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Dog just growled and snapped

(52 Posts)
RosieLig Wed 30-Jan-13 23:02:12

I could really do with some advice as this is our first dog.

Our 9 month old puppy is generally pretty good although he's twice growled at the children (once when one tried to take something out of his mouth and once when he was startled from sleeping when my 6 year old stroked him). He also once snapped although didn't break skin when my 7 year old stroked him whilst he was chewing a beloved chew.

He was neutered last week and has been in a lot of pain and has a collar on. We have let him on our bed in the evenings and he's been sneaking up at other times too. I've let him as my husband has been away and I've felt sorry or him and a bit worried (especially as he had a bad reaction to his antibiotic on Monday).

Anyway tonight when my husband ( whom the puppy adores) went to gently move him from our bed tonight he growled at him. We were both quite startled as this was a first. He then went to pick him up and the puppy really snapped at him( didn't make contact but possibly only because of the collar).

I'm quite shocked and upset and obviously the puppy stays downstairs and off our bed from now on.

Any advice? Do we have a problem? I'm worried given our children are fairly young - 10, 7 and 6.

I should also add that he's well socialised and good although sometimes over-confident with other dogs.



D0oinMeCleanin Thu 31-Jan-13 09:46:18

Now you see, I would think that positive methods are common sense. The dog likes the bed and doesn't want to give it up, so guards it in a way he has previously learned will work.

Would common sense tell you that the dogs is less or more likely to guard the bed if he is punished for being on the bed/or for guarding it/or will be physically dragged off and not given any alternative bed/reward? To me common sense tells me that the dog would be more likely to guard and would guard more fiercely, because he has not been taught an alternative, acceptable behavior, plus you are adding fear into the equation and that's never good.

Otoh my dogs know to get off the bed when I give the cue because they might get a treat. They have no need to guard anything from me, I am a source of extra resources not a threat to the ones they already have.

Devil Dog atm is sleeping by the side of my bed, but he knows not to get on the bed until he is invited up and he doesn't bother trying. Staying on his own bed is more likely to bring about rewards than getting on the bed is, so he will stay put, he learned that staying put works.

CalamityKate Thu 31-Jan-13 09:50:42

I think that the most up to date research is far more based on common sense than whimsical "eat before your dog otherwise he'll think he's boss" based, out of date ideas.

The dominance/pack theory based enthusiasts attribute incredibly complicated, almost human-like thinking processes to a creature with a very little brain. They tie themselves up in knots trying to explain what the dog is thinking and why, and what to do about it.

Far more complicated and less common sense than what Dooin said, which is the bottom line - Dogs Do What Works.

CalamityKate Thu 31-Jan-13 09:51:26

X posted!

BinarySolo Thu 31-Jan-13 10:03:47

Please don't use dominance theories. Ime it can worsen the problem and even lead to fear aggression. Reward based training is much more effective. I have a nearly 9 year old dog with similar issues to your pup. Very difficult to deal with as she's mostly fine but has the odd episode. She learnt quickly as a pup that aggression got her what she wanted because my ex was scared of her, and also wouldn't back me up when I tried to train her.

I'm left feeling that I've let her down and created a problem dog. My dh is great with her tho, and her behaviour improved once I left my ex but she was 3 by that time so sadly some of her habits are quite ingrained.

tabulahrasa Thu 31-Jan-13 10:08:12

To be fair, I think that telling a dog off for something you feel is unnaceptable does seem like common sense and is almost an automatic reflex...until you remember that they don't speak English.

Other stuff I've never understood though,

Feeding them last, it's supposed to be because the dominant one gets the pick of the food and then the one lower down the pack gets what's left, when the dominant one lets it.

Except, they watch you make dinner, they watch you take their food and put it out...even if they didn't, what they have to eat is quite clearly not spaghetti Bolognaise or whatever it is you have.

So how is that supposed to actually work then?

And going through doors first, of course no-one wants a dog that shoves you out of the way to get through a door, but I want the dog through first so I can shut the door - otherwise isn't it just an overly complicated kerfuffle?

needastrongone Thu 31-Jan-13 10:23:06

I make our puppy sit and wait outside the door while I go in, so I can grab a towel and make sure the door to the utility room is closed before a filthy muddy Springer dashes into the housesmile

He waits before eating and fetching too and coming out of his crate etc, more to reinforce training and give him a 'job' to do, think I read a book about positive training which said teaching 'NIFL (Nothing in Life is Free)' can be useful.

We also reinforce when he is being good and calm too if that helps at all, so treat when he's chewing on his mat calmly etc, i.e that behaviour is good?

To a degree though, it's a bit like parenting, the books are super and give you an excellent guide, but sometime you need to do you own thing to suit yourself. An example is our friend adorable terrier, who is just a super little dog. She gets left for 7 hours a day 4 days a week as my friend was made redundant and is doing agency work to pay the mortgage. The times that he is at home with her though are DEVOTED to this dog, she is walked and trained and loved and fed, he is quite firm actually though. It works for them but you people on here wouldn't agree.

D0oinMeCleanin Thu 31-Jan-13 10:44:24

NILF is a bit controversial. The author appears to believe that making your dog work for food/attention shows them you are boss and they are 'lower' than you, it smacks of diluted pack theory and has very little scientific basis.

The dogs simply don't understand it in that way. They will wait for their supper, sit for a cuddle simply because they've learned that it works, it brings reward, not because they realise as lower ranking animals they must work for everything.

Mine wait for their supper because I have taught them to because it is polite and easier than having three dogs all dive on me at once while I am trying to feed them. Ditto with the front door.

I still drop them a treat just because sometimes or give them a hug just because they're cute. It doesn't effect their training or manners.

As much as we like to anthropomorphise dogs and attribute cognitive thinking to dogs, to the dog it really is as simple as "does this work?" it's not about where they are in the pack or pleasing you or abiding by rules they don't understand. It's simple effort = reward.

In behaviourism the single most important thing is working out what reward the dog is gaining from the unwanted behavior and replacing it with a rewarded wanted behavior. There's no in depth explanation of what the dog is thinking or why because we could never know for certain so it is irrelevant to training.

Jumping on people for example is often attributed to a dog trying to 'oversize' a person and show they are boss. In reality the dog is rewarded with attention, even shouting at them can be rewarding to a dog who is ignored when they are behaving quietly. Remove the reward and replace it with a reward for all four paws on the ground and the dog will stop jumping up because it doesn't work anymore.

Pantone363 Thu 31-Jan-13 10:47:00

Ok. Im not sure at what point I became a crazy Milan loving person who is aggressive to my dog (and huge LOLs at 'that poor dog'). I've never watched Milan although have heard a lot of people talking about his methods, I've also never and would never tolerate anyone hitting my dog.

I am genuinely interested in how other people train their dogs and what other dogs are allowed to do. If a person or child isn't allowed to stroke or touch a dog whilst he is eating, what happens when a child falls or trips near the dog and its chewing its favourite toy? Or when a strange person comes in the house who doesn't know the rules? Ive never needed to teach a dog 'off' because from day one it knows its not allowed up the stairs or on furniture. The first few times it is told it is firmly told 'no' and directed somewhere else. I wouldn't be carrying treats around in my pocket so I could sit on the sofa when I wanted to. I think there is a huge problem with people treating animals like humans and then being surprised when the dog acts like a person and not like a dog. I'm amazed at the behaviour other people let their dogs get away with (barking at people coming in the house and not stopping when told, begging at the table, sitting on furniture, stealing food from plates or childrens hands etc).

I am strict with my dog but I wouldn't put up with any of that.

As far as I am aware Milan doesn't 'train' dogs but rehabilitates dogs that would otherwise be put down? I would rather see someone being firm with a dog than trying to persuade it not to bite using clickers and treats.

Pantone363 Thu 31-Jan-13 10:50:38

I've never imagined that a dog jumping up at me is trying to dominate me. I do however think that the owner needs taking in hand and told to train their bloody impolite dog wink

needastrongone Thu 31-Jan-13 10:54:23

I have no wish to be a pack leader or be aggressive or hurtful to my dog, I love him. I simply want a loving, well trained, obedient family pet who I quite fancy taking the training furthe in the furture. I am using a combination of clicker training, consistency, boundaries, praise, 'jobs' and the odd firm 'no' (when he tried to eat something that would make him ill for example). He also isn't and never has been allowed on furniture or upstairs and really, unless invited, the kitchen is his 'domain'

At present, he has been a super little dog to train and has brought us much joy and happiness, I realise this may change.

I wasn't aware I was doing it wrong!!

needastrongone Thu 31-Jan-13 10:55:46

Yep - I simply don't want my dog to jump up because it's irritating and potentially dangerous to a small child and often bloody muddy, I have never ever thought he wants to dominate me!!

D0oinMeCleanin Thu 31-Jan-13 10:56:54

In clicker training the dog is never given a reason to bite so their is no need to be 'firm' with it. Pushing a dog into aggressive behavior to teach it not to be aggressive makes absolutely no sense to me.

My dogs don't have high value treats where they could be fallen on or near guests who may not understand them. When they have treats through the day they take them into their beds, where they know they will not be disturbed.

And FWIW my dogs don't bark at guests, two out of three do not steal from plates or tables, they don't beg at the table (unless DH is eating because he is stupid and rewards them for it) and they don't snatch food from children, the third has only been here since Sunday, give me a chance.

They sit on the furniture but get off when I tell them to, even when I don't have treats, we faded the constant reinforcement for the command off years ago.

Pantone363 Thu 31-Jan-13 10:57:27

You're not doing it wrong. In fact he sounds fab grin

D0oinMeCleanin Thu 31-Jan-13 11:02:14

You're not necessarily doing it wrong, needsastrongone, but there is nothing wrong with giving the dog a wee hug for looking for cute without making him sit first, it won't harm your training, equally it won't harm the dog to sit first, but the basic principle is still will work for rewards, not some over complicated set of rules that the dog doesn't understand as in NILF.

And yes, lots of people still believe that a dog jumping up is trying to dominate.

Pantone363 Thu 31-Jan-13 11:06:48

Regarding dominence theory. If you don't agree with it do you not believe that dogs are dominent between themselves either? Or just that they don't try to be dominent with people?

I have frequently seen dogs dominate each other. And not because that is what I am expecting to see but physically dominating the other dog (head resting on the others neck until the other dog lies down and then walking away with the treat/food/stick). Dogs that won't eat until another dog has finished, dogs always eating in the same order etc.

Sorry for typos/spelling, I have a huge blank spot when it comes to the spelling of dominence!

tabulahrasa Thu 31-Jan-13 11:08:49

With positive re-enforcement you treat massively while the dog is learning a command, once they know it they obey the command because this might be one of the times they get a treat (dogs are optimistic about that sort of stuff I find, lol) they like to please you and they've learnt that doing what you say is a good thing. With an adult well trained dog, a simple good dog is a reward in itself.

If you've trained a dog to think that you taking a chew or being near their food is a good thing a child falling over near them while they eat is just a child falling over near where they eat.

mountaingirl Thu 31-Jan-13 11:12:24

My 11yo lab x retriever has never, ever once growled, snapped or bitten me, my dh or my 3 dc. Your dog needs careful watching, training and to understand that he is way down in the family pack. As a puppy even our late cat put him firmly back in his place. I'd be very concerned having a dog like that in the family home. Did you say what breed he is?

D0oinMeCleanin Thu 31-Jan-13 11:16:17

I believe to a certain extent that dogs can be dominant with their own species, although I don't like to use the word dominant at all when explaining behavior because it can lead to a murky downslide into the world of bizarre and pointless rules.

Even with their own kind dogs do what works because it works. They lay on another dog because its is rewarding (comfort) they eat last because it is rewarding (they are not attacked by a more aggressive dog) or they eat first because they are rewarded (they get more food) Whether the dog eats first or last will be based on past experience of that situation not an unspoken set of rules, a dog who was once attacked will wait because they've learned waiting means they are not attacked and dog who won the fight will eat first because they learned it works.

Feral dogs have been proven not to live and work in packs, they have loose social groups and all interactions are based on past experiences with that dog. One dog may be 'dominant' in one situation but not in another.

Many of the 'pack rules' in wolves have been disproven long ago. They don't have all the ritualistic displays of dominance we once thought they did.

needastrongone Thu 31-Jan-13 11:23:24

Of course he gets loves and hugs and cuddles just for being Harry. If my posts were not clear in this regard, sorry smile He has a right old life, compared to some of the rescue stories, four people who love and adore him and spend ages with him, maybe I am not training for the 'right' reasons but it does seem to work at the moment.

Possibly The Doghouse isn't representative to the majority of lives of dogs who are still loved and cared for by their owners but don't do it via particular means, not sure!!

He is fab Pantone, thanks. I have rose tinted glasses on though!!!

Dare I mention he came from A Breeder?smilesmile

D0oinMeCleanin Thu 31-Jan-13 11:24:17

Looking at my dogs when given treats e.g a handful of meat from sunday lunch chucked into the spare dog dish, Whippy will eat before Devil Dog, he will wait, based on past experience Whippy knows that Devil Dog will not attack her for eating first, she will not, however eat out of his dish because she has learnt that he will attack her for that. Devil Dog will eat before Fudge, because Fudge knows that Devil Dog will growl at him if he eats first and having been attacked and lost in a past house, he responds to challenges by walking away. Fudge eats before Whippy because she will let him, she doesn't growl or attack, she has also lost fights with strange dogs so has learned not challenge dogs who she doesn't know well.

There is no strict linear hierarchy. Who eats first depends on who gets to the bowl first and what previous experience they have.

They like to avoid conflict rather than risk injury.

poachedeggs Thu 31-Jan-13 11:28:05

Dooin I've recently completed a course of behaviour CPD taught by Debra Horwitz. She advocates a form of NILF. If it's good enough for her it's good enough for me!

It's actually an extremely powerful method of motivating a dog to focus on you, of reinforcing constantly that good things come from the owner and that attentiveness is rewarded. This increased attentiveness facilitates lots of aspects of behaviour modification.

No dominance theory involved at all, just a way of persuading a dog to do what we want it to do by applying the principle that Dogs Do What Works grin

tabulahrasa Thu 31-Jan-13 11:29:07

NILIF as a philosophy is a bit hmm but as a practical thing without buying into the whole, I own everything and that makes me might idea, it's great.

It's constant positive training.

tabulahrasa Thu 31-Jan-13 11:30:12

Mighty not might, or it makes no sense, lol

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 31-Jan-13 11:43:21

Firstly I would say he should not be in pain a week after neutering tender the first 48 hours yes, but in pain a week later no. Normally at a 5 day check owners of male dogs are really struggling to keep them quiet. No muscles are cut so there shouldn't really be anything to cause a lot of pain unless he had a testicle in his abdomen even then the pain should be gone at a week.
So really I think that needs to be investigated first.

RosieLig Thu 31-Jan-13 11:44:44

Thanks again for your advice.

I'm at work so need to be brief.

He's a Labradoodle for those that were asking the breed.

My friend has him when I work and she's stricter than me on the no upstairs/beds thing and has had no issues at all. She's quite surprised. He's around her 2 children and he's never growled at them.

I think it's clear from that that I need to give him clearer boundaries at home. Will also work on the rewarding too. And yes he has a crate with toys etc... in.



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