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We just adopted a 2-year-old Beagle/Corgi cross last week. Most of the time he's very sweet but lately his regular dog whining have occasionally become growls. I don't believe the growls are meant in an aggressive way, he only seems to growl when:

a) He wants attention. For example, I was sitting at the computer and he wanted to play. I was ignoring him and he started growling at me.

b) He wants table scraps. We feed him at the same time when we eat our dinner, but after he finishes his food he comes over to us and stares at our food and when we ignore him he eventually starts growling.

We don't know what to do. All of the dog training books we have say that any growling is an immediate sign that you need a professional trainer and that it will escalate into more aggressiveness. When he growls either for attention or food, we put him in a time-out room for a while. But I can't lie, I get really nervous when ever I hear him growl.

Any help would be appreciated.
 

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What does his growling look like? Is he snarling, showing teeth or anything that appears aggressive? I think right now, all he is doing is demanding. Not aggression. Growling, like barking, can become an attention seeking behaviour. It could be just his way of asking for stuff, or it could escalate to aggression. Of course, I have no way of saying this for sure, since I have not seen your dog in action.

I would start up NILIF (there is a sticky in the forums). I would start feeding him AFTER you, and ignoring any begging/demands for attention. He gets attention or food when you want him to. That means no pawing at your leg for a pat, no growling, no crawling up onto you, no jumping on you. He must be calm when he meets you or to get attention. Completely ignore him if he starts growling. Don't even glance at him. Teach him that growling = no response or having to wait longer for his supper.

When you feed him after your supper, wait until he stops growling. Reward quiet, non-demanding behavior. As soon as he stops growling (give it a few seconds, to make sure he doesn't start up again), get his bowl and give him the food.

Here are some helpful links:
http://www.professorshouse.com/pets/dogs/why-do-dogs-growl.aspx
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MbI7HLZwj0 < attention growl
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bI57doCfzD4 < aggressive growl, notice the difference
 

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Those are good tips and I think you're right about it being done for attention. That's an important lesson for both of you...what exactly does he have to do to warrant/earn your attention? That has to be taught. Does he need to sit politely for affection/attention/petting? Get a toy or a ball for playtime?

I don't mean to imply that you have to give in to every sit or every ball brought to you....just teaching him an alternate attention behavior.
 

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No, he doesn't appear to be baring his teeth or raising his hackles or anything. He just sits there and growls, and some times the growls end in a sharp bark.

Thanks a lot for the links, especially the YouTube ones. Our dog's growls are definitely more similar to the attention example. Currently we feed Buddha (that's his name) at the same time when we have dinner because that's what the original dog book we got advised to do for dinner, but we're going to start feeding him after we're done eating now.

Unfortunately in our new puppy excitement, during the first couple of days we'd give him the odd treat of our food while we're cooking or eating dinner which obviously didn't help this situation. We've decided to never feed him table scraps again -- we'll still give him the odd people-food treat, but never while we're cooking or eating.

Right now when he wants attention we're trying to teach him that quiet dog = attention from us. When ever he whines we stop all attention and eye contact, and once he's quiet for a bit we either give him a pat or praise him or ask him to sit. We'll try doing that as well with the growling and see how it works. I've also done some reading that says to put the dog in a different room when you sit down to eat. Any opinions on that, or should that be sort of a last resort if he proceeds to growl when we keep ignoring him?
 

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I've also done some reading that says to put the dog in a different room when you sit down to eat. Any opinions on that, or should that be sort of a last resort if he proceeds to growl when we keep ignoring him?
Alot of folks train their dogs to stay out of the kitchen during mealtime or have them go to a rug or mat away from the table. Point is...train....what exactly do you want the dog to do? This is one of the reasons that Down and Down/Stay are taught during puppyhood.
 
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