Advice on growling while being touched during ball/ tug play - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 03-21-2014, 09:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Advice on growling while being touched during ball/ tug play

So, my dog ( Skadi) growls when you pet her while she is busy playing ball or tug. I want to change this. Is there any advice on this forum ( positive reinforcement only, I do not wish to correct this behavior with a prong, though I do not judge others for doing so) that anyone has to offer?
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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What is the quality of the growl? Is it a serious "back the heck off or I will bite" or is it a playful growl. Yes there is a difference.

My Labrador sounds VICIOUS when she is on a tug or chewing a bone. But she is relaxed and happy. Just a talker. I don't correct it. It's just her.

If your girl is tensing up, preparing for a fight in regards to the toy, it needs to be corrected. I would not recommend a prong. I would teach her that good things happen when you pet her and she has a toy. So, to start I would not be touching her or the toy, I would just approach, say "goog girl" and offer something yummy. Once she is expecting something good as you approach, then lightly pet her,once , and then offer the treat. Slowly build this up so that she associates you with only good, no matter what she has. I would not, for a long time, invade her space, try to take the toy, anything like that. In fact I never do that. Unless she is chewing on something bad. You just want her to feel that your presence is always bringing good things.


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Old 03-21-2014, 10:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It's not a play growl... We have gotten her to the point where she does not growl over her ball in the house anymore, and she will give it up, but if you are playing with her and she has a ball or tug in her mouth, she growls. It immediately stops when you stop touching her.
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Does she continue to play? Is she growling as you tug with her? Or just when you try to grab the toy? Does she try to get away with her toy? Or present it to you to keep playing? Many dogs growl when tugging. Sorry. Just trying to figure out why she is growling.


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Old 03-21-2014, 10:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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We have only worked positively with her and our other dog... No prongs :-) This issue seems to stem from her issues with being touched. Through working with touching for treats she has gotten much better, but it seems to be that when she is in "drive" and working on obedience she does not want to be touched and will let us know with a warning growl.
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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No, questions will help me get to the bottom of this! She seems to be saying that she is enjoying playing and would prefer not to be touched at that time. She also came with some posession aggression particularly surrounding her ball. We have been doing resource guarding and touch sensitivity protocols as laid out by a positive behaviorist. She will continue playing until she is completely exhausted if we let her.. And she will give up the toy 80-95% of the time. After, of course, months of work with her on this.
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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She will present the toy, want to keep playing, but if you touch her during play, she growls.
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Growl doesn't automatically mean aggressive. Dogs will growl while playing if they are stressed or amped up. I had a dog that growled when I put too much stress on him aka rubbing my hands over his face. He didn't have the best nerves but the growl during play never turned into aggression.
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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So she is telling you she does not want to be touched while in drive. Ok. Why do you need to touch her? Not trying to smart alecy, just trying to understand the situation.

Have you tried using an exchange for the toy, instead of asking for her to give over just one toy? Do a two hose game? So that she always gets something for releasing?

Maybe start working on asking HER to touch YOU during sessions. Teach the "touch", a basic agility thing. You put out a hand and she touches her nose to it. Do that out of drive, then work it into a play session. Throw a toy, she brings it back, present the other toy, but also ask her to "touch" your free hand, once she does, throw the second toy. Making the contact by her, be done on her terms. Let her be in control of contact.

If her nerves are shaky, the physical touch may be pushing her over the edge. Many times the need to touch and hug and love on our dogs, is for our own needs, not theirs.


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Old 03-21-2014, 10:50 PM   #10 (permalink)
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My non-GSD shelter pup came with major resource guarding issues. I practiced Mind Games with him. Mind Games (version 1.0) by M. Shirley Chong It worked wonders in his behavior. There was a lot hand feeding and working for each handful. It was always about giving, never taking away. We always traded for something better.

My foster GSD boy resource guarded his toys. He did not like the toy taken from his mouth. If we played ball in the yard, I used two balls. He would drop the first, when I threw the second. We worked on drop it and leave it. Over time, both dogs learned that no one was going to take their stuff.
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