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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My puppy just showed aggression about a chewy treat for the first time on Saturday. SHe was chewing on a pig ear and as I walked into the room she started to growl at me. I scolded her and she stopped. But as I walked past her to go clear the kitchen table she actually snapped at me and nipped my foot. I took the pig ear away immediately and gave a very loud and firm NO! but now wondering what the next step is.

I have 4 kids in my home as well as my home daycare kids, my kids friends etc daily here. I can't risk her getting aggressive with anyone over chews/treats/food etc. SHe has never acted this way before nor has she since though she has had other chewy things since then (she had a bully stick yesterday with no growling or anything)

SO is it a matter of simply not buying pig's ears again, or is there a way to train her using the pig ear (even if I planned in future not to buy further ones) to quell that aggression while she is still young? I am worried about her snapping at one of the children when she is bigger and has stronger jaws.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Have you taken treats/toys away from her before? If you have, you are teaching her that sometimes people take her valued possessions away, and she will guard resources she finds valuable. You need to stop taking things away from her, and teach her by "trading up", that it's worthwhile to give up toys/treats because a) she will get a better treat for trading up with you b) she gets the treat/toy back right away.
No we had not. The only thing I have ever taken from her is things that she is not allowed to have (like when she steals the kids webkinz toys, I take them away and replace with one of her own toys. When it comes to food/treats etc we never ever take them away before this incident. I took away the pig ear because she showed so much possession of it that it was unsafe (she was in the kitchen so in a major thoroughfare, I could not have her snapping at everyone that walked by).

Since then like before she has not behaved that way. In fact she often will bring her chew and sit at my feet with it or close by, so to respond that way was out of character for her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you Shell that was very informative. I guess for right now her high value treat is the pig ear so I will give that to her in a separate room from the kids.

Another question, if you do not scold for growling (I did not punish her, but I firmly said "quiet") how do you teach her to not do that when you are doing nothing more inocuous than walking into a room. In this case the kitchen. It is a main thoroughfare. In my tiny house to get to any room in the house you have to pass through the kitchen, so her growling at us walking into there is not acceptable at all. I walked in to clean the kitchen and after saying "quiet" to her went about my business in there. The kids were in another room. No one was bugging her beyond being in the same room. Even when I walked past her I wasn't posing any sort of risk to her, I wasn't even watching her, I was headed to the kitchen table. I can't have her snapping at someone simply walking by nor can I keep the kids out of the kitchen all the time. So for that I took away the treat.

I will have to train on the Give command, but in the meantime why exactly is it wrong to scold on the growling? I never slapped her etc like your analogy, But my firm tone did show my displeasure in her growling at me. If looking at an example of human interaction. I like it to a 2 yr screaming mine about a toy just because someone else walked in the room. Yes it is communication but it is not acceptable. They are taught not to scream Mine for something like that. I guess I see scolding the dog the same way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
(Just FYI, the little analogy was written in another thread in response to someone who did smack the dog)

The growling is her telling you to back off and leave her alone. Rather than scolding for a growl or trying to stop her from growling, look at it more as stopping her from feeling the NEED to growl. You teach the kid that they don't need to scream to get their message across- maybe teaching them that they can say something nicely or get up and walk away or whatever appropriate behavior. So you decide what you want the dog to do; the growling isn't the problem, it is the guarding of an object which she is telling you that she is guarding by growling. Maybe you want to her walk away and chew the toy in her crate, so you teach a command of GO TO BED (for example) and when she starts to chew a treat in a busy area, you can tell her to GO TO BED.

Since a dog has a lot less ability to "say" something than a child, a dog's growl is shout, scream, whine, complaint, mope etc when compared to a kid.

As an aside, lots of dogs growl when they really get into playing with something like tug and running around and "attacking" a toy in the yard etc. You just have to listen and know your dog to tell if the dog is just really excited and play growling (like "Yum, grr, yum") or growling to guard ("Leave me alone, grr")
Thank you, this helped. When we play she sometimes growls and barks especially if we tire of the game before her and she is trying to engage us again. That we allow because it is all in fun. It was the guarding growl. BUt I think teaching that command of go to bed is good, and teaching the kids (my kids know but visitors etc) that if dog is on bed she is off limits will help with her feeling the need to guard it. She is of a guarding breed (well part at least) so I am fine with her having those traits, and want her to growl/bark if something is happening to her or the home etc. I just don't want her growling/snapping at us for just being inthe room.

We had a really great training session this morning with the commands we have been working on, so this afternoon I will start with the Give, and the Go to bed commands and start training her with those.
 
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