Author Topic: Maggie May's Mommie needs some advice re:growling and attachment  (Read 7740 times)

Offline kkboelter

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Maggie May's Mommie needs some advice re:growling and attachment
« on: November 05, 2008, 08:17:15 am »
Well I can't thank everyone who responded to my 'newbie' post- it's nice to know there are people to help, and I'd love to call on you now!

I just adopted a 3 yr old female Harlequin great dane (Maggie) and we seem to be having a couple issues.  Firstly, though, she is a fabulous dog!! With my fiance (Will), I have never seen a dog so well behaved. We love her to pieces, but are struggling with some situations that seem new to the previous owners.

Maggie has an almost out of control attachment to Will.  She shakes visibly when waiting for him to come in the door, pees when she's too excited to see him, and shows no interest in anything else while he is home.  It was cute for a few days, but it has become a problem because she is becoming reluctant to obey me or other members of the family.  I have tried to be the sole person to feed her and give treats, but that doesn't seem to be doing the trick.  Any other ideas?

The most important item I need help with is growling. This did not occur in her previous household, so it must either be her getting to know us, or something we as owners are doing or not doing.  The growling is mostly at me, but at Will's 12 year old daughter and anyone who gets near her while a bone is in her mouth or just when she feels like it  :(
She did growl at Will while she had a bone once, but he was able to say 'NO' in that manly voice and she stopped.  He repeately took it and gave it away with no problems after the inital growl, but my attempts are fruitless in all scenarios.  We are becoming uncomfortable with the 12 yr old in the house..and there are times when she will be alone with the dog and we are getting nervous.  She has never bitten or done more than just growl and stops as soon as you step away, but it just isn't acceptable to me.  I am trying to behave as 'masculine' and strong as possible to emulate my fiance, but my strong tone of voice and presence just doesn't seem to be working.  What else can I do?

She has been with us for about 10 days- not a long time, but she does seem completely at home!  She came from a home with 3 other great danes and we didn't see any signs of separation anxiety that we are aware of.  She knows her way around, seems very comfortable, so I think the problems might not just be adjusting.  Whatever the cause, I believe the growling needs to be corrected as soon as possible.

Thanks so much!
Miss Maggie Mae, 3


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Re: Maggie May's Mommie needs some advice re:growling and attachment
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2008, 08:35:20 am »
Put her on a leash and work with her EVERY time she growls or shows possessive behavior. Take the item from her, she gets it back when she doesn't growl anymore. Feed her treats from your hand, pet her when she eats, pick up her bowl when she is eating out of it and put some special treats in it so she sees you "taking the bowl" as getting a reward. We dealt with this briefly with TInk and it is what my trainer suggested. Everytime she shows an unfavorable behavior - it is back on the leash for a refresher course.

As for her dependency and peeing excitement. Will should ignore her for at least 15 minutes each time he comes home. Walk right past her and ignore her. After she "settles down", then she gets his attention/affection.

Hope I helped.
My name is Lori.

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Offline nickerbokker

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Re: Maggie May's Mommie needs some advice re:growling and attachment
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2008, 09:36:57 am »
Hi Kelly,
I'm Maggies old aunt.  Although I don't have great advice, and probably do things differently than a lot of people would recommend....h ere is what I know.  

First of all, Maggie was obsessed with Wes.  When Wes got home, it was play time.  She got to do everything that she wasn't allowed to do during the day with mom.  She would get out of control with Wes as well, running around and jumping, shaking and even peeing a bit.  Everyone's suggestion to ignore her is perfect, as this is what I had to do when I got there as well, and it worked.

As for the e has NEVER bitten anyone.  She did growl at Stacy a few times if Stacy told her to get off the sofa, or get out of a room....but Stacy had no fear of her, and corrected her.

I too had problems with my own dog (Angus) growling at me, and finally...I put on a sweatshirt, oven mitts, and went after him!  When she growls and you back up, she wins.  As did Angus.  So the growling got worse, louder, more frequent.  Once I put something on my arms and oven mitts on my hands, and I let him know that I had no fear, the growling got better.  (I now use oven mitts with her cat because it is the devil and stalks me  ;D) Its been many many months since he has growled at me.  You just need to show her who's boss, so cover up your hands, and take her toys.  Then you won't be scared, and she will learn you get what you want.  

Dont know if that is good advice or bad advice, but it's the only advice I have.  It worked wonders with Angus, hopefully if you try it, it works for you too.


Offline maxsmom

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Re: Maggie May's Mommie needs some advice re:growling and attachment
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2008, 03:11:13 am »
One of my friends runs a great dane rescue, close to me.  One of the biggest reasons she has danes returned is exactly what you are describing.  They are great in their foster homes, but start to growl, guard and eventually nip, in their forever homes.  She is challenging you right now and just testing the waters to find out what her boundaries are.  Some dogs will challenge, periodically, throughout their lives.  They are IMO just very dominant dogs.  I don't have a problem with that, it just means that I can never let anything go.  If I say do something, they have to do it, or I have to force them to.  No second chances, no "it's okay this time", ever.  ChiChi challenges us, even though we have a multi dog household.  Part of her problem is that she doesn't really fit into the hierarchy here, since she is the only female.  She kind of has her own totem pole, so to speak.  You just have to meet her, move for move.  If my dogs growl at me over food, they have to eat it out of my hand.  If that means I physically struggle with them to take the food away, so be it.  I have only done that twice.  They like being able to lay down and hold their food in their paws and eat, so to have to stand up and tear off little pieces, while I hold it, is punishment for them. 
Just stand up to her and you will win.  Don't be apprehensive or worried about her reaction.  You will transmit those feelings to her and it will be a losing battle.  Good luck and you can win.
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Offline kkboelter

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Re: Maggie May's Mommie needs some advice re:growling and attachment
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2008, 06:39:07 am »
Well thanks for all the great advice.  We are doing NILIF, even though we didn't know the name for it :)  We could probably do it in more situations than we are now, so we will work on that.
I believe the over-excited behaviour or guarding of Will can and will stop with your suggestions.  We've started already!
As for the growling, I am still struggling a bit to understand the right tactic to use. I am well aware that me backing away = Maggie wins, but what tools do I have at the precise moment she is growling?  I can certainly set her up with a bone/treats knowing that is a likely time growling will occur and I can correct that then (at a controlled time and place).  The unexpected growling is what is troubling me; the growling to get off the bed was new the other morning and she didn't have a leash on or anything, so what am I supposed to do when my voice alone doesn't work?  I don't have oven mits in the bedroom, he he :)  If I back away to get her leash to put it on to use as a tool, didn't she just win then?  Just the logistics of how to correct something that requires immediate attention, but requires other tools besides just my voice to get it done. 
Also, does the feeding from the hand work when she's never shown any growling towards her food or small treats?  Just nummy bones so far.

Thanks everyone! I feel much better that this is something we can control over time.
Miss Maggie Mae, 3