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My usually very gentle boy growled at me tonight

(21 Posts)
AnUtterIdiot Tue 09-Feb-16 00:39:09

I had given him this gigantic dentastick, a huge chewy thing like a loofah. He was just getting into it and I put my hand down to stroke his head and he growled at me. We both take things away from him with no problems and he is never, ever aggressive. He was in his bed, but I always stroke him when I go past and he has never been aggressive.

I have only had him four weeks but I have owned dogs all my life. I know it's a warning. I know it's a stress thing. He had a horrible day because I was delayed getting back to him and he was alone for longer than usual (neighbour dropped in two or three times but that is also a new thing). DH is in my study which is where dog usually spends time with me. So I can see he's having a weird day. Once he had finished the ludicrous chew he came over to me and has been fine.

I am just a bit upset, probably because I am knackered. Could someone please reassure me that I have not broken my lovely dog?

And what should I do if he does it again? just swap for a high value treat?

Cirsium Tue 09-Feb-16 00:43:25

I'm sure he's not broken, just letting you know he's hada crap say and wants to chew in peace. Good sign that he was normal again after. I don't know much about resource guarding as have never had to deal with it. But really glad you didn't reprimand him for a warning growl and respected his feelings. Hope you get more advice soon.

chelle792 Tue 09-Feb-16 00:44:37

When my boy growls I just take it as a "fuck off" so I back away. Four weeks isn't long enough to know your dog and his triggers 100%.

My boy is lovely but will definitely tell me to back off if he wants space. No harm. Maybe taking things off him is developing a resource guarding issue? Do you need to take things from him unless absolutely necessary?

For me, a growl is a good thing. I would rather he gave a warning than just tried to bite. A warning is good.

You know about spoons theory? Your dog ran out of spoons today, he'll replenish them overnight and be as right as rain tomorrow

AnUtterIdiot Tue 09-Feb-16 00:50:14

Thanks guys. We don't obsessively take things away from him, iyswim. I was brought up not to bother a dog that was eating and I normally just leave him to it. Normally he has treats that are small and gone quite quickly so I guess this has never happened before.

I think we'll both be better in the morning. I don't know why I am so upset about it. Who goes through the whole of their dog's life without it growling at least once?

nattyknitter Tue 09-Feb-16 01:09:44

Just because a dog warns you to back off doesn't mean it will escalate into anything more. Just learn to read the signs and leave him alone.

He's had a bad day and you caught him off guard and he thought you wanted his high value item. He just reacted on instinct and probably wouldn't do the same in other circumstances. I wouldn't take it personally. I would leave him to eat in peace from now on though, if it is something you have given him and he isn't in any danger then there is no need for you to be involved in the eating part. I'd be chopsy too if someone was messing with or threatening my food while I was eating.

I have a very placid old girl who you can do virtually anything to, but she will give a warning growl (usually followed immediately by a lick) if you overstep her boundaries. She usually runs to her bed with high value items as she knows that is her own space.

Do you do clicker training at all? We did 'drop it', 'leave it' and 'swap' which were very useful either for 'don't touch it', or 'give it to me' situations. However, you gave something to him and he thought you had changed your mind and he panicked.

I'd chalk it up to a bad day all round and move on. It would be worth reading up on resource guarding though, so you know the signs if it escalates.

Oliversmumsarmy Tue 09-Feb-16 01:34:19

My old girl was the sweetest thing apart from the time we gave her a certain type of chew, sonds like the same type of thing. She growled and got very possessive over it.

Just don't buy that type of chew again.

AnUtterIdiot Tue 09-Feb-16 07:51:26

I think it was related to the actual chew,on reflection. For clarity, I wasn't trying to take the chew - i just stroked his head - but yes, I should have left him to it.

He's his usual happy friendly self this morning smile

Dieu Tue 09-Feb-16 10:19:43

Apparently the best dogs are growlers ... or so says my mum who works in dog rescue! Far less likely to just lash out and bite, so it's just like a warning. I certainly wouldn't take it personally.

AnUtterIdiot Tue 09-Feb-16 10:35:56

Thanks Dieu! I'm feeling a bit more robust about it today. He and I both had horrible days for different reasons yesterday so not surprising that we were both frazzled.

insan1tyscartching Tue 09-Feb-16 10:56:38

Salmon rolls are banned here because Eric is exactly the same with them. He growls,don't believe he'd bite but just not prepared to risk it when there are plenty of other biscuits he likes and doesn't seem to value so highly.
His treat of choice is ham but that is snaffled instantaneously so don't know whether he'd be possessive of that as well tbh.

MrsJayy Tue 09-Feb-16 11:02:54

You don't really know him at 4 weeks dogs can growl 4 years down the line dogs don't like to be stroked when they are not paying attention its like you watching a TV programme being engrossed and somebody pokes you . high value treats are precious to them he was telling you to piss off saying that my dog can't have those meaty filled bone s he is very protective /reactive if he has them

Lozislovely Tue 09-Feb-16 11:05:55

Ddog will be like that with my DS (17). I think it's because he sees DS as a 'threat' as he doesn't do it to me. Not that I think he'd hurt DS, he's the one that does most of the messing around with ddog whereas I am 'mummy' and it's like he knows I'm his protector. Saying that when there was the odd occasion when he was a pup and he growled at me, I would just say 'I don't want it', in my silly doggy voice and he soon stopped.

chelle792 Tue 09-Feb-16 11:12:36

Op I'm glad you're feeling better today. Your boy was probably also picking up on your stressed signals too.

He's lucky to have such a considerate and caring owner. A growl harms no one and as you listened to him he won't need to escalate with a more extreme warning next time.

I get excited when my boy growls these days as it used to be baring teeth. He's de-escalated his warnings. I've heard people say before that if their dog growls they square up to their dog /hit them or something (show them their place, type attitude). Those dogs will suppress the growls and one day just bite.

You're doing amazing but it's bloody upsetting

OttiliaVonBCup Tue 09-Feb-16 11:21:26

My dog does it, when I something that might hurt him or of he's unhappy about something.

I've had to stick my hand in his mouth to take things out he should not have been eating. If he growls or shows teeth I say "No" and then he looks at me and licks my hand and I stroke him

I see it as a two way conversation and an apology from both sides.

Hoppinggreen Tue 09-Feb-16 13:20:20

Our dog can't have rawhide as he guards it, although he's fine with everything else. He will swap it for a treat though but if I tried to take it I think he would bite me.
Both the vet and trainer have said just not to give him one. Any food that takes a while to eat ( dentisticks etc) I put in his crate with him when I go out.

AnUtterIdiot Tue 09-Feb-16 14:27:55

Thanks all. I just want to clarify that we really don't make a point of taking stuff away from him for fun. I'm not Cesar Millan (thankfully). When I said we can take things away from him, I just meant that when we've needed to take things away he's never been aggressive in response. I'm talking about making him drop slices of bread that he's stolen (he is obsessed with bread but it wrecks his digestion), which he does as soon as he's caught. I'm talking about realising I've forgotten to put gravy on his food and taking the food bowl back to put the gravy on - he just stops eating and stands back. There really have been no signs of resource guarding up until now. I don't believe in making problems that don't exist. I wouldn't taunt or wind up a dog by taking a treat that I'd give him away for no reason.

Also, I promise I don't mither him. I normally give him a treat and then stroke him. Have done that today (not deliberately, just not thinking) and he gave me his usual crazy little wag (he has a very silly wag).

No problems with him today generally. I'm calling it a one off, but I'm also not buying that treat again!

MrsJayy Tue 09-Feb-16 16:02:16

Maybe the chew you gave was high value to him and if he is engrossed he growled be wary of guarding of the treat you might need to give him that particular 1or just leave him to chew away on his own

AnUtterIdiot Tue 09-Feb-16 17:59:52

Thanks, MrsJayy. I'm going on the basis that for some reason that treat was particularly high value, as you say, and leave him to it until he finishes treats in future.

chelle792 Wed 10-Feb-16 06:57:06

op you, my lovely, have warmed my heart. Your dog is lucky to have you. flowers

AnUtterIdiot Wed 10-Feb-16 11:19:42

Thanks chelle but really we are very lucky to have him grin

Teapot101 Thu 11-Feb-16 18:32:01

I wouldn't overly worry but I would want to work on food guarding. When mine are young I hold high value treats and sit down next to them. It teaches them to not see you as a threat to their treat but actually help them to get some purchase on it. After a while I let g and walk away. I am always v close to them when I feed them. I never take anything away. They food guard off each other but not humans. I think it helps to be close initially rather than approaching them IYSWIM.

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