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Hi,

We are having trouble with our Chorkie, Levi, growling at my husband. We've had him for almost 2 months now and I have read and tried almost all of the suggestions given on other posts here addressing this subject. Ignoring Levi, having husband give him treats when he comes into a room, startling Levi when he growls, giving a "Eh, Eh, Eh" when he growls. Nothing has worked. Husband has been doing all feeding and treating for a couple of weeks now also.

It is very weird how/when the growling happens. Mainly Levi growls anytime my husband is up moving around. If we are all sitting on the couch together, Levi is fine. Will even put his head in my husbands lap and want to be petted, but if I'm in the house and Mark (husband) comes in the house Levi growls. If Mark comes into a room where I am Levi growls. If Mark is in the room with us, but not sitting with us (i.e., me in my chair, Mark in his) and Mark moves, Levi growls. However, when I'm not home, Levi doesn't growl at Mark at all. So we have this theory that maybe Levi is just warning me, like he's saying, "Just FYI, the big guy is on the move".

Levi was a rescue from a hoarding situation and we know that the lady was single, but she did have an adult son who sometimes visited. Wondering could the hoarder ladie's son have been abusing her and maybe Levi is afraid of Mark hurting me, so Levi's just on alert every time Mark moves??:ponder: Even so, this growling has got to stop.

Last night I read on another sight about a situation that was almost identical to ours and tried a suggestion from that thread. It said that if I was sitting in my chair with Levi on my lap and Levi growled at Mark, I should put Levi in the floor and not let him back up in my lap for a few minutes and then invite him back up. If Levi growled again, put him back in the floor. We did this about 5 times in the hour before I went to bed. Noticed this morning that Levi doesn't seem to be growling at Mark as much. Could this actually be working this quickly or is it just a fluke?

Note, when I'm gone Levi doesn't growl at Mark, but he doesn't really engage with him either. Just pretty much acts like Mark doesn't exist.

Anyway, just know there is so much combined knowledge on this sight, so wanted to pick everyone's brain.
 

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I seem to recall having this discussion a month ago...

Your husband is competing with a dog - for you. Sound about right?

Went through this with the ex, she always said she just wants to love the dog - didn't want to correct, didn't want to be the heavy, just wanted to love the dog. Put me in a situation that I had to take ownership of her quite often, it's called tough love and it doesn't mean anything negative. Put away the treats, stop having him try to make friends - friends with the dog isn't the issue.

Jagger is a wonderful dog, wonderful with me, loved to cuddle. When she walked in the door, things really didn't change. It's when she sat down and he was next to her or on her lap. It's resource guarding, plain and simple. If I gave her a kiss, he would warn me. He didn't get away with it, but he tried - it was almost a constant battle. I couldn't get her to change.

Put the dog on the floor, get your husband to sit with you. Keep the dog on the floor for a bit, when the dog relaxes, have him call the dog up. The dog will learn.

Now what do you need to learn?
 

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Ooo- hadn't thought about having Mark call Levi up for a cuddle when we're together. I'm learning that every dog, just like every child is different. Never had a dog not like Mark before. Have never had a dog that resource guards either. So basically Levi, doesn't mind when it's all three of us together, but he really prefers one on one with me and he doesn't want Mark to interrupt when he's getting his cuddle time with me, yes?

Not quite sure how to handle it when Levi growls when he's already on the floor , not cuddling with me and Mark's not even in the same room with me. Should I go to Mark and give him a kiss every time Levi growls? (Mark's gonna be getting a LOT of affection. He'll love it. LOL). Mark wants Levi to alert me if someone comes in the house (I'm home alone quite a bit), but he needs to stop once he realizes the person is not a threat, such as when I greet them or it's someone we know.


It's all so confusing. Some "experts" say never, ever correct, just ignore bad behavior, but having raised a child I know this does not work with children, so I'm guessing it doesn't work with dogs.

Thanks for your help Jagger. I'm about to decide that dogs are more confusing than kids.
 

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The problem is - the dog owns you.

Sitting on the floor growling? So what? Do you feel bad for the dog? That's a reward in itself. Stop feeling bad for the dog, this is about tough love and respect.

When the dog is calm and relaxed, have him call her up. Reward that behaviour.
 

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Hi,
I have read and tried almost all of the suggestions given on other posts here addressing this subject. Ignoring Levi, having husband give him treats when he comes into a room, startling Levi when he growls, giving a "Eh, Eh, Eh" when he growls. Nothing has worked. Husband has been doing all feeding and treating for a couple of weeks now also.
(...)
Mainly Levi growls anytime my husband is up moving around. If we are all sitting on the couch together, Levi is fine. Will even put his head in my husbands lap and want to be petted, but if I'm in the house and Mark (husband) comes in the house Levi growls. If Mark comes into a room where I am Levi growls. If Mark is in the room with us, but not sitting with us (i.e., me in my chair, Mark in his) and Mark moves, Levi growls. However, when I'm not home, Levi doesn't growl at Mark at all. So we have this theory that maybe Levi is just warning me, like he's saying, "Just FYI, the big guy is on the move".

Levi was a rescue from a hoarding situation and we know that the lady was single, but she did have an adult son who sometimes visited. Wondering could the hoarder ladie's son have been abusing her and maybe Levi is afraid of Mark hurting me, so Levi's just on alert every time Mark moves??:ponder: Even so, this growling has got to stop.

Last night I read on another sight about a situation that was almost identical to ours and tried a suggestion from that thread. It said that if I was sitting in my chair with Levi on my lap and Levi growled at Mark, I should put Levi in the floor and not let him back up in my lap for a few minutes and then invite him back up. If Levi growled again, put him back in the floor. We did this about 5 times in the hour before I went to bed. Noticed this morning that Levi doesn't seem to be growling at Mark as much. Could this actually be working this quickly or is it just a fluke?

Note, when I'm gone Levi doesn't growl at Mark, but he doesn't really engage with him either. Just pretty much acts like Mark doesn't exist.

Anyway, just know there is so much combined knowledge on this sight, so wanted to pick everyone's brain.
No one can assuredly tell you why the dog is doing what he is doing. There are a fair number of professional trainers I know that will argue you don't need to know what in the past has caused a dog to express the behavior it is expressing and that needs to be fixed, only what emotional reaction is causing that behavior, and how to fix that and/or teach an alternative behavior if necessary. I disagree with that- as humans, we are always going to want to know why.

My guess as to why he is expressing this behavior: if he was raised in a hoarding situation, he no doubt has had little to no socialization except with the person who was hoarding him. If she was a single woman, then it is unsurprising he prefers you- a woman- over your husband- a man. Perhaps their was abuse with the son, I would think more likely the son just wasn't an especially positive influence on the animals' lives and was either neutral (because he didn't really interact with them) or slightly upsetting in some way (even something as small as his presence often making their owner upset could be enough). Animals can form negative associations with things through what we might consider mild experiences, especially if they have limited socialization/experience with the world (like hoarded animals) and especially if they are soft/sensitive. One yelling fight between son and mother could be enough to make him decide men were threats if that was one of the only times he saw men; the son wouldn't have had to actually threaten/hit/hurt the owner. Like I said, this is a guess, not fact. While I do think people need to know why to satisfy the human need to understand, you don't really need to know what in the dogs past prompted this in order to fix it, you just need to understand the current motivation towards the behavior.

With behavioral problems, behavioral modification always needs to involve changing the emotional reaction leading to that behavior and training/teaching/reinforcing an alternative, more desirable behavior (in this case, not barking/growling). To successfully change the emotional reaction to the thing that is causing the behavior, you do need to know why the dog is doing it. From your description, my guess would be either the dog is guarding you as a resource from your husband and/or the dog is (as you guessed) growling to let you know that your husband is there/moving and letting him know he is watching him. Certainly it stems from the dog being uncomfortable with the movements/normal behavior of your husband, and also from an unhealthy fixation on you and what is around you. This kind of unhealthy fixation is not surprising, IMO, in a former hoarding case- if he rarely left the house, lived with a lot of dogs in the house, and there was only one person in charge of their care, he likely did need to compete for that resource (the person's attention) and boredom would have exacerbated this inclination. Likely when people did come into the house other than "his person", they caused her to be upset, and so he has some notion that other people being around his person is not good.

I would suggest continuing to show him that growling is not appreciated by moving him away from you for a minute or so every time he does it. At the same time, you must be rewarding him for being quiet. Most of the time, this can be done by letting him have what he wants- your attention, proximity to you, being pet, etc- however I would also suggest having treats on you so that you can reward for situations he usually growls in and doesn't growl in once he starts to get that growling is being punished.

Personally, I would not replace the dog with your husband every time her growls or show affection to your husband every time he growls. One, I don't think it is necessary to achieve what you want, and two I do think there is a small risk of the dog seeing that as validation that he needs to guard you and possibly escalating his warning if that is what it is.

In terms of what to do when he is on the floor and growling- if he is on the floor, not near you, and growling at your husband moving, he is not guarding you, he is expressing discomfort at the presence of your husband. Likely, he sees him as an actual threat. I would suggest interrupting the behavior in some way and rewarding when he stops it versus correcting it. He he growls, get his attention, and then if he knows sit, down, or some kind of easy trick like a hand target or shake, then I would ask him for that when he starts growling, and reward the behavior. If he doesn't know anything, teach him to sit and use that- sit is easy to teach and dogs usually get it quickly.

If he has only been with you for two months, he is still settling in, and he needs time to figure out that your husband is not actually a threat to him, especially if he has limited experience with men and is used to living with a woman, alone, probably not leaving the house much.

It's all so confusing. Some "experts" say never, ever correct, just ignore bad behavior, but having raised a child I know this does not work with children, so I'm guessing it doesn't work with dogs.
In terms of people saying not to correct behaviors...

When you're correcting a behavior- either physically (with a leash correction, "snapping them out of it" with some kind of physical annoyance, what have you) or verbally (making a sharp sound loudly, for example)- you are really just suppressing that behavior. In most cases, that behavior isn't gone for good, and under enough stress it will return, and most often will return more severe than it was before (ie, a growl turns into a lunge, or a bite).

Specifically with growling, people say not to correct it for a good reason. Correcting a growl does not teach that dog that aggression in that situation was inappropriate, because that is too broad a concept to communicate to a dog in that one moment. It teaches a dog that the vocalization of their discomfort (which is what a growl is- it is a dog saying "I am uncomfortable", and possibly also "continue to make me uncomfortable and I might/will bite", depending on the dog and situation) will be punished. When you consistently correct a dog for growling in this kind of a situation, you are not changing the discomfort they are feeling- and depending on the dog and correction you are using may be exacerbating it- you are just taking away from them the ability/tendency to voice that discomfort in a way most people will understand, and you run the risk of a dog that bites "out of the blue" because it has been told growling is unacceptable, but it is still uncomfortable and that discomfort hasn't lessened at all.

Correcting a dog is not always the wrong call, but it is something that is very situational and very dependent on the dog. There are risks in using corrections- physical and verbal- and the same results can almost always be obtained through teaching the reactions/behaviors you do want, making sure the dog isn't put under too much pressure before it is ready, and changing the emotional reaction of the dog to the stimulus that is making them react.
 

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This is a very dog-centric discussion (something wrong with the dog or its past). We can all guess there's something there, but dogs live in the here and now... How does Mark feel about the dog, from the beginning? How does Mark feel about the dog growling at him, and how does that affect how he views the dog when in close proximity?
 

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This is a very dog-centric discussion (something wrong with the dog or its past). We can all guess there's something there, but dogs live in the here and now... How does Mark feel about the dog, from the beginning? How does Mark feel about the dog growling at him, and how does that affect how he views the dog when in close proximity?
He thought Levi was awesome the first two weeks, that's when Levi started to growl and bark at him. He even nicknamed Levi, the chillmeister because up to that point Levi was the most chilled out dog we'd ever seen. Mark has tried to not take this personally, but I know it annoys/hurts him sometimes. It doesn't help that Levi seems to be fine with our 18yrs old son and my dad. So it's not just men in general, it is something about Mark. Now Mark is a big guy with a very deep voice, so he's been trying to pitch it up when he speaks to Levi. I'm going to put in a quote here from one of my past posts so you can see where we think we've traced this behavior back to.

"2 weeks ago we adopted a rescue chorkie, Levi. He is between 1 and 2. Before he was rescued he had been in the house of dog hoarder, but not a horrible situation like you see on TV. She did keep them fed and somewhat clean. He has been in a foster mom's home for 6 months. He is very timid, but has warmed up to me very well and had seemed to be ok with my husband up until a couple of days ago. Now he runs away from Mark and sometimes even growls at him. Before he would jump up on the couch for Mark to pet him and as long as Mark didn't make any sudden moves Levi was fine. Very strange, yesterday, Levi had an accident in the house and before my husband even knew about it Levi had somehow managed to squeeze himself into a tiny spot on the bottom shelf of the bookshelf in our dining room. (Took my husband 5 minutes of searching to even find him.) Like I said before, Mark hadn't even found the accident yet and Levi had already hidden. So Mark cleaned up the mess and gently pulled Levi out of the hiding spot, then took him outside. When they came back in, Levi again went and hid, squeezing himself underneath a very short step stool in our bathroom and then he growled at Mark when Mark came into the bathroom, so he just left Levi there until I got home and I coaxed him out."

But Mark has tried very hard to not do anything else that might spook Levi. We also started following some of the other suggestions given. Mark started doing all the feeding and treating. We had to tether Levi to Mark during the day because it was the only way he could get Levi to go outside to potty, but we've stopped that since Levi seems to have the housebreaking thing down pat. Even though he won't go outside all day while I'm at work and I take him out when I get home (luckily, I only work part-time). As mentioned before, Levi never growls at Mark when it's just the 2 of them, just when I'm home. That's why I'm leaning toward either resource guarding (me being the resource), or Levi is protecting me for some reason.

Anyway, I hope we can resolve this soon because it's starting to effect how I feel about Levi. I love him to pieces, but I also love my husband to pieces.:)
 
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