How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Sally G. Your Own Question
Sally G.
Sally G., Dog Training Consultant
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 9677
Experience:  Service/assistance dog training/ behavior /obedience/Therapy dog Evaluator/AKC Evaluator
Type Your Dog Question Here...
Sally G. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My has started growling at my male dog. She's 16 months

Customer Question

My bitch has started growling at my male dog. She's 16 months old our boy is 3. We have gad her since she was 8 weeks and it's been fine until 2 days ago. Most of the time she's fine with him but will then randomly growl, especially if he approaches the sofa or the bed - where they have both slept together until 2 days ago.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Sally G. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome. The original expert you asked for is not online. My name is ***** ***** I have been working with dogs for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today.
Is she spayed?
How is she with other items other than the bed, will she share toys or food/treats?
Did this seem to start when she had the stone identified?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No she isn't spayed. She has had two seasons, the last two months ago. She is fine with other items, they walk and play together normally. It started on Friday and we took her to the vet yesterday when they discovered her calcium levels were high. She's on anti inflammatory medication. We thought it had calmed down but she was growling at him again when he came close to the sofa. Ten minutes prior they had been out for a walk and chasing foxes together.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for that information. So assuming she is not coming into season it could be that she is just not feeling well and does not want to be bothered while at rest, or she has put herself on a higher pedestal than the male dog which often happens with females as they age. Usually you will see change between 12 and 36 months where one dog tries to take the top position. Unfortunately being allowed on furniture gives then an even higher status as they feel the are above the rest and looking over them. In cases like that when there is more than one dog in the home or if the dog is growling at the owners , we usually suggest the learn to earn method so the dog cannot take possession of anything in the home. Since the problem seems to be in the home and all else outside the home is fine then you only need concentrate on this inside the house. This should put the dogs on an even playing field and keep you as a lead. I would also suggest daily obedience training so she sees you as a consistent lead to follow inside the home. I am sure at this age she knows how to sit and stay etc, this is not why we continue training, it is to keep our lead among the dogs so they are all on one platform together. Of course you want to make sure this is not psychical in nature first, such as a pain reaction. Dogs with pain once they have rested a bit tend to feel the pain a bit more then when in motion unless it is a torn cruciate or arthritis, etc. So first make sure your girl is not in pain, then start the the training and learn to earn
Expert:  Sally G. replied 2 years ago.
Reactions to Actions or Learn to EarnCopyright Sally G In some instances with training depending on how well the dog responds to the above training you may also want to incorporate a type of ‘learn to earn’ training as well. What learn to earn training means is that you are taking charge of their entire life’s wants and needs. No more free food is put down in front of them. Keep the daily dose of food in a closed tin in the area where the dog is fed, call the dog to you and ask him to sit. When he sits, he gets a handful of food. Do this throughout the day using any command that the dog knows and the dog must obey that command in order to get some food. You will also take control of when the dogs can play. The toys should have been put away before this but if they were not, put all toys away, then when you are ready to play take out a toy and play with the dog, when you decide play is over put the toy away again. Petting does not come to them just because they nudge you, you decide when this takes place, which means you would call them to you and pet them at your discretion and ask that a command be obeyed . If they nudge to be petted, you ignore that, but you can give the dog a command at any time to obey and reward that behavior with petting. Again you always want to reinforce a behavior you have asked for. So even though you know the dog has nudged you to be petted, you don’t have to totally ignore the dog, in fact this is the perfect opportunity to turn that nudge into a trick or command and praise and reward the dog for that. Anything your dog takes for granted such as you opening the door to let it out, putting on a leash to go for a walk, allowing it to walk though a door before you, etc. these are all privileges to a dog that come naturally due to the human’s repetitive actions over time but many humans don’t realize this. So before you go through that door put the dog in a sit or wait and you walk through first then invite the dog to walk through. Again this should be rewarded with praise. Before you put the leash on you ask for a sit stay. Furniture is a no, no for dogs that have aggressive tendencies because it puts them in a higher charge over the others in the home, even children. Dogs should not just be allowed on the couch without specific invitation if at all. This need to be close and cuddle is more a human thing than a dog thing. Dogs do like to be close to the one they love and respect, but sitting on the floor next to that person will be enough to please them. This is not to say that no dog should ever be allowed on a couch, it is perfectly fine if you have stable easy going dogs. It is when there are problem dogs in the home that furniture should be off limits to all dogs. As mentioned above, in most cases dogs have developed habits that some owners allowed and gave in to over time but did not realize it. What might be helpful to the owner is to sit and make a list of all the good things your dog gets for free by an action that you have let the dog do for years. This will help you to turn those free behaviors into commands or tricks that can earn a reward. When the dog tries that action to get the desired reaction from you, stop and think, did I call the dog over to be petted? Did I tell the dog it is time to go out and that is why he brings the leash? Did I say let’s play so that is why he dropped the ball in my lap? All of those actions got the dog reactions in the past usually in a positive beneficial way to the dog. So now it is time to turn that all around. Keep in mind that dogs do what works for them and if it stops working they usually stop doing it. So when they growl or snap at you when you reach for that bone, it usually works as the human won't take it. I would never suggest to take anything from a growling dog, merely explaining that this works for the dog so therefore they do it. Using the learn to earn program does not really give them a chance to become possessive. Dogs that are well balanced within a group to begin with do not really need any of the above things to change; it is your right to spoil a well rounded dog! It is only homes with dogs in it that have social limitations around other dogs that should need the above direction.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
We do let both dogs on the sofas as we want them to have all home comforts. I forgot to mention that Luna is completely deaf as well so we may have been more lenient with her. However, we are back at the vet tomorrow and will get this issue sorted and will then follow your training advice. Thank you
Expert:  Sally G. replied 2 years ago.
You are welcome and you are not the only ones that allow dogs on the sofa. If you can imagine two or three Newfoundlands squeezing in one couch with one human already on it:) It is perfectly acceptable as long as they are all happy and there is room for the human:) I hope everything turns out well for your Luna:)