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Old 02-09-2014, 04:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Our rescue GSD sometimes growls at our teenage son

We adopted a black GSD about 5 months ago - the vet estimates him to be 1 1/2 to 2 years old. He was found wandering around the dog pound and was very skinny - probably out there for a long time. We visited with him several times and observed him working with a K9 trainer that had been hired by the pound for evaluation because they thought that he had had K9 training and wanted to determine if it was agression training. My husband, i and our son all fell in love with him and decided that we really wanted him. He has been proven to be a great loving and fun dog. However he recently began growling at our son at night when he is tired and has "put himself to bed". He likes to sleep in our bedroom next to the bathroom door and when our son comes in the bathroom to get ready for bed he growls through the closed door. He has also growled at him when asleep in the living room at night when my son came down the stairs - bouncing as a young active teenager will do - but not even coming that near to the dog.
We loudly told him no and told him to go to sleep in his crate which is in a differnent room. He walked away and everything was fine.
We have read a lot about growling and how it can escalate to biting and are worried and not sure how to remedy this. The dog and our teenage son have been buddies and will play out in the yard for hours so we don't understand this sudden growling behaviour. Please respond with any insight or advice.
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Old 02-09-2014, 05:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I would contact a trainer that can evaluate the dog in person and help you set yo a training program that can combat the problem. A professional can be a huge help in pointing out what may be the trigger and effective methods tailored to you and the dog

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Old 02-09-2014, 05:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I agree. A good trainer will help you figure out why the dog is growling.

Personally, I would not be correcting the growl. The growl is communication. If you tell the dog is not allowed to growl then you give it no choice but to react. Many may disagree with this advice.

I would also be crating him at night. Because we don't know the root if the issue, he should not be allowed in your bedroom. Or on the bed or furniture. Your son should take an active role in his training as well. Teenagers are big, gangly, hyper, their voices are weird, their hormones are raging, they can be quiet unsettling to a dog.

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Old 02-09-2014, 07:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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If this is only happening in one place, in one circumstance, you may be dealing with a resource guarding issue. Is it possible he is guarding the bedroom? This article deals mostly with food guarding but you can use the same techniques for possessiveness over space: Resource Guarding | Ahimsa Dog Blog

I agree if it is not getting better you should find a trainer ASAP.

FWIW, my rescue went through a phase where she would snap and bark at me at the bedroom door. I knew it was just bratty frustration because she wanted to come in the bedroom, so I just sent her to her bed with a cookie pre-emptively and ignored her once I shut the door. She is fine now. Getting into an "argument" with your dog by telling them off will probably escalate things. Crating the dog at night is a good solution.
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Old 02-09-2014, 07:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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ramp up the NILIF!
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