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Old 01-02-2009, 03:30 AM   #1
MacFlower
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Growling and getting mad for no reason..

My dog growls at random times. It's very weird. Sometimes she's in bed with me, and she just suddenly growls, or if I'm in the living room, she's on the couch and growls..
I'm not touching her or another dog isn't touching her.
She's 3 and is a Boston Terrier. Some say I need to get a trainer because it's a sign of aggression and some say it's nothing.
I hope it's nothing serious.. is it??
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Old 01-02-2009, 05:43 AM   #2
k9mania
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Is she an only dog? Was she the first dog? She may just be telling you and others that you are in her territory. My alpha growls before she goes to sleep to make sure the others know not to cross the plane of the bedroom door and they don't. But she would never bite them.
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:48 PM   #3
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If/When a dog growls at you you have lost your leadership role in the dog's mind. You need to reestabilish your leadership role by forcing the dog to move out of YOUR way by walking into the dog and physically pushing them out of your way. Even if you don't want to sit on the couch, you force the dog off the couch and sit in the position the dog was in, even for just a few seconds. Make the dog sit for all food and treats. Tie a leash around your waist and keep the dog on it while you go about doing your chores in the house. Don't walk over the dog if the dog is lying on the floor in your path...push through the dog making it get up and move. Any vocalization (growling, barking, whining, etc.) should be stopped with a firm NO or Quiet. Followed by the physical push out of the way. Again, you are trying to reinforce that you decide when something is growl or bark worthy, not the dog. Whining is just plain annoying and should never be tolerated. All of these actions tell the dog that you are in charge.
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Old 01-02-2009, 03:10 PM   #4
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K9mania, She is not an only dog, she is with 2 other bostons, a boy and a girl. She wasn't the first either, she was the second of the three.
Furbilator, I don't know if she is exactly growling at me, her head is toward me, but her eyes are away from me. But, I think I will try that, thank you for the info.
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Old 01-02-2009, 03:16 PM   #5
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Don't be fooled, although she isn't looking directly at you she is still considering herself as top or leader. Also, the fact that she isn't focusing on you when you are in the room indicates that she doesn't take her cues from you either, so again she is demonstrating that you aren't 'top dog'.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
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Old 01-04-2009, 03:21 PM   #6
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This could very well be a type of seizure known as focal seizures. I have an epileptic dog and this is one type of seizure that he has. He will begin to growl and then at times will even act as though he's going to attack his back leg. I"m not saying this is what it is, but definitely something to investigate. If you go to www.canine-epilepsy.com you will find some very informative resources on recognizing the various types of seizures.

Before we actually witnessed my boy's full blown grand mal seizure, we attributed his various idiosyncracies (growling at his leg, fly biting) to life in a puppymill, but after his first seizure I began doing research on canine epilepsy and discovered that many of the odd things we saw Ricky Roo doing were indeed focal/partial seizures.
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Old 01-19-2009, 03:40 AM   #7
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My gosh, everyone, what is all this about alpha dogs and seizures and needing to dominate this poor little dog? Why demonize normal behavior in a dog? Just think about it. Over millions of years dogs evolved senses and instincts to assure their survival. They have significantly heightened senses of smell (dogs have 2 billion olfactory receptors; we have 40 million), hearing (they can hear at 4 times the distance we can), and seeing (they detect motion better then we do and can see at night with far greater acuity than we can. They have only shared their lives with us for the last 14,000 years - and over much of that time, we bred them to develop these senses even further. Only recently have we invited these highly specialized dogs into our homes and families - and they have brought all of their highly-developed senses with them. Even dogs within a breed will have different characteristics, just like humans. Your little guy probably has highly developed hearing and olfactory receptors. It is likely that he hears or senses something you do not. He is not growling at you, he believes, rather, that he is making sure you are alerted to whatever he hears. Rather than responding in the way he wants you to - by soothing him, assuring him you are ok - you are responding with anxiety, which simply reinforces his sense that there is something he should worry about. His growling, therefore, continues - and it becomes ritualized because he associates bed-time with your anxiety. My advice - chill-out. Recognize that his behavior is normal and that you are reinforcing it by responding to it with anxiety. Soothe him, re-assure him and, when he recognizes he no longer needs to growl, he will stop.

Last edited by larsendebs : 01-19-2009 at 03:44 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-19-2009, 03:20 PM   #8
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The sentiments of letting a dog be a dog are great if we still lived with wild animals outside the tent flap. But I don't think this is the case. Unfortunately the vast majority of times when a dog growls at you, in your presence or shows characteristics of territoriality (guarding the couch) it is an indicator that the dog is taking over leadership. If barking or growling at every noise or scent that they come across isn't a bother to you (or your neighbours) and you don't want to have a dog eventually begin to snap at you, growl, bark and become unruly because the dog believes that what he wants is all that matters, then by all means let them rule the roost. But as the OP asked a question of concern over this behaviour we responded with possible causes of the issue both behavioural and possible physical and gave advice on how to correct the problem or if only to understand it.

There are so many dogs left in shelters to die because they have become snaping turtles towards their owners or have other such dangerous behavioural issues so there are many of us on this website, myself included, that believe a good dog is a well behaved, well trained, well managed dog.
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Old 01-20-2009, 06:09 AM   #9
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Interesting response - a bit over the top, I think. I didn't mean to imply that I feel that all dog behavior is acceptable and should just be ignored or allowed to worsen. No, we aren't living in the wild with our dogs which, I believe, was the point of my posting. They lived in the wild without us for untold thousands of years and then in the wild with us for another 10,000 years at least. They evolved senses and instincts which allowed them to survive in those circumstances. Only for the last 200 years have we invited them into our families - with all of their heightened senses and instinctive behaviors. They react to smells and sounds we don't smell or hear. Growling is not only a sign of aggression - it can also be a warning from the dog that she senses danger or the presence of a stranger or a scent or sound she doesn't recognize. If that is the case, the owner's anxiety will only enhance her feeling that something is wrong. I offered writer an alternative to pathologizing or demonizing the dog's behavior - simply soothing her. Certainly, if this is not successful, I believe that MacFlower may need to take different steps.
By no means do I believe that dogs should just be dogs and that all their behavior should simply be accepted. I don't believe that of children either. However, I think we should understand dogs and should first work with them before we make assumptions that their behavior is automatically wrong or the sign of some kind of disorder.
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Old 03-26-2009, 04:28 PM   #10
grizzle
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When dogs growl there is ALWAYS a reason!!! Your just not a dog so you can't see it.
If dogs could train humans it would be a perfect world!!!
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