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I have used this technique with many of my clients and it has worked well. Each trainer has a different method, do what works best for your dog. I have never had a dog I have trained think his growl has caused people to leave the room, dogs are social creatures being left alone isn't something they relish. I do agree he needs to be clear I regards to his place in the pack before he gets any older.
What do you do if it doesn't work? Lets say you tell him to down and he just growls louder? Now what?
 

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You continue to leave the room as I stated, dogs learn through repetition. He is testing his boundaries, if you calmly remove yourself from the room without looking back, give him a few minutes and return eventually he will understand that growling gets him no attention, positive or negative. He is attempting to get her to back off, it is a warning. I'm not there to access the dogs body language during this behavior, so it is difficult to be specific.

This is simply how I would handle the situation based on the information given.
 

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You continue to leave the room as I stated, dogs learn through repetition. He is testing his boundaries, if you calmly remove yourself from the room without looking back, give him a few minutes and return eventually he will understand that growling gets him no attention, positive or negative. He is attempting to get her to back off, it is a warning. I'm not there to access the dogs body language during this behavior, so it is difficult to be specific.

This is simply how I would handle the situation based on the information given.
With all due respect Tripp's mom, you're unintentionally making the case for not doing what you advised to do.
 

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I'm not following your argument. It is a method I have used that has been successful. But you are entitled to your opinion and your own approach. I'm not going to debate this issue with you in some one else post.
 

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You continue to leave the room as I stated, dogs learn through repetition. He is testing his boundaries, if you calmly remove yourself from the room without looking back, give him a few minutes and return eventually he will understand that growling gets him no attention, positive or negative. He is attempting to get her to back off, it is a warning. I'm not there to access the dogs body language during this behavior, so it is difficult to be specific.

This is simply how I would handle the situation based on the information given.
I'd never leave a room in my own house because a dog growled at me. That's basically giving him the power to control what I do in my own home.

I will and have put dogs away for growling. If necessary they would be dragging a long line. I'd pick up the end of the line and escort them somewhere else in a non confrontational way. I'm not inclined to pick a fight with a growling dog. If its not a dog who would come for you for it, I'd pick up the end of a 10 ft line and say something like too bad, you blew it, off you go. Escort him somewhere, another room maybe and shut the door and leave him there by himself awhile. I usually use the shame on you mom voice, they get it that I'm not thrilled with them but its not aggressive in a way that makes them want to fight back.
 

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You continue to leave the room as I stated, dogs learn through repetition. He is testing his boundaries, if you calmly remove yourself from the room without looking back, give him a few minutes and return eventually he will understand that growling gets him no attention, positive or negative. He is attempting to get her to back off, it is a warning. I'm not there to access the dogs body language during this behavior, so it is difficult to be specific.

This is simply how I would handle the situation based on the information given.

If the person is making the dog feel uncomfortable. Then dog growls and person leaves, that just worked really well for the dog and he will use it again in the future. So that could backfire spectacularly.

I wonder if the dog is lying in a central location and needs to be moved out of the way of traffic and just left alone?

This story kind of reminds me of that rescue dog that the people put in the closet
 

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As you can see there are many approaches and opinions on how to work through the issue. Each one has it's own pros and cons. My guess is that within the trainer's overall system, by effectively reading what the dog needs, considering the specific circumstances, and most importantly adjusting their approach based on immediate feedback, each works.

It might help to find an in-person trainer to help you work through the issues first hand.
 

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The following is a snippet of a good article from leerburg. I suggest reading the whole article: Leerburg | Dealing with the Dominant Dog

"The fact is very few dogs are truly dominant. We feel the vast majority of the people who email us don't have dominant dogs but rather they have dogs that have never learned rules. For lack of a better description I call them dogs that have never learned "pack structure rules".

With that said a dog without rules bites his owner just as hard and does just as much damage as a dominant dog who bites his owner.

There is a saying in the dog world that there are no equals within a group of dogs. Every social group will have it's own pecking order. Lower ranking members always defer to higher ranking members. If the group doesn't have a clear leader one member will always step forward become the leader even if it's not genetically predisposed to leadership. Whats interesting is that many times a dog that finds itself in at the top of the social group doesn't feel comfortable in that position.

Owners must also learn to be 100% consistent at enforcing those rules. When a dog believes that every single time it breaks a rule there will be some form of consequence that dog is less likely to break a rule. Once that threshold is reached (where the dog accepts and live within the framework of the leaders rules) that dog becomes an easy dog to live with.

For that to happen dog owners and their dogs must come to an understanding that every single time the dog breaks a rule there will be some form of consequences. This doesn't necessarily mean the dog gets a strong physical correction every time. Some dogs, with soft temperaments, may only need a verbal warning while other dogs need a leash correction for the same infraction. Learning to evaluate temperaments falls under the category of "the Art of Dog Training"

Just as important, owners must be consistent, they can't pick and chose when to apply a consequence. If they do this they end up with a dog that will pick and chose when to obey a rule. Inconsistency always leads to some level of behavioral issues. "

If a dog that has not been mistreated by family members but growls at the wife or children it sees itself as a higher rank. Growling is the dogs warning or challenge. It's often accompanied my other subtle body postures that most owners miss . Some people think growling is a bad thing, I don't. Growling is a signal that there is a problem of some kind and I need to find the solution.


Leerburg | Dealing with the Dominant Dog
 

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From what the OP has said about the dog and his behavior, IMHO Steve nailed it! This isn't a dominant dog, or a dog who hasn't been shown boundaries. This is a relationship/respect issue. Both directions!

It would be I'll advised to try to correct this dog's warning directly...a good recipe for a bite.

Instead stop petting and hugging and talking in a high, squeaky voice. Not many dogs like that, and GSDs more so than most breeds.

Learn to read your dog's body language. Growling is his way of escalating what the dog has already been telling you with body language, you're making him uncomfortable, back off.

Show him you respect him by not putting him in that position in the first place! If/when a dog wants to be petted he'll approach you...

GSDs like to be near you, not petted and pestered all the time. I often go days without petting my dog, though she's with me most of the time.

When a situation gets to the point where your own dog is growling at you, I would always suggest finding a good, balanced trainer to help you. You need another set of eyes on the situation. Good luck!
 

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@ Jamesg0418 said:

Ever since the she was at our house he will viscously growl at my wife. Generally when she walks up to him to pet him.

The angry growling generally starts when she is within a couple feet of him and looking at him. It starts with growls, then the hair on his back goes up. If she tries to pet him to calm him down, he will bark/snap at her. If she starts obedience commands he performs all of them hesitantly while still growling.

He is way closer to me, than he is to her, and he never growls at me.

What’s really odd to me is, he can be growling at her one second, and be laying on top of her the next.

he doesn’t run up and growl at her, it’s only when she either approaches him, or calls him over to her, the second she’s within 2-3 feet of him, the growling begins.

If she stands there and plays the dominance stare down with him, the growling doesn’t stop.


I was thinking that but he doesn’t do it when there are strangers in the house. He will do it when it’s just him and my wife, or when it’s the three of us home.

He has growled at me a few times, generally I will snatch the bone from him, give a stern no! And then the next day I’ll go to give him the bone and he won’t even take it from me.

all of his growling is towards people, we have never seen him growl at another dog, even at a dog park when another dog has gotten rather vocal and physical with him. Normally he tucks his tail and runs away.

it’s difficult for me to believe it’s a dominance or fear behavior from him, because when she gives him commands 99% of the time he is like a robot. But with me it takes a few seconds for him to do anything.

Yeah we noticed that if she looks away, while he is growling, he stops. If she doesn’t look at him when walking up to him he doesn’t growl.

with eye contact he stiffens Up, ears go up, and he turns his head away. If you move he acts startled.

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After reading this over again, I think that Steve Strom and tim_s_adams are giving you very good advice.

I am curious, when your wife played "stare down" with him and he kept growling, did she look away?
When I first read it I assumed she looked away. And then you say later that when she approaches him with eye contact he stiffens up, ears go up, but turns his head away ?

Also, when he is growling at her viciously or when being approached, what is the position of his tail ? And his overall body posture - head low or high? Lip licking?
Teeth showing?

How do you correct the dog when he disobeys an obedience command?

I still think that this dog possibly views your wife as below him, but from the information you provided I am leaning to what Steve and Tim said.

Personally, I would still tighten things up a bit and not allow the dog onto her lap or furniture until this straightens out.

Further, no need to mess with his bones or food... leave him alone.
 

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I'd never leave a room in my own house because a dog growled at me. That's basically giving him the power to control what I do in my own home.

I will and have put dogs away for growling. If necessary they would be dragging a long line. I'd pick up the end of the line and escort them somewhere else in a non confrontational way. I'm not inclined to pick a fight with a growling dog. If its not a dog who would come for you for it, I'd pick up the end of a 10 ft line and say something like too bad, you blew it, off you go. Escort him somewhere, another room maybe and shut the door and leave him there by himself awhile. I usually use the shame on you mom voice, they get it that I'm not thrilled with them but its not aggressive in a way that makes them want to fight back.
I also do this or refuse to give ground.

I'll just stand there and ignore him, unmoving, not looking at him. Or if it's a "gimme my food NOW" situation, I'll still stand there but look calmly at the dog until he quiets and relaxes his posture (sits back on his butt). I just won't give ground. Giving ground means he succeeded in his task. Not giving ground (stepping backward), but removing my arms, head, legs from his immediate physical space does not send the message that he succeeded in making me go away. It does, however, send the message that I received his warning and will cease my intrusive activity. "Okay, I hear you. We can try this exercise again when you calm yourself. But we're not done."

Depending on the situation, I may walk away when he relaxes, quiets, and submits in some way. Or if I simply HAVE to complete a task, I'll continue my task but more slowly and gently.
 
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