Stop Puppy Growling

Hi all,

Need some advice. We have a 9 week old goldendoodle. Everything is normal except that he growls every single time I touch him to pick him up while he is sleepy. For example: To put him in the crate if he is sleeping on the floor.

I really don't want to tolerate this and while I understand growling is a sign that he is uncomfortable, I am sure I am gonna have to touch him numerous times in the future when he is sleepy or napping. I think he thinks he is the alpha and not me. I don't think he does this with my husband except for playful growling.

Any advice would help a lot! Thanks!

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  • Nine weeks is very young. Many puppies don't even come home before they are 10 weeks old. And I can tell you that this has absolutely NOTHING to do with him thinking he is the "alpha". That's not even a thing. Please put that kind of thought out of your head. He's growling more as a reflex because it's startling to be disturbed or picked up when you're asleep. If he was still with his litter and one of his littermates bumped him while he was asleep, he'd growl at them, too.  But I will say that it sounds like he was not handled enough before he came home to you, because not every puppy does this. He should have been getting lots and lots of handling while he was still with the breeder. My puppy's breeder even trimmed their nails when they were sleepy, it's the easiest time to do it. 
    You should start handling him more when he is not sleepy. Do you ever just hold him and pet him? Brush him? Play interactive training games with him? Do these things, and make them pleasant experiences. Use treats, use praise. Whatever you do, do not use harsh methods to correct the growling or try to assert yourself as the "alpha". That kind of idea went out years ago. 
    Another thing you could try to do is get him into his crate before he gets sleepy. If he is on a schedule, which every young puppy should be, it's fairly easy to predict the times when he usually naps. 

    • Yes, at this age get him into his crate before he falls asleep.  At this age, he's going to be ready for a nap within an hour or two of waking.  In an hour's time, he should have gone potty about 3-4 times (or given the opportunity by taking him outside) and had play time between and then BACK to the crate for rest again.  It works great for you too, because then you KNOW when you get some time to do life without eyes on the puppy for a bit.  

      I've personally never had a puppy or dog that growled from being touched, moved, woken up.  So it's a little unusual for me and would have me concerned, but it could just be as Karen said above.  Do you know a ton about the breeder and parent dogs?  Did you meet them?  Do you have information on how puppies were raised and socialized?

      • Also since, per your last post, are planning to have a baby in less than a year, it would behoove you to hire a trainer now to get you comfy with puppy raising and teach you what you need to know to get this puppy off to a great start.  A 1 year old is still an adolescent dog and can be a huge challenge to manage with a newborn if you don't start off now with teaching your puppy what it needs to be a great household member.

      • I've never had a puppy growl at me from being touched, woken, moved, etc., but I've only had puppies who were handled and socialized like crazy before they came home.


        • And there are trainers who help with THIS VERY THING.  To teach people how to desensitize puppies to being handled and manipulated.  


  • I'd also like to address your comment that your pup doesn't do this with your husband. There are two possible reasons that come to my mind. 
    First, be sure you are picking him up with your hand(s) under his chest/belly, and NOT under his armpits (axilla) or his legs. If you lift him by the axilla, that can be painful. 
    Second, if you are at all afraid of dogs, or if you are tentative or timid in the way you approach or handle him, he is going to sense that you are not sure of yourself and respond to that. That's not an "alpha" thing, it's an insecurity thing. Your husband may be more confident in the way he handles him, which makes your pup feel secure and relaxed. Dogs need to feel that the person/people who are caring for them are sure of themselves and have everything under control. Otherwise, a dog starts to feel like he has to look out for and protect himself, and that's when you run into real problems. 

  • In addition to all the other advice  begin talking to your puppy using his name frequently in a high happy "we are going to do something fun" sort of voice.  It is always better to approach any animal, even if awake with voice first.

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