dog growling when picked up
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    dog growling when picked up

    My westie is 1 year 4 months old. I can't say when this pattern developed. But it is has gone on for some time. When she was younger she didn't have a problem if she was picked up. Now she has has a fit of growling, at times severe, as I am picking her up or putting her down. While I am holding her she seems to accept it. At first I thought she was afraid. Now I am thinking it is a behavior issue. And I don't think it is a medical issue because when she is around strange people or surroundings she is calm when I pick her up.

    I am trying to randomly pick her up now and then and tell her no if she starts growling and will not put her down if she is growling. Her hearts pounds through the whole thing.

    Am I on the right track?

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    Super Moderator Curbside Prophet's Avatar
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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    No, you're not on the right track. Think of it from the dog's point of view...mommy picks me up, I growl ( I don't like being picked up), mommy punishes me (more reason not to like being picked up). In fact, I'd reconsider all the reasons why you're picking her up. It's quite possible she's associated being picked up with many different negative outcomes. Baths, being restrained on your lap, being brushed, nail clipping...all these things dogs have to learn to tolerate. If they haven't learned to tolerate them, her behavior will show it when you pick her up.

    So, why are you picking her up? Do you need to? Can you work around not picking her up? I'd start there.

    If you must pick her up, give her a reason to enjoy it. Start with short pets, and follow it with a game, or a tasty treat. Progress to longer touching and even more awesome rewards. You need to change the association before expecting the behavior to change. She is warning you for a reason, and if she hasn't bitten you, it's a good time to resolve why. Growling isn't abnormal behavior, irregardless of the context. She has reason, now find it.

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    Angry Re: dog growling when picked up

    No, you're not on the right track. Think of it from the dog's point of view...mommy picks me up, I growl ( I don't like being picked up), mommy punishes me (more reason not to like being picked up). In fact, I'd reconsider all the reasons why you're picking her up. It's quite possible she's associated being picked up with many different negative outcomes. Baths, being restrained on your lap, being brushed, nail clipping...all these things dogs have to learn to tolerate. If they haven't learned to tolerate them, her behavior will show it when you pick her up.So, why are you picking her up? Do you need to? Can you work around not picking her up? I'd start there.

    If you must pick her up, give her a reason to enjoy it. Start with short pets, and follow it with a game, or a tasty treat. Progress to longer touching and even more awesome rewards. You need to change the association before expecting the behavior to change. She is warning you for a reason, and if she hasn't bitten you, it's a good time to resolve why. Growling isn't abnormal behavior, irregardless of the context. She has reason, now find it.
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    Ok she has no reason to growl. not due to baths, nail clipping, etc. There is no association that I can see. ok. if a child objects to being picked up, or baths, or nail clipping, you just forgo it as, ok, they don't like it, I won't do it then.

    Are you kidding?!!! Do I need to pick her up? Well not all of the time, but she should be ok with it. There are times when she will need to be picked up. She certainly cannot just act out and growl and I will give in.

    Thanks for the advice anyway.

    Ugh.
    Last edited by sherrymyra; 05-09-2009 at 11:15 PM. Reason: ugh.

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    Senior Member FilleBelle's Avatar
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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    Quote Originally Posted by Curbside Prophet View Post
    If you must pick her up, give her a reason to enjoy it. Start with short pets, and follow it with a game, or a tasty treat. Progress to longer touching and even more awesome rewards. You need to change the association before expecting the behavior to change. She is warning you for a reason, and if she hasn't bitten you, it's a good time to resolve why. Growling isn't abnormal behavior, irregardless of the context. She has reason, now find it.
    Good conditioning advice!

    As I read, I wonder, why should she be okay with it?

    My last cat never liked to have her tummy rubbed. Under the chin, on the butt, behind the ears...that was all great, but no tummy. I could probably have worked on her until she tolerated it, but why? Why rub her tummy if she hates it?

    Alvin doesn't like my new kitchen floor. I used to feed him his dinner in the kitchen and he will go in there if it's to eat, but he's obviously terrified and has even caused himself to fall down a couple of times because he's walking in such a hesitant way. I moved his bowl to a mat in the living room. I could probably figure out the kitchen thing, but why? Why does he need to eat in the kitchen if he doesn't like it?

    I guess I have some sympathy for little dogs who don't like to be picked up simply because I imagine I wouldn't like it myself if a very large entity came by and swept me off the floor without my consent. My imagination is notoriously overactive, though, lol.


    RIP Clifford, who never met a stranger

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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    So I should just never pick her up and everything will be ok.? I don't get that at all. I don't know if it is an attitude problem or what but this just seems like not an acceptable thing. Give them an inch and they will take a mile seems to come to mind. If I give in to her growling once why would she think the next time it would different. I let her growl at me and she has won the battle. The next time she will win a little bit more.

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    Super Moderator Curbside Prophet's Avatar
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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    So let me get this straight. What you were doing (what you insist on) wasn't working, you asked for our opinion, you were given one with a suggestion to try something else (which you did not do), and you're the one who's frustrated?

    No one can help you if you don't want to be helped.
    Last edited by Curbside Prophet; 05-10-2009 at 12:05 AM.

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    Senior Member FilleBelle's Avatar
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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    It's not an attitude problem, it's just differing opinions. I think that it's acceptable to respect a dog's personal space. You think it's unacceptable for your dog to growl at you under any circumstances. We're both right, to a certain extent.

    Growling when you pick her up doesn't indicate that she's trying to get the upper hand with you. It just indicates she doesn't like being picked up. If it isn't necessary, why do something she doesn't like? Just to win the "battle?"

    You are not "giving in" to ger growling if you just stop picking her up. If you were holding her, she growled, and you put her down, she might make the connection that growling gets her put down. But if you just don't pick her up, she never has a chance to learn that lesson! I haven't noticed that respecting some of my pets' personal preferences causes them to take advantage of me. Yes, I changed Alvin's feeding location from the kitchen to the dining room. But he still performs all his commands, walks well on his leash, greets strangers politely, gives me his ball or toy when asked, and stays off the couch. He just doesn't eat dinner in the kitchen.

    You aren't wrong to say that you should be able to pick up your dog without it growling. A little dog probably NEEDS to be picked up sometimes, ie to get on the vet's table or the groomer's counter or even into the car. I'm just saying that I have some sympathy for a dog that doesn't want to be carried around and I would probably avoid subjecting mine to it if it seemed that he didn't like it.

    Regardless, CP did give you a good conditioning exercise!


    RIP Clifford, who never met a stranger

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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    Well your suggestion was just let her win. You certainly did not offer a different solution than to not pick her up, simply because if she doesn't like it, don't do it. She has no reason to not want to be picked up that I can see. Not the bath, nail clipping, etc. Honestly, it is not a tolerable habit. It is not just a concern with me picking her up, but with grooming, etc, that have a reason for picking her up. I am concerned that it may come to that type of situation.

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    Senior Member FilleBelle's Avatar
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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    You haven't been offered a solution?

    Quote Originally Posted by Curbside Prophet View Post
    If you must pick her up, give her a reason to enjoy it. Start with short pets, and follow it with a game, or a tasty treat. Progress to longer touching and even more awesome rewards.
    I might also suggest getting a vet check. While you do not believe it is a medical issue, you also do not have the tools to diagnose problems that may be internal or otherwise difficult to see. Couldn't hurt to be sure, right?


    RIP Clifford, who never met a stranger

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    Super Moderator Curbside Prophet's Avatar
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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    Watch this video and tell me if this is like your dog.
    http://www.nerdbook.com/sophia/Movie...7hi.mov&num=57

    Then watch what the trainer is doing with the hair dryer and the treat dispensing machine and tell if if this is like what I described.

    If the hair dryer is like you picking up or touching your dog, did my suggestion work for this dog? If so, it's worth a try.
    Last edited by Curbside Prophet; 05-10-2009 at 12:13 AM.

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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    I do feel for her concerns. I wish she could talk. I don't like having to scold her but I feel she will never accept being picked up. I hold her and talk nice to her and tell her she is a good girl and have a nice treat ready. But as I go to put her down she goes into another growling fit. It it something with the time of picking up, ok with being up, and the putting down.

    Ok. I can't say that that it resembles the hair drying thing. But maybe to an extent, because you just can't read their minds. I don't know why she seems afraid or if she just has is a personal issue with being picked up.

    Maybe a better description. Not much changes but maybe makes a difference.

    I pick her up and she growls. And at times she really carries on with the growling. She seems more settled as I am holding her, but still a little on edge. I talk nice to her and act like nothing is amiss. I show her a nice treat and she is like "ok" treat, yum. But as I even start putting her down she will start growling again. And after on the ground spin in circles and more growling. She has never tried to bite or retaliate. she just seems to be in her own world when it happens.

    I don't think is medical. I have her in obedience class and ask the trainer about this. She said, show me. I picked Maggie up and she had no issue at all. Just calm and nonchalant about the whole thing. Picked her up, held her, put her down. Nothing amiss. I can pick her up and put her down at the vets office. Nothing. She is perfectly fine.

    Not ever picking her up just to ignore the situation is not an option, as I have concerns with groomers, etc. having to pick her up. So far that is ok but I am concerned that over time she will be less tolerant with these situations as well.

    Also at times I think it may be an anxiety thing as well. She chases her tail, chases shadows. Also when I pick her up and put her down, she is like spring loaded and spins and growls after she is down. She tends to be jumpy at sudden movements. More so than normal in my experience in past dogs. She will spin and growl. I try to distract her right away from it and distract her into doing something different, such as doing a command like sit, down, etc. She is receptive to that and seems to get over the spinning and growling and acts right away at the request of doing the command.

    I just don't know what to think at this point.
    Last edited by sherrymyra; 05-10-2009 at 01:06 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

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    Senior Member DogsforMe's Avatar
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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    Have you had her checked out by a vet? Has the vet run any tests?
    If you stop her from growling which is a warning, take away the warning & she may bite.
    [

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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    Quote Originally Posted by sherrymyra View Post

    I pick her up and she growls. And at times she really carries on with the growling. She seems more settled as I am holding her, but still a little on edge. I talk nice to her and act like nothing is amiss. I show her a nice treat and she is like "ok" treat, yum. But as I even start putting her down she will start growling again. And after on the ground spin in circles and more growling. She has never tried to bite or retaliate. she just seems to be in her own world when it happens.

    I don't think is medical. I have her in obedience class and ask the trainer about this. She said, show me. I picked Maggie up and she had no issue at all. Just calm and nonchalant about the whole thing. Picked her up, held her, put her down. Nothing amiss. I can pick her up and put her down at the vets office. Nothing. She is perfectly fine.

    Not ever picking her up just to ignore the situation is not an option, as I have concerns with groomers, etc. having to pick her up. So far that is ok but I am concerned that over time she will be less tolerant with these situations as well.

    Also at times I think it may be an anxiety thing as well. She chases her tail, chases shadows. Also when I pick her up and put her down, she is like spring loaded and spins and growls after she is down. She tends to be jumpy at sudden movements. More so than normal in my experience in past dogs. She will spin and growl. I try to distract her right away from it and distract her into doing something different, such as doing a command like sit, down, etc. She is receptive to that and seems to get over the spinning and growling and acts right away at the request of doing the command.

    I just don't know what to think at this point.
    She's ok at the vets and groomers because it is a different environment so something seems to be happening or has happened at home. As for the spinning, tail chasing, that's just a sign of boredom. Perhaps she's not getting enough exercise?

    How did you go about giving her a treat and picking her up? How many times did you try this. CP has given you good advice on this, have you tried it at all? Also, when did you get her? Maybe something happened to her before you got her.
    Last edited by Westhighlander; 05-10-2009 at 05:41 AM.

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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    I would have a complete exam including blood work and a neurological exam done by the vet just to eliminate any possible medical problem including diabetes or low thyroid. The usual cursory vet exam or owner observations aren't thorough enough when you're trying to eliminate any possible medical cause or contribution to a behavior problem.

    If you do that and nothing is found and you've gone back through anything that might have caused the behavior change at home, then it's time to start teaching a new response as Curbside suggested. One thing to be aware of is that terriers in general aren't dogs that really like being picked up or sitting on laps and while picking her up may be necessary at times, perhaps a change of tactic that allows her to jump up on something (a stool for example) instead of being picked up when that's possible would be a good idea.

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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    Ok. Curbside's suggestions may be a start then. I will try working with her in that way.

    I suppose I don't need to pick her up unless I have a reason to have to, if it comes down to it. I was afraid that in time that each time I pick her up and she growls that she feels like she won.

    I pick her up, she growls, I put her down and she is thinking "yay" I won.

    Would you say that is not necessarily her thinking on it then?

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    Super Moderator cshellenberger's Avatar
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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    Quote Originally Posted by sherrymyra View Post
    Ok she has no reason to growl. not due to baths, nail clipping, etc. There is no association that I can see. ok. if a child objects to being picked up, or baths, or nail clipping, you just forgo it as, ok, they don't like it, I won't do it then.

    Are you kidding?!!! Do I need to pick her up? Well not all of the time, but she should be ok with it. There are times when she will need to be picked up. She certainly cannot just act out and growl and I will give in.

    Thanks for the advice anyway.

    Ugh.
    No, you DESENSITIZE and give the dog a POSITIVE association with being touched in a way they don't like. BTW, it could WELL be a medical issue and she doesn't growl when others are around because she doesn't want to show weakness (which is a survival instinct).

    It could also be a fear issue, which if not taken care of properly could lead to a bite since you're IGNORING her warning. THAT"S what a growl is, a warning and if you continue to ignore it, you will get an escalation to AGGRESSION.

    #1 have her checked by a vet to be SURE it isn't a pain issue.

    #2 get a trainer involved that works with fearful animals in a positive way and learn how to train her in a way that involves minimal 'punishment' or uses negative punishment (the taking away of something she desires).

    In the meantime, go to the training section and look up "Desensitizing a dog to Inanimate Objects" that exercise can be modified to help your dog
    Carla
    "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control" Proverbs 29:11

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    Re: dog growling when picked up

    Thank you Carla. Your advice sounds good.

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