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Old 04-22-2008, 05:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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puppy growling when i lay on him

hi all. i just got a 5 month old blue doberman who is just about perfect in every way. really even keel, mild manners, pays well attention to commands (for his age anyway) and isnt too rambunctuous. he is very affectionate and likes to cuddle on my bed, lays on me and sometimes cosies up and sleeps on me. however, we have a slight issue that if i get on him and put my face on his (if he's laying down) he'll start to growl. i can be over him in a dominating way and hold him down or anything else, but if i lay over him like in a spoons like of way and put my face on his neck and head the growling starts.

i've gotten to where a loud voice and telling him "NO" when it starts makes him stop. i think it's a feeling of confinement he hates, but also it seems to be a dominance thing. my worries are it's just a cuddling position that most people would cuddle a dog, and the other night at my brother's (who had several people over and several dogs) Doug (my doberman) was REALLY aggressive in this way when i put my face near his. i dont think he'd bite but he made me think he was sure capable of it.

so. do i just break it the hard way or is there a deeper issue at play here?

thanks.
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Old 04-22-2008, 05:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
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are you sure it didnt hurt him?
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Old 04-22-2008, 05:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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If you just got him... give him time to form a bond with you first, before forcing yourself into his space. His growling may not be a dominance thing at all, just a "hey, you're a little too close to my head for my own comfort right now" kind of thing. Growling at you isn't acceptable, but neither is laying on top of him and smothering him with affection if he's not quite ready for it.
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Old 04-22-2008, 05:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I agree with saesms. Did you put alot of pressure on him, or did someone at one point and he is warning you?
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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very much VERY much NO on it being too much pressure or hurting him. rest assured being hurt is not an issue. now, perhaps he was hurt this way in the past and is afraid of it, but he doesnt wrestle to get away, he just lays there and growls.

i believe it's something else, it really doesnt even have much to do with being in his space. i can do the same things with my hands and it's not as much as an issue. i can stand over him and hold him down and that's fine. he will cuddle up to me and sleep on me, on my arms or whatever. he likes to crawl in my lap even tho he's 5 months and kind of huge for it. it's really when i put my face on his when he's laying flat, that's the only time. i can kiss him or anything else any other time.

i showed my brother and his wife who have had many dogs and are into all the dog shows and researching behavior and what not. they have never seen anything like it.

he goes in the kennel w/o issues and only whines about the confinement there.
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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perhaps he was hurt this way once, i do not know. he was rescued from a shelter and i got him from the foster home (rescue agent). she has not meantioned this behavior to me. he was less prone to do it to my brother than to me but still did to both.

again, he 's perfectly calm and docile and friendly and pretty submissive to almost everyone he meets. this is the only issue. he rolls over and shows his belly to new friends and other dogs and if i get onto him he will do the same submissive moves.

and, again, he loves sleeping in bed and licks my face and lays on me, and i hug him and it's fine. it's just a combo of me hugging him and getting my face on his that makes him start to growl.
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:17 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Growling is a warning. When a dog is told no for growling, they may learn to skip the growl and just go for the bite. Just something to be aware of.
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:21 PM   #8 (permalink)
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ok. so then i just let him growl when people try to hug him?

i rewarded him last night for growling at some strangers milling about outside the fence.
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:25 PM   #9 (permalink)
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You titled this thread "puppy growling when I lay on him" - I'm going to bet he's just not comfortable with you laying on him!! (Yet.. or maybe forever).


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Originally Posted by dontbesojumpy View Post
he will cuddle up to me and sleep on me, on my arms or whatever. he likes to crawl in my lap even tho he's 5 months and kind of huge for it.
The difference here, is that he's coming to you and cuddling up to you. You're not approaching him, laying on him, and getting in his face.

I would give him time, and respect his space. He may already have some trust issues if he came from a shelter/rescue, so please respect this by not laying on him if he doesn't like that.
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dontbesojumpy View Post
ok. so then i just let him growl when people try to hug him?

i rewarded him last night for growling at some strangers milling about outside the fence.


Don't let people hug him... some dogs just don't like that. It's disheartening but that's something you may have to just accept.
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:31 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Imagine standing in a line at a packed grocery store. The guy behind you is really close - invading your personal space. You don't say anything because you realize the place is crowded and the guy has no other choice but to scooch up in line. NOW imagine that same guy coming into your living room and standing nose to nose with you as you try to converse - You'd be very uncomfortable, right? You'd probably tell him to back up, right?
Could be the same with the puppy. He doesn't like your face in his - that's cool and you can work to get him to accept people in his face but you and others should respect that it's not something he's overly fond of...
just my 2 cents..
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:33 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I was told when I got my guy that Dobes, GSD's, rottie's etc take that as a sign of aggression (Face near face). I know my guy took a while before he accepted that type of contact. I would venture to say, as others have posted, your dog needs to settle in and bond with you before he is comfortable with having your face so close to his.
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:48 PM   #13 (permalink)
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One of the dog to dog dominance acts is placing the head on the back of the other dogs neck, at the withers. Your dog may have had a bad experience with this or is an alpha personality - or both.

My last dog Tori, was an alpha. When I brought her home at 8 wks, she had the same issue with this kind of thing but was extremely affectionate otherwise. There were other touchy things that she would growl at that eventually subsided. I did what others are saying and took my time with her. Within a few weeks or so, I was able to kiss her cheek and hold her the way I have always held my dogs. Within a year, she would come up to me in the morning, turn her head to the side and put her cheek close to my lips so I would kiss her - and she did it the rest of her life.

Your pup seems just fine and might turn out to be an alpha personality. Sounds like you are working well with him, just take your time.
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:52 PM   #14 (permalink)
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if he isnt comfortable with strangers hugging him, dont let them.

hugging, in a dog body language is a sign of a challenge to them and isnt comfortable. many of our k9 friends have become accostomed to it and tolerate it, some, like my boy, even like it- but only from me and my family.

In canine language this is a challenge so just dont let strangers do it to him.
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:18 PM   #15 (permalink)
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if you don't know the dog that well yet (rescued), and the dog doesn't know you that well yet, then don't cuddle - yet. To the dog, it may seem that he is setting the terms - telling you when to cuddle him, when to pet him - he snaps, you jump. If that pecking order is locked in, then you may have issues later.
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Old 04-23-2008, 06:24 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I think you have an alpha boy there, and probably once he settles in and realizes that you are the alpha he will be OK with it, BUT, I would not keep pushing the issue on him so soon, and definitely not allow others to do it either.
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Old 04-23-2008, 06:39 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I totally agree with Carolann, I also think this is an Alpha pup. I would get the dog off your bed, this little guy needs to know thats your bed not his. If you let him think he's the boss this pup might just take over the house:biggrin55: A little TLC, training and not allowing him to behave like that and you will be fine. Take some time to get to know the pup before you test his limits. Good luck.
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Old 04-23-2008, 06:59 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I agree with rauschund....don't push the issue. Get to work training him, playing with him....get him off your bed to sleep at night. It just sounds like he needs to bond for a longer period of time if he is a recent rescue. He has had a lot of changes in his life recently.

A LOT of Dobermans are not living cuddle toys. Some may love snuggling, and some may not. I have only owned one Dobe who liked to be hugged in ANY WAY from immediate family members. The others would brace and tolerate it, but did not enjoy it. They are all individuals.

Strangers should NOT be hugging on your dog, Dobie or not. Remember a Dobe is not a Beagle or Golden. Secondly, if you praise your dog for growling at a stranger one day, then expect him to tolerate a hug the following day...mixed messages. Dogs do not generalize well.
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:20 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I wouldn't worry about this yet. Work on the basics first, sitting before recieving food, sitting before going out the door, sitting before being pet. He's still young and hasn't figured out his place, i would be willing to bet he will out grow this issue.

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Old 04-23-2008, 09:37 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I got Lexx at 8 weeks and for some unknown reason he HATED having his head patted. He wouldn't growl but he would shy away and act all upset if you so much as tried to pat his head ( yet doing his ears was perfectly ok....)

I have no idea what it was about, but in time he just grew out of it and now I can pat his head all i like when I'm sitting with him.

Some dogs just DON"T like some things. don't push it, its not like lying like that is REQUIREMENT for having a dog. Just give him time.
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Old 09-06-2009, 09:53 PM   #21 (permalink)
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for the record, (this is such an old post) doug has given up growling. it was simply a matter of teaching him that i'm his master and that's not how we act. he felt stiffled and smothered and started to growl as a natural mechanism of feeling confined.

i try not to do that but if i do, he will not growl, just try to scramble away. he's more incline to wimper or cry than growl if i confine him.

at this point, he's learned that whatever i'm trying to do is for a reason and submits. for instance, he was attacked by some creature (we presume a pit bull or raccoon?) and had to be taken to the vet for wound inspections. i had to hold him immobile while the vet shaved the wounds--which he hated. but rather than become aggressive, growl or demonstrate any other dominance behaviours, he submitted, cried, but let us do our work.

he's a great dog. i was just nervous about him at first...now i know he's very gentle and wouldnt hurt me. well, not on purpose.
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Old 09-06-2009, 09:59 PM   #22 (permalink)
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What you are doing is dog language for "let's fight". It's called T' ing off and it is the exact position a dog who is challenging another to fight takes. You are putting him in a defensive position with no option of flight. No wonder he is growling here.
It's not necessary for any training or for "establishing your dominance" over him and is very likely causing him a great deal of stress. I would just not do it, period.
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Old 09-07-2009, 03:02 AM   #23 (permalink)
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You're the same one with the thread about training a "junk yard" dog (like from beethoven!)...So, you want to create a dog that is ferocious and trained to bark at strangers passing by the empty lot you shove him in everyday...But you are also forbidden from doing any guard or protection training or work with this guy through a contract you SIGNED when you rescued him?

You can't treat a Dobermann like just any other dog. They belong with their family as part of the family. You need to raise them with a fair hand, which this "dominating" business is not fair, and it will not lead to your dog respecting you. A submissive dog (in the manner you are using "submissive") has the potential to snap at any moment. Stress can lead to fear, fear can lead to a certain type of aggression that in this breed is possibly one of the highest causes of negative press.

Perhaps the reason your dog wont bark at people, vagrants wandering by your lot..is because you've made him afraid of "challenging" people through this ridiculous "dominance" exercise. You've desensitized him. Just speculation, as we cannot truly know what any animal is actually thinking.

If I were you, I wouldn't come back here and challenge Incredibledobes on her post. Too many newbies don't realize just who she is and what she does and end up looking foolish because of it. As she said, you've taken his Fight instict from him, so all he has left is Flight. This is why he scrambles away from you, in fear, most likely.
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Old 09-07-2009, 03:12 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I just have to laugh because if someone weighing several more pounds than me laid on me, you bet I'd growl too.
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Old 09-07-2009, 05:34 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Incredibledobe View Post
What you are doing is dog language for "let's fight". It's called T' ing off and it is the exact position a dog who is challenging another to fight takes. You are putting him in a defensive position with no option of flight. No wonder he is growling here.
It's not necessary for any training or for "establishing your dominance" over him and is very likely causing him a great deal of stress. I would just not do it, period.
no, i'm not. i was hugging my dog, but it upset him. slowly, over the last two years, he's grown to trust me and all of the problems went away. now he knows i dont want to hurt him and he's just as affectionate as i am to him.
he often puts himself in the same position on his own. he likes to cuddle.
so unless he willingly puts himself physically in a stressful situation, you're off base.
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