Rescue Puppy growling/snarling again

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Rescue Puppy growling/snarling again

This is a discussion on Rescue Puppy growling/snarling again within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Sorry if this is long. We adopted Luna in December. She was approx 7 months (maybe older) at the time and is a terrier mix. ...

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Old 03-28-2018, 02:33 PM
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Rescue Puppy growling/snarling again

Sorry if this is long. We adopted Luna in December. She was approx 7 months (maybe older) at the time and is a terrier mix. In the first few weeks we had her she had 3 instances where she growled and/or bared her teeth at my husband and once to our brother in law. Everytime it was while she while lying down being petted and specifically being petted on her back area (sometimes legs sometimes on her side). Most the time she was fine being petted there and the vet didn't find any issues in this area. She never exhibited this behavior at me but I was present all the times it happened so, we thought she might be possessive of me.

After we had had her about 3 weeks, this behavior didn't occur again and we just chalked it up to the transition of being in a new home and being unsure.

The past 3 weeks we have had some changes around the house. Luna herself got sick after eating a rubber band and, the same week, I had to leave to stay with my parents who were ill. My husband stayed home with Luna the entire week since she was recovering from her stomach issue. I returned home at the end of the week and, the second night I was home, we were all laying on the couch and she did this gurgling/growling sound. My husband was laying his head on her at the time and her head was in my lap. The growl occurred every time he laid his head on her. He said they had been cuddling like this the entire I was gone no problem. We made her leave the couch but she did it again to him a short while later while she was lying in her bed before going to sleep for the night. We left the next day for a pre-planned vacation and my in-laws stayed with her for the week. They didn't report any incidents of this nature. We returned 2-3 nights ago. Last night she growled/bared her teeth at my husband again, multiple times. Each time he made her leave the couch and she turned back into "I love you" mode and wanted back in his lap. He thinks it's the couch but, she has done it when lying in her bed as well so, I'm not sure. She also did it when I wasn't home so, it's not me she is protecting.

While these are isolated incidents, I don't want them to escalate. I'm not sure what to do to fix this behavior or why these specific situations are triggering her to snarl? Any suggestions? Or similar experiences? Any feedback would be appreciated.
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Old 03-28-2018, 02:38 PM
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First question - are you absolutely sure it's a growl? I ask because some dogs are very vocal and will communicate through sounds like growls and gruffs and humphs.

My boy is like that and my last dog, a Staffy, was even more vocal.

So it may not be a growl as in a threatening to bite. What's her body language like when she 'growls'?
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Old 03-28-2018, 05:22 PM
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She usually stays in lying down position but sometimes her lip curls up exposing her teeth (not a "smile" as our dearly departed Dalmatian used to give us) and she does tense up a bit so, I think her intention is less than friendly...last night my husband said she actually opened her mouth too at one point (though he said she didn't move to bite him)...

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Old 03-29-2018, 03:50 AM
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Yeah.... it does sound like a warning.

I think Luna doesn't like changes and has associated your husband with them. He's become the focus of her discomfort. And there is something he is doing that is triggering it.

Can you afford a good behaviourist?
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Old 03-29-2018, 10:52 AM
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I got a quote from a behaviorist when we first got her and she was doing this but, being in San Francisco, it was pretty pricey and my husband thought I was overreacting at the time. Since she had stopped, I thought maybe he was right. But now, I don't know....plus we just had a huge vet bill from her rubber band incident so, convincing my husband the $ is worth it will be the issue.

He thinks he just needs to "break" her like he did our old dog but our old dog didn't have this specific issue - she was never aggressive to people. I think last night while I was at class he kept Luna off the couch and they didn't have any incidents but, I don't like that she has this capacity in her.

I think she has other issues that also might benefit from a behavorist (she a bit of a guard dog and barks at guests in the house - even if she's met them before (though, she eventually calms down); and she has a touch of separation anxiety (she tries to get out of her crate for about 5-10 mins but only after she finishes cleaning out the kong I give her and she chewed up my in-laws door when we left her in a bathroom when we didn't have the crate)).

So, SF based behaviorist recommendations would be appreciated but, again, convincing my husband...:\
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Old 03-29-2018, 11:18 AM
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It does sound like all of those behaviours stem from anxiety but I wouldn't want you to take my word for it as I don't know you or the dog. Have you had a look at the Kikopup site? There's lot of vidoes on there about positive training for anxious dogs. Might be a good starting point and they are free.
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Old 03-29-2018, 11:34 AM
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I agree that she's got a bit of anxiety. She was so much worse when we first got her, barking at any noise/reflections, growling at the neighbors when out for a walk. Now she only barks at noises when they are loud and she likes most of the neighbors (we're still working on bicycles and skateboards). So, she has made a lot of improvement just from more exposure but, I do feel she has plateaued a bit (even before the past 2-3 weeks confusion which, probably has caused some set back).

I'll check out the site while I try to convince my husband to hire a behaviorist. I just found out our local SPCA has behaviorist services and he might be more willing to go through an organization like that rather than a private business type behaviorist. I have signed up for training classes with them as well hoping formal training might help somewhat but, we don't start until April 30.
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Old 03-29-2018, 12:18 PM
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Sounds like a good move.
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