Heeler training question - growling

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Chickerdoodle13, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

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    Mar 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    I have an australian cattle dog who is about seven. I'm away at college for a good part of the year and I used to be the one who trained my dog, did obedience with him, etc. Anyways, he's never really been a dog who gets along with strangers. That's fine, as we don't need him to be friendly with other people. Even though he's not a guard dog persay, he does guard our livestock.

    In the past few years, he's picked up the habit of growling when we tell him to do something. I know he's gotten this from just lack of discipline because my parents do let him get away with stuff. However, if you tell him to sit or mostly to lay down, he'll growl slightly as he does it. He seems very submissive, but its almost as if he has to put up a fight whenever we tell him to do something. I want to break him of this.

    Mind you, this is a dog that is treated like a dog. He's only allowed in the kitchen during the winter and the rest of the year he lives outside and goes in the garage at night. We don't love on him other than the occasional pet or scratch behind the ear. He gets much too excited for us to pet him all the time. He's a very high energy dog and gets frustrated very easily.

    I notice we have some excellent dog trainers on here and I was wondering what I could do to break him of this growling. I plan on teaching the rest of the family too so at least he can have some consistency when I am away at school.
     
  2. ninny

    ninny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2007
    IL side of the QCA
    My first thought is get a vet check. He could be hurting somewhere. That ruled out something has cause him trauma. I would try this: take him back to square one when he doesn't growl and sits he gets a treat. If he understands that you are not going to hurt him or make him do something he is not comfortable doing he should stop. That is what i can tell you at the moment.

    This is kinda a hard one with out seeing it. What is his body language? Any way you could take a video?
     
  3. Buster

    Buster Back to Work

    Are you sure it's a growl? My heeler makes a grumbling noise when she lays down or wants attention. They can be very vocal dogs. It sounds a lot like a growl to people who aren't familiar with it.
     
  4. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

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    Phoenix, AZ
    He does grumble a lot like you say. Its more like a grunt and he does it all the time. When he growls though, he'll actually bare his teeth a bit so there's no confusing it. He's never gone to bite, but I know if I tried to manhandle him or force him to do something he might try.

    He's not in pain at all. He'll get sore from running all day, but he tends to show pain by crying rather than growling. He also has regular vet checks and there has never been a problem with his health other than minor injuries from working outside. I am almost positive that the growling is purely behavioral.
     
  5. hensdeliverthegoods

    hensdeliverthegoods Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 18, 2007
    Catawba County, NC
    I'm not sure if this is apropos, but we had a heeler come into the clinic today after having been accidentally run over. I guess she had gotten behind a trailer backing up and it caught her on the head. Her eyeball was popped out and her face was scraped up. In spite of this trauma and the pain she was in, she was a great patient. She did make a grumbling noise, but never offered to bite or even snapped at us. I was really impressed, I wouldn't have blamed her if she had.

    Oh, she came through the surgery just fine and we're waiting to see if thay eye will stay in or not. She's already a favorite with all the clinic staff. [​IMG]
     
  6. ()relics

    ()relics horse/dog shrink

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    Jan 4, 2009
    indiana
    When you say growl it is implied, I guess, that he also displays an angry aggressive mood. Some dogs that I have worked with growl not as a threat of impending aggression but simply another way of vocalization. Meaning that he isn't mad,hateful,hurting,aggressive but just trying to "say" something different to you. Some birddogs will do this when given a command, especially a give or drop command, not because they are mad but just because they want to say" look at what I've done" and can't bark with a bird in their mouth. Most dog owners don't like this and want it fixed...not hard to do...you just need to let the dog know you see him, appreciate him, respect what he is doing or about to do.... before they growl and your problem will be solved....Acknowledge before the sound so they know that you know.
    Be careful not to assume anything until you have tested him...you wouldn't want him to bite you or someone else in retaliation for an underlying problem.
    I have trained 2 heelers, extremely smart dogs but they can get quite bossy if they think they are higher on the food-chain then the person giving the commands.
     
  7. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

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    Mar 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    I went home this weekend and took him out for a nice long hike and on Sunday we went to a flea market where I had him on the leash. He's an absolute different dog when he is out (He's not a bad dog at home, but never growls when I ask him to do something out of the house). I did ask him to sit and lay down while we were still at the house though and sometimes he would growl. However, it almost seemed like he would act very scared when he growled.

    This is sort of difficult to explain, so hopefully I do it clearly. If he was laying on his bed and I called him over, he'd come, do what I ask, and when I gave him the ok and praised him, he'd go back and lay down. However, sometimes I would call him, and he'd come to me cowering low to the ground with his ears back. It seemed like he thought he was in trouble (I'm not sure why he does this because we always tried to avoid calling him before scolding him for doing something) Anyways, he would act completely scared when I would ask him to sit or lay down and this is the only time he growls. He bares his teeth a little and growls. So what I started doing was calling him in a very happy tone of voice so he knew I wasn't mad at him and then I kept praising him and patting him when he did whatever it was I asked without growling. However, when he does growl, I'm not sure what to do. If he laid down, I would keep him there and let him relax, then he would let me drag him anywhere and touch him where ever.

    So in other words, I'm not exactly sure why he growls. He does get frustrated with me, but he usually gives a different type of grunt/growl, and I know he's not going to bite. He's just talking to me. Its almost as if this growling he's doing is out of fear and I'm not really sure why. We don't hit him, and we only try to scold him when he does something bad like chasing the cats, getting too wild in the house, etc.

    Any insight on this would be extremely helpful! Like I said, out of the house he is a completley different dog!
     
  8. ninny

    ninny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2007
    IL side of the QCA
    i just thought about this. My lab loves to bark when we train. He is just talking and going on because his excited, but we give him the quiet command and he makes a growling noise. He can't bark and be quiet but growling is quieter and he just can't help himself. Maybe you dog is just talking too.
     

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