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Old October 5th, 2005, 01:55 PM
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Corrie Corrie is offline
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Question My Puppy growls at me....

I have a 9 month old West Highland Terrier named Charlotte. I have had her since 10 weeks old; I work from my home so she is with me a lot. When you ask her to do something she does not particularly want to do, she growls at you!

She does not growl if you take or touch her food or water bowl at all, however if she is lying on the kitchen floor and you want to move her-she growls….if she is lounging on the sofa and my husband or I move her…she will growl at you (it is not a case that she is asleep and has been surprised…she is completely awake and looking at you) If you try and take a toy from her-she will growl at you

We have disciplined her strongly when she growls, but she still seems to do it. I am at a loss as what to do (or not do) with her…any suggestions from anyone?
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Old October 5th, 2005, 02:25 PM
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BMDLuver BMDLuver is offline
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Time for Alpha Boot Camp. This is not acceptable behavior and should be nipped in the bud immediately. She just lost her coach priveledges and any other special treats. This article will help guide you http://www.sonic.net/~cdlcruz/GPCC/library/alpha.htm . Stick with it, she's the boss right now and that is not acceptable.. all other members of the house are the boss above her. Teach her to respect that and her position in the house. Do it with firmness but kindess.
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Old October 5th, 2005, 02:27 PM
Lucky Rescue Lucky Rescue is offline
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Quote:
We have disciplined her strongly when she growls
I'm wondering what you mean by that? If you're hitting her, stop. It doesn't work and it's abusive. If you are not hitting her, ignore that.

Westies are terriers and can be very pushy, headstrong and bossy. Her growling at you for trying to move her is her way of saying "I'm the top dog here! You are my underlings so should walk around me!!"

You need to become the head of the household and teach her that her position is beneath you and your husband. You do this by becoming a benevolent dictator. No yelling or hitting.

Get her off the sofas and beds first of all.

Here's a great article to guide you. If you both follow it consistantly, you should have a happy and obedient dog who will not challenge you.

http://www.sonic.net/~cdlcruz/GPCC/library/alpha.htm

ETA: BMDluver - you beat me to it.
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Old October 5th, 2005, 02:29 PM
Trinitie Trinitie is offline
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I agree with BMD and DLR. Any sign of unwillingness to listen to the pack leader is a sure sign she's trying to climb the social ladder. Boot camp is a wonderful suggestion. Read the article and don't give up! She's young enough that this can be stopped before it gets too out of hand and she starts biting.
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Old October 5th, 2005, 02:46 PM
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tenderfoot tenderfoot is offline
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Remember this is not just about how you do your obedience drills or corrections. It is about who you are with her all of the time. How you feed, her, play with her, groom her, love on her etc. Relationship is about who you are with her all of the time. It is love, trust and respect. She is not respecting you and just like a defiant teenager is challenging your authority. Setting boundaries for her behavior throughout the day will greatly improve this attitude. Having her on the leash in the house attached to you will give you the means to empower your word. It also reminds her that you are the leader, and reminds you to communicate with her more often and ask her to do things for you.
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Old October 5th, 2005, 04:13 PM
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PetFriendly PetFriendly is offline
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I'm no expert, but I've been there, done that...

And it works, the boot camp that is. You might not see instant results, but be patient it will slowly make a difference. And when I mean slowly, I'm talking weeks, if not months, is all depends on how badly she wants to be top dog. I've been at it this for a little over a month now and am seeing significant improvement in my puppy's willingness to let all 2 legged creatures be the boss of him (he actually looks at me for direction now, most of the time anyway)
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Old October 6th, 2005, 11:37 AM
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Corrie Corrie is offline
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Just a few more questions...

Thanks to all who responded to me…I really appreciate it! I have a few follow-up questions for you…

• My dog is receiving “free feeding”…her bowl is down and has something in it at all times. The article suggests that is not the best idea, however my Vet did STRONGLY suggest to me that the “free food” method is best for a dog’s digestive system and over-all health if they respect it-i.e. don’t keep eating till they puke! Charlotte takes two or three bites all through the day and has done this since she was very little and I have had no problems with potty accidents etc. Should I change this even though it is contrary to my Vet?
• Charlotte does sleep in our bedroom, but in her crate. When she turns two I was hoping to graduate her to a big girl bed. I just can’t imagine putting her in the laundry room or downstairs by herself to sleep….don’t the pack leaders and the subordinates sleep all together in the wild?
• In the article (which is very good!) it mentions that in the wild if someone tries to challenge the Alpha dog, he/she will get a quick but stern reaction from the Alpha to remind them of their position…when Charlotte does growl at me or my husband we quickly grab her by the scruff of the neck and say firmly “No” Am I doing the right thing? I thought it simulated what her Alpha would do in the wild.

You have all been very helpful to me! I really appreciate it. Let me also say that my little Charlotte is not a “bad” dog. She is funny, very busy and a joy to have in the house. As I type she is resting her head on my foot and sleeping very soundly…just didn’t want you all to think she was Cujo.
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Old October 6th, 2005, 12:22 PM
Lucky Rescue Lucky Rescue is offline
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I would definitely not free feed her. Having food always available reinforces her "Everything is mine and I don't have to earn it" attitude.

Put her ration in her bowl and make her sit. Give her the food and give her 5 minutes to eat. If she does not, pick it up and give it to her at her next scheduled feeding. This teaches her that YOU are the provider of all good things, and that you control the food source as well.

You can feed her two or three times a day, whatever your preference is.

She can sleep in your bedroom, just not on the bed for now until she learns her place in the household.

Quote:
when Charlotte does growl at me or my husband we quickly grab her by the scruff of the neck and say firmly “No” Am I doing the right thing?
You have your own answer since it's not working! You can see what the problem with this method would be if your dog were a 180lb Mastiff and decided he wanted to retaliate. Since we're not dogs, we need to use other ways to control our pets and not use any physical force or corrections.

Your dog sees this "scruffing" as an attack. This could erode her trust in you, and when older, she may well decide to fight back and you don't want that.

I think your puppy is just being a bratty teen terrier and seeing how far she can go! This doesn't mean she's not a sweet and delightful pet!
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Old October 6th, 2005, 12:40 PM
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PetFriendly PetFriendly is offline
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I'll give you my opinion on your questions. Keep in mind that I'm not an expert, I'm learning as I go, so this isn't gospel, just an opinion of how a novice made it work for her. Also of note is that I take liberty of modifying all these 'dog training tips/tricks/suggestions' so that they fit in with the way I like to live and I keep it fun...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrie
• My dog is receiving “free feeding”…her bowl is down and has something in it at all times... Should I change this even though it is contrary to my Vet?
My vet said the same thing (though some will say that its better for them to eat their meals all at once I just didn't know so I went with the vet's opinion). So what I do instead is make an announcement in the house that its 'Food Time!!!' , and once Charley has arrived,I take out the food bag and fill the dish. The dish is filled on a schedule and up until recently we'd pretend to eat his food before putting the dish down for him. Since I cut his food back recently, based on his age and size and the chart on the food bag, he's usually hungry by meal times because he's finished the previous meal, so I make him sit and wait for me to finish and get out of the way before I release him to eat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrie
• Charlotte does sleep in our bedroom, but in her crate. When she turns two I was hoping to graduate her to a big girl bed. I just can’t imagine putting her in the laundry room or downstairs by herself to sleep….don’t the pack leaders and the subordinates sleep all together in the wild?
The laundry room probably won't work because its isolated (I certainly wouldn't want to be banished to a laundry room). Charley sleeps in a crate in my kitchen where he also has a view of the livingroom and the hall that leads to our bedrooms and entrance so he knows what's going on. If she's a westie, her crate can't be all that big, maybe there's a place in the hall or something more central for her.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrie
• In the article (which is very good!) it mentions that in the wild if someone tries to challenge the Alpha dog, he/she will get a quick but stern reaction from the Alpha to remind them of their position…when Charlotte does growl at me or my husband we quickly grab her by the scruff of the neck and say firmly “No” Am I doing the right thing? I thought it simulated what her Alpha would do in the wild.
I was doing the neck scruff thing with Charley without much success. The problem is, as best I can figure it, that we aren't dog so we sholdn't be trying to mimic their behaviour. I use a stern NO, then OFF (or what ever I want him to do). If needed, (and its mostly needed by my room-mate) we stare him down for emphasis.

Last edited by PetFriendly; October 6th, 2005 at 12:49 PM.
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Old October 6th, 2005, 01:13 PM
Trinitie Trinitie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PetFriendly
I was doing the neck scruff thing with Charley without much success. The problem is, as best I can figure it, that we aren't dog so we sholdn't be trying to mimic their behaviour. I use a stern NO, then OFF (or what ever I want him to do). If needed, (and its mostly needed by my room-mate) we stare him down for emphasis.
Staring down the dog is very much a dog thing to do. Dog's do not like to be stared at, and find a sign of confrontation. If you stare at your dog, and they won't back down, a sternly said "ehhh!", in a very deep voice to tell them you mean business. If you look away first they've won, so to speak.

Never, ever, do that to a strange dog! You'll be lucky to walk away from it unscathed.

I do not recommend free feeding, in any circumstances. All that does is teach the dog that the floor is the source of the food. It may very well see you place the food in the bowl, and will wait for you to allow it access, but in it's limited attention span, it only remembers "food, bowl, floor, eat". YOU must always be the source of the food. YOU must always eat first. To train a dog to be subordinate to you when food is concerned, pretend to eat kibble or something from it's bowl. Have the bowl on the counter, where it can see it. Have a bit of people food behind the bowl, where he can't see it. Looking as if you've picked the food from the dog's bowl, pick up a bit of food and eat it. Make "yummy" sounds, so it seems like you're enjoying the food immensely. Only once your dog has settled down, and is not whining for the food, do you give it. Keep doing this until the dog doesn't try to get the food first. Then, do it periodically as time goes on.

My three month old puppy knows I'm the source of her food, and allows me to take ANYTHING away from her. She also knows that when I pick up her food bowl, she sits and waits for me to fill it, "eat my fill" and give her the "leftovers". I've slowed this training down as she already has it in her head that I'M the top dog, not her.

Try it, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how quick a dog will settle down from being super pushy to patient.
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I'm firm - but fair. Mind the rules and enjoy your stay.

According to the Humane Society of the United States:
There are an estimated 3-4 million dogs and cats euthanized each year in the US alone! PLEASE - spay and/or neuter your pets!
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