View Full Version : growling

14th January 2007, 11:00 AM
Hi, :D we have a 3 year old cavalier named Oliver He is the family baby! For the last 3 years he has been fantastic, he will shower anyone and everyone he meets with love and a waggy tail, he has never been aggressive not even towards other dogs its just not his nature.
However in the last few months he has started to growl.
Initially it was when he was asked to get down from say the bed or the sofa, but then more recently he growled at a relative, all she did was stroke him, yes he was lying on the sofa at the time but she didn't do anything she was just saying hello. When he was told off for this he growled even more. So for the last few weeks he hasn't been allowed on the sofa or the bed, but it seems so cruel.
Even though we had Oliver at 9 weeks old, he had already been castrated, at the time we were told by the breeder (who is recognised by the kennel club and classed as a good breeder) that the reason he was castrated was to try and eliminate risk of bad breeding by in experienced breeders and to keep things like heart lines clear in the breeding process. As we were never going to breed we didn't mind this we just wanted a nice family pet.
Now a lot of people are saying his new temper could be down to his testosterone levels being incorrect as they never had the chance to mature? What does everyone think about this and is there anything more we can do, we all absolutely adore him and would hate for him to snap at anyone and hurt them.
My parents have just had a baby tricolour and since my dad looks after Oliver in the day for a couple of days a week whilst I go to work so he is not home alone, he has spent quiet a lot of time with her. They get along really really well, but with his nature at the moment being so unpredictable we feel the need to watch them for every second just in case he turns.

molly+charlies mum
14th January 2007, 01:07 PM
hello and welcome to you and oliver,my cav charlie is 2 and is a growler he will growl at certain dogs and small children so i have to keep him away from those situations he has been like that since he was one he is brilliant in the home so very loveing i havent had him done and i dont know if i will have him done i will see how he goes,enjoy your time on here :D

14th January 2007, 09:12 PM
Hi, I don´t think, your Oliver growls because of his castrating. But he mentally growed up in his 3 years and he is trying to be a boss in your family. His unwillingness to leave his favorite place when he lies is the first step. Our dog tried it as well. But cavalier has so nice nature, that it is easy to make him to be kind again:-) Now you only should show him, that you are the boss and there is no advantage, if he would be agressive. But if he doesn´t, he will get all benefits from you.

15th January 2007, 04:35 AM
I could be completely wrong but I would think this is possibly a bit of resource gaurding with his favourite comfy spot being the resource ?
I'm no expert but I would look into this and see if it fits the symptoms.
I have posted a link which hopefully works with some info.


15th January 2007, 11:45 AM
He would NOT be growling because of being neutered! Often neutering is done to *address* problems like this because testosterone tends to fuel unwanted behaviour in some dogs and make them a bit more difficult for some to manage (not always -- but neutering doesn;t cause aggressive behavious).

Your breeder was very responsible in insisting he be castrated for exactly the reasons she mentions. Unfortunately a lot of people are not as reliable in their intentions as you, and try to 'recover' the price of their dog by breeding inapprpriately, or to give puppies to friends, and so on -- which is a key reason why half this breed will have a heart murmur by age 5. So knowing what you are doing, knowing genetic lines, knowing pedigrees, is very important when breeding, to keep dogs as heart clear as possible. To neuter at 9 weeks is kind of extreme though -- that would be very unusual. Hwoever it would not be affecting his behaviour.

The issue you are talking about indeed sounds like resource guarding and I'd really advise getting a good trainer in to help with this. You NEVER want to scold a dog for growling as a growl is a dog's polite way of letting you know it may do something stronger if the unwanted action (as it sees it) continues. If you punish a dog for growling it learns not to give warnings. It may go directly to biting and this is far more difficult then to deal with and the dog becomes dangerous.

Guarding a favoured spot like a sofa or armchair is a common manifestation of resource guarding so what you are seeing isn't unusual but it is very important to address this.

The first question would be whether you have ever done a good obedience class with your cavalier? A cavalier that works well and recognises its trainer and knows the self control and confidence of having done obedience is far less likely to ever have problems like resource guarding in the first place. So I would find a good, rewards based class (no punishment, no choke chains) to begin with.

Then, I would look for a rewards based trainer to come give you advice on how to work on resource guarding as the whole family needs to be involved with this. I'd look for an APDT trainer if there is one based in your area, or ask your vets if they know a good behaviouralist/trainer who does rewards-based, positive training approaches (punishment based approaches are IMHO terrible for any dog, but especially bad for a cavalier).


This is really important to address professionally because it can escalate into a quite serious problem.

Also see:


16th January 2007, 03:34 PM
Thanks for all the comments, :D its nice to know others feel the same about their dogs.
In reply to Karlin what you have said seems very useful. We did take oly to puppy training classes, in which he did quite well, he sits, comes back straight away when called when out in fields, stays on demand etc etc and is generally very well behaved, the only thing we never mastered was walking to heel he is just so enthused when out, he loves it.
He is such a lovely lovely dog and this out of character behavior just isn't him.
He is responding to not going on the sofa etc really well, he doesn't try that often now and when he is told to come down he looks as if he is almost waiting to be told and does so with know hesitation.
For the last few weeks there have been no issues.
Since Sukie (my parents tri) has been around he seems to have re-gained his puppiness. :)
Do you think we should carry on being strict with him when it comes to being the boss or maybe look into the professional side of things.

16th January 2007, 04:21 PM
I ditto Karlin's advice about not punishing the growl. It is a sign of other issues, but its a safe sign! If the growl is punished, the dog could progress to other--less safe!--signs.

Asserting yourself over the sofa and the bed, making sure that you control the resource, is a great step. Is everyone in the family working on this? If not, I suggest it become a family project. If just one person (you) let the dog know that you control the resource, the dog may still behave possessively with other people.

I would personally wait before seeing a private behaviorist to see if the changes are working, but this is just a personal choice. Others might make a different choice.

Good job with getting on top of the issue!