Growling Over Humans


Experienced Member
Ok peoples give some help!

FosterDog is a labradoodle, 2.5yrs, was a duo with his littermate but they are seperated. Was in another foster home with other dogs and "got on fabulously" with them.

We had one issue of food agression towards Oka - but he is VERY skinny and possibly hadn't eaten that day. No aggression towards us near his bowl.

We had an incident where he was led in the room, Oka walked past, then led down in front of me. As her elbows hit the floor, he growled, and continued until she got up. She jumped onto the sofa, and led semi in front of me (like protecting me) and he didn't make a peep.
A second incident like that but he was wagging his tail too. The third he was infront of me sat trying to get me to stroke him (he is a pushy little sod, no manners!) Oka went to the baby gate and Mark stroked her over the gate, FD looked and growled and Oka moved away.

How should i deal with this? I'm about to email the previous fosterer to see what she knows. I will not be spraying water at him as one person has suggested elsewhere. So i turn to you, my P+ training buddies for help!!


Well-Known Member
Initially I was thinking resource guarding, but if it was important enough to make the initial growl, the FD would have continued after when Oka jumped onto the sofa, she was in a higher position, literally and mentally. The FD would have challenged that.

I think you have a english-as-a-second-language dog. For lack of a better description. This happens when two dogs have limited outside contact (wiht other dogs) and bond to each other. They, like human twins, develop a language all their own.

Is the clicker loaded with the FD? Have you had him long enough to do so? If not, I'd start there. This dog may have learned that all good things come from humans (a bonus when training, but a negative with competition). If not load it...

So, the dog needs to learn that humans are not something to make that noise for. Hmmm. FD needs to learn what gets it the attention. I've never found that extinguishing a behaviour worked. I found that replacing it did. For me to teach "no bark" leaves a dog to come up with/invent another behaviour... I'd rather teach a dog to bring a toy to the door instead of barking. Get what I'm trying to say?

So, what behaviour do you want the FD to do instead. Calm, wait your turn-you-will-get-patted.

My plan would work loosely like this: From FD's comfort zone, work with Oka, tricks/treats/love. Ensure no reaction from FD, toss treats when he is relaxed/quiet/looking away (you know the drill). If FD can't do any of those things, increase the distance between Oka and FD. Slowly teach FD that good/calm in this scenario=treats/rewards. I would try to reward with hands on as well, it seems to be important to the FD.

Makes you wonder what their other lives were like. I really don't suspect the growling is more than a language that siblings made up. Two of my dogs (first 2) were close in age and both came as puppies. They had little "other dog" contact. The developed a verbal and body language all their own. I had no idea until I adopted a 3rd dog who spoke very clear dog-language. Wow... there was certainly a learning curve for me and my original 2.

Replace the behaviour. Teach that quiet/calm gets the treats. It will go quick, both labs and poodles are smart and wanting to please dogs. It's just gotten mixed up along the way. (all opinions are sight unseen, and mine only... lol)


Experienced Member
I have loaded the clicker - took a little while, then used the rest of a really big bowl of kibble to teach him to sit. Which was torture! I couldn't lure him at all, had to wait 5/6 mintues for him to sit, C&T, then wait another 5 minutes for the next one. He's been here 2.5 days, and now will sit 60% of the time on cue+hand signal.

The thing is about the growly/grumbly noise is its unpredicable, they will stand together and have a stroke, but then random times he grumbles - there's no teeth in it at all. It's not everytime.
Another example today, i'm sat at the table, he lays in the bed on my right, Oka was led on my left she gets up and steps towards me, he grumbles, she moves away and then back towards one step and he grumbles again....but he doesn't get up or move in anyway.

The other one was when she was in the dining room with us and he got gated into the living room (by accident gate swung shut) he growled a proper with teeth, but didn't move from the spot he was stood in.
I'm wondering if a removal technique will work?

He is naughty - no manners at all. Steals food off the sideboards stands, infront of you if try to walk through rooms, pushes through door (well less of that now). But on the other hand walks to heel better than Oka (pulls when he sees people and dogs), occasionally jumps up.
He and his brother would escape the yard and go running around the neighbourhood. I think he/they were bored.


Honored Member
haven't yet read the replies,
but a dog sitting in front of you, to show other dog,
is "claiming" you as "his",
and it is show of dominance over other dog, it is a show of possession, "she is mine".

it is not a "protective" move over you.
at all.

It is claiming ownership.

My dog only does this when other dogs are around, lolz. I get up, silently, and refuse to allow him to "claim" me as his property. cuz, i'm not.

dogs can have many triggers. Some dogs have their very own triggers.
Narrow hallways,
small spaces,
doors, anything that can be percieved as a door, a gate, an entrance to a room, are often triggers.

As are toys,
their human,

Do both dogs allow you to fuss over the other dog? Or, if you do, does one dog come in to interrupt/claim you?

If it is food, one can also feed them separately. Might be easy sol'n, for a temporary problem, as this dog is foster, right?

(now, i guess i ought to catch up on what the other comments say! ha ha)


Honored Member
Spaying and neutering do not stop aggressive displays, at all.
this is a rampant myth.
If you had an aggressive dog, (not sure you do here, at all, at all, this could just be figuring out who is top dog between the two, and which one "owns" you)

and when you spay or neuter an aggressive dog,
the only thing that will change,
an aggressive dog won't be able to have babies.
YAY! everyone should spay and neuter, imo.

to reduce the numbers of litters in our dog overpopulation crisis. Neutering or spaying does not calm down an aggressive dog. Zip. nada.

It *may* also reduce some of the fights over mating rights, but not neccessarily. A truly aggressive dog can indeed, fight with other nearby dogs, who are arguing together about who gets to mate, apparently unaware, his lack of testicles disqualify him from the argument altogether.


Honored Member
on closer re-read, it sounds like, your 2 dogs are having mild argument over who owns you. not sure, but it sounds like it.
you can also silently stand up, or move away from, either dog claiming you as "his". The dogs will get over that, is not an insult to the dogs. They will come to realize, neither one of them "owns" you.


Honored Member
no matter what you decide to do, or what approach you decide to use,
take great care you do not scold or punish any growls. You WANT the dogs to use warnings, you do not want to extinguish that warning signal. You DO want to be alerted to the fact one dog is unhappy about something, by hearing the warning growl. It's a useful thing, that dogs should feel free to do if they have reached their limit of whatever is upsetting them.

It is perfectly okay to remove growling dog, if you feel the need, if you sense things are getting outa hand. Silently, calmly, remove growling dog. by leash, if you want to.

Try to never remove the dog being growled AT, as then growling dog "wins" and may growl even more to meet more 'success'.

It takes a newly rehomed adult dog at least a week, often two weeks to be his "real" self. Most newly rehomed adult dogs lie low in first week. Some adult dogs take much longer to fully reveal who they are after sizing everyone there up.


Honored Member
and lolz, meward, it sounds like one of the first things you may want to teach new dog, is,
"leave it".

he isn't being bad, he just doesn't know that food is not his. He just hasn't been helped to learn some self control around food in your kitchen. He sounds like smart dog, though, bet he'll get idea easily.

i taught leave it on living room floor, starting with low value treats, like bread,
then moved to other areas,
then upped the ante with more enticing treats,
stepping further and further back,
so Buddy was now sitting alone with hot steak, with me out of sight (over time)
and when my dog had solid "leave it"
i then showed him stuff he could no longer touch, like counters, my baskets from Africa, my trashbasket, etc, and told him, with each one, "leave it", and that was that.

your mileage may vary!!:ROFLMAO:kikopup has tutorial on "leave it" which is not quite how i did it, but gotta love kikopup.


Well-Known Member
How is the rest of the body language. With dogs, it's a whole package thing. So, are the eyes locked (hard stare), legs stiff, hackles raised, tail position...

Another thing to keep in mind is that Oka may inadvertently get denied attention. You may want to keep in mind movement can advert a lot of commotion. So when Oka approaches you, FD growls, you quickly get up walk away, call Oka and pat her... The abrupt movement, with dogs following, places you as alpha or centre of attention, if you prefer.

With the no manners, I find "grounding" works wonders and calms them mentally. They don't have to guess so much, they know you are in control. If you haven't heard/participated/read, I can google you some links. It's really good for unsure dogs.

The FD is growling at your other dog not the humans... right?


Experienced Member
I haven't corrected a growl (i was told by someone to spray water in his face :rolleyes: - to whom i promtly explained the same as you).

There is no "hard" aggressive posturing - that is what has me thrown. The first instance of it was him laying on his side on the floor wagging his tail!? Oka came along and led in the "crook" of the sofa - a usual place reguardless of where i am sat. As she got her elbows to the floor, we heard a rumbling sound and realised it was him. To which Oka got up, turn a circle, hopped up on the sofa and led down. As she got on the sofa, he stopped the noise, and then led down (as in full on his side, he didn't get up from the floor at any point) to sleep.

Bosun's idea of language sounds plausible. If i stroke FD, Oka will approach but more to lick the Fosters teeth in friendship like "oh you enjoy the humans, are we still friends?" she doesn't plonk herself between me and the FD. I can stroke them both side by side, or i can stroke Oka and the Foster Dog doesn't come and bother us. Oka is not in anyway challenging him, he doesn't have 'aggressive' body language like he did over the food bowl - or i'd know it was a resource issue.
There's no growling towards us at all. He loves people, supposedly the reason they would escape the garden was to go play with the kids in the school nextdoor:eek: .

I am reluctant to stop Oka being near me, as i have expended alot of energy trying to encourage affection from her.... she is not a people dog and this past month is the first time she's slept next to me in any capacity since she was a tiny pup!!

tigerlily - i know he isn't bad and haven't treated him as such, just God the manners!! How did his orginal owners deal with him and his brother? Or maybe it's a "see what i can get away with" thing.


Honored Member
Keep us posted! I hope it does all settle out.

I understand about not wanting to step away, i do, Buddy took a loooong time also to understand snuggling is a good thing, too. You'd only have to consider doing this if the 2 dogs are disagreeing over who owns you, not just in general.

You could still consider doing that, IF the 2 dogs can't make up their minds who owns you,
as sitting in front of you, while looking not at you, but at the other dog,
is not any form of affection, at all, it is claiming you/owning you,
and even non-affectionate dogs can claim their owners. It's two separate things entirely.

Refusing to be 'owned', by will not in any way diminish or reduce your great progress with Oka's learning to snuggle,
it's not even in the same box in HER mind, at all. Is whole other thing, to Oka.

The standing in front of you in the presence of the other dog, is posturing for the other dog, has nothing to do with you, at all.
If the 2 dogs come to an agreement among themselves who owns you, no problem.

and this doesn't sound very severe anyway, but, i'd be like you, i'd be on the alert and wanting to prevent a real big problem coming along, too, just like you feel. I so understand. I'm hoping and guessing this is brief, transient "Who's who around here!?" between the 2 dogs.

but this is MOST ENCOURAGING that you can indeed, snuggle around with either dog right in front of the other dog!! I think you are over the hump then, since you can do that!

So, it's been a day or so more since you posted your observations about their first days together, any further concerns, or it's over now? did i get this wrong, that new dog has only been in your home a few days so far,
or, how long has new dog been in your home? (it takes a while for a newly rehomed adult dog to become himself)


Honored Member
I'll be curious to hear what last owners say about the counter-surfing, etc.
I wonder, if new dog understoond about THEIR counters,
but didn't generalize that to understand YOUR counters are off limits, too?

hope you post what they said about that.


Experienced Member
He came here on sunday... so 3.5days - but now has an application which may mean he's off to a new home in a couple of days. Hopefully his last move!!

We've had one 'rumble' today from him, watching him more and more, i'm wondering if it's a more an insecurity thing, he's usually laying down on his side or in a narrow space when it happens. Sometimes not even near us orignally it may just have been coincidence about thier proximitys to me.

I emailed his last fosterer, though she's not replied as yet. I do know that he(they) were put in the pound when thier owners decided not to keep them, then rescued to a fosterer, then brought to the rescue we work with, then to me.... rough couple of months for him:(


Honored Member
awww. poor baby. Mewzard, i sure do admire your work on helping these dogs, it's fantastic, it's heartwarming, it's marvelously generous of you, and i am so in awe of your kindness to these dogs in need.
Hats off to you, Mewzard.


Honored Member
my dog is wayyyyyyy more likely to be tense---if an unknown dog is around---if buddy is in narrow areas, or corners, or next to anything he thinks or sees as a "door" or a fence.:rolleyes: but, we are working on it!


Staff member
I'm so lucky that this foster dog of mine gets along with everyone! Boo is in LOVE, Mouse is indifferent, and Oliver is happy for a playmate his size!!! Considering he's straight off the farm, I'm surprised at how easy he's acclimatizing to city life.

I have not much to add, if you dont think he's guarding you. Boo still grumbles regularly, but I think he just likes talking. If he growls at the other dogs, he gets put on the floor and ignored. The frequency of his growling has considerably dropped :) he doesn't like being on the floor :)


Honored Member
OH Sara, you have a foster, too? Wonderful! How long have you had this dog? How exciting! And good on you, Sara!! So glad your new dog is meshing well with your lil pack! YAY!

If Boo does not like being "on the floor", where is it that Boo usually is??


Staff member
I posted another thread about Buck, my foster (y)

Boo is on my lap of course! Silly Tigerlily, where else would he be? :ROFLMAO: