Growling pup

(22 Posts)
Pinkette06 Mon 25-Nov-19 18:01:07

Hi, in really need of help if anyone has any advice.
Have a pup of 8 months, she is amazing in all ways and we love her dearly. But she growls at the dc at times which is worrying me. She loves them, is excited to be with them but then growls.
It started with a bone, we have never took them away, got the kids to give her them so she knew they didn't want it, but it didn't work. We now don't have bones. It's now gone to toys and even just when she is laid or sat somewhere and they come near. It's not all the time which is confusing. Sometimes she goes up to them all happy... So she has decided to sit with them, then growls. Twice she has kind of sat up/jumped up and barked when they came near when she has had a toy, I'm not sure if this is the growling esculating although that hasn't happened in a few weeks.
My Dh has done lots of work with her and them too so she doesn't see them as a threat, she can be fine for a day then does it again the next. I am worried by this and my Dh is saying she may need rehoming if we cannot trust her around out dcs. I understand this but it hurts my heart. He says other people with kids and dogs he knows don't have this, BTW we don't allow the kids to pull her around etc, they are told to leave her alone when she walks off, leave her toys alone but if she goes up to them and then growls it makes no sense!
I am hoping to have another dc and this worries me too, a toddler isn't going to understand if they can sometimes be near and sometimes not, never to go near her toys etc.
I grew up with dogs and never had this prob. It's also unfair on our dcs who don't know what they've done or if they can go near her. She hasn't actually done anything else but I'm worried this is the start of something that could be bad. Anyone had this problem? Please help, she 's such a good dog otherwise and it would break my heart to rehome but we are at a loss.
Thankyou.

OP’s posts: |
lotsofdogshere Mon 25-Nov-19 18:08:48

It sounds like resource guarding. Have you taken her to any training classes, if not I'd recommend it. If you have, discuss the resource guarding with your trainer.
It's difficult to give advice on a specific behaviour without knowing your pup and your family. I had a resource guarding cockapoo, he was a challenge, he'd 'scavenge' a soft toy and guard it by growling. I simply took it off him and made sure he never got near it again. I didn't have small children though , which I agree adds a worrying dimension. It sounds as though you are doing some good stuff with the dog and your children but you need good advice or it sounds as though re-home will be necessary.
If your pup is insured its likely your vet would support a referral to a behaviourist. My vet did that with my cockerpoo, who had a number of behavioural problems after being attacked. The vet said the main reason they're asked to help with re-home or put to sleep is young dogs who snap, growl, show aggression. Your dog doesn't sound aggressive, she sounds like a teenager, awful phase.
So - training classes and if possible a behaviourist. You want to get on top of this - best of luck

frostedviolets Mon 25-Nov-19 20:16:54

I'm afraid I wouldn't tolerate this at all.
I would have most likely rehomed at the very first growl, certainly at the second.
Appreciate that many most likely think that's a bit OTT but as your post shows, apparently minor aggression has a nasty way of escalating in a very short time frame.
I would not keep a dog that showed aggression towards family members.

BiteyShark Mon 25-Nov-19 20:20:21

Get a behaviourist in to observe it and give you the right pointers.

DawgLover Mon 25-Nov-19 20:20:23

I'd also speak to the vet and a behaviourist in the first instance. When you say your DH has done a lot of work to ensure the kids are not seen as a threat what exactly do you mean?

user1486131602 Mon 25-Nov-19 20:23:07

She just displaying ‘top dog’ tendencies. She’s telling you that she’s too dog when it comes to these items.
YOU need to be top dog, take the bone /toy from her when she’s growling, and tell her off. Do this a few times, not around kids, and after a while she should, accept it. Do not be afraid of her, the can sense that.
We had a similar problem with our cocker spaniel, only an old tennis ball, nothing else, ever. But as soon as he realised that if he growled it would be taken away. It stopped.

Good luck!

frostedviolets Mon 25-Nov-19 20:33:25

She just displaying ‘top dog’ tendencies. She’s telling you that she’s too dog when it comes to these items.
*YOU need to be top dog, take the bone /toy from her when she’s growling, and tell her off. Do this a few times, not around kids, and after a while she should, accept it. Do not be afraid of her, the can sense that.
We had a similar problem with our cocker spaniel, only an old tennis ball, nothing else, ever. But as soon as he realised that if he growled it would be taken away. It stopped*

I agree with the telling off.
Though most people don't.
And I agree you must try to fake confidence and be assertive.

However.
Resource guarding is usually a fear behaviour, fear of losing the item.

I think a fair number of dogs will be more likely to escalate the aggression in response to their worst fear, the item being taken and depending on how big the dog is that could be really dangerous...

Resource guarding can be a difficult thing to fix and it's potentially very dangerous.

Hence why I would not be happy to have a resource guarder in my house.

Advertisement

FacesLookUgly Mon 25-Nov-19 20:49:00

YOU need to be top dog, take the bone /toy from her when she’s growling, and tell her off.

This is very dangerous advice.

You gambled and it worked for your specific dog but it is just as likely (potenitially more likely) to make the dog escalate its behaviour to dangerous and injurious levels. Any basic understanding of mammalian behaviour, operant conditioning plus numerous canine behaviour studies show that.

There is also no such thing as a top dog, either in pet or wild domesticated dogs. The social hierarchy of dogs is complex and not possible to replicate in a home environment with humans.

This dog needs a vet and a behaviourist to determine exactly what is going on.

frostedviolets Mon 25-Nov-19 21:00:21

There is also no such thing as a top dog, either in pet or wild domesticated dogs. The social hierarchy of dogs is complex and not possible to replicate in a home environment with humans

The studies I've seen suggest it's almost identical to human social groups.

'Top' dog/s is/are almost always the parent/s with the pups beneath them (as with humans)

Or in unrelated groups there tends to be one more forceful, domineering dog who tends to be mostly in charge but the leadership is somewhat fluid (as with human friendship groups)

FacesLookUgly Mon 25-Nov-19 21:19:16

It's very different to human social groups in that humans social groups are somewhat stable and remain similar over long periods of time.

Dog social groups are not stable. (Wolves are and form social groups more like humans).

Dog groups are extremely fluid and absent a single leader - though you do get some individuals who have learned aggression is a good tactic to maintain control of the resources. This isn't really a top dog, though. Just a 'bully' (for want of a less judgemental term) surrounded by more appeasing types of dog. This can, and does, change on a dime as social groups can break up only minutes after forming.

Family groups for dogs consist of the mother and children, fathers are almost never present - another key difference between dogs and wolves. Sometimes an unrelated male will stay for a short while after birth and I think on very few occasions has been seen providing some basic care for the young, but this is rare.

While the young are small, they will submit to their mother but this does not continue into adulthood...

Pinkette06 Mon 25-Nov-19 21:22:32

We dont take the items as we read it is the worst thing to do, as you are doing exactly what they fear is going to happen, taking it away, which is why they are growling. We tell her off everytime. We praise her when she is good with her toys etc really praise and she's fine. Then it just happens again at random. Can be hours later or days. If it was just one item like the bones I would just not allow them. But it's gone to toys at times and then sometimes if they just go past or something... So she's not actually guarding anything? Which is the bit that worries me. She seems to adore them but then this happens. They love her and I thought (perhaps naivelly) that if we had a dog from a pup that grows up with children then it would work best, many dogs grow up with children, I did. He is a cocker, and amazing in every other way. I am devestated and in tears tonight as I don't know what else to do as my Dh seems to have given up, and I can't do this alone. It will look like we got a puppy got bored and got rid of her. She is so attached to us, especially me and it will break my heart to rehome. I hoped I'd get some advice where it showed it would get better, but a lot of these responses are saying this is bad. I thought as she's a baby it would be easier to solve but it's not.

OP’s posts: |
Pinkette06 Mon 25-Nov-19 21:26:14

Also she has never growled at me BTW.

OP’s posts: |
FacesLookUgly Mon 25-Nov-19 21:29:58

If you tell her off, how are you ensuring she is linking the telling off with her growling and not with the close proximity of the children?

I suspect the latter, tbh. I would guess she is learning that children near her when she has a toy = she gets told off and so is doing what she knows to keep them away from her in an attempt to avoid the telling off.

A behaviourist would be able to observe and advise for sure, though.

LittleChicken11 Mon 25-Nov-19 21:39:18

Don’t tell her off! Don’t punish the growl otherwise she will learn that it isn’t working (as you are ignoring her communications) and escalate her behaviour to aggression without warning. Please consult a behaviourist who can give you advice or look online for tips to switch resources so she doesn’t become attached or guarding of certain toys/resources. She is young and needs tolerance and guidance on the right behaviour, for you.

BiteyShark Mon 25-Nov-19 22:25:59

You are talking about rehoming but haven't even attempted to pay for professional help such as a behaviourist. Why not actually get someone to assess the situation first.

Ask your vet for a recommendation.

frostedviolets Tue 26-Nov-19 00:38:00

Dog social groups are not stable. (Wolves are and form social groups more like humans)

Ah, I must have been thinking about wolves then.

He is a cocker

No surprises there!
Every time I read a thread like this, it's almost always a spaniel/spaniel mix/retriever.
Resource guarding is a known issue in these breeds.

It will look like we got a puppy got bored and got rid of her

Or it will look like you had a dog that started to exhibit some dangerous behaviour towards your children so you rehomed it for your children's safety?

If you tell her off, how are you ensuring she is linking the telling off with her growling and not with the close proximity of the children?
I suspect the latter, tbh

Very possible.
But equally, aggression has a nasty way of escalating alarmingly quickly.
Spaniels and retrievers guarding nonsense like grass and bottle tops and 'space' isn't exactly unheard of.

ActualFemale Tue 26-Nov-19 01:33:09

She is so attached to us, especially me and it will break my heart to rehome.

Can it possibly be that you are the resource she's guarding? When the children are walking past and she growls are they making their way to you?

I'd see the vet and ask for a referal to a behaviourist before making any plans to rehome. A professional will be more experienced with this that your husband and it has to be worth a shot before throwing the towel in.

TopDogs2019 Tue 26-Nov-19 01:43:21

It's an 8 month old puppy! Please don't give up yet! It's pushing boundaries, feeling it's feet, we've all been there. Be firm, a growl is a test/warning, but from a pup of this age, totally manageable. If you're a bit lacking in confidence OP, get some 1:1 advice from a vet recommended behaviourist, the best way to nip this in the bud. The problem seems 100% sortable, but if not, and you need to look at other options, at least you'll know you did everything you could.

MrsFoxPlus4Again Tue 26-Nov-19 01:48:18

An 8 month old puppy. Speak to your vet, Brie a behaviourist before the discussion of rehoming even comes up. So many people want dogs but don’t want to do the obvious when a problem occurs

sillysmiles Tue 26-Nov-19 16:23:32

It's an 8 month old puppy - I can't believe you are considering giving her up. Would you kick out your teenager when s/he displays challenging behaviour? Did you go into getting a pup with the idea of until it suits or a dog for life.

The pup is displaying characteristic of her breed. Get a properly qualified behaviorist in and and work out a plan. She is only 8 months old and it should be a lot easier for you and your family to sort our these issues than have her shunted off to a rescue kennel where she sits for a few months/years and then a new family get her and still have to deal with her even more entrenched behaviour now.

adaline Tue 26-Nov-19 17:05:12

At 8 months your puppy is right in the middle of the teenage months - in my opinion the teenage months are much harder than the puppy ones, because you're now dealing with an adult sized dog who is suddenly strong and wilful and exceptionally stubborn! I cried a LOT during the teenage months, but mine is 21 months now and a million times better. He had an hour walk this morning and has been asleep since!

The growling sounds like resource guarding which isn't something you should tackle on your own - contact your vet and get a good recommendation for a behaviourist - and make sure it's one who only uses positive reinforcement.

Good luck flowers

FuriousFlannels Tue 26-Nov-19 18:10:51

If she is growling when she doesn't have anything to guard then there are additional complications here.

It may well have started as guarding but may be now generalising to other situations she is uncomfortbale with - maybe as a result of the tellings off.

She may well further generalise this, to children in general, other dogs that she doesn't like the look of, people who look strange (other races, other abilities etc).

Get a behaviourist in now to help properly assess this dog and work with you to change her current learning before she gets any further.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in