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Old 01-20-2010, 04:22 PM
Criosphynx Criosphynx is offline
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Default Corrections for growling

I was lurking som'where else and I was interested when this topic came up and absolutely SHOCKED when I saw how many people correct their dogs for growling.


Personally, I may interupt/redirect occasionally, but I never give any sort of P+ for any growling behavior. Iam in the camp that thinks its a valid communication tool, and that taking away this system may lead to a 'bite first" type dog.


My last visit to the dog park, Both Chili and Emma growled on several occasions, Chili, mostly in play, and Emma growled at a dog trying to mount her...Both times this woman started telling them "NO NONO!" (while still petting them mind you) and I had to reassure her it was ok.

Why is growling so taboo to so many people? For those of you that don't allow it....What is you thinking behind it?

might I add that my dogs (knock on wood) get along fine and growling has never escalated to a bite between me and them, or them and each other, I think this is in part of me allowing this.

i also actively try to countercondition them to whatever triggered it in the first place.

Last edited by Criosphynx; 01-20-2010 at 04:36 PM.
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Old 01-20-2010, 04:30 PM
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Dekka Dekka is offline
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I used to correct it. Till I went to that Ian Dunbar seminar on aggression. He pointed out a growling dog was one trying to NOT bite you.. giving you all the chances in the world to let you know what was upsetting it and allowing you to chose to stop.

He talked about how dogs who are punished successfully for growling are the ones that 'bite out of no where' as the main issue hasn't been resolved and the dog 'knows better' than to warn.

Made sense to me now if one of my dogs growls I would work to fix the underlying issue, not try to fix the symptom.
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Old 01-20-2010, 04:54 PM
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I also used to correct for growling.

Most noticeable is with Ares, when I would clip his nails, I would correct if he growled at me. He did eventually stop growling and went to warning bites. I corrected for that and soon he was drawing blood and running away from me. That's when I decided maybe it wasn't the best approach.

With lots of treats I got him to allow me to touch his feet again and if he so much as twitched his lip, I'd quit and let him be. I did rebuild the warning system and he now will lie down for me while I clip his nails. He grumbles if I get too close to a quick and he knows I'll respect him when he does.

As for growling at other dogs, it is a warning and the only time it's escalated past a growl and into a bite was if the other dog didn't back off when growled at. I don't correct either dog in that situation, I just calmly separate them or redirect them.

By allowing Morgan to give the growls and warning snaps (I trust her completely to not inflict damage while still managing to be effective), she has been able to put better manners on Nyx and Tyr.

But I think a lot of the general dog owning public think a growl is aggression and are horrified and embarrassed that their dog isn't playing nicely.
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Old 01-20-2010, 05:38 PM
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My trainer is trying to get me to stop Ruby from growling. As we know, Sibes are not known for being silent - growling is a normal tool for them, and it's not only to give a warning, but it's to share excitement, happiness, opinions, etc.

I refuse to correct her for it. I try to interrupt/redirect her when she does it to strangers, because most people don't realize that she isn't growling at them to be angry - she's growling at them for attention. Usually I can say her name and she shuts her mouth.

I think the problem lies in what most of us were taught when we are little - a growling dog is mean/angry. I think the message is lost - growling is a form of communication, and I can't imagine Ruby without her signature growl.
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Old 01-20-2010, 05:44 PM
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I totally agree with you that growling should never be punished, that does not solve whatever problem that is causing the growl or stop whatever the dog was feeling, it just ends that noise, nothing else changes. The dog will still escalate if he continues to be pushed to that point, he just won't growl anytime before he gets to his next step (snapping for instance).

People think they are punishing aggression in general when they punish a growl, they don't realize they are simply punishing one of the many ways a dog displays "aggression", not the aggression itself, the dog can still show it in many other ways, many of which are much worse than growling. Growl or no growl the dog still wants to growl and will still continue along the same escalation that it would if it had growled, it just skips the growling step.
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Old 01-20-2010, 06:04 PM
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I NEVER correct growls... and both of my dogs can be quite vocal. Both of them have also never even come close to biting. Coincidence? Fozzie once growled at an exhuberant dog getting in his face at the dog park, wasn't even showing teeth, just telling the dog to step off. They were in the midst of lots of other dogs greeting each other and I think Fozzie was just feeling overwhelmed. A lady (who didn't even own the other dog) swooped in and yelled at Fozzie, then grabbed his muzzle. I asked her to kindly get her hands off of my dog, and informed her that I was watching him, he has every right to express discomfort, and moments later HER spazzy Belgian went after another dog out of nowhere and I was right there to remind her that warnings are a good thing. I think some people see growling as a promise of a bite, rather than a way of avoiding needing to bite at all.

Correcting growls is unbelievably pointless and stupid, to me. It's like punching a person for politely asking you to give them some space. I see sooo many dogs at work who will either go right into attack mode with no warnings, or who have simply learned to shut down and do nothing, because they've clearly been punished for using warnings. If anything, correct the dog who is being growled at! The only time I'm concerned about growls is when it's clearly escalating, the dog is very tense/stiff, or the other dog is not respecting the growls at all. Then I'll redirect or seperate.
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Old 01-20-2010, 06:06 PM
Criosphynx Criosphynx is offline
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Quote:
and I can't imagine Ruby without her signature growl.
Chili is the same way. I can't imagine him without som' kind of noise coming out of him.


Quote:
People think they are punishing aggression in general when they punish a growl,
thats what all these people seemed to think, "hes thinking about biting and biting is wrong!" sort of thing...i noticed they all had lots of examples, makes me wonder about the overall relationship.

Quote:
lady (who didn't even own the other dog) swooped in and yelled at Fozzie, then grabbed his muzzle. I asked her to kindly get her hands off of my dog, and informed her that I was watching him, he has every right to express discomfort,
omg patience of a saint. I would have been pissed.
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Old 01-20-2010, 06:16 PM
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ihartgonzo ihartgonzo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Criosphynx View Post
omg patience of a saint. I would have been pissed.
Fozzie is the one with the patience of a saint... he just looked at her like WTF lady? She is so lucky that he's the most tolerant dog in the world. If she had pulled that stunt on Gonzo, she would hear a much, much scarier warning than a little grumble. And probably pee her pants.
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Old 01-20-2010, 06:41 PM
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I don't correct growling because I don't want a dog who thinks that biting is her only communication option.

At work, a dobe bit the groomer in the throat (just a small scrape, but still terrifying). The dog did not growl or tense beforehand, probably because he had always been punished for communicating discomfort. The groomer would have much preferred to receive the growl instead.
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Old 01-20-2010, 06:46 PM
Criosphynx Criosphynx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ihartgonzo View Post
Fozzie is the one with the patience of a saint... he just looked at her like WTF lady? She is so lucky that he's the most tolerant dog in the world. If she had pulled that stunt on Gonzo, she would hear a much, much scarier warning than a little grumble. And probably pee her pants.
I had a lady grab my pomeranian and smash her face into her terrified dogs face (think little kid making two dolls kiss) while making "look see? friends! Kiss kiss!" sounds. I lost it as politely as I could... she too, was fortunate in her which dog to manhandle choice that day.
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