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BabyGooch
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Location: Manchester, UK
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13-03-2011, 08:35 PM

Helping my two year old collie settle into new home? (growling)

Sorry bear with me if this is long. I would like some tips and advice so feel I should give all the details.

We've had Quinn, our 2 year old border collie since he was a puppy. He has never liked strangers (more so strange men) coming into our home. But he is completely devoted to me and my partner. We can do whatever we like with him and he is extremely obediant and knows alot more than just the basic sit, stay etc. He is a door barker but hushes with a command but does growl at any men who come into the home. This wasn't a problem for us though as he would retreat and then after a few minutes would approach the men and let them pet him/play fetch etc. However 9/10 times with women he is friendly immediatly with no growling.
On walks he is superb and ignores all other people.

Sadly with our new baby I had found my time for him slipping away I know this is the usual 'excuse' but honestly for us it isn't. This dog is/was the perfect dog for me. Other than the strangers in our home he has no other behaviour problems whatsoever, he is loving, extremely dog friendly, obediant and undemanding when needs be. It had got to the point where he was having to be kept in the kitchen because our baby has eczema that seemed to flair up with the dog hair on the couch and just generally everywhere as he is long haired. He was so accepting of this (no whining or chewing) despite him being very affectionate and cuddly. So we decided it was probably best if we tested the water to see if we could find him a better home, on the understanding that if one couldn't be found we would rather keep him here (even though he wouldn't be 100% getting the life he deserves) rather than put him in a rescue where he would definately become upset at being in a kennel.

We have found him a wonderful home much to our surprise (And after turning down several others). They are and older coupled with teenage sons of 16, 18 and 20. The last is at Uni and the second is going this year. They have had many dogs before and currently have a 6 year old german shepherd female. They are a very active/sporty family and were looking for an intelligent dog to maybe take up a sport with (quinn would excell at this) or to at least join them on their long walks.
They came up with their dog, we introduced the dogs and it went perfectly. The female is the more dominant, but Quinn always happily takes the lower role with any dog we meet so that was never a concern. We took both dogs out for a walk and I allowed the couple to hold his lead and play fetch. He was very well behaved toward them both on the walk and at my home. No growling at all.

They fell in love so yesterday, 2 weeks after meeting him, they came to pick him up in the morning. Again dogs' meeting went perfect though he mildly raised his lip at being touched by the husband at first, he was fine after a few minutes. I watched them load him into the car fine and he had no problem with them coaxing him up into it. And he was fine on the drive to their home (which is a five hour journey away).

They rang me this evening as we arranged, very happy. They said when they got home he was very nervous and laid in the kitchen unmoving for a while, growled when they approached so they left his lead on. They coaxed him with treats into the garden where he perked up and played fetch for about an hour. They then came indoors and he then went and explored the house. For that evening he would approach the husband and wife himself for petting in between playing with their dog. He has also warmed a little to their 20 year old son whom he had never met before getting there. He ate his meal and asked to go out to relief himself fine and also is obeying their commands such as sit, stay, come etc on their walk today.
They were very happy and said they can see definate improvement from yesterday and he is approaching them still for affection, they can put his lead on/off easily now. He does still occasionally raise his lip (he has never snapped in all the time i've had him, he raises his lip and then progresses to growling but has never needed to go further) whilst they are petting him, even if a moment before he was the one to approach them and was fine?
He is a little more wary of the 16 and 18 year old boys and doesn't approach them although as yet they haven't spent much time at all with him like the 20 year old has as they have been studying.

They are very happy with him and I advised them to discourage his growling by stopping petting him as soon he raises his lip. He is very loving and any withdrawel of affection does quite quickly have an effect on him. He has never ever even curled a lip toward me so obviously I can only use what we have done with visitors to our home.

Are there any tips or things they could do to stop him growling? Why is he doing it? Will he stop eventually?

They have really fallen for him and I know they are lovely people so i'm very keen to help them and my lovely boy as much as I can. Quinn has never appeared aggressive to me (i'm not an expert though!), it always seems to be stemmed in fear as whenever I have seen him growl he has backed away and then stopped. He never goes forward.

Any help is much appreciated, I've never rehomed a dog of mine before so I have no idea what i'm doing
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BabyGooch
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13-03-2011, 08:47 PM
Sorry for any spelling/grammar mistakes, this keyboard sticks
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TabithaJ
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13-03-2011, 08:53 PM
I'm not really surprised that this dog is growling a bit. He must be really confused. It's still very early days in his new home.

When I brought home Dexter from a local rescue, he growled and went to bite countless times during the first month or so. We simply had to learn to give him plenty of space and as you rightly say, to stop any affection if he growled or bared his teeth at us.

I would think it's far too early to tell if the growling with your dog is going to be an ongoing problem - he needs a while to settle in and to realise that he has a new home.


Just to add: if the growling continues and is only when they touch him, they should get him checked over by their vet just in case there is a physical reason.


But for now I think they would be well advised to give him a bit of space and to stop affection if he reacts badly.
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BabyGooch
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13-03-2011, 09:05 PM
Originally Posted by TabithaJ View Post
I'm not really surprised that this dog is growling a bit. He must be really confused. It's still very early days in his new home.

When I brought home Dexter from a local rescue, he growled and went to bite countless times during the first month or so. We simply had to learn to give him plenty of space and as you rightly say, to stop any affection if he growled or bared his teeth at us.

I would think it's far too early to tell if the growling with your dog is going to be an ongoing problem - he needs a while to settle in and to realise that he has a new home.


Just to add: if the growling continues and is only when they touch him, they should get him checked over by their vet just in case there is a physical reason.


But for now I think they would be well advised to give him a bit of space and to stop affection if he reacts badly.

Thank you for reassurring me I have given the correct advice! I am very impressed to be honest that he has done so well in the first day of being there. As a typical collie he was extremely bonded to us so I can only imagine how confused he is. And I am very heartbroken at the moment myself so I am probably worrying over every little thing that isn't really a problem/.

He was perfectly healthy when he left us (we had him checked). I am not sure why exactly he growls when being petted but knowing him it is probably because he wants the affection but still regards them as strangers. Not to mention he is in a completely new home so that must be daunting!

They agreed to stop all attention when he growls, I have always used the 'ignore' technique when he did an unwanted behaviour such as jumping up and it would work within seconds lol.

I think it is encouraging he is listening to them for commands and guidance, as he never does that with visitors. So because I am not there he is probably looking for a person to fill that gap. He has been left with my brother and his girlfriend once whilst we went on holiday. After a few days he was all over them as he is with us, so i suppose that is encouraging.
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BabyGooch
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15-03-2011, 07:57 PM
The wife rang me today and said he has become her bestfriend and she is now able to do anything with him and he is also close to getting that way with her husband, so very pleased in that area!

She did ask what she should do about her teenage boys, they are 16 & 18, Quinn plays fetch with them fine, but he will not approach them at all unless it is to very quickly take a treat. Then the past few times that they have either stopped playing or walked past his bed, Quinn has followed them , growled & nipped at their heels!

He hasn't showed this kind of behaviour since he was a puppy. I have suggested some of the things below but just want to make sure I am again giving the right advice for the situation? And of course any added help from you guys is welcome!
  • For walking past his bed I have suggested dropping treats as they go by, to encourage a positive association and provide a distraction from to his 'tense' state.
  • After fetch, if he starts to follow they should turn round and tell him to 'go away' (he understands the command)
  • During the talk we realised the boys only play fetch with him, they do not ask him to do any commands or tricks so i have said for them to do this as often as they can, during play and also just with a treat.
  • I have also suggested the boys have a go at feeding him his meal from their hands, he takes treats from them fine so it's the same technique to how I taught him not to be possessive over food, is this likely to help?
  • And generally, throughout the day, make sure they are around as much as possible, not locked away in their rooms. And that they praise and give treats if Quinn seems particularly relaxed.

    Please help lol
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