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Advice desperately needed. Dog barking, growling and snapping at us at night time

(13 Posts)
passportpanic Tue 16-Oct-18 10:35:16


We have a 2 year old spaniel x lab.

Firstly, this is a problem we thought we'd cracked, but seems to have slipped again.

I used to put it down to boredom. For example, if it's raining and she's not had a long enough run, but there's not always correlation between the amount of exercise
she's had and her mood in the evenings.

She's very clever and can pick up tricks very quickly. We do try to keep her occupied in the evening with treat balls, kongs filled with cheese (not both at the same time) and playing fetch, but she still jumps on our other sofa and tries to frantically dig down and when we tell her no, she'll start growling at us and will sometimes snap. Also, when we're just sitting watching TV, she'll start barking at us and whereas I know she just wants our attention, it can very quickly turn to her jumping up and snapping.

I have tried:

Ignoring her completely, but she would bark INDEFINITELY and my ears really hurt and crackle when she does this.

Leaving the room, which works the first couple of times, but like everything else, now doesn't work and she will continue to bark at me when I come back in and nibble at my hands.

Disciplined with shouting and putting her in the kitchen. I know that one's controversial, but sometimes I'm at the end of my tether and it can get to the stage where I feel I just need to protect us. I hate grabbing her collar to move her, but when she's in that frame of mind, she won't obey if I just told her to go to her bed. Actually, thinking about it, she never goes to her bed when I tell her to. I had a dog before (another lab X) and all you needed to say was "in there" and she'd take herself to the kitchen.

I know all dogs aren't the same, but I really don't know what else to do. She's even drawn blood a couple of times and it's really upsetting, because I know the outcome of she did that to someone else and I can't bear it.

Please help.


OP’s posts: |
TheCrowFromBelow Tue 16-Oct-18 10:50:43

It sound very hard and I’m not a behaviourist, but my dog barks at DP like this sometimes - usually just when he has sat down!
I have found a positive distraction works better than shouting (It just turns into a shouting match!)
If I say “what’s this” then he will come over, I encourage him to lie down and then rub his chest which calms him down.
We stopped giving him anything until he is sitting quietly and waiting, so we are not responding to his bark IYSWIM.

Do you think she has too much going on?

passportpanic Tue 16-Oct-18 10:59:21

Thanks, TheCrow. A couple of weeks ago, I actually started to use, what I call, my silly dog voice, whenever she looked like she was going to start and it worked really well. Basically, I just sound really pleased with her and it usually sort of disarms her. Again though, that stopped working too.

OP’s posts: |
passportpanic Tue 16-Oct-18 11:02:54

Oh and I don't think so. I think maybe we should have put more boundaries in place though. I.e, not allowing her on our sofa. I'm wondering if it's turning into a bit of a power struggle and she's not sure where her place is.

We're a female only house, but I've noticed when my dad comes to stay, she's really well behaved and if he says no, that's it, she stops straight away.

OP’s posts: |
Hoppinggreen Tue 16-Oct-18 11:09:10

When we got our pup and started training the instructor said that it was our choice whether to let our dog on the sofa ( ours got stroppy when asked to get off) but that it’s not a good idea for some dogs.
We found he was better behaved when banned from the sofa. He CAN get on if invited ( and DH is out ) but he gets off when told to now
As for the other stuff speak to an expert

passportpanic Tue 16-Oct-18 11:12:25

Yes, hopping, I think that makes a lot of sense really.

OP’s posts: |
bunnygeek Tue 16-Oct-18 11:21:23

You'd be best finding a local registered behaviourist to come in and sit with you and observe this behaviour. They'll be able to spot subtle signals both from her and from you guys you're not spotting and be much better placed to help.

Make sure they are registered with ABTC and focus on positive training, none of the outdated "dominance" training.

VinoEsmeralda Tue 16-Oct-18 11:28:17

We have a lab springer and rescued him when he was 18 months. I always have had dogs and I didnt want DDog upstairs or on the sofa. DH is a big softie and felt we should give him a go on the sofa. Result- it went to his head as he felt he had gone up in the pecking order and started snarling and growling when on the sofa.

Our house rule is now NO dogs on sofa and firm boundaries, We hand fed him afterwards to show he has to earn his food and when we eat he goes to his bed and he gets fed after us. Might seem harsh but he is now a very well behaved dogs who knows what are the boudaries ( will push though!).

WhyDontYouListen Tue 16-Oct-18 11:46:06

I would put something on the other sofa, so she cannot get onto it. Then i would spend the evenings teaching her to settle quietly. Set yourself up with a pot of (very small) treats, or you could use her supper allowance. Whenever she settles, throw her a piece of food. Do not interact with her apart from this. Don't tell her to settle, or lure her. Just reward the behaviour when she offers it. To start with, you could give her the stuffed kong and then when she's finished it (or just about to), but before she gets up, throw her a piece of food. Repeat, repeat, repeat. To start with, you will be rewarding her very frequently, before the barking starts. If she does bark, i would leave the room and return when she is quiet. Immediately reward her if she is settled upon your return. You could also do this during the day, any time you see her settled.

Hoppinggreen Tue 16-Oct-18 11:56:56

I’m sure someone will mention how dominance theory has been debunked and they are right but I still think dogs are happier and better behaved with firm boundaries such as no sofa etc

SubtitlesOn Tue 16-Oct-18 12:29:20

You need to take it to the vet first to check it isn't in pain or discomfort cos this dog is trying to tell you something every evening and IMHO that could be something the vet can discover to help it 

Yes, it might just want attention due to bring bored but it might be in real pain and/or discomfort

Just like a baby crying is usually for a reason

Totally agree put a dining chair on its side on other settee or both until you want to sit down so no arm chairs or settee are for dog to sit on and you need to be consistent

Put a long line lead on in the house then you don't need to put your hand near the dog face to gently lead it away not pull - the lead just trails behind the dog

missbattenburg Tue 16-Oct-18 16:11:08

Hopping I think some dogs are better with predictability. What humans see as firm boundaries tends to translate into predictable patterns for some dogs and then can help them relax and settle into the house.

e.g. a dog that is allowed on the sofa, except when there isn't room or when someone else wants to lie down or when you just don't want the dog up there can be unpredictable and stressful. A dog that is never allowed up can be predictable and reassuring.

OP, I think you need a good trainer to come and help you because this sounds like a complex behaviour pattern in which boredom, frustration and perhaps a little stress or over stimulation when being told off are all playing a role. That's not easy to unpick without actually seeing the dog in action. I agree with Bunny about finding someone through the ABTC who is focussed on reinforcing the right behaviours rather than having you go through doors first or any of the other hokum some come up with.

ThisIsTheFirstStep Tue 16-Oct-18 16:14:28

vino the dog has no concept of a pecking order. It just wants somewhere warm and comfy to sit. When you approacch them on the sofa, they know you are likely to turf them off, hence the growling.

OP, always approach with treats so they know you coming towards them is a good thing not a threat. Beyond that, I think a behaviourist will help a lot. The barking would drive me nuts, my dog was at that for a few months and I hated it.

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