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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tonight Shane and I were out for a run with Bali. As we were walking in our neighborhood cooling down, a family that lives nearby was out for a walk and we stopped to chat. The father asked if he could pet Bali, and we said sure. So we made Bali sit, and as the man approached with his hand out Bali began his low rumbling growl. :mad: This really irks me, because he has been through obedience training, and is a really great dog otherwise. I just don't know how to break this behavior!

Suggestions?
 

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a growl is a communication - it's up to us as owners to figure out what the dog is trying to communicate. How old is Bali? How much socialisation has he had - with people of all sizes/ages/genders/ethnicities/behaviour? How was the man patting Bali - did Bali have a chance to choose to interact with him (ie did the man crouch down and extend a hand for a sniff), or was he in a sitstay and the man came in like so many do, looming over the dog and patting him on the head?

Obedience training teaches the dog to sit and stay, and that's vitally important, but its not going to make a shy/fearful/unconfident dog love everybody and accept all types of handling.
 

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I'm also curious about age and level of socialization. If he's an adolescent, sometimes that little pea brain just doesn't understand what his role is in life! Or perhaps he's being given mixed signals? Are you nervous w/ strangers or at ease? Do you have any physical limitations that he may think he needs to compensate for (protect you)?

I've seen very well bred Labs that grumble at people and I always have to wonder if it's a protection thing that the owners unknowingly programmed in themselves. With my own labs, they learn at a very young age that I don't WANT them to ever feel like they need to protect me when we are out and about. It's never affected their "automatic sound alarm systems" at home, btw! Anne
 

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I know how frustrating it can be we had a similar issue with Mocha sometimes she was fine others she would growl or bark it was frustrating.
I'm taking a Control Unleashed class with Zeus now that teaches the dog to look to you and focus on you it takes a lot of work but I think it will be really sucessful if we can find the time to do the work. It's based on the book "Control Unleashed" maybe pick up a copy and see if you can work on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I am certainly more than at ease with most strangers (those looming in dark shadows at night excluded). Bali is almost three, and we had him in doggy day care for a year or so as a pup, had him in intensive training, and have socialized him with all walks of life, from elderly to small kids (cats excluded). I get the feeling that it is a leash issue to him...the guy crouched down and extended a hand to sniff and he began growling. I might mention too that he has been very inconsistent with his rumbles. He LOVES people, in general, but over the summer we were up at my parent's cabin, and some of their friends came over for dinner who are a little more elderly, and he growled at them all night long. I even gave them treats to give him, and he was wagging his tail, treat in mouth, while being pet, GROWLING!

I put him in time out, and tried correcting his behavior, but it wouldn't stop! I feel like he does it more so when he is not the approacher. So frustrating!

Barbara, I will look for that book. I feel like anything is worth trying!
 

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I feel for you it's so frustrating especially when it's not all the time and you can't figure out a trigger. I haven't read the book myself but I like the way the class is going and I've heard it explains it pretty good.
 

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Mrs

I feel for you it's so frustrating especially when it's not all the time and you can't figure out a trigger. I haven't read the book myself but I like the way the class is going and I've heard it explains it pretty good.
Maybe it isn't growling, but 'talking.' If he's happy, wagging tail, no hair standing up, no stiff stance, no nose wrinkled, he may not actually be growling.
 

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Maybe it isn't growling, but 'talking.' If he's happy, wagging tail, no hair standing up, no stiff stance, no nose wrinkled, he may not actually be growling.
I'm wondering about this as well. What's his body language like during these "episodes"? Stiff? Hackles raised or no? Ears back or relaxed? Face muscles taut or relaxed?

Note: If his tail is wagging a slow, stiff wag, NOT a happy-wag.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You know, he lowers his head and sometimes his hari stands uo on his neck. He has never shown his teeth, and I could never imagine this dog biting someone...but then again I know dogs can be unpredictable. He is a very vocal dog, and has been since a pup. I think what I am going to start doing with strangers who come to our house, is bring him outside on the leash and have him sit while they approach him to pet him with a treat.
 

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I wouldn't worry about having him sit and stay at this point. Being held immobile (either physically with the leash, or 'psychologically' in an enforced stay might be contributing to the issue. Let him move away if he feels the need to.
 

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I wouldn't worry about having him sit and stay at this point. Being held immobile (either physically with the leash, or 'psychologically' in an enforced stay might be contributing to the issue. Let him move away if he feels the need to.
I think the above is worth a second and third thought - may very well be the key!!....
 

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That definitely doesn't sound like "just talking" body language. I agree with letting him move around, sometimes when dogs feel trapped bad things happen. :(

My little Peanut is a wonderful dog, but she's a little nervous around small kids. She's fine if she can approach them on her terms, but she gets really upset and afraid if they start to chase her in the least. If they cornered her and she couldn't get away I wouldn't put it past her to strike out. And at that point me correcting her is moot and inappropriate, because she's already stressed and she would just see that as a betrayal of sorts. I'm supposed to be the one to keep her safe, if I corrected her for lashing out to protect herself (even if it was not needed, she felt it was) then I'm only going to intensify her fear. So, I monitor and manage to make sure that she isn't chased/cornered.
 

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I'm not sure what your "time -out" is, but I'm pretty sure that your dog won't understand what the heck it's for. If you put a dog in "time-out" it's because it needs to calm down, or you need to get control of a situation, but I don't think it's going to figure out what it did and stop that behavior. It's really hard to tell from a description if the dog is "talking" or warning. I think the reading "Control Unleashed" would be a great help - I use it with Emilu - but for her reaction to dogs, not people.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I'm not sure what your "time -out" is, but I'm pretty sure that your dog won't understand what the heck it's for. If you put a dog in "time-out" it's because it needs to calm down, or you need to get control of a situation, but I don't think it's going to figure out what it did and stop that behavior. It's really hard to tell from a description if the dog is "talking" or warning. I think the reading "Control Unleashed" would be a great help - I use it with Emilu - but for her reaction to dogs, not people.
I don't really have a "time-out" per say, but I stuck him in the laundry room to calm down away from all of the action. Then when I brought him back out, I did it on a leash and had the man give him a treat for sitting.

I thought that by having him sit and stay it would demonstrate to him that he is rewarded for good behavior. Certainly the growling is worse when he is on a leash and approached, but it happens even if he does the approaching and someone reaches their hands out to pet him.

Yesterday we had a contractor come over to the house, and when he came in I gave him a treat to give Bali after he sat for him. Bali did it, and the man pet him, but Bali pulled this sh*t again, and growled while he was eating the treat, while being pet, and with tail wagging!

I don't get that dog! I think he is miswired...
 

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I don't get that dog! I think he is miswired...


LMAO...sorry. I think I have a dog like that too! Let me know when you find the repair!
 
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