Growling at people

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Growling at people

This is a discussion on Growling at people within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I have a year old poodle mix. He can be leash reactive at other dogs, but is improving. His latest behavior is growling at family ...

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Old 03-25-2018, 08:03 PM
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Growling at people

I have a year old poodle mix. He can be leash reactive at other dogs, but is improving.

His latest behavior is growling at family members. He started with my son, but now he will growl at everyone. He has guarded resources before.

His favorite game is tug and he growls then, but that seems normal.

He is resting next to me now, calm.

I don't want someone to get hurt.

What should i do?
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Old 03-27-2018, 08:11 PM
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I took him to the vet today.

She did not do an exam because he was acting protective of me, but he has not had any physical problems. She gave me names of 3 behaviorists. One I already contacted, we did an obedience class with her. She already knows my dog and he knows her, so that is a plus. I will call the other 2 tomorrow for quotes.

The vet said to stop playing tug for now and put away his yak cheese because that is something he guards. She had some basic tips to avoid triggers and not try to punish him when he is like that.

The behaviorist will ideally make a home visit while we are all there.
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Old 03-27-2018, 08:33 PM
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If the vet didn't do an exam how does he/she know there's nothing physical going on? Did the vet at least draw blood to check for tick diseases and thyroid problems?

Every time my dog has acted aggressive, he's turned out to have a medical issue, and treating the medical issue has quickly brought back his easy going non aggressive personality.
Changes in behavior or worsening behavior can easily be triggered or at least exacerbated by illness, pain or just not feeling well.
My dog is only three. He was less than two and suddenly started fighting with other dogs in the park. He looked a little sore occasionally but not really lame. The vet said it was behavioral. I realized that the shelter I got him from had not vaccinated for Lyme and I hadn't either because I didn't check and thought they had. I insisted on a Lyme test, the vet said Lyme wouldn't cause aggression. I kept insisting. Sure enough the test was positive. I treated him for a month but within a week or two of treatment he stopped fighting with other dogs.
More recently he started fighting again, always the other dogs provoked the fights but he wasn't backing down like I trained him to either. He also stopped playing, slept all the time, doesn't eat much and gained weight despite not eating. Now it's hypothyroidism. He's been on meds for over three weeks now and is starting to get some energy back. No fights in over a week now.
Every vet he's seen always first insist any aggression is just behavioral. But I know him so have to advocate. When he doesn't feel well he gets cranky. Vets just want to dismiss behavior issues. Maybe they don't want to deal with examining aggressive dogs.
Problem is if there's a medical cause or trigger, all the greatest behavioral interventions won't work because the dog still won't feel well.
It's always best to rule out obvious physical reasons. Young dogs can get tick diseases and thyroid issues and arthritis and injuries just as easily as older dogs.
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Old 03-28-2018, 09:46 AM
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I agree with the above. Getting him checked for physical causes would be my first step.

And then a behavourist if there's nothing wrong at the vets.

Growling is usually a communication of something the dog isn't happy about. What is triggering the growling at family members?
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Old 03-28-2018, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgieboy View Post
I agree with the above. Getting him checked for physical causes would be my first step.

And then a behavourist if there's nothing wrong at the vets.

Growling is usually a communication of something the dog isn't happy about. What is triggering the growling at family members?
He seemed to be guarding his yak cheese, so I have stopped giving it to him. He also seems to be protecting me.

The vet did not examine him. He was backing away towards me. He did not growl but did not want her near him. She talked to me about behavior and recommended a behaviorist.
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Old 03-28-2018, 12:55 PM
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It's common for dogs to be afraid at the vets. Usually because they are only there when they are in pain. And often get a thermometer shoved up their bum.
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Old 03-28-2018, 01:35 PM
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I have also found that it's common for vets to say it's behavioral and outright dismiss any physical causes without bothering to examine the dog or run any basic blood tests, like checking for tickborne diseases or thyroid problems, which are extremely common and linked to aggressive behavior. A basic physical exam also shows if the dog has any pain which can definitely cause aggression.
It's very unfortunate since behaviorists can't be successful if the dog is sick or in pain.
As the owners we're the only ones that can advocate for our dogs and insist that the vet examine them and run bloodwork to check for at least tick diseases and thyroid issues. Muzzle the dog for the exam if necessary.
It is common for dogs to be nervous and even aggressive for vet exams, they're not pleasant. But often necessary.
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Old 03-29-2018, 01:45 PM
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Now, i am not sure what to do, if anything. He stopped griwling at us when we did like the vet said and took away the yak cheese (he searches for it still) and not playing tug. I know tug does not make dogs aggressive, but the vet suggested we stop. He has found other chew toys and games.

So, i don't know what a behaviorist can do at this point. It is like when you take a car to the mechanic and it won't make the noise you noticed.

Should i get a yellow "nervous" leash? He does get nervous and backs away from new people.
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