Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 4 of 4 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello all! Long post, but I'm driving myself crazy!

Some background: I have a 9 month old heeler puppy. He was been very well socialized, isn't scared of anything, and has been handled excessively. We use a 'work to earn' system where a portion of his daily food is given as rewards for just about everything. The things he knows how to do are a solid recall, wait, sit, lay down, shake, hi five, touch, jump, up, off, and spin. He also knows he must sit before he gains access to anything (leaving the home, getting his food, coming up on the couch).

The issue we are running in to is as long as the lunch is out, he will do whatever we ask of him with or without food... unless we try to physically move him. If he is sleepy or tired the growling is worse. This mainly happens when I want to cuddle with him, and when he gets his nails clipped.

He frequently requests cuddles, he loves cuddling! But when I try to physically move him closer if he hasn't chosen to, he will growl at me and nibble at my hand. When his nails get clipped, we flip him on his back like a baby to get the best view of the quick. Again, while we are moving him he is growling and trying to nibble. As soon as he is in the position and not being moved however, he stops. He is totally fine with his nails getting trimmed! None of these things are a problem if we have food out. However if the food is away, he growls.

My main question is... what on earth can I do to stop this? Do I even need to stop this?? I want to make sure he won't turn in to an old dog who bites because he's cranky.

Thank you in advance!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,863 Posts
First, stop physically moving him closer to you. He will lay where he wants to lay, and he clearly does not like it when you try to adjust his position. He is plainly telling you this by growling and mouthing your hand. Ignore his warnings at your peril. Ignoring a growl means he might go to a bite next time.

Your dog being on his back while getting his nails trimmed is likely making him feel quite vulnerable and uncomfortable. Nail trimming is just generally awful, in the dog's perspective, so if rapid fire treats is the only way to make him tolerate it without growling or mouthing, that's perfectly fine. I often smear peanut butter on the bath surround for baths and nail trimming so my dog is occupied licking the treat while I groom. Fur trims or picking out cockleburs might entail the aid of my husband feeding treats while I work.

Bottom line, some dogs only like affection and cuddling on their terms. Growling to tell you he doesn't like something is the most appropriate thing they can do, and it is important for you to respect that warning. If the dog needs to move, lure him off of furniture with treats. Grooming is also not the favorite pastime of many dogs, and helping them tolerate it by feeding a bucket of treats isn't the worst thing in the world.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,522 Posts
What Lillith said. Precisely. If you want a dog to do something and the dog is telling you NO by growling, change the conversation so that the dog wants to.

Don't flip the dog to do nails. If getting down to his level on the ground is an issue, then put him up on a table or chair and trim nails that way with his feet on the ground.

A good heeler has an opinion and will back that opinion up. Remember these dogs were bred to work untame beef cattle. It takes a LOT OF DOG to work untamed beef cattle.. so Heelers are bred to be a lot of dog. Confident, opinionated and very smart with no little attitude is the right sort of Heeler. Force rarely works and as the dog gets older it will work less.. and so you need to be the one with thumbs and figure ways to change the conversation so the dog wants to do something. This means you need to change how you ask the question or series of questions so the dog will answer them without resistance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,399 Posts
Is he growling [one step from snarling and showing teeth], or is he groaning and complaining ["I don't wanna!"]. I agree that if he's growling and warning, respect the growl.

But, he's an adolescent, could just be complaining, and heelers can be vocal. A loose analogy, Golden Retrievers are vocal, barking and whining when they don't get what they want, which could be more food, more petting, to get on the bed, etc. Huskies can be even more articulate, and nibble, similar to what you describe. Wanting and complaining with these two breeds is very different from growling and snarling. I don't know how to tell you the difference with your dog.

Watch for two other behaviors - when you are about to do something that leads to a 'growl', does he lick his lips in anticipation of your doing something he doesn't like. Also, while you do something that he doesn't like, does he yawn, a very wide yawn. .... In both cases, does he 'growl' [or groan?] as you continue? That may give you a clue of complaining [too bad...] vs. coming anger [OK, stop now!].

I don't think I need to offer examples of going over the top and anger that can escalate. But, for complaining, consider asking your teenage son to put down the phone and take out the trash right now. Although he's procrastinated, he complains, "Aw, five more minutes" .... He's not 'growling' but just doesn't want to do the task at hand ... and hoping he can persuade you to ... forget it. Young dogs complain and make a lot of noise when they don't always get what they want ... Just as young adolescents might. ;-)
 
1 - 4 of 4 Posts
Top