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Hi, my 14 month old male is generally a good boy. I'm fighting the adolescence stage now, but overall very good. He is my second V, and we are having an issue (well, not an issue, but something we would prefer if it didn't happen) that we never experienced before and I wanted to ask for some opinions. Otto is very vocal. His yawns can be heard down the street, when we are getting ready to take him out the whining and leaking is almost unbearable. But the big issue is when he puts a toy in his mouth. He walks around with a toy, mostly next to my kids trying to get them to play with him, however he has a very menacing growl as he does this. It is scary. He doesn't seem to mean any harm at all, as he is generally very well behaved. This growl is loud, scary and I'm not sure how to respond. We have been ignoring it all together, but he is now 14 months and that hasn't worked at all. We have tried ignoring him until he stops, but if we ignore him for too long he does something mischievous (I honestly believe it is on purpose just to get our attention).

Any ideas?
 

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I would think your biggest concern is if it’s just growling while playing, or something more serious. Shine does it with me, and because I know it’s just part of our game with toys. I don’t discourage it. It’s normally with her pig that grunts. She shoves it into me, and wants me to try and get it. I play like I’m getting her pig, while she keeps making it grunt, while shoving it into me growling. I tap her on either side of the face and the game goes into high gear.
To anyone else, she would sound vicious.
 

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i generally don`t play tug o war with my boys, except one situation: when Bende retrieves the bumper at air retrieve and brings it all the way up to the dock, we play a bit of a tug o war while they set up the next bumper on the air retrieve rig. it is a great time killer and reward combo and he does a play growl while we do it, for around 30 seconds. then i say drop it, he drops the bumper immediately, i throw it back to the people who handle the air retrieve rig and show him the bumper which is already set up ready to be caught. when he stops wanting to tug o war and play growl i know that he is tired and most probably won`t be able to take down the next bumper.
it is about knowing your dog and what that growl indicates. what you described sounds like a show off growl, hey i have this super fascinating toy, wanna play while i will keep it away from you? what you can do if you feel uncomfortable, instead of him grabbing the toy, have your kids have the toy and play fetch, hide, work for the toy etc games. he will quickly learn that there is only a play session when your kids initiate it. it is also helpful to teach drop it, leave it and take it commands and play those as a game.
 

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Our guy play growls when our grandchildren visit. He knows they will play fetch with him and he grabs a toy, growls extremely loudly while wagging his tail like crazy waiting for them to take the toy and throw it. The growling is not aggressive in any way, just another way of communicating play.
 

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My nearly 4 year old intact boy Rafa also growls as described by the others above, never in a mean or nasty way, usually when he has taken something he knows he is not allowed like one of my slippers and wants me to chase him to retrieve it! He will growl if I try to get it and then do the zoomies with it racing around, if I get close again he will growl, but if I command him to drop he knows the game is over and he drops it.
 

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Aly, now 18 months, will growl quite often when playing a bit rough. Though, she's never shown a single, minuscule sign of aggression. I don't discourage her growling at all.

I would think your biggest concern is if it’s just growling while playing, or something more serious. Shine does it with me, and because I know it’s just part of our game with toys. I don’t discourage it. It’s normally with her pig that grunts. She shoves it into me, and wants me to try and get it. I play like I’m getting her pig, while she keeps making it grunt, while shoving it into me growling. I tap her on either side of the face and the game goes into high gear.
To anyone else, she would sound vicious.
@texasred, this description couldn't be more of a mirror to what Aly does! Hers isn't a pig... it's a hippo... her "honk-honk". Never had a dog that could be so physical with their nose! LOL

Toy Orange Creative arts Stuffed toy Snout


@FrancoD13, bottom line? You know your animal better than anyone. If you feel the growling is anything more than just being vocal, then be cautious and respond accordingly. Indeed, when Aly began this play growling, I was taken a little off guard. I watched very closely for any aggressive behavior. I'd even provoke the growling through play, trying to determine if there was any further meaning than just being vocal.

Dogs growl, during play. If it turns out that's all it is, have fun with it. I'm so astonished at Aly's intelligence and trainability, I've taught her to bark and growl on demand... just for fun!
 

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Ellie growls what one would think is an aggressive fashion when playing with other dogs, especially her best friend, another V down the street. She can sound like a crazy psycho wolf on the attack and we often joke that the neighborhood probably thinks she is super vicious. Meanwhile it is all fun and games. She rarley does it with me during rough play even with the "I'm gonna get it" from you game when she's shoving a toy onto me and I'm pretending like i'm trying really hard to get it from her. As others said only you know your dog. If you really want to discourage the growling then you would have to discourage/correct it as any other unwanted behavior. Use body language and vocalization to communicate that it is unwanted and don't give in to play until he stops with the growling. Timing is key and you have to be quick to respond, and quick to reward when he stops growling.
 

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When you figure it out, let me know. Finn growls and snarls while playing with either my wife, or myself, but his tail is wagging the whole time. He loves to play keep away and dodge, during this time.
If we ignore him, he pushes the toy into our lap and then barks, which sets off the whole process again.
We have a horse that pins it's ears back in a menacing manner when he wants a peppermint. I've been trying to get him to stop that behavior for 18 years with no success. Everyone at the barn knows what it means though, and we kind of laugh at him. As an aside, he is a very well behaved, mannered, horse. He just has that one quirk. He'd probably feint if he ever hurt someone.
At the end of the day, animals have limited ways to communicate with us. Sometimes they don't get it quite right. ;)
 

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My 10m old puppy Ozzy is very vocal when he plays with other dogs, and my old boy H was as well. The growl is/was quite high pitched and loud or both of them. To the untrained person it would sound vicious, however I know it is play.

In the last couple of years of his life H would occasionally growl at another dog if approached while he was on lead by a boisterous boy, and that growl was very different- deeper, quieter and accompanied by a fixed stare.

If you aren't sure what your boy is trying to communicate with his growling it is worth having a trainer/behaviourist observe.

If you are comfortable it is just play then it may be difficult to make it stop, but it could perhaps be a sign of overexcitement. If Ozzy gets too excited during play we pause for a bit to let him calm down, before restarting.
 
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