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Friend's new dog growling at visitors

(16 Posts)
Tweedledumb0 Wed 19-Apr-17 20:32:27

Posting here as, although we had dogs growing up, I don't have experience of this situation.

A family friend has recently acquired a young dog (I think roughly a year old). Was living at the breeder's before that.

She told me before it arrived that the dog was a bit shy, but actually it seems to be guarding her all the time, and growling when anyone comes near. My kids are well trained in not approaching dogs, being calm around them, but they're getting growled at whenever they go near the owner.

I'm concerned this might be an accident waiting to happen; am I overthinking this, or am I right that something needs to change here? (For what it's worth, while our friend is a loving owner, she doesn't seem to think about dog ownership (inc previous dogs) in the way I mostly see on here.... I'm 100% sure no training is occurring).

Really grateful for more expert advice!

PossumInAPearTree Wed 19-Apr-17 20:40:47

The dog is nervous of the situation and needs to be listened to. So if dog growls when people go near the owner they stop going closer. Remember a dog should never be told off for growling because you run the risk they stop growling and go straight to biting. Presently this dog isn't biting so that's a real positive.

The owner needs to work on the dogs confidence. Best way would be by getting visitors to give the dog high level treats like ham and cheese.....they keep tossing small bits of treats to the dog. Dog associates them with nice things and gets more confident.

A good behaviourist would be very worthwhile.

PossumInAPearTree Wed 19-Apr-17 20:42:14

Btw, I had a dog which did this but also bit. From the day I got him he attacked everyone apart from Dd. He got used to me after a few weeks but after two years he was still attacking dh every day. Sometimes some problems can't be solved.

Tweedledumb0 Wed 19-Apr-17 21:40:00

Thanks, Possum; that's all really helpful information. The situation with your dog sounds to have been a really difficult situation.

Maybe I could suggest the treats thing for whenever we arrive there, so that it reassures the dog straight away.

Do you think I should ask if the dog could then go in her crate/in a different room? I'm just wary of the kids being around her, especially as I don't think our friend is taking the growling particularly seriously. However, I obviously don't want reinforce the dog's stress and protectiveness.

Thanks so much for the advice smile

WeAllHaveWings Wed 19-Apr-17 21:49:56

The dog is new and she has no idea if she can trust it. I would insist on it being crated/put in another room if my dc were with me.

PossumInAPearTree Wed 19-Apr-17 21:51:23

The dog would be happier being crated or in a different room. Friend needs to take it seriously. It may be as the dog becomes more settled it's more confident and there's no issue. Yes, treats as soon as you arrive is ideal. Get an immediate positive connotation.

PossumInAPearTree Wed 19-Apr-17 21:52:27

I'm no expert but I think the dog would be less stressed taken out of the situation.

Tweedledumb0 Thu 20-Apr-17 07:16:54

Right - I will have the awkward conversation with my friend!

I think the dog is definitely gradually getting used to visitors; she's managing to come up to them occasionally if they stay away from her, and giving them a little sniff and having a quick stroke, but I think as things stand that needs to be managed in a more structured, carefully supervised way until she's more confident.

Thank you so much - it's been really helpful to have others' take on the situation.

Veterinari Thu 20-Apr-17 07:26:13

Most aggression comes from anxiety - the dog needs to be listened to and reassured and given space to adapt - he'll hopefully settle down once he realises his new home/owner isn't going anywhere, and other people aren't a threat.

It doesn't sound like the breeder's done a great job though tbh

Tweedledumb0 Thu 20-Apr-17 08:59:15

Thanks, Veterinari - yes, while I think the breeder did inform that the dog was a bit timid, you'd think they might have done a bit more work on it!

LilCamper Thu 20-Apr-17 10:17:32

The treats would be better coming from the owner to start with. If visitors try to feed the dog he may be conflicted because he wants the food but after he has scoffed it he will find himself too close to the scary visitor.

Tweedledumb0 Thu 20-Apr-17 11:16:45

Thanks, LilCamper; that makes perfect sense.

GlitteryGlitter Thu 20-Apr-17 11:29:28

We have had some success with treats when visitors arrive first from us and then working up to visitor giving the treat we went from barking /growling to sitting quietly in the same room.

You have to be really careful though and I wouldn't do it with children we used an adult family friend that was confident with dogs, we still crate dog in a seperate room when the in laws come as they're not dog people and we can't trust them or the dog.

Tweedledumb0 Thu 20-Apr-17 13:10:49

Thanks, Glitter.

Booboostwo Thu 20-Apr-17 14:09:13

The dog sounds stressed and it will probably get better by being habituated to visitors whom he associates with something positive like food...but I wouldn't want kids to be involved in this. I'd keep my DCs away until the owner acknowledged the issue and addressed it through appropriate training.

Tweedledumb0 Thu 20-Apr-17 15:04:26

Thanks, Booboostwo - that's my feeling, too. This thread has helped to confirm that I'm not being unreasonable in my interpretation of the growls as an issue. The dog is already sometimes quietly coming up to my DC and being friendly to them/licking them - it's just defensive when they go near its owner, I think. But that's still not good enough for either dog or visitors, I don't think.

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