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My 15 week old puppy is generally very well behaved but recently i've noticed when playing with her toys she will randomly growl. If me or my partner are playing fetch with her (we're still teaching her to drop the toy) when we go to pick the toy up she will growl and lunge at us. At first I thought it was because she wanted to chew on the toys not play fetch but when we left her with the toys she would follow us and sit at our feet until we got up to play again.
Since we got Tori anytime she does inappropriate behaviour (chew our shoes, growl ect) we've said 'Hey' in a firm tone and she responded well up until now when it concerns her toys.
In the second week of having her I recognised the signs of her having an obsession with one of my cats toys and promptly removed it, since then I've been aware of her reactions to toys but she's been fine.
When she growls, lunges and bites we put her in her crate for a ten minute time out, in which she settles down completely. The cycle will start again as soon as we try in any way to remove a toy from her, I'm worried about the agression she is showing and I don't exactly relish having scratch marks on my hands, arms and legs from her teeth.
What do we do?
 

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Much of this may be perfectly normal play behavior. Some of it may be resource guarding. Hard to know from a written post. If possible, I would have someone with a lot of dog experience look at it. Maybe you know someone who has handled a ton of dogs and is pretty good with them. If not, I would hire a trainer to take a peek. If it's normal puppy stuff, you don't want to get too concerned. If it's resource guarding, you will want to start trading up and reassuring your puppy that she doesn't have to protect her stuff from you. Punishing this behavior usually makes it worse.

If I was a gambling person, I would bet that this is normal puppy behavior. Seems a little early for resource aggression. BUT, I haven't seen the pup. Check out "Mine" by Jean Donaldson. Also check out the stickies about resource guarding.

My puppy growls at me whenever I come home and when we are playing and when she doesn't want to do something I've asked. And when she wants to be petted. She's really vocal. I just ignore it and we move on. She isn't aggressive in the least. She's just super vocal. It's fading. If I punished her for it, she wouldn't have a clue why.
 

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My puppy is 14 wks and he'll growl at toys when he's super excited. He'll also bark at them. Generally he's bouncing around wagging his tail when he's doing this, and has never had a problem with us taking the toy away. He also makes a grumbly noise when he wants our attention.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you so much for your suggestions, i'll definitely keep an eye out and if she gets worse i'll call in a trainer. It's set my mind at ease because that really is the only 'difficulty' we've had with Tori.
 

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I agree that it sounds like puppy play. She is young, and doesn't totally know the "rules". So, for instance, if you are playing fetch, the "rules" are: you throw it, she brings it, and drops it. She seems to not get that it's not just random keep away/play/tug. :) When you're playing fetch, it's fine to stop the play when she doesn't follow the "rules" in order to teach her HOW to play fetch. But, I wouldn't consider it necessary to punish with time out.

Of course, if you're not playing fetch, but just random tug games or other play, it's ok for her to growl. You'll soon learn what her "play" growl sounds like, vs. another more serious growl, and you'll learn how she lunges in play vs. in aggression.

That said, anytime she gets out of control it's always ok to end play. It would be great if you could learn her body language so you know what her eyes look like or what happens to her tail, or her ears, right before she gets too crazy when playing. That way, you can STOP her BEFORE she gets out of control.... :)
 
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