Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
559 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. Hobbes usually eats Blue Buffalo dry food. Every once in awhile we give him a can of wet food because he likes it. So last night we gave him a can of wet food. Our routine is to have him go to his bed while his food is being prepared, then his food is put on the floor and Hobbes is released to come. When he reaches the bowl we usually have him sit and then either shake, high-five, or whatever other trick comes to mind. He just needs to do something for NILF purposes. Usually he is a champ at this. He has never had any food aggression or guarding issues.

Last night for the first time he growled at my husband during this procedure. He was extremely excited about the wet, smelly food and was acting a little crazy. But he went to his bed when he was told, and when he was released to approach the food, he had a little more trouble not going for it immediately. But he did sit, and shake. While he was doing the commands, though, he let out some really low growling. No teeth baring or snapping or anything, but just this low rumbling growl, like he was mad we weren't just letting him eat. This morning we tried again with another can of wet food - same thing. We've never seen this behavior from him even when we have given him wet food.

Other notes: When he was eating, we were able to take the bowl away from him with no problems. And during the growling before getting the food, he seemed to be displaying body language that doesn't really "go" with growling. For example, he seemed to be shrinking back a little bit and was trying not to act intimidating. It felt like he was saying "I know I'm growling and I can't help it but I'm sorry; please don't be mad." Obviously, that's anthropomorphizing, but that's just what it looked like with the body language-growling incongruence.

I have mixed feelings about what to do about it because I don't want to take his major form of communication away from him. Obviously I want him to be able to growl when he's upset about something, especially if he's warning someone. But on the other hand, I do feel that it is unacceptable to start growling at us about his food. I'm also concerned because this behavior just popped up out of the blue.

He recently hurt 2 of his paws (minor injuries) and I doubt this has anything to do with it, but thought I'd mention it in case anyone thinks there may be a connection.

So, thoughts? I'd love to hear what you all think of this. Thanks for your help in advance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,186 Posts
Growling, or at least things that sound like growling, isn't always aggression. Kabota makes a growly noise while being petted. If you stop, he'll cuddle closer to solicit more petting.

That said, this sounds more like resource guarding the special food. Don't punish growling, ever, that causes biting with no warning. Read the stickies on resource guarding, and, if it's just this food, there's no saying you have to feed that food. If he doesn't growl over his kibble, which is a great brand giving him the nutrition he needs, you could just stick to the kibble.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,075 Posts
Just my opinion ... but Abbylynn does this as a form of communication when she wants something so badly that she can hardly stand it! She is a very very vocal growler. I believe it is a way of saying " I really really want this sooooo bad I can hardly wait " I am only going by experience with my dog though ...... and she can be pretty darn convincing to someone else that she is about to bite you. She too does the going backwards thing while being vocal. I have no fear of her ever biting me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
161 Posts
Sarma also uses growling as a way to communicate sometimes, like when he wants outside. He will come to me and let out a very low growl. Sometimes he nudges me with his nose, and/or scratch me with his paws if his growl doesn't get my attention. Sometimes the growl is followed by a bright-happy bark which means he wants me to pay attention to him.

Food guarding is a very serious issue and should not be treated lightly, but first I think you need to be very sure if it's food guarding or not.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
85 Posts
One of my dogs is like Abbylynn's. He will do a low growl while backing away if we don't give him his treat when he thinks he should get it (never mind that he has to do the trick first). It is different than his other growl as he seems to "talk" while doing it.

I'm no expert at this, but I would think since you could take the bowl away while he was eating it with no issue that he's just excited. I guess just watch him closely and correct him if he shows any different signs of resource guarding.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
161 Posts
correct him if he shows any different signs of resource guarding.
I would say not to correct him, because this might teach him to bypass the growl and get straight to snapping, or worse - biting, if disturbed during his meals.

My dog showed some food guarding at first, I think due to having spent quite a bit in the local shelter where dozens of dogs are fed from the same big trough. What I did (thanks to advice from here) is teach the dog that my presence and meddling around his bowl and during his meals is something very pleasant. I achieved this very quickly and easily at first by throwing very tasty treats his way, then putting them in his bowl very slowly and while stirring his food with my hand. I use boiled and baked chicken livers and hearts, stinky cheese, anything really just as long as it's better or scarcer than his regular food..

Now, not only does he not mind me being around his bowl while he's eating, but he's always stopping when I come near to see if I have something yummier than what he's eating. He checks me out for a few seconds and if he doesn't get anything he goes back to his kibble.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,851 Posts
I agree with others. Some dogs growl, when excited, when playing, whatever.

One of my malinois growls anytime she is doing anything fun. I also have a shih tzu who growls as a way of begging lol. She will sit up on her haunches forever growling if she wants whatever I'm eating, or a toy, or to go out. No aggression towards me or resource guarding ever. Its just her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
559 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the replies! Do any of you have any ideas as to how I can be sure if he's resource guarding or not? How can I tell if this is an excited growl or a threatening growl? I mean, I know it's not threatening in the sense that his teeth aren't bared and he didn't seem to be trying to scare anybody....but beyond that I'm just not sure how to tell if I should treat it as RG or just normal everyday communication.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,851 Posts
Posture is the best way, but some dogs give very little signs. Stiffening of legs, neck, tail. Turning away trying to keep something from you, but if he doesn't have the food, then you can't go by this. I don't know that it can be explained, and even observing a few dogs, you really need to see many as each dog is different.
For instance,most of mine will make and hold direct eye contact, but many will avoid eye contact. It really helps to know the dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,406 Posts
Sarma also uses growling as a way to communicate sometimes, like when he wants outside. He will come to me and let out a very low growl. Sometimes he nudges me with his nose, and/or scratch me with his paws if his growl doesn't get my attention. Sometimes the growl is followed by a bright-happy bark which means he wants me to pay attention to him.

Food guarding is a very serious issue and should not be treated lightly, but first I think you need to be very sure if it's food guarding or not.
Could it just be frustration? As in "hurry up!) The fact that he let you take the bowl with no protest doesn't sound like true resource guarding to me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
559 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Could it just be frustration? As in "hurry up!) The fact that he let you take the bowl with no protest doesn't sound like true resource guarding to me.
I suppose it could be. Tonight we're going to try hand-feeding him. I figure regardless of whether it is true RG or not, this may help reinforce the idea that good things come from us and our hands. I'm also going to read the sticky and look into RG more. Even if it isn't an issue, I wouldn't want it to become one.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,890 Posts
Dog in your photo is Hobbes? Cattle Dog?

If so, he is talking to you. They usually do it when they are being a little pushy. But if you can take the bowl it is no big deal.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
559 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Dog in your photo is Hobbes? Cattle Dog?

If so, he is talking to you. They usually do it when they are being a little pushy. But if you can take the bowl it is no big deal.
Yeah, that's Hobbes. He's a mutt, though. We imagine him to be lab/pit/something pointy-eared. He doesn't usually do much vocalizing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,927 Posts
IMO if you're not getting any of the other body language and you're able to take the bowl away without a problem I doubt you have a RG issue, though it is worth being aware of the possibility and keeping your eye on it.
Caeda growls some days when my DH or I come home, all the while doing her "wiggle dance" that she usually does when she is happy to see us. For her its an excitement thing and she REALLY wants us to hurry up and say hi. Almost like a whimper but really low, just being vocal :) I've heard and seen her RG, WAY different body language and sound.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,391 Posts
Dogs are allowed to growl. However, snarling with teeth is an issue, snapping requires re-training, maybe some help.
But, if you can handle him and his food, it's probably OK.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
559 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
IMO if you're not getting any of the other body language and you're able to take the bowl away without a problem I doubt you have a RG issue, though it is worth being aware of the possibility and keeping your eye on it.
Caeda growls some days when my DH or I come home, all the while doing her "wiggle dance" that she usually does when she is happy to see us. For her its an excitement thing and she REALLY wants us to hurry up and say hi. Almost like a whimper but really low, just being vocal :) I've heard and seen her RG, WAY different body language and sound.

Dogs are allowed to growl. However, snarling with teeth is an issue, snapping requires re-training, maybe some help.
But, if you can handle him and his food, it's probably OK.
Thanks - I'm beginning to think it was not RG after all. Tonight we put the wet food in a bowl in front of him and made him sit nicely while we took turns feeding it to him by hand. He displayed very good impulse control and didn't take it until we offered, and didn't growl at all. I'm thinking that maybe it was just some kind of communication like "hurry up" or "I'm so excited I can't help this." Of course, we'll keep an eye on it and continue to monitor it, but I'm less convinced it was a problem after tonight.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top