My dog growls at my husband HELP!!

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My dog growls at my husband HELP!!

This is a discussion on My dog growls at my husband HELP!! within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I have a three year old doberman male. He has been growling at my husband. He hasn't bitten yet but we are afaird he will. ...

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Old 01-13-2009, 10:56 AM
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My dog growls at my husband HELP!!

I have a three year old doberman male. He has been growling at my husband. He hasn't bitten yet but we are afaird he will. Of course my husband gets really upset when Harley growls at him. It is causing problems in our marriage b/c I take up for Harley. I honestly think it is b/c Harley doesn't trust my husband. He has never fed him, walked him, trained with him. Occasionally he will want to ruff house with him outside. I have tried to explain that Harley sees him as a member of the pack and not a pack leader. I have no problem with him listening to my commands.

Sometimes Harley will growl b/c my husband will try to get him to leave the bedroom in the mornings. He doesn't like the dog in the bed. When he leaves Harley will jump in the bed with me while I'm sleeping. He has to get a leash for him to listen. If he tries to take him by the collar Harley will growl. Is there something that we can do to help with this. I also honestly feel that Harley is not being aggressive, I think if it was aggression he would have already bitten him. I think he just warning him to back off. What should we do? I would like to hear from someone that can help me instead of question my ability to own a dog. My husband says that if Harley bits I will have to get rid of him and that is the last thing I want to do.
I am willing to try anything to keep that from happening. Thanks in advance
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:00 AM
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It sounds very much like a pack-related issue in that the dog is getting the reinforcement of your husband leaving, thus elevating your dog's rank within the pack. On the surface it appears benign, however, these issues with a dog can escalate, as they will continue to do "little" things to reinforce their elevated status. This type of behavior can lead to all sorts of problems down the road. Therefore, I think it is best to address it, even if on your husband's behalf; the same way you would with showing a dog that their rank is below a child's within the household.
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Old 01-15-2009, 12:53 AM
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This is aggression. It is not benign. This is not the time to make excuses for this dog's poor behavior. It could lead to big trouble if not dealt with. However, the good news is that it has not gone super far YET and most likely could be solved with proper training. This is not about qualified or unqualified to own a dog. This is about having a problem, admitting it, and figuring out how to solve it. Since each dog is different, the absolute best is to find a good trainer in your area who can observe the dog and work with you. Ask around your area for references to good trainers. IMO, the best trainers will be ready to work with you at your house with your dog. Your husband will also need to be ready to listen to the trainer. Most likely, you both need to alter some of your behaviors. Love is not enough. You need to be ready to accept that YOU BOTH need to learn a few things. Once you humans are ready to get trained, then the dog will get better as well.

Some other basic things, you and husband need to get on same page and be a team. This is not about blame but about fixing a problem. If there is instability in the pack structure of the humans, then the dog will be confused as well. Dog should always listen to orders from you or husband without growling. If husband says something, then if safely possible, you should back up the husband and make the dog do it. That means you are standing by your husband and putting up a united front for the dog.

I think the dog should not be allowed on the bed if there is ANY issue of pack heirarchy probs or aggression. Pack leaders get their own bed/den. This is natural for dogs. A lower pack member does not expect to sleep next to a pack leader nor would any pack leader allow it. So time to put emotions aside and start doing things that reinforce the pack structure you want. Sleeping ont he bed is fine for some dogs but not for dogs that are challenging you or husband for authority. Both you and husband need to put emotions aside, frustration, defensiveness, self blame, blame on the other, excuse mongering, and then get some unbiased help from a professional. If you do that, I expect this will not be a big deal to fix. You just can't expect to keep doing things the same but get different behavior. If you want different and much better behavior from the dog, then both of you will need to improve your techniques. Dog training is usually not nearly as hard as people training! ;-)

You might also think about a lot more rules for the dog and working on basic obedience. A habit of listening is what should be instilled in the dog. Training can be a positive bonding experience if done right. Husband would do well to be in charge of feeding. If husband is busy, you could make up the food in advance and he could just deliver it. Dog should be asked to sit or do some trick before food, to remind dog of who is in charge. Dog should ALWAYS eat only after you pack leaders are done eating. Pack leaders always eat first. If you eat first, you remind the dog who is boss.

And yes, I think there should be no rough housing with the dog at least until the pack structure is worked out and the dog is behaving properly. But I think the most important thing of all is that husband and wife work harmoniously and calmly to learn new techniques for the dog. I think if you and husband are not a team and you argue, it will be hard to solve this problem and but if you are united and ready to learn, I think it will not be as hard as you think.
-Eva
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Old 01-16-2009, 07:16 AM
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You've received some very good advice from Adrian & Poochpatrol1.

You said "He has never fed him, walked him, trained with him. Occasionally he will want to ruff house with him outside." From what you have said, I get the impression that your husband is not very fond of Harley. If that is the case, Harley probably senses that and may in some cases be growling at your husband thinking that he is protecting you.

You haven't said whether Harley has received any formal training. If he hasn't that would be a good idea, but I would try to find a trainer that specializes in Behavior Modification.

In the mean time. Start by having your husband to everything for Harley. Feed him, walk him, give him treats, etc. In fact have your husband hand feed him. The purpose of all this is to be able to have Harley build trust and confidence in your husband. For the moment, you stay in the background. It sounds like, up to now your husbands relationship with Harley is mostly a negative one and we have to reverse that to a positive & trusting one.

Also, "No Ruff Housing." Play, yes and a lot of it, but keep in gentle for the moment.

There is a lot more, but a least this will start you off on the right track.

Good Luck.
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:50 AM
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Thanks coco,

Great statement here poochpatrol...

Quote:
Originally Posted by poochpatrol1 View Post
Once you humans are ready to get trained, then the dog will get better as well.
-Eva
...and true to the point, we have to be trained and know what we are doing before we can train, if we are confused and befuddled with what we are doing when training how can we expect the dog to learn without also being confused.

You and your husband have to come together on this, make plan and work the plan as a united front, if you do not I fear that the issue will escalte to the point where a choine will have to be made.
Sorry if this is coming out harsh but it is the reality of the situation.

Best of luck
Adrian
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