Dog growling - and has bitten a friend

(32 Posts)
pussinwellyboots Sun 17-Mar-19 21:45:24

We have a 5 and a half year old lab. He's very laid back and generally calm and well behaved, however he is a total stomach on legs and will eat everything if given the opportunity.

He will growl on the odd occasion - if told to go outside last thing at night he will sometimes growl at DH, but not at me as I use a firmer tone of voice.

A friend (experienced dog owner) walks him sometimes, when she told him to stop eating (probably poo) something last week (I have only just found out), he growled at her and bit her when told off. (Not a major bite but tooth did make a mark)

Where do I go from here? Is it normal for a dog to growl if told to do something that they don't want to do (to stop eating something or to go outside last things to move off the sofa?)

OP’s posts: |
Dontfuckingsaycheese Sun 17-Mar-19 21:50:14

Yes to both I'd say - these are both situations that would get a grumble from our ddog. Resource guarding - comfy warm spot-being turfed into cold. Grrrr. Found something in street. I am having that. Grrrr (usually cat poo 😕)

Exactly how did dog bite when she was telling him off?? Do you mean when trying to get it off him?? Not sure what telling off a dog means!!

pussinwellyboots Sun 17-Mar-19 21:52:53

Not being there and having only just received message, I expect that she went to pull him away from whatever revolting thing he was eating, so he bit her.

OP’s posts: |
Dontfuckingsaycheese Sun 17-Mar-19 21:57:57

If out on a walk on lead I could pull him away with a firm 'leave' but off lead if he got something I don't think I'd be able to get it off him without a fight! Don't know if it was because ddog was a rescue - found wandering on the streets in winter doing what he needed to stay alive. He's fine if I take something off him that I've given him but anything he's found himself - he's not giving it up!!!

wombatron Sun 17-Mar-19 21:58:56

I'd say normal for the going out - my grandmothers westie did it nightly as she just didn't want to move from the sofa.

My 2 dogs won't growl at all at anything. Except for one, he will growl for his dental stick chew things / chewy treat. You simply cannot touch them. He will give fair warning, then if you go in again will snap. The other idiot will let you chew the other end, every dog is different.

I'm not sure what I'd do, other than suggest she keeps him on lead if she still wants to walk him, and potentially get a behaviourist in to give some pointers. Some dogs are possessive over certain things, I wonder if he bit or if snapped and caught her

squee123 Sun 17-Mar-19 22:08:28

if it is new behaviour then I would get a thorough vet check done. He could be in pain and therefore feeling a lot more grouchy than normal

Loulzze Sun 17-Mar-19 22:09:19

Agree with suggestions from previous posters.

Approx 25% labs carry a variant of a gene, called POMC, that essentially prevents them 'switching off' the feeling of hunger when their stomach is full. So one in four labs feel constant insatiable hunger, sounds like a form of torture poor things sad


MummySparkle Sun 17-Mar-19 22:09:32

Sounds like resource-guarding to me which is a perfectly normal behaviour, and makes sense if you think about how they would need to behave on the wild.

Ex is a dog walker so I used to do walks on my days off. The only time I've been nipped was trying to wrestle a dead rabbit off a blind dog... He'd found it near the beginning of the walk, I assume it was already dead / dying as the dogs eyesight is so poor now that he walks into fence posts if you're not keeping an eye. He'd carried it around the whole walk, occasionally putting it down to sniff at it, but would grab it the second I came towards him. At the end of the walk I had to do something because owners would not have appreciated his 'present'. In the end I crept up behind him and grabbed his collar to tug him away from the rabbit on the ground. Of course he had the last laugh and nipped me (tiny mark, but I bruise really easily) Of course I ended up covered in rabbit guts that were in his mouth envy <not envy

Doggydoggydoggy Sun 17-Mar-19 22:40:53


Never in my life have I ever been growled at by my dog.

I am shocked that everyone here appears so relaxed about this, as if it is no big deal.
It’s ‘normal’ dog behaviour sure but acceptable?
Definitely not to me.

The comments about dogs growling every night when moved off the sofa?!

That would be the last time my dog’s arse ever touched that sofa again.

If your dog is willing to bite when inedible, potentially dangerous objects are attempted to be removed from him I would muzzle.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Sun 17-Mar-19 23:19:02

Resource guarding is both a natural behaviour and a behaviour problem in certain cases.

It's unreasonable to expect that a dog won't have opinions about something valuable being taken from it (if someone took something valuable from me, be it chocolate or my phone, I'd have something to say about it too). However, biting is clearly unacceptable.

I would try to restrict access to those things that your dog tends to guard. Mine will resource guard around other dogs so is no longer allowed sticks and I'm careful about giving treats near other dogs. In this dog's case I'd consider muzzling to prevent both scavenging and a bite.

When it comes to getting the dog outside, I'd do it by lobbing a treat outside and not letting DDog in until they've toileted - that way they're going for something nice (food) more than giving up something nice (warm bed).

Never tell a dog off for growling - it's a legit form of communication, and telling them off for growling tends to produce a dog that will bite without bothering to growl (warn) first.

If you'd like professional help, look for an APBC or CCAB accredited behaviourist.

ThrowThoseCurtainsWide Sun 17-Mar-19 23:26:11

As avocados says about a growl being a dog's way of expressing themselves, lots of dogs will have ways to express their levels of distaste:
Asked to get off sofa - gives you a look
Asked to get off sofa again - huffs
Annoyed by what you're doing - grumbling growl (we say dDog is muttering under his breath when he does this)
Upset / threatened - growl
Very upset, threatened - snarling growl

Obviously there is a lot of other body language that goes with this too, yawning is a sign of anxiety, ears, tail etc. Ultimately it's about knowing your dog well enough to spot the signs of a potential problem and intervenening before it happens. If you / the person who is walking your dog doesn't know then well enough to do that then the dog most likely be on a lead

Smotheroffive Sun 17-Mar-19 23:34:04

I would have absolutely no hesitation in telling off my big ddogs for growling. This is a potential damgerous flash point for any DC around not-so-'D'dog.

I am also really surprised at pp tolerating this!

What's concerning is that this is new behaviour?

Ive yet to speak to a lab owner who would expect their ddog to walk away from food!!! (25% grin )

The person who is normally in charge of training, and given the most respect by ddog should be sorti g this out quickly.

Theres a possibility of pain bringing about this sudden change in behavioral, I have to say it does sound most odd in a ddog of this age.

Fuppy Mon 18-Mar-19 04:49:11

Natural yes, acceptable NO.

You can all discuss 'natural resource guarding' but what this turns into is food aggression, and I can guarantee that your dog will end up breaking skin.

Your dog shouldn't be guarding things from you, especially edible things, if your dog respects you as leader of the pack then you get first dibs on food because that is natural pack order. If he's growling then you're not in charge.

I strongly recommend you get your dog to see a dog behaviourist ASAP, before it bites anyone else (which I'm sorry but in your case would mean that if reported, put to sleep)

I have a lot of dog training experience and have come up against this very situation many times. The absolute worst thing you can do is accept and ignore it.

scarus Mon 18-Mar-19 05:40:21

if told to go outside last thing at night he will sometimes growl at DH, but not at me as I use a firmer tone of voice.

You can manage this situation better. We started to have growling in a similar situation - moving dog from the sofa in front of the fire, out in the cold for a wee, then on to his dog bed in the kitchen where he stays overnight. I would be grumpy too if I was all comfy on the sofa!!

So now every night once he's on his dog bed he gets a small kong with kibble and peanut butter (only time he gets peanut butter which he loves). So now its not negative 'get off the sofa' but positive 'going to get my kong'.

Booboostwo Mon 18-Mar-19 07:42:25

I’ve only ever used the term resource guarding to describe a problematic situation where a dog protects items, e.g. food, sofa, etc. won’t relinguish them and will take steps to keep them, e.g. running away with them, growling, and biting.

This thread is a good example why you must never take advice on a reactive dog from the Internet. You have a problem with your dog, which unless managed may escalate, he has already bitten so things are serious. You need to get a good behaviourist in ASAP. They have to see the dog in person, assess the situation and teach you how to manage it. For example, if your friend bent down to take the item and the dog bit her you have a problem, if your friend pulled the dog away from the item by the collar and he bit her you have a worse problem, if your dog pulled the dog away by the lead and he bit her you have an even worse problem.

adaline Mon 18-Mar-19 08:22:00

Growling is perfectly normal in dogs and telling a dog off for it won't help you in the long run.

Dogs can't speak. They growl to say they're unhappy about a situation. Would you be happy if someone snatched some yummy food out of your mouth? Or if someone came along and grabbed you while you slept? Of course not. You'd probably tell the person involved to fuck off and leave you alone. That's what a growl is telling you - leave me alone.

Labs have strong jaws. If he'd wanted to bite, he'd have done so. I can take anything off my dog now but it's taken a lot of work to get to that point. He knows if I take something off him, he'll either get it back, or get something even better in return.

In the future I would say - teach an "off" command and a "swap" command. So order the dog off the sofa and lure him down with a treat. Same with "swap" ask him to drop what he has, when he does so, swap it with a treat. You're not rewarding the guarding, you're rewarding him giving up the object.

How did your friend try and remove the object? My dog is a poo eater and although it's gross I just let him get on with it. It won't do him any harm. If he has something dangerous - chicken bones or similar then I swap. My pockets are always full of cocktail sausages!

Nesssie Mon 18-Mar-19 15:22:04

I would have absolutely no hesitation in telling off my big ddogs for growling If you don't let your dog growl, then it will have no choice but to bite. Growling is the dog telling you he/she is not happy with the situation. Growling gives you, the owner, a chance to sort it out, before the dog is forced to. Your dog warned the dog walker that he didn't want her taking coming closer (and in his eyes 'taking' the poo away), she ignored him, he did the next step- to bite.

if your dog respects you as leader of the pack then you get first dibs on food because that is natural pack order - this is bullshit. Ignore this immediately.

Your dog is resource guarding, please research this and ways to minimise. Essentially, you need to lead the dog away from the object with the lure of a better treat.

Smotheroffive Mon 18-Mar-19 15:38:18

My ddogs are left to their own devices when it comes to growling warnings to each other, and they never get into fighting, but never when it comes to growling at me would i allow it, and never have I been bitten. How stupid.
What ridiculous commentary.

This ddog has just started doing this....why?

Ffs all this ridiculous analogising of ddogs/people?!?! Baseless and silly. Ddogs are not people, their rules are poles apart.

<sits back, puts feet up to watch the predictable scraps unfol>

Smotheroffive Mon 18-Mar-19 15:40:18

BTW, just for info, poo-eating is harmful and potentially dangerous, apart from anything else, you have no idea what drugs another animal is excreting, or parasites, or chemo for that matter.

Wolfiefan Mon 18-Mar-19 15:44:21

If it’s a new behaviour I would want pain ruled out. (If they attempted to haul him away from what he was munching then it may have hurt him.)
Generally a stern tone of voice won’t prevent growling. Is hearing definitely still ok?
Unfortunately as no one saw what happened it’s impossible to say why he bit. But he’s clearly not happy and you need to figure out why. Avoid these situations for now.

Nesssie Mon 18-Mar-19 15:45:33

Smotheroffive But why is it different? Growling is their way of communicating. How do you expect them to be able to communicate differently with you?

Smotheroffive Mon 18-Mar-19 15:53:10

Sorry Nessie but I can't engage with you as I can't take someone seriously that equates removing harmful things from a dpup/ddog as trying to remove food from another humans mouth grin grin

Smotheroffive Mon 18-Mar-19 15:55:04

confused clearly my ddogs don't actually communicate with me at all then, being as they have never growled at me grin grin. This is so bonkers

How they work with me should be a complete mystery!!! 😂😂😂😂😂

Smotheroffive Mon 18-Mar-19 15:57:51

He will growl on the odd occasion - if told to go outside last thing at night he will sometimes growl at DH, but not at me as I use a firmer tone of voice.

This just a nonsense, not taking this thread serious now. He growls when DH tells him to go out 😂😂😂😂 you don't have a labrador

Nesssie Mon 18-Mar-19 15:59:40

Don't worry Smotheroffive I doubt anyone is taking you seriously either..

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