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Hi all. This has been a recurring problem that started soon after my wife and I adopted our boy last year. He and I get along fine; in fact, we spend most of the day together since I work from home. But for some reason, he growls at my wife. She doesn't have the same privileges with him behaviorally (petting, cuddling, etc) and honestly it's taken a huge emotional toll on her. All she wants to do is love on him, and she feels stupid for wanting that at this point.

Here are the details: I've done most of the training with him, most of the walking, most of, well...everything. My wife does what she can for someone who works her ass off most of the day 5 days a week, but there's an obvious disparity in time spent with the dog.

We took an obedience class soon after we adopted him which stressed stern but calm dominance over the animal. To be quite honest, I'm not always the calmest of owners, but I can't for the life of me put a finger on what's causing this behavior even after my wife has taken a more stern stance with him.

Any ideas? He's a beagle/lab mix from what we can tell. Not sure if that's relevant but I reckon the more information disclosed the better.

Thanks in advance.
 

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sounds like he may be guarding you saying he is mine all mine to your wife whom the dog see's as a third wheel.
Get her more involved, make her the feeder & get her doing the walks of a weekend or when not working.
Get the dog working for your wife even if it is as simple as sit & reward when done by your wife.
When he dose growl show your disapproval but reprimanding him, I have a sound all my dogs know it as the look or final warning type thing.
I would read up on NILF NOTHING IN LIFE FREE.. Meaning he works for his meal & it is dished out in treat portions throughout the day by you & your wife when the dog dose the wanted behaviours.
 

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Dogs tend to bond with the person who does the majority of the feeding, walking, training, etc. So your wife really may want to take on more while you take a step back. :)

Also, I cannot say for sure, but training methods might be playing a role....
IME trainers who promote dominance generally advise owners to use aversive methods. This can backfire resulting in unexpected issues. :(
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/suppression-modification-shutdown-fallout-4776/

Would you be willing to tell us more details about what is happening when your dog growls at your wife?
What was the dog doing?
What did your wife do?
Does this happen only around food, toys, the couch, etc.?
Which training methods are you and your wife using to try and resolve the issue?
And anything else that might be relevant.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Dogs tend to bond with the person who does the majority of the feeding, walking, training, etc. So your wife really may want to take on more while you take a step back. :)

Also, I cannot say for sure, but training methods might be playing a role....
IME trainers who promote dominance generally advise owners to use aversive methods. This can backfire resulting in unexpected issues. :(
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/suppression-modification-shutdown-fallout-4776/

Would you be willing to tell us more details about what is happening when your dog growls at your wife?
What was the dog doing?
What did your wife do?
Does this happen only around food, toys, the couch, etc.?
Which training methods are you and your wife using to try and resolve the issue?
And anything else that might be relevant.
Thanks for the response! Here's what happens when he growls at her:

He is in a submissive position and she is above him petting him and/or he is on his bed (of which he is extremely possessive). He used to growl when she took his bone (which she always gave to him) so we stopped doing that. It's clear that he feels uncomfortable being vulnerable around her whereas he and I can snuggle and play and it's no big thing.

In any case, when he growls we reprimand him verbally and oftentimes I give him a tap with my pointer finger in his ribs right behind his shoulder.

She and I had a frank discussion not too long ago about her taking on more of a role in his life and she ultimately agreed that was something she needed to do. This has been a recent development, so perhaps we're not doing enough/not enough time has passed? Not sure.

Thanks again.
 

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Wow, these are great resources. I had no idea...

Ugh, also I feel awful. We've probably been making the problem worse this whole time. Dogs are hard.
 

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Hey, at least you asked and are actually reading those articles! Kmes gave you some good stuff, and those sites are chock full of other helpful information.

Peaceable Paws has one on resource guarding, too, which you might consider working on (since he growls when you take a bone away).

Also, check out the calming signals sticky at the top of the behavior section of this forum. That will help you identify some body language that shows your dog is uncomfortable.

If you ever feel like doing more training with an instructor, ccpdt.org is a great place to start; or if you feel like you need a behavior consultant, look at iaabc.org.

:) Good luck.
 

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It sounds as if you are likely dealing with some resource guarding and some handling issues. Dogs with these problems are typically insecure. A heavy hand is IME not needed and can actually cause the problem to worsen!

Take a look at this thread to get started on what you need to do to tackle resource guarding.:)
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior/resource-guarding-causes-prevention-modification-7511/

Here is a video showing how to counter condition a dog who dislikes being handled by people. Counter conditioning means that you change the way the dog feels about something it dislikes by pairing it with something awesome.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AElTVoIPlOw

The above video does involve clicker training. If you are not familiar then take a look at this video first just so that you have a basic understanding of how clicker training works. Also, you can use a verbal marker such as "Yes", or "Yep" instead of a click.:)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wv1uvvqaSw

Also, I think you and your wife might benefit from furthering your knowledge of canine body language and calming signals! It's very likely that your dog is using "submissive" body language to try and communicate that he is incredibly uncomfortable. If the more subtle signs of stress/fear/discomfort/etc. are ignored, dogs will generally escalate. This is probably the reason for your dog growling. He is giving a clearer signal he doesn't like what is happening and is trying to make it stop. ;)
Learn about dog body language
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior/calming-signals-10084/
Dog Body Language Diagrams

Last but not least, you might want to look for a different traininer or even a behaviorist. Bare minimum they can come in, evaluate your dog, and help you come up with a plan. I highly recommend that you go with a positive reinforcement based trainer/behaviorist this time around. Here are a few sites that may help you find someone in your area.:)
Find Dog, Cat, Parrot and Horse Behavior Consultants | IAABC
Search for Professionals
 

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Wow, these are great resources. I had no idea...

Ugh, also I feel awful. We've probably been making the problem worse this whole time. Dogs are hard.
Seriously, don't beat yourself up over it!
You obviously care about your dog and it's really awesome that you are willing to consider other points of view when it comes to training.:D

Many people would never even consider a different approach!:(
 

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Thanks for the response! Here's what happens when he growls at her:

He is in a submissive position and she is above him petting him and/or he is on his bed (of which he is extremely possessive). He used to growl when she took his bone (which she always gave to him) so we stopped doing that. It's clear that he feels uncomfortable being vulnerable around her whereas he and I can snuggle and play and it's no big thing.

In any case, when he growls we reprimand him verbally and oftentimes I give him a tap with my pointer finger in his ribs right behind his shoulder.

She and I had a frank discussion not too long ago about her taking on more of a role in his life and she ultimately agreed that was something she needed to do. This has been a recent development, so perhaps we're not doing enough/not enough time has passed? Not sure.

Thanks again.
I see that Kmes beat me to saying that dogs should not be reprimanded for growling!

I'd advise that your wife use her normal voice with him. Since he doesn't quite trust her using a stern voice with him will make it worse not better. What you are calling a submissive position is likely him using calming signals with her and his way of saying please don't hurt me. Check out this thread to learn about calming signals http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior/calming-signals-10084/

What do you mean by above him petting him? If you mean she is bending over him, or petting him on the head, then that is likely why he's growling. Most dogs don't like people they do not trust bending over them, or petting them on the head. She may have a better response crouching down beside him and petting him on the neck/shoulder area.

For now do not give him a bone if you are going to have to take if from him, but you and your wife should also be teaching him drop it (trading game), and leave, it both are very useful for getting stuff back from a dog, when you practice it make sure you let the dog have the traded item back 99% of the time. It makes the dog think, "If I give the person what I have I get a really tasty treat and then I get the item back."

For bed guarding, if he's growling at her as she passes she can try dropping treats for him as she passes the bed, then once he's comfortable with that crouch down and give him a treat then leave. After he's comfortable with that crouch down, pet him on his shoulders/neck while feeding him some treats. After awhile fade out the treats so that he only gets them once in a while when she stops to pet them. The idea is that he'll start to think that her being by him while he is on his be makes great things happen, what a wonderful, magical, person she is.
 

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It sounds as if you are likely dealing with some resource guarding and some handling issues. Dogs with these problems are typically insecure. A heavy hand is IME not needed and can actually cause the problem to worsen!

Take a look at this thread to get started on what you need to do to tackle resource guarding.:)
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior/resource-guarding-causes-prevention-modification-7511/

Here is a video showing how to counter condition a dog who dislikes being handled by people. Counter conditioning means that you change the way the dog feels about something it dislikes by pairing it with something awesome.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AElTVoIPlOw

The above video does involve clicker training. If you are not familiar then take a look at this video first just so that you have a basic understanding of how clicker training works. Also, you can use a verbal marker such as "Yes", or "Yep" instead of a click.:)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wv1uvvqaSw

Also, I think you and your wife might benefit from furthering your knowledge of canine body language and calming signals! It's very likely that your dog is using "submissive" body language to try and communicate that he is incredibly uncomfortable. If the more subtle signs of stress/fear/discomfort/etc. are ignored, dogs will generally escalate. This is probably the reason for your dog growling. He is giving a clearer signal he doesn't like what is happening and is trying to make it stop. ;)
Learn about dog body language
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior/calming-signals-10084/
Dog Body Language Diagrams

Last but not least, you might want to look for a different traininer or even a behaviorist. Bare minimum they can come in, evaluate your dog, and help you come up with a plan. I highly recommend that you go with a positive reinforcement based trainer/behaviorist this time around. Here are a few sites that may help you find someone in your area.:)
Find Dog, Cat, Parrot and Horse Behavior Consultants | IAABC
Search for Professionals
I'll take some time to look into this info, but I wanted to comment on your point about body language... when he rolls over while she's petting him I can tell in his eyes if he's comfortable or not. I can literally see that he's about to growl, but I don't say anything because I figure she should be able to handle things. Crazy stuff. It's clear that we have some work to do, but I'm really grateful to have found a supportive network. I love my wife and our little guy and I want them to get along.

I'm sure I'll be in touch.
 

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I am all for doing what works best for the individual but personally growling is not acceptable & my dogs know it. I tend to use a balance of training methods & deff most are positive reinforcement but I do use negative reinforcements at times too.
Hope you find a method that works for you.
 

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I am all for doing what works best for the individual but personally growling is not acceptable & my dogs know it. I tend to use a balance of training methods & deff most are positive reinforcement but I do use negative reinforcements at times too.
Hope you find a method that works for you.

If a dog growls and a person corrects it by telling it off, giving leash pops, alpha rolling it, etc. All that person is accomplishing is teaching the dog that it should not growl, they are not fixing the reason that the dog growled in the first place.

A growl is a way for a dog to politely say, I do not like what you are doing please stop. I do not want to bite. If you teach him to not growl then he'll feel he has to snap or bite in order to get his feelings across.

No one here is saying that a growl should be ignored. We're saying that it should be respected, that the owner should figure out why the dog is growling and work to fix that.

For example, is growling because the owner tried to take it's chew, the owner should back off leave the dog to finish the chew. Then the owner should start training drop it, and play the training game, with the dog so that the dog becomes comfortable with having a human take his stuff.
 

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I never said to correct with leash pops etc......
My dogs say plenty with body language well before they growl & just as I do not allow children to back chat.......................
I have been training & rehabbing aggressive large breeds for over 20 yrs & we will have to agree to disagree I am afraid. But that said plenty of what you are saying I agree with just I personally do not let it get to the growling stage.
 

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Prison wine, just wanted to add that my dog is also one of those who doesn't really seem to appreciate petting, especially on the head. It is awkward as strangers always want to pet his head. My dog also was resource guarding with me at first, now I can take anything from him. If you and your wife can figure out what he really likes--treats, fetch, chew bones, and have her give him that she'll make headway. Every dog has different likes and dislikes, you just have to figure them out.
 

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I never said to correct with leash pops etc......
My dogs say plenty with body language well before they growl & just as I do not allow children to back chat.......................
I have been training & rehabbing aggressive large breeds for over 20 yrs & we will have to agree to disagree I am afraid. But that said plenty of what you are saying I agree with just I personally do not let it get to the growling stage.
No, but you did recommend reprimanding the dog. IME everyone has a different idea of what they should do to reprimand a dog...

Also, this is a +R based forum. We do have a policy about the type of training methods that can and cannot be recommended here.:)
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/forum-rules-guidelines-training-behavior-please-4330/

Lastly, many of us here also have experience with aggression and other behavior problems as well. ;)
 

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No, but you did recommend reprimanding the dog. IME everyone has a different idea of what they should do to reprimand a dog...

Also, this is a +R based forum. We do have a policy about the type of training methods that can and cannot be recommended here.:)
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/forum-rules-guidelines-training-behavior-please-4330/

Lastly, many of us here also have experience with aggression and other behavior problems as well. ;)
I never doubted the experience of several posters & never meant to imply I did. I actually thought I said that I am not someone who thinks any 1 method/trainer knows it all.
I did not realise it was a censored forum sorry I will try & make sure I watch what I say etc.
 
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