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Dog sometimes growls at other dogs - how to train not to

(15 Posts)
LaFlottes Mon 27-Mar-17 17:21:44

Hi - our recently adopted dog is a bit grumpy with other dogs. She was like this when we got her, basically if a dog comes up to her and they go nose to nose, she is okay and then seems to panic and snap or growl at them - she doesn't try and get them as such, it's definitely just her saying she wants them to back off.
She hadn't been walked much for a very long time, and her behaviour improved the more we took her out.

We've now had a period of time when she's been recovering from a sore leg and been on rest. We are building up the walks again, but her grumpy behaviour towards dogs has come back.

I'm guessing she needs to try and spend more time with other dogs to get used to them again, but any tips to stop this behaviour would be appreciated. It makes me quite stressed and I am starting to try and avoid walking in places where other dogs are.

It doesn't help when people let their off lead dogs come bounding up to her when she is on the lead.

Do I tell her off? Try to keep her away? What would you recommend?

Dogs that she knows, she is then fine with and can hang out with them quite happily.

Thank you - I'm feeling a bit sad as she's perfect in every other way and I don't know why she's doing this again.

AprilSkies44 Mon 27-Mar-17 17:25:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Wolfiefan Mon 27-Mar-17 17:26:01

Join Dog training advice and support for proper advice on FB?
I would be consulting a behaviourist.
For now I would be avoiding other dogs. Dogs growling is a warning. If you ignore that warning you could have an actual fight on your hands. Telling the dog off for growling takes away the warning and means your dog might just snap.
I would allow your dog to see other dogs but not get close. Ask for his attention on you, treat them move away. Rewarding the behaviour you want.

Wishiwasmoiradingle2017 Mon 27-Mar-17 17:29:00

Don't tell her off. Growling is her warning sign. . If she doesn't feel able to do this then bite is the next course of action!! Just turn away and walk off if she isn't in a comfortable situation. . Her anxiety won't have a chance to rise if you leave the scenario. . She will gain confidence in time. .

SlB09 Mon 27-Mar-17 17:37:46

My dog started this after being in pain with a tooth which we didnt know about for a while. Got it fixed and she was much better but it particularly seems to be the nose to nose greeting, bum sniff, chase, side by side shes no problem! She is a timid dog and we put some of it down to fear after reading lots and going to a trainer, again she is happy as larry with dogs she knows.

Make sure theres no pain etc as the cause, As scary as it can be we tend to let her greet dogs without the lead on - with it shes worse as doesn't have the 'flight' option and this works fine. Also if you see a new dog ask the owner if they mind putting It on a lead as your training yours and just walking by a few times so your dog can get a whiff of the other and if relaxed let them meet side by side freely. Unfortunately theres nothing you can do about those people who let their dog bound up to yours when your clearly telling them otherwise, I have to say that one really gets me!! But there is the 'yellow dog' scheme where you can buy lead covers and bandanas that clearly state your dog needs space etc, we got one and it was great.

If its fear I wouldn't punish, you'll escalate the problem. Other things to try: -Distraction techniques with 'sit' command and treats, you greet the other dog first and then give your dog permission to greet - if your leader they should trust your judgement on this new friend. These do require basic obedience first though.

It also might be her nature/personality - shes just maybe not the easy type and likes to pick and choose her friends carefully!

SlB09 Mon 27-Mar-17 17:42:58

Avoiding other dogs will make the problem ten times worse and only work to reinforce to your dog that she is right in her current behaviour. Control meetings so she doesnt have a bad experience, this may require you to walk away from other dogs but not compketely avoid so she never sees hears or smells them

LaFlottes Mon 27-Mar-17 17:55:33

Thank you all so much - that's really helpful, even just knowing it's perhaps not too unusual for a dog to start this.

One other thing that's odd, is that some dogs she sees and is desperate to say hello to, but still sometimes then growls when she loses her cool. Other dogs, she goes past and couldn't give a toss! Should I reward her when she goes past without any reaction?

I don't think she's in pain as she's happy as larry all other times and when she sees a human she's so excited at the prospect of a new friend that it's embarrassing sometimes, but in a nice way!

Funnily enough, she never used to do this with my husband or daughter, just with me, so I thought my tension was causing it, but now she does it with him too.

As she has been resting she's not been with the dog walker for several weeks but I think I will book her in for a couple of walks with her, even though I am at home at the moment and can walk her. Our dog walker will have another dog with her and I think that will help.

I also have a friend with two dogs and I will try walking with her as she knows what's going on and will be helpful.

I think I need to work on basic obedience a little more so I can get her focused on me if need be and perhaps just stay calmer myself too.

I'm glad I asked the question about telling her off, as my husband told her off on Saturday when she did this and then when she did it today with me, she immediately then had her tail down and looked like she was expecting to be told off. Obviously just verbally, my husband just firmly told her off nothing else - we would never do that. But now I know that's the wrong thing to do.

I will look at the yellow bandana too as they sound great and also some facebook groups and dog trainers in the area.

Thank you - any other tips gratefully received!
Sorry this is so long!!

SlB09 Mon 27-Mar-17 19:55:13

Was she closest to you? Sounds like she might be playing alpha and protecting you all. Basic obedience will help that and reaffirming it outside and in. Yeah forgot ours was much better after going out with dog walker and group walks so we keep that up even if were in as she benefits so much. Dont think well ever fully know whats going through their little doggy minds! X

Spudlet Mon 27-Mar-17 20:01:28

You need to see a trainer or a behaviourist, it's just not possible to give proper advice without being able to see you both in person. It could be all sorts of things triggering the reaction, might be your body language or anything.

In the meantime I'd get into practice telling people to move their dogs away - a polite but firm 'Sorry, she / he's in training' can be a useful phrase.

RayofFuckingSunshine Mon 27-Mar-17 20:10:12

We have had a lot of success using the method on this website

LaFlottes Tue 28-Mar-17 09:29:48

Thank you again this is all so very helpful. I think she may well be playing alpha a little actually as she's probably got to know my husband more over time and is protecting him now too.

We will start working on the basics, book in with the dog walker and I'll look into some professional help/assessment too.

Thank you for the website too - I will take a look, it's always good to have a recommendation.

Thanks all!

RayofFuckingSunshine Tue 28-Mar-17 09:55:51

It's unlikely she is playing alpha. The whole 'alpha' and 'pack master' philosophy is massively outdated.

There is a great group on Facebook 'Reactive Dogs (UK)'. There are approved trainers who will give advise for free if you post on the page and they are very good at explaining dog behaviour and helping you figure out what a dogs triggers are.

LaFlottes Tue 28-Mar-17 10:02:04

Thanks Ray - I'll ask to join that facebook group too and I'm just on the website you recommended. It's all very strange as this morning a dog ran past her and she ignored it and then there was a puppy that she was desperate to go and say hello to, but my husband didn't let her and took her away.

I know everyone probably says this, but she's so perfect and loving in every other way that I do hope we can sort this out, even to a degree.

Thanks again.

EasyToEatTiger Tue 28-Mar-17 17:29:40

I meant to post something yesterday but life got in the way... There's lots of stuff online about dog communication. Growling in itself isn't bad. There are other warning signs before a growl, like eyeballing, posture, lip-licking etc. We have 3 dogs at home who don't especially like other dogs. One of them is plain frightened, another is fine until he isn't, and the other whips herself into a frenzy sometimes. If there is space and I see another dog especially on a lead, I will send the dogs away. If there isn' t much room I will get the dogs to me and ask them to get down. It's really important that they are concentrating on me and my commands. If a dog comes and has a sniff when they are down, usually a Leave It command will do, or if I can send them off I will do that. I think a lot of it is about distraction. Whatever floats your boat - toys, treats, games, whatever it is. You will get there. All our dogs over the years have had different ishoos and I have involved oh so many trainers and behaviourists! As you learn, you will find ways that suit both you and your dog best.

LaFlottes Thu 30-Mar-17 15:56:14

Thanks so much EasytoEat - that's great to hear and we are working now on her basic obedience. Trying to distract her etc. She's been out today with the lovely dog walker and their dog and was perfect! When they collected her she said hi to their dog and then was more interested in getting belly rubs from them! She does know this particular dog, but hopefully it's reminding her that dogs are friends!!! Thanks again!!

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