The problem with my pup
My 4 month old husky pup is amazing. He is calm (as long as he gets his exercise), polite, gentle with kids and cats, and quick to learn. He has one problem that I'm having trouble fixing, though, and that is growling at certain people.
The people he growls at tend to be tall, middle-aged men that he only knows from as visitors in places he considers his home. Now, he has never bitten, shown his teeth, or otherwise shown any aggressive behaviour to these people, he just lets out a low, almost bark-like growl, and will back away and come to me if they approach him. He will cautiously sniff them if they gently give him their hand, but he will still growl (it's more of a "grruf" kind of noise, if that makes sense) at them when they stand up, or if he wanders too close to them.
Now, this cautious behavior wouldn't be so bothersome if it ended after getting used to the person in question. But with a few people he's acted like this towards, he continues to growl anytime they come visit. Most of the people he's like this with are very good with pups, and have tried speaking softly to him, offering him treats (which he takes) and gently introducing themselves to him with me standing beside them, but he continues to do this.
Any advice? :P
Edit: Another issue that is hard for me to deal with is little Koru's insatiable hunger for cat food. One of the problems with this one, is that I am EXTREMELY protective of the cats, particularly the one that's mine (the three other in the house are my grandmother's), because I've heard the horror stories some people have about huskies and kitties (our other two dogs have disproved these, but it's still something I watch out for). This means that I get pretty angry when I catch him stuffing his face into the cat bowl, or jumping onto the counter to reach it, and the cat walking away giving me that "why do we have dogs, again?" look, and I have a hard time thinking of a positive method for punishing him when he gets to the food. I'm guessing the best way for me to deal with this would be to do preventative training, instead of punishing him when I catch him in the act, but I don't know where to start with this one.
From your description your dog's behavior sounds anxious or fearful. He may simply be going through a fear stage or there could be something else at work. How much socialization have you done with him, especially during his critical period? How often is he exposed to visitors? Does he react the same way to these people when you are out on walks/at social events?
I think you are on the right track with having your visitors offer food and if he is taking it that's a good sign - a dog that is too stressed will not eat.
If you have an agreeable friend you could try doing some behavioral work with your pup.
Have them come in and sit or even lie on the floor and offer him food. You can give him a good portion of his daily diet this way. When he is comfortable with this have them start asking for behaviors - whatever he knows: sit, down, shake, speak etc - and you can start building higher postures and quicker movements. Any change you make that has no negative reaction from him should = big love/treats/play, whatever he likes best. This will build his confidence in them and re-wire him to think that visitors = good things!
If the behavior persists or escalates I would suggest seeking out a good canine behaviorist or a positive trainer who specializes in fearful dogs.
Prevention is the best option. Cat food is too rewarding for you to punish him to avoid it :)
Can it be put somewhere where he can't get? Like in a cats only room (the litter box can be here too) blocked with a baby gate, a laundry room only accessible through a cat sized door, or a counter too high for him to reach?
As for the horror stories, it is my experience that puppies raised with cats do not have any issue with them.
Just set boundaries of acceptable behavior and re-direct if the dog gets too rough.
Hope this helps :)
Thanks for the suggestions. :)
As for socialization, I forgot to mention that he is extremely well socialized, and has only shown this behavior to maybe ten people he's met. I'm in a funny living situation right now, living in the country with my grandparents during the week (with two other huskies and four cats), and on weekends I stay at my uncle's in the city, where two young children live and two cats live, and many family friends/members visit daily (approximately, he meets a new person in the house there every weekend). I also take him to visit friends a lot, where there are often many new people visiting, sometimes even with dogs, and he gets along great with everyone and doesn't show any signs of shyness/fear after initially entering a new house. And when in the city, he gets about an hour's worth of walks around the beighbourhood daily, where he meets lots of people and dogs. Not very many people resist saying hello to him. -.-;
Basically, this problem only shows at home, or occasionally when a stranger of the description (tall, around 40, bearded, male) greets him and wants to pet him.
I really like the idea of getting a friend to lie down and play/give him treats. I think this might do him well, because he is usually only bothered by really tall, heavy-set men.
Well, those are pretty intimidating :thumbs up
It sounds like you are doing a fantastic job!
Thanks! And yeah, I figure he has an excuse to be a little freaked out by a big, tall thing that potentially has more hair than him. x]
I'll try some of your suggestions next time this comes up. :)
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