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I have been wanting to teach my dog to growl/"smile" on command for a while. I don't really know how to approach it.

I've been trying to come up with a way to elicit it quickly so I can establish that the command means to growl and show his teeth. I think it'd be awesome to get him to bow down a little and raise his fur up, but that seems too unrealistic. :)

I want to use the command "You mad?" Its cute and doesn't sound like any of his other commands. I'll add in a hand signal of some sort once he catches on. "Smile" is too boring for me, and "Growl" sounds too much like "Bow" which he also knows.

Anyways, I don't really know how to get him to make the face. I don't want to promote bad behavior by getting him to growl, but I need to get him to do it. Also, I need to get him to sustain it until released. Like, when he bows, sometimes he holds it for a while and sometimes he just hits it and stands back up. Any advice?


Thanks!

Similar kind of thing (just more intense than I can probably do!!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUbmt-ze_os
 

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Thing is, dogs can't pretend. If you get him to growl and then reward, you're not only rewarding the act of growling, you're also reinforcing the state of mind he is in at the time. You risk putting fear/anger/stress on cue.

Is he a talkative dog? If so, you could click for grumbles and refine it from there. Not sure how you'd get the dog to lift his lips, but the dogs I have seen do it in movies are faking it. They have only been taught to expose their teeth, not to do a proper growl/show teeth.
 

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Thing is, dogs can't pretend. If you get him to growl and then reward, you're not only rewarding the act of growling, you're also reinforcing the state of mind he is in at the time. You risk putting fear/anger/stress on cue.
I disagree with this. I don't think the dog will be stressed, just cause he's growling. What you are risking is a dog that growls just cause he feels like it and connects no emotion to it. We've all known dogs that offer up every trick they know at the drop of a hat, just to see if it will earn them a reward. I'd hate for the dog to start offering up growls.

Is he a talkative dog? If so, you could click for grumbles and refine it from there. Not sure how you'd get the dog to lift his lips, but the dogs I have seen do it in movies are faking it. They have only been taught to expose their teeth, not to do a proper growl/show teeth.
Yes, this seems like the right way. Read up on shaping if you've never done any. I'd shape this behavior from scratch, because you definitely don't want to mark and reward when it is offered.
 

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Thing is, dogs can't pretend. If you get him to growl and then reward, you're not only rewarding the act of growling, you're also reinforcing the state of mind he is in at the time. You risk putting fear/anger/stress on cue.

Is he a talkative dog? If so, you could click for grumbles and refine it from there. Not sure how you'd get the dog to lift his lips, but the dogs I have seen do it in movies are faking it. They have only been taught to expose their teeth, not to do a proper growl/show teeth.
My mom's dog has a play growl...
which they taught him to do by...yes...growling AT him *headdesk*

The good news is he's the most non-aggressive, happy-go-lucky dog in the world and the growling at him and encouraging the play growl has not lead him to be growly or aggressive. He only ever growls in play. (He won't even correct other dogs...doofus).

The bad news is...you shouldn't growl at your dog. I'm jus sayin' ...so I don't have any recommendations for this trick lol.
 

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I think the easiest way is probably to capture it, using a clicker and some tasty treats.

You can also 'cheat' a little bit on this one too, by attaching a small piece of tape to the dog's lip. Most dogs will likely lift a paw to scratch it off, but just prior to scratching will be a slight movement or twitching of the upper lip (with any luck). Grab that with a timely click, and refine from there.



As a side note ... for canine actors and actresses, the reality behind bared teeth is usually a coat-matching, invisible elastic band secured around the top portion of the muzzle to hold the lip up, while a speak cue is given simultaneously. example: Zeus and Apollo on the old tv show, Magnum PI
 

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True, a play growl would be perfectly fine to capture. I just would avoid capturing a stressed growl. You CAN capture an emotional state, and displaying certain body language can illicit an emotional response. Like if you're feeling grumpy, but force yourself you smile and relax your face and act happy, despite not feeling that way, you will most likely become happy. Same thing happens if you're happy but put on an angry facial expression.

So even if you don't capture the actual feeling, and only the growling/showing teeth, chances are that doing the behaviour will alter the emotional state of the dog.

Which is why a play growl would be fine, because at worst the dog will go into play mode.
 

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I agree with Fuzzy that you want to be careful about what you teach. The wolf in the video is producing the emotion on cue. It may not be dangerous, but probably not god for the wolf.

On the other hand, I also captured a play growl when my puppy was tiny... and he thinks it is a great game to growl and to jump ... at me... on cue.

However, I also taught him to bark on cue. It is a high pitched bark. After 3 years, I finally realized that I was teaching him to be frustrated and bark on cue..... After 5 years, he learned to be less frustrated, (I'm basing on other body language) but his cued bark is still high pitched.

So, if you can capture a play growl, or a smile... I don't see a problem. You might also capture a bark and elicit it during a play bow ?
 

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Well, my dog is not aggressive at all. He can LOOK scary, but if someone attempted to rob me and they didn't run, he'd just lick him. I had 3 months off school when I got him and was determined to socialize him properly. :)

Second, I don't want to teach him the emotion, which I why I am stumped as to how to elicit the response I want. He isn't vocal unless I tell him to be. Usually if he wants something (ex: go outside), he walks up and sets his head on my lap or looks me in the eye and wimpers. Like I said, 70-pound big ole baby. :p

I'd like to teach him a growl (or some sort of a growl noise!!! o_O) and teach him to "smile" seperately, then combine the two somehow. It seems the "safest" way to do it, since the two won't be connected to anger or stress, just two diefferent tricks.

I've seen dogs do the growl trick, and the smile trick, and I just want to do it with my dog. If it goes sour, I stop. Don't mean to sound rash, but I need advice to teach a trick. If it doesn't work, fine. But please, don't start the "you shouldn't teach your dog that cause its bad" lecture. Its like saying you can't teach them "speak" cause they'll always bark at you. If you do it right, it's harmless.

Like I said, I'll stop if it goes sour, but I'd like to at least TRY. As a female who lives in a shaddy neighborhood in a college town, I'd like to have a deterrant for the jerks who live near me. Plus, we make movies and it'd be cool if my baby could star in it! :p

Not trying to start drama or anything, just please keep that crap to yourself. I'm not gonna scar my dog after all the work I put into him to make him the fabulous little love-bug he is! =D
 

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I don't think anyone said you were going to scar your dog. I wasn't saying you would permanently change the emotional state of your dog. Of course not, all I was saying is that when he does the growling trick, IF you have captured it from when he was actually stressed, then doing a stressed facial expression could elicit the stressed emotion as well. But only for the duration of the trick, and maybe a few minutes after. Then the dog would be fine, and back to normal, but it's still not the desired response is it?

So that's why I suggested capturing a playful growl instead. Do you ever play tug? My dogs growl when they tug. Does he ever play growl around other dogs? Those are a couple of places where you might be able to capture it. But if your dog never makes a sound, and you can't find a place where he does make any kind of noise, then I don't really see how you will be able to shape it.
 
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