Malamute Pup

Discussion in 'Puppy Forum' started by mich, Jan 27, 2006.

  1. mich

    mich New Member

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    I am the owner of a 15 week old malamute bitch pup and her training has thrown up a problem.
    When preparing her meal, she growls if I touch her before I put the bowl down.
    Another thing is when strangers are stroking her, she has ocasionally growled, every time, tidbits had recently been given to her.
    Otherwise, when she is eating from her bowl, I can touch her and can put my fingers in the bowl without reaction. There are no problems taking chews off her as she drops them on command.
    This appears to be a dominance thing, but I'm not sure on what is the best way to tackle it.
    Comments would be appreciated.
     
  2. Saje

    Saje Island dweller

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    There are other people that can help you more than I can but I would start by making her sit before she gets anything. Sit to get food. Sit to go outside. Sit to get attention.
     
  3. mich

    mich New Member

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    Thank you for your reply.
    I have been doing as you suggest from the day I got her.
    Even while she is sitting on command, as I prepare her food, then touching her can trigger growling.
    I mentioned about taking chews off her on command. However, if I do not tell her to leave the chew and just go to stroke her, she gets up and walks away.
    She understands and complies with the leave command, for which she gets rewarded, so I dont understand why she is defensive around food.
     
  4. Saje

    Saje Island dweller

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    I wonder if it would help if you took the food and walked right away from her every time she growled. Bring it back after a few minutes and try again. If she growls walk away...
     
  5. poodlesmom

    poodlesmom New Member

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    Are you sure it is an actual growl? My daughter had a Mal who was quite vocal with moans, groans and alot of really different sounds. His actual growl was quite definitive and different. My male standard poodle is very vocal when playing with other dogs and people would think he was growling also but it isn't. I have only heard him growl a couple of times in his 7 yrs and it is definitely different.
     
  6. mich

    mich New Member

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    Thanks folks.
     
  7. EliNHunter

    EliNHunter New Member

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    How's it going now, Mich? Still get the growls? Or have you found it's just the way she "talks"?
     
  8. Nothing personal Sage, but I think that taking the food away would make it worse, since the puppy is stressing about food and triggering the defensive growling response.

    What I might do instead is prepare the food, let her watch, leave it on the countertop, and then do a minute or two (keep it brief, you don't need a lot) of really positive obedience with the tastiest treats you can muster. For this you need high powered weapons, so either make liver for her, or buy smoked cheese, or use left over steak. You want something so tasty it will make her forget the food in the bowl for a moment.

    Show her what you have AFTER you fix the food, and give her a taste of it. Then work a few quick sits and downs, treating her HANDSOMELY after each one. Leave off the touching for now. Just ask for a few quick "doggy pushups" (sit, good, TREAT....down, GOOD, TREAT....sit.....down....etc).

    One you have done about one minute of this, keeping a very happy, upbeat attitude, and treating her generously with these really marvelous things, ask for one more sit, reward, and while she is still eating that treat, quickly place her food bowl on the floor.

    During her meal offer 2 or 3 more delicious treats by walking by her bowl and dropping them in.

    By doing this you are showing her several things: treats mean fun....obedience means treats......there are better things out there than what is in my bowl.....my human brings GOOD things, and does not come near me to take them away.

    I would also be doing leadership work with this puppy

    http://www.sonic.net/~cdlcruz/GPCC/library/alpha.htm

    Enrolling her in puppy training class immediately is an excellent idea as well.

    At this time until you get a handle on this behavior, I would rigidly control the circumstances under which she receives treats from other people.

    No treats for free. Period. Puppy MUST sit, or better yet, lie down, for ANY treat from any one. Have people treat the puppy and then move the puppy away from them so that she has no opportunity to demonstrate this growling behavior.

    Good luck with her, she is young, and you are on the right track. If you pay attention to this, you should be able to get it resolved quickly.
     
  9. Kenzie

    Kenzie New Member

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    This sounds more like a typical Mal talking to me. He doesn't growl when you handle his food, or bowl, nor does he growl but he drops food on command. The previous poster was correct in that Mals are VERY vocal, and will talk and talk. You have to train yourself to learn the different vocalizations, a growl saying, "come on, hurry up, I'm hungry and that smells good" (not saying that's a great thing, make him wait by sitting YOU own the food and will let him have it when YOU"RE ready) but it's a different growl from "Don't even think about touching my food". I've had Mals all my life, they've always been very vocal, and will talk and talk expressing themselves. If it was a dominant issue, I'm sure you'd see the same behaviour concerning all his/her food.
     
  10. mich

    mich New Member

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    I think the problem of her being defensive must have been there for some time until I realised that food was the common factor.
    Things have improved since I enrolled her in a puppy training class, where the trainers told me that if she growls, I should grab her by the scruff while telling her off. I did this for two days until she stopped.
    I have since been making a point of touching and praising her and her attitude has much improved.
    She has not growled at any strangers since then either.
    I'm sure that we have resolved this problem and thanks to all for your comments.
     

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