3 year old dog just started growling at us - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 02-28-2014, 03:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
forrestLyman
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Default 3 year old dog just started growling at us

We have a 3 year old german shepherd (our second) who we trained intensively as a puppy for search and rescue, which was the most important thing in his life. Last year we moved out of the country, and were forced to stop his SAR training.

He is an exceptionally sweet but sensitive shepherd, and we have used nothing but positive training methods. He still shows some signs of confidence issues, including some submissive urination.

We just went on a 10 day vacation, leaving him at our home with a friend who he knows well. When we got back he was very protective and growled at us. Since then he has growled at me and my wife several times. It is a submissive, fear growl where he cowers with his ears back, looking up at us like we are going to punish him. This is hard for us to deal with because he is normally his normal fun loving self and then starts this out of the blue.

He was sick the week before we left, and we are spending some time with our vet to rule out a medical issue, but I feel like its a personality issue. He loved his SAR training, and would come back glowing with confidence and pride. He still gets tons of exercise, but I don't think playing can fill that void in his life.

If anyone has had a similar experience please share.
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Old 02-28-2014, 08:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I would try growling back

ONLY KIDDING.

Even though he gets tons of exercise, he has NO job. They need a job. Maybe work on some tracking, since you live in the country now. You have plenty of land, start working him.

As for the growling. I'm not the best one to answer this, I've never had one of my dogs growl at me. From the sounds of it, you know exactly whats going on. He's afraid your going to punish him. Maybe coax him out of this state of mind. "Its okay boy, come here." Show a open palm up hand. (Be careful not to approach him, let him come to you).

I'm a huge fan of exercise. If my dogs don't pass out by the end of the night, I didn't give them enough exercise, whether its mentally or physically.
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Old 02-28-2014, 08:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Just a thought..you left him for 10 days and it stressed him out. I had a dog I boarded once and he growled at me when I went to get him and it took a little bit for him to get back to normal, I have never left my dogs behind again. You need to spend time with him, reassure him, and build up the confidence. He probably felt confused and abandoned when you left him. He wasn't with the family he loves, I don't care if he knows the friend, it's not his family.
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Old 02-28-2014, 08:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Why would he be afraid of punishment if all you use is positive reinforcement?
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Old 02-28-2014, 08:39 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I would be asking questions of what happened while he was staying with the friend. Then compare it to what was occurring at the time he growled at you.
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Old 02-28-2014, 08:55 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Yeah probably a good way to go
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:16 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twyla View Post
I would be asking questions of what happened while he was staying with the friend. Then compare it to what was occurring at the time he growled at you.
This would seem to be the logical place to go. Maybe the friend used other than positive and your dog is confused, and not sure how to act now.
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:42 AM   #8 (permalink)
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My first thought when reading the title was that he is sick and you should see the vet. If he never growled prior to your trip, I would agree to question the caretaker.

I'm not insinuating the caretaker did anything wrong but maybe something happened.

We had a husky that acted this way, no growling but acted like she had been abused. She was a sensitive dog and we trained appropriately. Never laid a hand on the dog but you sure couldn't tell it by looking at her when she got nervous.
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Old 02-28-2014, 10:33 AM   #9 (permalink)
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When things go wrong, look to the last thing that changed.
That caretaker will probably never confess what he did, but I would look to him for the answer.
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Old 03-03-2014, 11:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nikon22shooter View Post
I would try growling back

ONLY KIDDING.

Even though he gets tons of exercise, he has NO job. They need a job. Maybe work on some tracking, since you live in the country now. You have plenty of land, start working him.

As for the growling. I'm not the best one to answer this, I've never had one of my dogs growl at me. From the sounds of it, you know exactly whats going on. He's afraid your going to punish him. Maybe coax him out of this state of mind. "Its okay boy, come here." Show a open palm up hand. (Be careful not to approach him, let him come to you).

I'm a huge fan of exercise. If my dogs don't pass out by the end of the night, I didn't give them enough exercise, whether its mentally or physically.

This! I had exactly the same problem. Mine always came to work with me but for 2 weeks, I wasn't able to bring him.
When I came home from work, he would be looking out the window for me and greet me at the door then BAM! a total abrupt instantaneous personality change. He would growl and run away and hide from me. It would take a half hour to an hour before he'd come up to me.

I took him to my vet who basically said the same thing as Nikon.....he has no job. His job was to go to work with you. Of course, I thought the vet was nuts. I mean, the dog sleeps under my desk, hardly what I'd call a job.

Long story short. That was exactly the problem. Now I know that if I don't bring him to work, I get the low growl and cold shoulder when I get home. I just ignore him and eventually he comes around.

You're might take a little longer. Don't force the issue. I tried that and that just made it worse but I did employ NILIF for food and outside. Yours will come around eventually.
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