View Full Version : Growling - Bradley

15th August 2006, 03:29 PM
I have a bit of a situation with Bradley, that I don't know how to handle.

Bradley, albeit nervous because of his background, is a very strong character :).

After 3 weeks, he's trying to push his boundaries! Last night hubby asked Brad to go in the garden for his last wee before bed and instead Bradley ran upstairs and snuggled up to me on my bed. He wouldn't move, so I got hubby to carry him down to the garden. He did his wee, lots of praise, back to bed - no problem.

What he IS doing though is growling at me when I try to move him after a cuddle. Thought nothing of it at first, but it's happened about 5 times in 2 days. Just now he growled at me, because I removed him from my office chair.

I don't think he's being nasty - I think he's saying "leave me alone, mum - I'm comfy". Problem is, how do I handle it? I don't want to dash his confidence, but I do want to be the boss, not him ;).

I'm also acutely aware that he's used to being treated with force in all likelihood, when he was in the puppy farm.

Any advice welcome.

Cathy T
15th August 2006, 04:02 PM
Jake used to growl at us when we tried to move him off the sofa. I would firmly tell him "ah ah" and continue to move him. Then I would cuddle him once I moved him. He got the message pretty quickly.

15th August 2006, 04:10 PM
Jake used to growl at us when we tried to move him off the sofa. I would firmly tell him "ah ah" and continue to move him. Then I would cuddle him once I moved him. He got the message pretty quickly.

Yeah - at the moment, I'm saying "no growling", then giving him a cuddle after I've moved him too.

15th August 2006, 05:11 PM

I think it would be wise to keep him on ground level for a while, in his own bed and not on your chairs/furniture/bed etc. Lets go back to basics...manners, respect and trust.

Gently move him, re-assure him, praise him...it's not about his confidence levels being crashed it's about teaching him respect, where he sits in the family line up and also his manners.

His confidence will grow faster when he knows his own boundries.

What he can and cannot do are a whole load different then what he is ALLOWED to do!! believe me......crafty little fella!!!

Yes you are pack leader, provider, feeder, keeper etc and he depends on you for all this, I think he is quite unsure still, it is early days. It does seem obvious that he trusts you so thats a start, you are more likely to get a better response with trust rather than fear, but you don't want an over clingy woof here.

What is he like with his food bowl? can you place your hand in and out while he is eating? can you move the dish around without complaint? this can also tell you things, PM me if you like, always here x.

Be firm & be kind, give praise when due, a gentle stroke with a kind word is enough. If you catch him on the chair etc quietly remove him before he growls and place him in his own bed. It's no good letting him do it one day then not another. Keep up what you have started.

As time passes by and he understands where you are...top in the line up...and I'm talking possibly weeks here, you could re-try a quick cuddle on the chair for two mins then back down..you will have to build it up slowly, see what he is like then,
you deceide when he comes up and you deceide when he gets down, see how it goes. Teaching him manners, guide lines and a little respect are hard work. I only let my girls up when I'm sat with them, when I leave they get up as well... if they want a sleep... they have their own beds or the floor....oh what a cruel mum you all yell :lol: not at all...they know their manners!

There is so much to learn ! I PM'd you my number before, it might be worth a longer chat.

Alison, Wilts, U.K.

15th August 2006, 05:40 PM


try and join this small Puppy Farm rescue group, nearly all from M/T, nice small group, many Cavaliers, lots of advice from people with similar problems, please join.... :flwr:

Alison. x

hope this is OK Karlin to put this here for Fran.

15th August 2006, 05:51 PM


try and join this small Puppy Farm rescue group, nearly all from M/T, nice small group, many Cavaliers, lots of advice from people with similar problems, please join.... :flwr:

Alison. x

hope this is OK Karlin to put this here for Fran.

Thanks, Alison - yeah, I joined this group a few weeks ago, on your recommendation.

Lis was asking after you at Wag & Bone, btw - sorry, should've said :)

15th August 2006, 06:22 PM
If he is growling I'd not remove him and then cuddle or hug him! This is potentially giving him a reward for his unwanted behaviour. Remember he connects your behaviour and response to his recent behaviour. Instead I'd be luring him off the couch and rewarding with treats when HE HIMSELF makes the right decison -- to get down without growling at your request. If you just lift him off then reward him he may well accept that while you have moved him somewhere, you are then immediately signalling he is still more important than you.

You neither want to inadvertantly encourage the unwanted behaviour nor to put yourself at risk of this behaviour escalating. There's a link at the end of this post to a lab rescue article that directly addresses the couch situation and that will probably give just the guidance you want. :)

With more than one dog in the house I'd personally be wary of letting others have access to couches etc and barring one dog -- either this goes for all or for none. I know that some trainers believe there's a correlation between allowing dogs to be 'elevated' and use furniture but personally I side with those who think this is nonsense. :) The better behaviour that sometimes comes with barring dogs from particular places (bedrooms, sofas) is due not to refusing to allow a small dog to be at eye level, but that people start to use a 'no free lunch' approach of requiring general polite behaviour from their dog -- which includes requiring a dog to have permission to get on furniture if you allow this. That all helps reinforce wanted behaviour generally. ALL the dogs should be required to show polite behaviour with getting up on furniture.

Are you doing other basic obedience with him to reinforce your leader role in the house? For example to require sits and downs before good things happen (eg being invited on to a lap? getting his meal? A treat?). Do you ask him to sit politely while you go through doors? Working on some basic obedience consistently in everyday activities tends to really help with this kind of thing. The reason he is not growling at your husband and is growling at you is likely down to how your husband and you interact with the dog. I am guessing your husband is probably less inclined to give him lots of attention in ways that are telling him he runs the place. This is a very tricky area -- our inclination with rescues is so often, and so naturally, to make up for all they have gone through before. You really need to remove that notion completely and instead, focus on the dog you have now and the dog you want him to become. If you cater to him, give him special attention, begin to act decisively (eg remove him from the couch for growling) but then show appeasement TO HIM for your behaviour (cuddling him right after, which to the dog, says, I recognise you run things, let me show you that you are really the important one) then he is learning that you are further down the line than your husband (the boss ) and him (number two).

It is really important to give these dogs structure and reward thru the very act of expecting and asking for good behaviour, all encouraged through rewards and praise. But likewise, not to overly indulge or fuss over the dog -- which to the dog, means you are the one acknowledging its new superior position. When rescues come into the house they are generally very cautious and wary as they settle in and look for cues as to where they fit in. If your cues are to give lots of attention to the dog the chance is that the dog assumes this is the way it will always be -- you acknowledging the dog is more important than the other dogs and cats and people in the house thru such behaviour. Hence a lot of trainers suggest giving calm, but slightly indifferent attention to a rescue for the initial weeks, allowing it to find its position and feel comfortable in the home and gradually fit in. And to always start as you mean to contuinue -- don't give the rescue special treatment and privileges (eg a free lunch) then expect compliant good behaviour later on. You need to set kind but firm structure from the start -- and it's never too late to start. :)

I have a lot of links on all aspects of behaviour and rescue dogs here:


Have a look at:


This advice is excellent and I have seen it over and over and over again in rescues:

All rescue dogs go through a "honeymoon period." After the first day or so, the dog may be very quiet and extraordinarily controlled and "good." The "real" dog appears two to four weeks later - after he's mostly figured out the house rules, the schedule of the days, and the characters of his new family. At this time, he'll start testing out his position in the pack, and may "regress" to puppyhood behaviors and "bad" behavior. Be patient with him, firm in your expectations, praise him for appropriate behavior - especially when he is lying quietly and behaving himself. Don't praise for nothing constantly - the dog will learn to tune out your praise over time!

which comes from: http://www.cbrrescue.org/articles/bringhome.htm

The lab rescue link is excellent on a whole range of issues, but you will especially want to read:


15th August 2006, 07:09 PM
Thanks, Karlin.

I could see this problem arising if I'm honest with myself.

I was advised by Many Tears that, because he is ex puppy farm, he must not be left AT ALL for the first fortnight. I stuck to this religiously. Unfortunately, I can work from home and hubby can't, so it was me that was in the house the whole time.

It's become obvious over the past few days that, whilst he enjoys hubby's company, if I'm around, he prefers me. I have been very gentle with him, but not letting him getting away with anything hopefully.

At the moment, he is sitting next to me quietly on the sofa and Cailean is beside him, having a wash :).

I'm going to get him into some obedience classes. I am doing basic obedience with him - recall, sit, etc., but he is lacking in manners, probably because he is unsure of the pecking order.

Bradley and Cailean haven't sorted out their own pecking order yet (at least I don't think they have) and will both back down in deference to each other.

I know I have to nip this "rudeness" in the bud if I want to be in control of my dog, rather than the other way around.

15th August 2006, 08:44 PM

I have always used the 'Bahhhhhhhhhh' technique with my dogs. If ever anyone of them has ever growled at me (neither Maxx nor Charlie has), I've just looked them square in the eye and made a deep growly Bahhhhhhhhhhhh noise.

I had this problem with Holly whilst I was training her. She eventually knew she could get up on the sofa or bed at my invitation only. Tbh, Maxx usually 'asks' if he can go up. He'll stand near the sofa and look at me and the sofa in turn. He gets up when I say so :D

Charlie will jump up and snuggle up but if I want him down i just say 'Charlie down' in a firm voice and he's off there like greased lightning. I know he wasn't a puppy farm rescue but he was probably as traumatised as Holly was when she came here - in fact, i'd go so far as to say that he was worse :(

Good luck, you've got my number if you want a chat :) xxxxx

15th August 2006, 09:33 PM
He's in very early days yet with you, Fran. :) The 'no free lunch' rule is such a good one as it makes it easy to remember to keep them busy and thinking. Jan Fennell spoke here about two years ago and I asked her about rescue dogs. She noted too the 'honeymoon' period of about 2-4 weeks or so, when the dog starts testing boundaries. The good thing is it means Bradley has settled in and feels comfortable enough to be challenging you! Now the next step is to make sure he doesn't get away with it. ;)

15th August 2006, 09:55 PM
Been having fun with Bradley tonight. :)

He did try to climb up my side, when I sat in my armchair with the computer on my lap. I said no, and off he went and lay down.

Mind you, he did it with a Cavalier "oof" and then a big sigh ;)

He's had to sit to allow us to get through the back door first, and sat diligently whilst I placed his dinner bowl at his feet.

I'm pleased he's showing more confidence at home - it's very funny seeing him run up and down the stairs at high speed :).

There's an obedience class held about 3 miles from here. Going to find out about dog training classes for him. He is very bright - I think the clever ones push boundaries further too, as my Misty was the same.

Thanks for everyone's help today.! :)

Cathy Moon
16th August 2006, 02:15 AM
He did try to climb up my side, when I sat in my armchair with the computer on my lap. I said no, and off he went and lay down.

Mind you, he did it with a Cavalier "oof" and then a big sigh ;)

:lol: Aren't we all familiar with this! :lol: