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I feel like this is a bizarre question but how do you not punish growling when a knee jerk reaction to a growl is to scold the dog? I allow Stella to growl at Tyrion and other dogs, but I don't like it when she does it to me, my mother or other humans.

Lately she's been getting pushier. She's ALWAYS hated being pulled or pushed off a couch/bed, and will often growl. Sometimes if I'm really exhausted or half asleep (which is way more often than I wish I was), especially with her in my bed I'll command her but she looks at me like "Yeah well I'm tired too, so screw off." Usually I lure her if she balks but sometimes I try to force her and the other night I forced her and she growled a lot and head whipped. But both my and my mom's initial reaction to the growl is "No!" or "Don't you dare!" and kicking her off the bed/couch. I mean I'm not punishing her like locking her up or spraying her with water or anything violent. I just worry that will take that...warning away.

Otherwise I'm trying to practice with her getting off surfaces when asked and kicking her off unless she's invited. It's just frustrating because when she's active and very awake or lured she gets off immediately. She totally knows what "off" means. But when she's very tired she chooses not to listen, or to just scooch over a few inches. Her snuggling also sometimes turns into literally lying on top of me trying to push me out of a choice spot. I REALLY don't like this behavior and I'm now trying to prevent it, and maybe even try and make her just stay on a dog bed, but it makes me sad too because I like snuggling with her and she is affectionate. Having her beside me on the couch and bed for comfort is one of my favorite things about having a dog but I don't want this to make her nasty, pushy or have otherwise bad manners. *sigh*

Any advice would be appreciated.
 

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Could that be classified as a resource guard? Sure. It's like food, the dog is claiming it. I don't tolerate that with my dog. He has his kennel, it's "my" kennel but we leave him alone when he's in "his" space, we respect his space. I own the rest of everything, but it's a shared space, he's got to learn to respect the rest of the space. He still understands that the kennel is mine - when we give him a raw bone, he immediately goes for his kennel. But if there's any growls or RG of that bone, I'll lock him OUT of his kennel. It's the only time the door is locked. He gets confused and gets the picture pretty quick when he has to surrender the bone. I don't take the bone from him, he reliquishes it.

If I'm on the couch, my body heat creates a warm spot. If I get up, chances are the dog is going to grab that spot cause he loves warmth. There is only one way it can go but the result is the same, the dog is going to move. I'll always read his reaction, there's times he will look at me and I can read "I just got snuggled in here, please don't move me" - other times he's claiming the spot and daring me to move him. If it's the former, I'll grab a blanket and let him know he can have the foot rest of the recliner, he knows it's warm between my knees - but he is going to move. If it's the latter, he's going to move but then he's on his own, find your own spot. I say nothing to the dog, I make no sound, no snapping fingers. My arse is heading toward "my" spot, this is not a "move or be moved" scenario, either move or be sat on. There is no choice in the matter, he is not given choice.

Same goes for the gf, if he's relaxed beside her and all is good, I leave him alone. But there are times he gives me the RG look, this is mine, she's mine - my reaction is the same. No words, my arse is heading for the spot next to her, move or be sat on. He moves, then I welcome him back in when i'm ready - he gets the best of all worlds, affection from both of us. If he growls or grumps in any way, he's not allowed back in our space.

Same with the bed. GF is in bed asleep, I go in and mister is stretched out across my side. I say nothing, but he knows he will have to move. He is going to move, I'm taking my space but the key is that he's not getting any reaction out of me, I don't get frustrated, don't get angry, not raising my voice. I just take the space, deal with it.

Now am I saying to sit on your dog, no. The dog should be the one to move because you want the space, not because you're dragging him out of it. Our dog doesn't wear a collar inside the home, nothing to grab onto, no need to pull him out of any situation. It's a matter of respect, and respect has to be a 2 way street.
 

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I would say it's a combination of resource guarding and she really doesn't like being pushed. Because it's not like she growls if you sit beside her or what she considers "her" spots, it's just if you push/pull her. So again, I WOULD consider it resource guarding but not severe. We're working on it.
 

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I think some dogs shouldn`t sleep on bed for those reasons. Signs of resource guarding = not allowed in bed.

It`s too risky. There might come day when you`re sick/deep in sleep (or someone else, your kid, spouse etc) and accidentally kick her etc and she lashes out.

Just not worth it.

My dog doesn`t sleep in bed for that reason. (and dog hair)
 

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Right of ownership is a tricky thing with many. Too often this behavior is tolerated by the human and most always it continues and may become more severe. It sounds like your dog has laid claim to certain areas over time. It started off innocent enough but was tolerated and now the dog will be more resistant to the change as she sees herself as the rightful owner of the bed.

It's good to hear some of what you have started such as " I'm trying to practice with her getting off surfaces .." and " I'm now trying to prevent it, and maybe even try and make her just stay on a dog bed,".

Investigate NILIF training and use it from the ground up and for everything and I mean everything. Reestablishing boundaries, limits and acceptable behavior is never a bad thing as the dog discovers it gets what it desires when it earns it and could be very productive in this situation. And, as far as ground up goes, there is a opinion held by some dog trainers that any higher position a dog takes or claims essentially is the dog displaying to the world its rank or superiority in a sense. That's why your idea of having the dog sleep on the floor might be a very good idea.

To some it might sound heavy-handed but the dog owns nothing as you should be the rightful owner of all in the dog's world. Sharing all the resources with your dog as the dog earns them is where you cross the bridge to having a well balanced and behaved dog.
 

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In addition to keeping her off the furniture and teaching her to exit it on command, I would also try to keep a leash on her when she's roaming and may get on furniture (4 or 6', let her drag it- you could even make a super lightweight one out of a small snap and some thin cord/rope- it doesn't have to be very strong, and that way you have no handle to get caught on anything). This way you have an easy, safe, and lower conflict way of removing her, just grab the leash and tell her "come on", or "off", or whatever you want. It probably won't get rid of the behavior itself (unless maybe if you drill on/off repeatedly), but it will eliminate the growling and head whipping. It's not uncommon for dogs to grump, growl or snap when pulled off furniture or made to move (not saying that it's acceptable, just that a lot of dogs do it unless taught otherwise), and it's luckily one of the more easily managed/modified behaviors. It couldn't hurt to also work on desensitizing her to collar handling, particularly if she ever acts weird when you pull her by her collar any other time. Personally, I would keep her off the furniture for a while, do some training, and go from there.
 

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I feel like this is a bizarre question but how do you not punish growling when a knee jerk reaction to a growl is to scold the dog? I allow Stella to growl at Tyrion and other dogs, but I don't like it when she does it to me, my mother or other humans.
Super hard to change a habit or knee jerk reaction. Knowing that you want to change is a huge part of it. Great you want to change your reaction, by the sound of it!:)
The rest is management (not putting yourself into situations you're going to revert - tricky as your dealing with a response to another living being's behavior so managing Stella to prevent rg is going to be key), identifying what you do want to do when the situation arrises, and intentional practice of the new response.

Ideally you'll be applying the same process to tackle Stella's behavior and won't have any growling, but chances are (no one human or dog is perfect)there will be times as you work with her that she does. Going into it with a game plan for how you want to respond and being consistent with your response is where you'll begin to change your own behavior. :thumbsup:

Lately she's been getting pushier. She's ALWAYS hated being pulled or pushed off a couch/bed, and will often growl. Sometimes if I'm really exhausted or half asleep (which is way more often than I wish I was), especially with her in my bed I'll command her but she looks at me like "Yeah well I'm tired too, so screw off." Usually I lure her if she balks but sometimes I try to force her and the other night I forced her and she growled a lot and head whipped. But both my and my mom's initial reaction to the growl is "No!" or "Don't you dare!" and kicking her off the bed/couch. I mean I'm not punishing her like locking her up or spraying her with water or anything violent. I just worry that will take that...warning away.
Going with a NILF as Drivedog suggested or Learn to Earn type programs (jargon sits better with a lot of R+ minded people but honestly are implemented similarly) are very likely to help. Requires good management to prevent unwanted behavior and focus on rewarding good behavior (ie. How to behavior to get what they want - pushy, demanding behavior gets nothing, polite behavior pays).

Something I would suggest you be aware of is that going to a lure when a dog fails to respond to a known cue, actually rewards the dog's refusal or lack of response. Results in a dog that only responds when the treat or toy comes out. Super common error, one that is completely understandable (what works to get her off without growling), and one I'm guilty of too. :p It's something to be aware of though as it sounds like it might be becoming a habit.

That said, what you do instead of getting a lure or pushing/pulling her is going to be very individual to you two as a team! In the moment, rather than try to push/pull my dog (if a known RG) I would probably try another well known cue (maybe a hand target) or something (Maybe just leaving and going into the kitchen or going outside) I know will get the dog up.

More important is what comes afterwards. That lack of a response to a trained cue is telling you something. Unless something is wrong with the a dog (hurt, sick, etc.) it indicates need for management and further training. I would go back to no access. Also perhaps a longer tab lead or something on when home in case I needed to safely move my dog if they did happen to get up on the furniture. Also back to intentional training sessions and maintenance (once regained some access) of those behaviors.


Otherwise I'm trying to practice with her getting off surfaces when asked and kicking her off unless she's invited. It's just frustrating because when she's active and very awake or lured she gets off immediately. She totally knows what "off" means. But when she's very tired she chooses not to listen, or to just scooch over a few inches. Her snuggling also sometimes turns into literally lying on top of me trying to push me out of a choice spot. I REALLY don't like this behavior and I'm now trying to prevent it, and maybe even try and make her just stay on a dog bed, but it makes me sad too because I like snuggling with her and she is affectionate. Having her beside me on the couch and bed for comfort is one of my favorite things about having a dog but I don't want this to make her nasty, pushy or have otherwise bad manners. *sigh*

Any advice would be appreciated.
As suggested, a clear "no dogs on the furniture" rule is probably going to be easiest for Stella to understand, the easiest solution, and easiest to stick to. Maybe you can come up with a solution that works so you can still get the cuddling you want. Maybe a nice fold-up foam chair/bed. You could pull it out and invite Stella to cuddle while you watch tv or whatever and easily put it away when done.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
We're doing a little better with her getting off things or not getting on at all. It's hard to learn new things at first. She's sleeping on her bed in the crate more often, or just chilling out there.

Now I'm just feeling bad about my ability to train her and work with her leash reactivity. I just hate how she used to be so good when she was a little younger and now she acts like Cujo when we pass other dogs that are big. I had such high hopes for her when she was younger and now I feel like she won't even be capable of ever passing a CGC test. She really is a good dog. I don't know I've been thinking of taking a Rally class and seeing if that helps working in a group setting with other dogs again.
 

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I do not allow them to get onto any furniture unless invited. If they get possessive over being there then they are unceremoniously dumped on the floor.

I also never allow themes growl at other dogs when on the leash, they are corrected for this quickly. They can feel restricted on the leash making them insecure and it is up to the handler to ensure that they are safe and know they are safe.

My dogs can growl at each other as a warning, usually over a dish, but it can go no further. They know the rules.
 

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@PoppyKenna Stella is usually just reactive on leash. Unless a dog gets all up in her face or provokes her she can be brought to dog parks without problems. She can be a bit of a "sheriff" but in general she doesn't react half that bad even when off leash with dogs that are larger (Which seem to bother her). She has a pretty solid "look" up until they get to a certain distance to us, or if it's a certain dog in the neighborhood or two being walked at the same time. We practice when we can but sometimes she gets over thresh hold and unless I stuff her behind a car or something and distract her the other dogs are a bigger motivator than me/treats. I'll look into other methods of training like you suggested. I just want her to be able to pass by other dogs and not care.
@Foxhunter She doesn't so much growl at other dogs on leash but barks and lunges...which is kind of worse really. When it happens or when I see a dog in the distance I get her to focus on me, and it works sometimes. I am understanding of her growling at our other dog because he's kind of a jerk. He's a dog that I'm quite certain had no siblings so all the dog signals of "GO AWAY AND STOP BEING ANNOYING!" don't compute, or he just doesn't care. I allow her to tell him off, and considering the fact she could eat his face if she wants to, she's got good control with him. And of course I step in when he gets out of hand. But I generally don't stop dogs from correcting each other if one dog is being really bratty or rude.
 

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Sancho can get insecure when you pull his collar in some situations too and he'll protest quite loudly.
He's good at leash walking though. Leash walking feels secure for him, so that's one strategy we use when we notice a situation in which he could start growling.
He instantly relaxes in his body language when we clip the leash on and lead him on the leash instead of grabbing him at the collar or pushing him directly.
the other method we use is taking a few steps back and calling him, so he has to come to me. If he does he gets a reward (playing with him or a treat).

Instead of getting angry when he growls I'd analyse the situations and try to find a way to prevent them from happening.
Forbidding a dog to comunicate can be dangerous depending on the dog.
 
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