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Laika
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our beautiful Laika is almost 14 months old and full of energy. We've had some issues with growling when trying to give up stuff she's not supposed to have but we are working on the 'leave it' command and she has improved over the last few weeks. When playing tug of war she's actually pretty good to the point she'll come to you to play more or if you're not paying enough attention she'll drop the toy in front of you so you can pick it up and continue playing. With that said, I've noticed that as soon as I'm grabbing the toy and use my other hand to pet her or "tickle" her during playtime she starts growling and her demeanour changes. Wondering what's the best way to mitigate this behaviour as we obviously don't want it to escalate.

We've also noticed she's been a little bit more scaredy than usual from simple things she's done since day one like coming down to our basement and even going in her crate takes a lot more effort. We've read there's a scaredy phase anytime between 1-2 years—would that be it or should we consider behaviour modification techniques?

Thanks for all the help!
 

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it is hard to tell without seeing and hearing the growling behavior, a lot of times i have noticed that it is just the normal play language with vizslas, weimeraners and gsps (could be other breeds as well, but those are i came across the most during training and competitions). when my two boys playing with each other, there are often play growls involved, and even hackle standing up form time to time, but none of them escalate to anything else than chasing and wrestling.

for the fear period, important to not encourage or discourage it, but rather work thru. some of the sports are actually said to be confidence builders, like agility, rally, scent work. if you can enroll to a training class and discuss with the trainer your goals, it could benefit hugely.
not wanting to certain places can be physical, like hurting when walking the stairs. if you are sure that it is none of those, it helps to use her motivator, i.e. toy, food, whatever you know really turns her on.

Hurricane Harvey hit us when Bende was at that age and we had a small leak from our roof dripping water thru the attic to the ceiling. We have not noticed the water mark on the ceiling of the second floor till the hurricane was over, and thought we had an animal (looking shelter from the hurricane) on the attic as Bende kept staring towards that point with whale eyes and suddenly refused to go up to the second floor of the house, which he used to love before. It took lots of treats and toys to get him up the stairs again (and probably several months), but he would still refuse to cross the area above which we had the watermark. so i was already considering bringing a quail in the house to motivate him, when i remembered he loves agility tunnels, as we just happened to attend a basic agility course around that time. so i laid down the agility tunnel right on that spot which he did not want to cross as the water dripping was right above that during the hurricane. and sure enough he took a deep breath and went thru, first very slowly but once he reached the other end, big celebration. then for weeks we had the tunnel up and once it got removed i laid down a runner rug there (it is a slippery wooden surface) to ensure he has good grip and not chancing any more bad experiences. So long story, and lots of patience and creativity but we have worked thru this challenge.
 

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Laika
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Gabica, thank you so much for taking the time!

Yes, I've noticed the growl when she's playing with other dogs that are a little bit more vocal than her from time to time, I'm just scared that it turns into a guarding issue when playing inside the house. We have her on Scent Training (she has her first competition next Friday—so excited!) The only thing I can think that might have happened is that her crate was in the basement last week and sometimes it gets chilly during the winter so I'm assuming she relates her crate down there as discomfort from the cold which from now, we've moved it to the main floor of the house until temperatures go back up a little bit but she still working through it.
 

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Ellie
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It could be just play growling. V's can be a bit nutso when playing. I play tug games with Ellie and she goes bonkers. I get really animated saying "gimme that, i'm gonna get it" as I over-exaggerate taking the toy from her mouth. She'll thrash back and forth with her head to yank it away of which I let her do because I dont want her hurting herself. Then I'll grab it with both hands and say "drop it" as her release command. She'll soften up and release the toy. I could totally imagine her growling during this game, just so happens she doesn't. Only you can really tell if its a possessive growl or a playful one. Practice more with "leave it" claim the toy halfway through the session and then let her have it again. Remind her that you are the leader and she is permitted to play with "her" toys at your whim.

And yes, we did go through scardy cat phases with Ellie. She still gets a bug up her butt here and there. Like a loud noise outside, maybe a truck gate slamming shut blocks away, and boom tail between legs wanting back in the house. She gets over it more quickly these days. Just have to have a lot of patience with this sensitive breed. Don't force them to "get over it", you have to gently work through it and know when to take a break. It is not an instant process.
 

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Laika
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi Dan, thanks for your reply—I'm pretty much experiencing the same with Laika. We do a lot of playing and me using the command "leave it" and in that setting she is usually pretty good as soon as I say "leave" she's already sitting and about a foot away from the toy, so she really gets it, but I'm just flabbergasted as certain times she seems to suddenly have her wires crossed. As an example: today we woke up, had breakfast and went to the dog park for about 1hr and 30min, then we walked along a trail for about 20 more minutes. You could tell she was really tired as we went home. She was behaving 110%, went straight to her crate to nap and was rewarded accordingly. Then while making dinner she sat on her carpet relaxing with a bully stick while I was cooking dinner. Went inside her crate again while we ate and because she was having such a great day I gave her some small pieces of roast (a first for her). Then, as we finished dinner I let her out and she was calm but decided to go into our room and grab some socks which I then asked her to "leave it", at this time she hid under our coffee table, then she started growling at me and tried to nip me as I was retrieving the socks. I told her that that's not how we do things around the house without yelling or anything remotely close, just a couple of taps on her snout and she really had an apologetic demeanour after, coming towards me and offering me a hug and kisses. I took the socks and redirected her to her bone which she usually drops in front of me to hold while she chews away at it—we've been doing it since day one. Today was no different, she was happy I was holding her bone while she enjoyed it. After a couple of minutes I let her have the bone and walked away. When I came back I asked her for the bone and then again, she went under the coffee table and started growling as I was trying to retrieve the bone. At this point I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong or if there's something that triggers her that I haven't noticed. Besides that, she's such a loving pup. We have a one hour session with a behaviourist tomorrow so I hope she can give us some insights on this!
 

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Ellie
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The hiding, growling, snapping is definitely not behavior you want and doesn’t sound like play. Definitely needs correcting. Let us know what the behaviorist recommends on the approach. She could be simply testing you.
 
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