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Growling collie pup

(22 Posts)
lilybetsy Tue 31-Jan-17 19:29:05

Our puppy Jasper is 19 weeks old. He's a border collie, from a K C assured breeder and our second collie.

He's just lovely except for this one thing. He growls if you get near him when eating and it's getting worse. He growls with real menace if you touch him when he's eating, and curls his lip. Our older collie (fed in another room) is suffiently worried by the growling tone to come and take a look. ... he doesn't growl (yet) over toys / bed etc and ironically I can remove the food from him without him growling ...

Any ideas ? He and the older dog get on well and he's growing well, vet has no concerns. I do think he's teething, but growing started before this ...

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Tue 31-Jan-17 20:23:27

Have you tried feeding him by hand? Giving him little bits at a time so he knows you're feeding him not taking it from him.

Veterinari Tue 31-Jan-17 20:32:57

He's anxious around food - have you ever removed food or treats from him? - this creates anxiety, and anxiety increases the risk of undesirable behaviours.

You need to address the motivation for his behaviour and change his emotional state - from resource-guarding anxiety to confidence.
Give him half his food the settle down at a non-triggering distance from him. As he's eating speak gently to him and gently toss the other half of his food to him. Over a period of days/weeks, gradually move closer (all the time paying attention to his body language and ensuring he remains relaxed)

With time he'll realise that human near food dish = more food, not food taker and this will appease his anxiety and thus remove the motivation for the growling.

Veterinari Tue 31-Jan-17 20:34:19

This is an excellent article:

Veterinari Tue 31-Jan-17 20:36:05

Also remember growling isn't aggression - it's communication that your pup is uncomfortable - your older dog is responding appropriately to this and giving the pup space - that's totally fine and normal dog behaviour

lilybetsy Tue 31-Jan-17 20:46:00

That's really helpful veterinari ...interestingly I have been sitting with him when he's eating, and tossing a few bits of chicken to him when he's not growling. I obviously need to do this in a more structured way .

I /we have not removed food from him, but in general I would say he is "higher strung" than our older bitch ... more anxious and less relaxed ...

Veterinari Thu 02-Feb-17 06:30:57

That's good liky then it's prob just normal puppy-guarding learned in response to sibling interference. Keep on reassuring him!

Veterinari Thu 02-Feb-17 06:31:21

lily bloody phone!

lilybetsy Thu 16-Feb-17 09:55:55

Unfortunately this is getting worse. yesterday he went for me when I was feeding him - (as we discussed above) and he bit my youngest son ( 12) who was removing him from the sofa (not allowed on the sofa)

The behaviour is now extending beyond food and anyone making him do anything he doesn't want to eg removing from sofa is provoking an aggressive reaction.

no aggression to other dogs, Im quite concerned now...we d/w dog trainer at training classes, but I'm wondering if we need some more specialist advice

LilCamper Thu 16-Feb-17 10:02:09

Don't physically remove him. throw a tasty bit of food on the floor so he makes the decision to get off.

Mrsgandyb Thu 16-Feb-17 15:58:57

Oh we had this . I'm afraid you will have to be a boss and punish him . We use a corner and when he growled we put him in it . Basically he is becoming the boss of you . When he growls take him from whatever he is doing and out him in a designated corned . You might need a slip lead for this . He will try to get out but just keep putting him back until eventually he gives in and collapses with exhaustion . Do not call him by name when doing this as his name should be used for praise only . It's hard hard work and it will only work if you follow through every time . Also he may only come out of the corner when you go over give him a pat and welcome him out .

Basically he needs manners . It's much like a naughty corner for kids . He is unsure of himself and does not really know how to act

Did he come from a single litter ? What age did you get him ? How many litters did his mum have ?

georgedawes Thu 16-Feb-17 16:05:43

The above advice has the potential to make things a lot worse! He doesn't think he's the boss but does sound very anxious. Have you had a check up at the vets so as to be sure he's not in pain? I'd do that then find a good positive rewards based trainer. Don't manhandle him and perhaps keep a house line on so as you can remove if necessary. Try to lure with treats etc rather than forcing as it seems to be making him worse.

I'd also let the breeder know- his issues are probably genetic in basis and the parents probably shouldn't be bred from in the future.

pigsDOfly Thu 16-Feb-17 16:25:49

That advice sounds dreadful Mrsgandyb and, as pp said, will likely make the problem worse.

The idea of forcing an animal to do something until it 'collapses with exhaustion' is just horrible. I thought that sort of 'training' through fear was something that had died out long ago.

BiteyShark Thu 16-Feb-17 16:29:03

The problem is that despite all the advice (and you will be given different by everyone) if it isn't getting better with what you are doing then it clearly isn't working. Personally rather than continuing and then finding it's worse when he's bigger and thus makes the aggression worse I would throw money at it and get a behaviourist in to see exactly how he is responding to you in your home to get specific help to nip it in the bud now.

Blackfellpony Thu 16-Feb-17 19:04:27

Personally I would consult a proper behaviourist and get it sorted properly.

I have a fear aggressive dog who I have had from a puppy. We struggled for 6 months with things getting worse and worse before we got proper help. I wish we had bitten the bullet and done it from day one as maybe we wouldn't have had so much trouble.

I hope things improve soon.

Mrsgandyb Thu 16-Feb-17 19:30:45

Ok it probably sounds horrible but it really isn't . And I should have said we had a behaviouralist who taught us this . You don't reward growling with treats. It only involved leading the puppy to the corner and making him stay there . The slip lead was so he could not bite us . If he came out he went back in . Eventually he got so tired trying to get out he would give in and lie down . Our pup growled snarled and you could not take anything from him . I asked about the single litter as our dog was and the behaviour guy said he learned no manners from his mother or the breeders ( who it was their first time ) . We used the corner for lots of things . If he wouldn't let me Hoover I would put him in tell him stay and he lies and watched me rather than bark at the hoover . The funny thing was after a few days he went in on his own lay down and had a sleep . The behaviour guy said this was good as pup unsure about something and he saw it as a place to go and chill. Our dog is now 2 and he is a beautiful kind loving dog . He does not growl or snarl . And yes dogs do need a boss . They are pack animals and you do not want your dog to be the pack leader in your family .
And yes I would say get a trainer in and get them to show you the tools .

Mrsgandyb Thu 16-Feb-17 19:35:27

George we went back to the breeder and explained what happened and they were in agreement that they wouldn't breed their dogs again . You know we bought our dog off the Internet . We were silly and inexperienced. Our behaviourist told us any breeders worth their salt have a long waiting list and do not advertise. Saying that we have learned so much about dogs from our experience that we would rescue dogs only going forward .

tabulahrasa Thu 16-Feb-17 19:39:56

Dogs are not pack animals and you're giving out advice that had the potential to create a very dangerous situation...which I'm assuming you're not actually qualified to be giving out?

OP, get in touch with an ASAB or APBC registered behaviourist - not just anyone calling themselves one.

CornflakeHomunculus Thu 16-Feb-17 19:45:48

Dogs are not pack animals, the whole "alpha theory" in dogs has been thoroughly debunked. There's plenty of good reading about the subject in the links on this page (my link).

Growling is not a bad thing, it's communication. Training a dog not to growl whilst not dealing with whatever it is that's making them feel the need to voice their discomfort can potentially create a dangerous situation where you have a dog who escalates their behaviour with little warning.

OP you really need to deal with the source of your pup's behaviour and as it's escalating I think professional help from someone reputable is your best option. This (my link) is a list of organisations you can go through to find a decent behaviourist/trainer who will use up to date, science based methods.

(Any links appearing in this post other than those marked as my own have been inserted automatically by advertising software and may go to companies or products I would neither support nor recommend.)

DownHereInTheHorridHouse Thu 16-Feb-17 19:51:36

I thought all of that 'pack animal' stuff had long been discredited?

I have a collie, just over a year - she is so different from my other dog, and she does growl. However, she is also incredibly lovely and I do think that growling is just her way of communicating. She barks a fair bit too, but both behaviours are when she is nervous or anxious or unsure (and from what I've read, that can be the collie way).

I'm no expert at all, but I have taken advice and read a lot here from very supportive people who do know their stuff and I would say that it's all about positive training, loving them, making them feel safe, and keeping them tired, mentally as well as physically. Our collie doesn't seem to sleep during the day, she's always watching out for something to do, or ways to look after us, whereas our other dog - not a collie - would sleep as much as she possibly could, and never asks for a walk, ever (doesn't refuse one, but would always rather focus on food and sleep!).

They are quite an odd breed, but I'm not sure I'd be without one now - good luck!

DownHereInTheHorridHouse Thu 16-Feb-17 19:52:44

Cross post with the much better advice from Cornflake - slow typing sad . . .

BiteyShark Thu 16-Feb-17 19:57:54

I think with issues such as aggression you are better off getting a behaviourist who specialises in aggression to work with you on a one to one basis. Whilst we all mean well giving advice no one can be certain how you and the dog are interacting in your home and by the time you try our all the different techniques it may have escalated into a much bigger problem.

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