 28 at the same time. It can only mean that they normally were kept elsewhere and were put in the house for visits. Either way with that number of puppies they couldn't have been handled or socialised much there wouldn't have been time.

He is responding well to training and I am hopeful that we can sort out these things. Is your girl ok now or do you still have issues?

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