AdministratorFebruary 4, 2019 at 11:24 pm988
Considering you inherited these issues with Chet, it is reasonable to assume that these are all reactions based off of his past experiences.
Too often, people base general fearful reactions off of past abuse, when in actuality it is usually genetic. In Chet’s case, his reactions seem so specific toward things that are associated with physical confrontations with humans you are likely dealing with a true rehab case. My guess is that someone used to lose their temper and use their hands to “punish” him.
These things are often “what came first, chicken or the egg” type of scenarios. Dogs that are more likely to deal with conflict with aggression are more likely to be harshly punished and dogs that are harshly punished are more likely to deal with impending conflict with aggression.
Either way, I would continue doing what you are doing and NOT punish for the growling. He is telling you he does not want to bite when he does that, but he is also telling you that he is fearful (unreasonably so) of some sort of impending confrontation.
I think you are on the right track by using the muzzle, but I would also refrain from using the word “no” as a general reprimand or anything else that you say that triggers the behavior. He seems to have been classically conditioned to associate it with physical confrontation in the past.
I would suggest doing a lot of phase 2 where he learns that “no” means “wrong” basically and will be followed through with a “correction” (showing him what to do) instead of physical confrontation. The best rehab comes from lots of phase 2. I think much of the defensiveness will keep improving when he continues to experience that you are predictable. All dogs will avoid that type of confrontation if they are confident in how to do so.
Once you have the muzzle on him it is easier and safer to snap him out of the “growly” behavior by commanding him to do something different such as go to a placemat. That kills a couple of birds with one stone. First, it shows him that there will be no physical confrontation (great for rehab), and two it doesn’t “reward” the behavior for growling. Instead, it commands an alternative behavior.
He looks great in your last training journal!