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johnny0313x's avatar

My puppy growls if I move him while he sleeps ...

Asked by johnny0313x (1855points) November 19th, 2008 from iPhone

I have a 7 month old pit jack mix and when he is sleeping if I try to move him he will growl very aggressively. I have found a trick by doing it slow and holding his head seems to reduce his anger. Now I realize nobody likes to be bothered while sleeping but he sleeps in my bed and usually In my spot. I’m just concerned this could be a bigger problem later on. He usually never growls at anything else not even other dogs. Only grunts or growls a little if he wants my attention and I’m busy. Should I try to correct his sleeping growl. I’m afraid he will snap at me or someone else one day. If I should correct this -how?

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15 Answers

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I wouldn’t want people to mess me me while I sleep either.

If it was my dog, I’d probably just stop letting him sleep with me. You don’t a 70 lb dog in your bed anyway. Between you, your (real or potential) girlfriend, and the dog once he’s grown, that’s not a lot of space.

johnny0313x's avatar

I don’t think he will be any bigger then 40 lbs and that may be pushing it. I see where u are coming from as it has been a problem when I kick him out on certain nights ;-) but overall I sleep alone mostly and I like having him there next to me especially to keep my feet warm In the winter ha

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Staying warm is important. It’s your call. I mean, I can’t think of a way to get a dog to not growl when you move it/kick it/etc in it’s sleep. It seems like…dare i say “dog nature” ? (as in human nature) I pretty much growl too – especially if you take my covers away. Or roll over on me, or slide your knees up and down on me. sorry, i digress, these are all things my boyfriend does to me in his sleep. anyway, Maybe some other clever people will be able to think of something other than just kicking him out.

johnny0313x's avatar

I didn’t think it was to common for a puppy to be upset about being moved. I’d expect that from a dog in it’s old age. My friend has 3 dogs between the ages of 2 years – 2 months and u can swing them around by their nails while sleeping and they wouldn’t care. ( I’m speaking figuritivly of course , I’ve never actually tried to)

La_chica_gomela's avatar


i mean, i think it’s like people. some people you can do all kinds of shit to them in their sleep, paint their face blue, cover their body with shaving cream, carry them outside and set them on a lawnchair, but then other people you just touch them, or roll over too close to them and they wake up and tell you to piss off. sometimes if i get up to go to the bathroom, Tim will wake up and be like “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!? GO TO BED!!?!” but other times i can turn on the lights and bang stuff around and he doesn’t even budge. i don’t know. i’m no expert. i’m just, you know, spitballing i guess they call it. that sounds icky though. i don’t like spitballs…

mamasu's avatar

If he’s 7 months old and growling, you need to get a handle on it now. Remember dogs are pack animals. Certain behaviors can be modified by modeling pack behavior. If you cater to the growling and move him more slowly, you’re giving him room to think of himself as being the Alpha dog in your little pack. You need to establish yourself as Alpha. When he growls, reprimand him firmly (don’t yell). If you need a physical stimulus to augment the verbal reprimand, don’t start off by hitting him, please. Do what an Alpha dog would do. Pinch his lip, hold his head down while you reprimand him, tweek his ear. All of this should be firm enough to get attention but not so hard that it causes real pain or instills real fear. Firmly tell him “No growl” and be consistent each time. It won’t take long before he gets the message that you are top dog, it’s your bed, and he needs to move over without fuss.

Of course, even better would be crate training him, but I understand what it’s like to be a sucker for a dog on the bed. I have 2 75lb wonders who try to fit in whatever space my husband and I leave. I have to say Off about 3 times most nights. The little buggers are pretty good at sneaking back up without me noticing until I try to roll over. Clearly, I am not Alpha. ;~)

needaclue's avatar

Your puppy is protecting what he regards as his space. This is a completely natural behavior and dog trainers call it resource guarding. There are a number of good articles and books available to teach you how to use positive reinforcement to train your dog to share his space and to not see you as a threat to his limited resources. Here’s one that uses positive reinforcement here’s one that subscribes to the alpha dog philosophy

I believe a dog’s behavior should be interpreted in the context of the events and the people or stimula in the area. Here’s a blog entry that helps define what dominance may be, and it reflects my own understanding of canine behavior.

To me, growling is an acceptable behavior, and I’d rather have a dog growl and warn me (or a stranger) off than train a dog not to growl and have him go straight to the bite. The growl is not the problem, the problem, to me, is the attitude that inspires it: “There’s not enough to go around. This is mine. Get your own.”

I think the best approach to training any dog is to do what works most painlessly and most effectively.

Good luck with your puppy!

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Johnny, do you talk to him before and during moving him, so he’s not quite alseep?

jessturtle23's avatar

I agree with mamasu on this one. You need to break him of it now. The lip pinch really does work. My dog was aggressive over his food when I first got him to where he actually bit me when I tried to move his bowl and I grabbed his lip and he has never done it again.

syz's avatar

This is a big warning sign! If he’s only 7 months old and he’s aggressively (yes, growling is aggressive) defending what he thinks is now his territory, your going to have some serious dominance issues. You and he need to get into a good puppy obedience training class. The class will give you a good foundation and understanding of basic behaviors and commands. I would also recommend that you get him neutered as soon as possible (if you haven’t already). Neutering will not stop or fix the problem, but it will remove the added complication of increasing testosterone levels.

johnny0313x's avatar

I do talk to him before i move him, and if I wake him up first and move him a little then he will be fine and let me move him. However if i just grab while he is sleeping he will growl.
I did look into obediance classes, they are around $80.00 for i think 4–5 weeks something like that, at the local petsmart/petco/super pet etc. I was leary about how good of an investment it would be to go to a place like that. Any ideas or have you tried going to classes there?

He is a good dog overall listens unless there is extreme distraction around him.
I do think obedience classes would be good and I will try all you suggestions about the growling as well. Thanks guys, feel free to answer with anything new.

Oh also i ment to mention that his growling doesnt so much seem like he is defending the area, i can lay ontop of him pet him do whatever i want, its just the action of physically placing my hands under him to move his body that he doesnt like. Like he is all comfortable and bitching cause he wants to stay in that position ha

syz's avatar

I don’t recommend the pet store classes – check with your local AKC, Kennel Club, or shelter.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

We had good luck with dog training classes through adult ed from the public schools. Your vet’s office might have a good recommendation. I don’t think you will be able to end the growling, but he does have to learn to respect you as the alpha dog in your “pack” of 2. Maybe you can train him to get off the bed without touching him, get in, and invite him back up. You really are starting at a good age, because he’s old enough to learn.

Maybe he can learn to ride a skateboard…

johnny0313x's avatar

@alfreda, I am taking him to the vet soon, so I will ask her when I go. I agree I think he is at a good age for learning, past the really tiny puppy age but still at a prime learning age. I know he is a smart dog because he does seem to learn super quick. Sometimes I just tell him once and he understands it and remembers in the future.

cutelildeadbear's avatar

This is not “dog nature” nor is it appropriate behavior. He is guarding his space and you need to teach him now that he does now own that space, but rather that it is a privilege. Of course first make sure he is not hurt, but I suspect he is having the same issue my dog had. You need to train him that the bed does not belong to him, that it is your bed and he has to share it. You think that it isn’t guarding but it is. He is saying to you “No, I like this spot, you will not remove me from it”.

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