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Forager
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Discussion Starter #1
Behavioral Issue: Growling.
Dimity is a 6-month old red female. In every instance, but one, she is a complete joy: she is loving, dog-and-human friendly, and positively animated.
She has, however, been through a lot in her young life: a partial toe amputation (now recovered) and treatments for coccidia, worms, and a urinary tract infection--all resolved.
Her one remaining health issue, a yeast infection in both ears, is being treated 2 X's a day with Flush and a follow up ointment. During our application of the medicine--we've been doing this for a couple of weeks and have used all the distractions--she has started growling, her head shaking with intensity, her teeth bared. When we test the ears for pain by rubbing the area (without the medicine in hand), she does not appear uncomfortable at all.
The only other instances of growling occurred 2 months ago: when I tried to remove some paper from her mouth and when I tried to move her out from underneath my desk.
She is not protective of her food bowl--no growling whatsoever when we move it, add food to it, or remove excess food from it.
We love the dog. These few instances of growling aside--the most recent being the most intense--we would describe the dog as gentle and loving.
Does anyone have any ideas about how to address the growling?
 

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Good idea Trac, take what has been a bad experience and turn it into a good one. Even now that her toes are healed, still pick up her feet and reward and coddle her the entire time she doesn't growl. Same with her ears. Make a point to touch and play with them outside of medicine time, and reward all positive behavior.
 

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I don't think it has anything to do with her past illness. It seems to me you are all centering on her past health. Read between look at what else he said. She wants it her way and is letting you know. ie the paper under the table. She is challenging you. Pin her down and do not let her up untill she gives in to being held down and letting you know she is giving in to your being the boss and let her know you are the alpha. It is not cruel it is not hurting her. Ask anyone who has been training or working with dobes. They are intelligent and if it works once to keep you or your family at bay she will continue to do it. These incidents will only increase as she gets older and the hormones kick in. Remember you are the boss. Or just try saying firmly knock it off, or enough.
 

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Forager
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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks to all for your replies.

In my initial posting,I offered her past illnesses as background, nothing more. The dog has been through a lot. That was the message I was trying to get across--nothing else. It was certainly not meant as an excuse for her behavior.

We have been responsible owners, taking care not to enable any aggressive behavior. Prior to purchasing Dimity, we had researched the ins-and-outs of the dominance-submission-alpha dog phenomenon extensively. We don't let her get away with "alpha" issues, certainly not during the paper and desk incidents, or her other less dramatic attempts to assume the lead role.
The growling I referred to in my posting was no mild gesture. She meant business. Dimity is a hard case: The veterinarian and his assistant required numerous attempts over 5 minutes to get one drop in one ear

We have used--still use--peanut butter in a Kong to distract her when we give her the medication. We have also spent a lot of time massaging and stroking her ears when we are not administering the medication. She does not object to the massage. We have read about this issue--growling--online until our eyes twirl in their sockets from overuse. The issue, for us, is the anomalous growling--what it means, what can be done about it.

However, we may have found the source of the problem: while she is not defensive about her regular food, or most treats, she may be defensive about this chewy hide that we gave her as a distraction. Tonight she growled at my wife who tried to administer the drops, while I held her. We used the hide as a distraction. The hide was used on the first incident, also.

I removed the hide from the room, waited 10 minutes, and we were able to adminster the drops, with considerable squirming on her part (but no growling).

I've had misgivings about giving the hide to her under any circumstances. I suspect that it is not good for dogs--at least some of my reading indicates that. So the remainder of the hide sticks go out with the trash in the morning.

Again, thanks for the comments.
 

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Excellent news Forager!!
It sounds like you've done your homework and are doing a great job with Dimity. Although, Waiting suggested "alpha rolling" her, I would strongly suggest otherwise. First off, it's not safe, many people who knew what they were doing have gotten seriously bit through this practice. Second, there are many other less aggressive ways to establish dominance. Do you enforce Nothing In Life is Free, or NILIF? In case you don't already, here is a link: http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm
I guess I always kind of enforced this without really knowing what I was doing but have really stepped it up with both my dogs. Their attitudes are so much better and much more relaxed since I got my family on board and we've really practiced this, they both know that I/we are in charge and have everything in control, so there is nothing for them to really worry about.

The paper incident is worrisome, but I think NILIF will certainly help as well as teaching her "out" or "leave it". I had a real problem with Chi stealing stuff and then not wanting to give it back. She never growled but would run through the house just out of my reach. I finally stopped chasing her and would ignore her, as soon as she dropped the coveted item, I would treat her (actually would use the clicker, so I would click and then treat). Over several incidents in as many days I got to where I could anticipate her dropping the object. As soon as I knew she was ready to drop it, I would tell her to drop it and then she'd get the c/t.
Now she only gets the click/treat if I tell her to pick something up and then to drop it. I realized that at first I had inadvertantly taught her to steal stuff for a reward. Oh the mistakes me make :)
If Dimity's ear aggression resurfaces, check out this yahoo group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/agbeh/
It is a very moderated forum of pet owners, professional trainers and behavorists that train only with positive methods and deal specfically with aggressive behaviors. They really helped me a lot when I was dealing with Chi's aggression.
Good luck and keep us updated :) I hope this ear infection is resolved soon... Poor kid has had enough to deal with in her life..
 

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Good to hear Forager you found why she wasn't fussy on getting her ears done, that site is awesome that Tracy Jo mentioned. Good luck on what ever choice you make for your dog.
 
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