Dog Snarling and Growling with Blankets

by Jennifer
(Buffalo, NY)

Hi,

I recently acquired a 3 year old Chihuahua named Gracie. She has a nipping issue but I have been able to stop it with your tips with food and toys and people approaching.

I CANNOT, however, stop this when we are on the couch or the bed and there is a blanket. Whenever I move the blanket she will watch my hand and hover over the spot where my hand is and get the "whale eyes" and snarl and growl with a tense body. What do you suggest I do? I am fostering her and would like to continue to resolve her worst situations to find her a forever home..
Thank you in advance for your advice

Jennifer

Answer


Hi Jennifer!

Thanks for the question, and for fostering Gracie and preparing her for a new home!

From what you describe it may be that she is showing a little bit of resource guarding OR it could be that she is afraid of the blanket, maybe she is afraid you will try to catch her with it.

I had a case, not long ago, where people used a blanket to catch the dog, they would throw the blanket on top of the dog to then grab him. Needless to say, this dog was terrified when someone approached with a towel or blanket and started growling, snarling and biting.

I can't be sure what the problem with Gracie is without seeing the episodes in action and/or knowing a little bit more of her history.

In both cases though, you will need to start training her in a situation that doesn't trigger aggression.

For example, start on the floor with a blanket near you. Touch the blanket for 1 second (do not move it) and immediately throw Gracie a treat. Repeat this several times, until Gracie seems relaxed when you touch the blanket.

Then, do the same but grab the blanket and pull it for half an inch, immediately, throw her a treat. Again, repeat until she is relaxed and happy because she is expecting a treat.

Continue progressing with this exercise until you are able to grab the blanket and move it as you like while Gracie is completely calm.

Then, you can start the same exercise on the couch or bed (pick one). You need to start ALL OVER AGAIN. First, only touch the blanket and throw a treat, repeat, etc.

These exercises need time, it can take you from several weeks to months, to even years to rehabilitate a fearful dog. It depends on how often you train her and how bad her fear is.

These two methods are called systematic desensitization and counterconditioning, you can click on the links to learn more about them.

You may also want to read the section about resource guarding, in case that is the problem. You will see that the approach is similar, because resource guarding dogs are also afraid.

Finally, the following article is about dogs barking in fear, it also has a lot of information on how to work with a fearful dog.

If you want, you can leave more details in the commends section below and you can send me a picture too, so I can add it to this post.

Hope this helps,
Keep us posted!
Nati.

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Mar 05, 2017
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Growling in bed
by: Natalia

Hi Tracy!

I would first recommend you teach her to sleep on her bed on the floor. That way you avoid any potential dangerous situation while you are all sleeping. Besides, it is a lot easier to teach a dog to sleep in his own bed than treat aggression while yo sleep.

To teach her to sleep on her own bed, as soon as she jumps on the bed, take her back down with a
food lure
and praise her for
laying down
on her bed. Do this EVERY time she tries to jump on the bed. It will take many repetitions and you must stay strong and make her go back down to her own bed.

Feb 13, 2017
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Dog growling under blankets
by: Tracy

Hello,

I have 2 yr old terrier mix that was a rescue. Lately she has been going under the covers while we sleep, if we move she growls. Suggestion how we can stop this behavior?

Thanks,
Tracy

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