Last night after Tilley played for about an hour she was settling down with a bone (beef marrow) and my wife rubbed her head and got a growl. First time ever and she was shocked and came and told me. I went in and did the same thing, got no growl. We tried it 10 minutes later with my wife and another growl. I took the bone away. Obviously, there is an Alpha issue here. 1. How do I/my wife respond to this behavior properly? 2. Is this unusual because we have always put our hands in her food, give treats and have let the kids do the same? 3. What is the best resource for learning how to raise everyone's level in the house in her eyes?
The best way to raise status is obedience work. If your wife doesn't currently feed her, have her start and require your pup does something before being allowed to eat (I like doggy pushups-sit, down, sit, etc). You can also make sure she is not allowed on beds or other furniture because those higher up in the pack get the "good" sitting/sleeping spots. And if possible have her take a class with your pup. Make sure kids are involved as well.
Tilly is feeling her oats, growing up and becoming a big girl. So she's developing a big-girl 'tude. The growling was definitely a BACK OFF, MOM, THIS IS MINE message.
You took the bone away, which was good, but what would have been better would have been for MOM to take the bone away.
I'd raise MOM in the pack position. Start a NILIF approach, and have MOM be in charge. So Tilly gets no feeding, playing, treating, outing, etc. until MOM says it's okay. She should get the message soon enough.
And if she growls, the proper response is a firm QUIET! CUT IT OUT! I DON'T THINK SO. If Tilly ignores these warnings from Mom, let them come from you, perhaps amplified by a dominant down or a scruff shake.....
Part of it, she'll grow out of, but you wanna be sure she gets the message LOUD and CLEAR that you're in the driver's seat around the house.