View Full Version : growling when being picked up

Super Princess
13th January 2013, 08:37 PM
Maggie has been growling at everyone when getting picked up.
Taking her out for pee breaks during the night for me..or when grandpa has her during the day.
she growls if your next to her on the couch and move her over or pick her up.

it needs to stop
any suggestion on how?

Super Princess
13th January 2013, 08:49 PM
http://www.wikihow.com/Get-a-Puppy-to-Stop-Growling-when-You-Pick-Them-Up i found this article.
but dose anyone else have experiance with this?

13th January 2013, 10:01 PM
Hmmm -- not a good sign and there could be any one of several causes. Disregard the article -- which is just stuff churned out by a content farm, not an expert article -- it is mostly pretty silly.

I would guess all of this is basic guarding behaviour and should be addressed right away. But there are two other things I'd want to consider:

The first thing is: how are you picking her up? A dog should never be picked up by its front 'arms', like a child or say, a cat (a far more flexible animal! :)). To pick her up, she should be gently but firmly held with both hands, with support under her chest and under her hindquarters so she does not dangle. It can be very painful to pick up a dog by its from legs and could dislocate a shoulder. So this could be the cause?

The second thing, if she is being picked up correctly, is to check with your vet that she isn't otherwise painful on her body (ie that there isn't pain causing her to growl when being picked up).

Given that she growls when being picked up (and unlike that article's claim, that is not 'normal' for most puppies) and also growls on the couch -- this is at least in part, almost certainly guarding behaviour and should be worked on immediately. :thmbsup: On the one hand, you need to work on gently handling her body so this is comfortable and normal for her. Then you also need to address the guarding (the couch behaviour).

Ian Dunbar addresses both of these in After You Get Your Puppy. :D Have you downloaded it and if so, did you have a look for the sections that talk about these things? That's where I would start. At this time you should also be working every day on preventing food and object guarding, following his suggestions.

Be sure to take daily time to work on these issues as guarding often keeps accelerating if ignored, or dealt with by punishment (which generally reinforces and worsens the behaviour) and can actually become a very dangerous behaviour (at extremes dogs will bite without warning and cannot be approached when guarding objects). But those are extremes and you have lots of time to work on this. :)

Many dogs start this behaviour as puppies and that is why Ian Dunbar stresses so strongly the steps to take to avoid this, from day one. :thmbsup:

13th January 2013, 10:58 PM
I also would have her checked out to see if she has an injury that picking up aggravates.

13th January 2013, 11:00 PM
Dogtime.com (another great dog info site along with www.dogstardaily.com) has this article which summarises Dunbar's key points on guarding training:


Dogs will often guard a sofa or the people on it. It's very hard from this end to analyse what is actually going on without being there and watching, however, to know what exactly she is guarding.

You'll want to refer to the book to go through the info on getting puppies used to being handled and more on training to prevent guarding.

13th January 2013, 11:12 PM
This is also a great article from Whole Dog Journal which includes information about sofa guarding:


Super Princess
17th January 2013, 03:25 AM
sorry thanks for all the awesome info and readings.
its getting better..grandpa and i are working on it. (its great having someone help me with her during the day..hes raised his own dog and helped raise oliver)
Anyways..its getting better..its still happening at night time a little bit..dragging her out of crate to go potty..i think its a protest thing.. its HER space. she dosnt want to go out. but i say NO in a strong voice.

18th January 2013, 04:20 PM
We had this issue with Sonny. He was frequently guarding the couch. I read through all of Ian Dunbars stuff on guarding and also got the book Mine by Jean Donaldson. Both of their advice was helpful for me.

Sonny still occasionally exhibits guarding behavior, but it is always when food is involved and mostly with other dogs. We are still working on that...

18th January 2013, 05:49 PM
Actually you don't ever want to be saying 'no' to her for this behaviour -- basic rule is to never, ever scold a dog for growling (a dog's polite warning system) or you can easily, unfortunately train a dog to skip growling and go straight to biting. Biting without warning is considered one of the most difficult problems to ever address, and pushes a dog into the 'dangerous' category where many trainers would advise to pts. The only rescues I ever considered having to pts were dogs that were borderline for biting in this way as a guarding behaviour, encouraged by owners who accidently trained their dogs to be this defensive through punishment/scolding.

I really encourage you to read Ian Dunbar's advice, and also would endorse the suggestion of Jean Donaldson's book Mine, which is considered the bible on this particular issue. :thmbsup:


It is not OK for a dog to growl when you go to take her out for the evening. The whole problem is that she may be seeing this as her 'territory' (so that is not an excuse for the behaviour) and defending it. That is also precisely the kind of behaviour you don't ever want to be scolding for and then pulling her away and outside -- that totally reinforces the unwanted behaviour and anxiety underlying it, as she will feel she needs to defend the territory even more vigorously because if she only growls a bit, things she doesn't like happen. So she is encouraged to be even more defensive and even move towards snapping, then comes biting.

I would really strongly encourage you to be approaching this from a positive methods direction and avoid potential catastrophe. And that isn't overstating things -- guarding behaviour is the worst to address as the dog gets older and you cannot risk accelerating this.

Rather than forcing her out, I would instead be approaching the final trip out as a really fun time for her -- I'd be using the most loved treat on her menu, luring her out of her bed with that, getting her on her lead for the potty trip out amidst pain, a cheerful voice and small treat rewards during the process, then luring with food outside. At NO time should she ever be forced, scolded, etc. But you need not just this one suggestion, but to read Dunbar and Donaldson and get expert advice from these highly regarded trainers who have successfully managed this problem in hundreds if not thousands of dogs.

Only give her half her second meal in the eve and let those treats constitute the remainder of the calories for the day, if needed -- that will keep her very interested in being lured out with food. You must use a very high value treat -- eg a bit of dried liver, some chicken, a cheese cube --whatever she goes absolutely crazy for. Link a command to the action of getting up to go out -- 'potty' or 'outside' or whatever. Eventually you will want the command to be adequate on its own and not have to treat all the time.

Please do order 'Mine'.

Of course all of this is assuming you have had her vet checked first for pain, as Rod reiterated above. That is what all responsible trainers working with dogs that are behaving like this, require owners to do first before being sure it should be addressed as a behaviour and not physical issue. :thmbsup:

Super Princess
19th January 2013, 11:15 PM
Ill definitkey check the books out after pay day.
And I like that suggestion.
Her favorite is frozen blueberries. She dose a little prance/ jump for joy when getting them. Ill give that a try. Although it seems to be getting a bit better. Slowly. And lastnight she came up to me both times I went to take her out. No growling. I didn't even have to help her out. It would be awesome if that continues but I'm not holding my breath just yet.

It's not a physical problem thank goodness. We were just at the get and she's a healthy little lady.