Growling

I rescued my new B 8 months ago. I have read all the posts about growling and I know how to avoid situations that make him growl. He is three years old and did NOT have an easy time of it in his first home. I am an experienced B owner - my first boy lived 15 years. QUESTION: have any of you experienced the growling DISAPPEARING after consistent management/time with the new family/tolerance/unconditional love? My first B NEVER growled, so this is behavior that is unfamiliar. I would just like to hear a story about OVERCOMING the growling behavior. Many thanks. Leslie Anne

I think with time, good training and trust, anything can be overcome. Having said that, they all share traits but have their own personality. My first was very self assured, assertive and defensive, but never aggressive. He would growl but not bite. My second is food aggressive, always has been. She would bite first with no warning at one point if you went near her food. With time she has mellowed a lot and is now twelve, I can take food off her. My third doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Growling is a natural warning, so although it should be minimal, it is normal.

Hi, our basenji was a year and a half old when we got her and she had been bounced around to 3 different homes before she came to ours. She was very angry when she left to come with us and she growled any time we remotely did anything she didn't like. I remembered thinking "when is she going to finally accept us as her family?" Well it took about 9 months for that to happen. Now she very rarely growls and it's usually if she feels threatened or just wants to give you a firm no (like at bath time and now that growl can be ignored without consequence). All I can say is hang in there. They love to be loved and in my case, she finally came around.

Might be a stupid question but are you sure he's growling in an aggressive manner? Some Basenji growl when they're happy, and it can be difficult to tell that from a warning growl. We had a friend who told us the only way he could tell whether our dog was growling a "stay away" message or growling to say "happy to see you" was to look at his ears. He had a point. It was hard to tell the difference since the vocalization was the same. Not only were we confused at first, but eventually we just assumed that if he was growling at us it was the latter, which turned out to be true. The only time it turned into a bite was when my wife was telling him he was a beautiful dog and he got so excited -- complete with a lot of growing -- that he reached up and bit her on the end of the nose. A painful lesson!

If it's a "stay away" growl I'm sure it will resolve.

Yes, he DOES have a happy growl! When he is getting his food or a treat. The growling that concerns me is related to resource guarding-personal space and when he’s resting. I HAVE LEARNED to leave him alone. It’s just so foreign to me beacausr B #1 was such a love bug. Ziggy really is a wonderful dog-he MINDS me, and is not destructive-he gets OFF the furniture when asked and gets in his crate willingly. He’s just “aloof” and I know this is common. He got returned to the breeder after 2 years-poor guy. I have no idea what he did-perhaps growling! We left for a week, and did I get an EARFUL when I returned! He seemed to be cursing me for leaving him!!! Thanks for the comments-they are greatly appreciated!

Growling may be a warning to leave the dog alone or it will escalate to a bite, or it may just be complaining. My first Basenji would snarl and scream if I picked her up when she was comfortable, but I just laughed at her and she never followed through on the threat. My second girl would "swear" if told to do something she didn't want to do, and would snark if you moved her when she was comfortable, but again there was never escalation. One out of the five Basenjis I have owned would follow up the growl and bite if he was upset, but generally I have found that it is usually just their way of registering displeasure. Resource guarding can be tricky to deal with, however, and may result in biting if the dog is serious about retaining "his" possession. This gets dangerous if he gets hold of something that could be harmful, so personally I don't like to let it go. My own feeling is that if the dog has something that is indeed "his" that has been given to him, e.g. his dinner, then I won't provoke any confrontation, but if he has stolen something then I will take it from him immediately, no playing games, no "trading". The last thing I want my dog to learn is that stealing items is a good way to get rewarded with treats!

Regarding personal space, I have generally tried to finesse this rather than confront it. Many Basenjis will snark if disturbed when they are comfortable, and in my experience this does not change with time. If I need the dog to move, I may issue a command, but what has generally worked for me is to sit down next to the dog and gradually, with honeyed words and patting, maneuver said dog out of the comfy spot. I can usually avoid direct confrontation and manage with barely a grumble. 🙂

last edited by eeeefarm

@ziggy said in Growling:

We left for a week, and did I get an EARFUL when I returned! He seemed to be cursing me for leaving him!!! Thanks for the comments-they are greatly appreciated!

Hmmmmm....... I'm laughing because this is exactly the experience we had with our growling devil. We actually reprimanded him the first couple of times. We'd go on vacation and when we got back we'd get an earful. This is when we figured out he didn't want to eat us, just vocally greet us.

I don't want you to get bitten, but if he's growling when you pet him it wouldn't surprise me that he's happy. The vocalizations when getting a treat usually sound different. A bit of a bark. Our dog's growl when he was happy sounded like a warning. It just wasn't.

Just don't get him too excited or put your nose too close. LOL Anyway, sounds like you may have a very sweet winner.

last edited by DonC

Yes, we really do. (Have a very sweet dog.) He KNEW we were “quality” because he left the breeder willingly, LET ME PICK HIM UP, and place him in the kennel to drive home, 8 months ago. He’s never attempted to bite, and I’ve bathed him and even brushed his teeth! He’s simply the first dog that’s ever growled at me, PEROID, and it’s been a shock! When he HAD HIS SAY after we returned from a trip, I chuckled inside. He’s just so VOCAL, and it’s new to me. I guess I’ll count my blessings and LOVE my funny boy, growls and all.❤🐕 Thanks everyone!

I have had two B-babies and both have been BIG growlers. I have learned it's just the B snarkiness - doesn't bother me. I just laugh at him and say REALLY? 🙂

With training, the aggressive growl will most likely disappear. I would first get him very used to all members of the family encouraging him to accept giving up food etc. With your experience I expect you'll know how to do this. I really don't want to 'teach my grandmother to suck eggs' so if you need further advice on this please let me know.
I've reread your post to ensure that I'm sticking to your question and see that you are asking for a story but yes this is from personal experience. He has obviously allowed to get away with it so it'll take a long patient time.
Hugs to you both and best wishes for success.

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