Barking and snarling...what do you think?

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Jazzy
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Barking and snarling...what do you think?

Postby Jazzy » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:59 am

Last night I was watching this awesome dvd "dog-dog reactivity" by Patricia McConnell...in my never ending quest to understand V.'s reactivity issues and what to do about them...and I'm happy to say after 6 years; multiple research efforts and many consultations (many of them contradictory)...I feel like I completely get her! Ironically McConnell summed her up perfectly and basically said all the bits and pieces I had strung together myself and supported the conclusions I had painstakingly come to...damn shame I couldn't have just seen her video 5 years ago...would have saved me an awful lot of trouble. lol

Anyway she made a statement that struck my as very, very true...and something that I have always felt about V. while trying to unravel her dog-dog issues...but also something that can be applied to all other contexts (not just dog-dog) as well.

What she said is...barking (no matter how ferocious you may think it sounds) is not always an indication of aggressive intent; however snarling always is.

I think that's very true with V. (as a generally reactive dog there are situations where she sometimes barks...allot. Not just at dogs, at the dumpster, at the branch, at a person -once her nervous system revs up - she has many barks for many different reasons...from "you better stay away" to, "OMG, WHAT"S THAT?" to "Hai! I'm Veronica! I's over here!! I need ATTENTION"!!!!)

But there is no mistaking her snarl...

which I have only heard in the context of an interaction with another dog who has invaded her space or who's space she has invaded and her reactivity has spilled over into aggression (from years ago; we stopped these encounters once we realized that no matter how friendly they started out, 9 times out of 10 they were going to go south) or from when on-leash play with a known dog starts to get too rough (to quote McConnell in describing this behavior,..."I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out" - so, SO V.

Anyway it just struck me as a somewhat useful distinction, as many times I see people assuming that because their dog is barking it is aggressive. Well yes, it might be; but there is also just as good, if not way better of a chance that it is not aggressive...that it is something else entirely going on.

But if you get a snarl...and you will know when you do...then you can feel comfortable in assuming you have aggressive intent.

Thoughts?

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Re: Barking and snarling...what do you think?

Postby Amie » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:54 am

My only concern is in the definition. "You'll know it when you see it" is among my least favorite definitions, and since I work with a huge variety of people (staff and volunteers) who have a huge variety of dog experience, I'm not sure I trust all of them to know the difference between a snarl and growly bark or other gravely vocalization...

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Re: Barking and snarling...what do you think?

Postby Jazzy » Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:17 pm

Amie wrote:My only concern is in the definition. "You'll know it when you see it" is among my least favorite definitions, and since I work with a huge variety of people (staff and volunteers) who have a huge variety of dog experience, I'm not sure I trust all of them to know the difference between a snarl and growly bark or other gravely vocalization...


Well that does make sense and looking at it that way, I have to agree with you.

The definiton of "you'll know it when you see it" was mine, not McConnells. I was just interjecting personal experience...maybe it wouldn't be that obvious to everyone with every dog; but for me, with V. it seems like the difference between tapping on your breaks and skidding a bit and a full head on twisted metal collision. lol

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Re: Barking and snarling...what do you think?

Postby MarMar » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:04 pm

I'd love to see this DVD! Like you, I'm on a lifetime quest to learn more about reactivity/aggression. I have found over the years though that while I am interested in what is motivating reactive/aggressive behaviour, the treatment is mostly the same: reducing anxiety/stressors, keeping dogs under threshold as much as possible, teaching and rewarding relaxed, appropriate behaviors, and preventing rehearsal of unwanted behaviors.

My two dogs both have dog/dog issues but they are very different, however both boil down to them having a lot of stress in dog/dog encounters and not being able to deal appropriately with that stress. Becky is high arousal, control freak, reactive, pushy, high prey drive. People would call her "dominant' based on the way she interacts with other dogs, but that's not really helpful in determining how I'd work with her. She barks at many things, but she doesn't always bark at other dogs. Doesn't mean she wouldn't bite them though! She also is much better at using growls and snarls and lip-lifts to communicate with dogs than Marlo is. He is HIGHLY reactive to other dogs on sight, but strangely has very polite greeting behaviors for the most part. I have NEVER seen him lip lift or snarl at another dog, but he goes very quickly from play/stress to BITE. I trust him much less wiht other dogs than I do Becky.

So I guess while it may be true that a snarl always equals aggressive intent, it may not be that helpful if your dog does not snarl but still has aggressive intent. Does that make sense? I feel like I rambled lol .

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Re: Barking and snarling...what do you think?

Postby Jazzy » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:29 pm

Makes sense and you made excellent points...

in fact; you said what McConnell said when she got to the treatment methodologies (sp?) section...all the popular methods for dealing with dog-dog reactivity have in common:
1. Increasing distance
2. decreasing direct approaches
3. eliminating eye contact
4. reinforcing appropriate behavior.

The first dvd went over the 2 methods we use; the watch me (she calls it an autowatch and reinforces for the dog having a default watch) and where's the dog - which is LAT.

The 2nd dvd will cover BAT, CAT and a method of Trish King's called Abandonment training.

I'm getting the dvds through bowwowflix - they have a wonderful selection.

With regard to the lack of snarling; not sure if this applies to Marlo - but she says that dogs who are absolutely silent before they go after another dog are the most serious and that is true aggression. The barking and lunging and other reactive behaviors dogs engage in she feels are more about signaling, about arousal, communicating and negotiating. Whereas a silent dog is saying "I'm not communicating with you, negotiating with you, telling you to go away, I'm just trying to get to you".

I was commenting on the snarl, more in terms of people misinterpreting dogs' vocalizations...it just sort of clicked when she made the comment about a snarl always equaling aggression; but other vocalizations having potentially many other meanings.

As far as V. is concerned; I'd say she's about 80 -85% appropriate in terms of behavior; and I'm thinking the reason we still have that 20 -15% reactivity is because I've let her have too many experiences of being over threshold. But the 1 thing she still has an extemely difficult time with - like a 100% fail rate - is other reactive dogs. I'm starting to realize that that may be a scenario she never learns to handle with grace and we just need to increase distance and avoid.

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Re: Barking and snarling...what do you think?

Postby MarMar » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:09 pm

Jazzy wrote:Makes sense and you made excellent points...

in fact; you said what McConnell said when she got to the treatment methodologies (sp?) section...all the popular methods for dealing with dog-dog reactivity have in common:
1. Increasing distance
2. decreasing direct approaches
3. eliminating eye contact
4. reinforcing appropriate behavior.

The first dvd went over the 2 methods we use; the watch me (she calls it an autowatch and reinforces for the dog having a default watch) and where's the dog - which is LAT.

The 2nd dvd will cover BAT, CAT and a method of Trish King's called Abandonment training.

I'm getting the dvds through bowwowflix - they have a wonderful selection.

With regard to the lack of snarling; not sure if this applies to Marlo - but she says that dogs who are absolutely silent before they go after another dog are the most serious and that is true aggression. The barking and lunging and other reactive behaviors dogs engage in she feels are more about signaling, about arousal, communicating and negotiating. Whereas a silent dog is saying "I'm not communicating with you, negotiating with you, telling you to go away, I'm just trying to get to you".

I was commenting on the snarl, more in terms of people misinterpreting dogs' vocalizations...it just sort of clicked when she made the comment about a snarl always equaling aggression; but other vocalizations having potentially many other meanings.

As far as V. is concerned; I'd say she's about 80 -85% appropriate in terms of behavior; and I'm thinking the reason we still have that 20 -15% reactivity is because I've let her have too many experiences of being over threshold. But the 1 thing she still has an extemely difficult time with - like a 100% fail rate - is other reactive dogs. I'm starting to realize that that may be a scenario she never learns to handle with grace and we just need to increase distance and avoid.



Yes I agree with this. I've real, silent aggression once, at tech school...a dog went for another, right for the belly...the dog had to have emergency surgery. Marlo is not really like this...he does not INTEND to hurt/maim the other dog. Out of maybe 6 bites in his life (not letting go bites) they've ALL been on the ear and none have caused more damage than minor abrasions. His problem is more "i'm ok I'm ok I'm ok OMG I'M NOT OKAY WITH THIS" as opposed to actual silent attacks. He certainly is not shy about making noise!

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Re: Barking and snarling...what do you think?

Postby Kingsgurl » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:09 pm

That's my problem with Mysti, she only does the loud or snarly when she is frustrated with not getting to the dog. She has intent, unfortunately, and will lure them in by being quiet

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Re: Barking and snarling...what do you think?

Postby BrokenAquarian » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:59 pm

Keela does the biggest snort/snarl (followed by bellowing barks) when she gets surprised by someone coming to the door - usually when someone is in the kitchen fixing food.

It really feels to me like she's trying to be intimidating. That may be something totally different than what you're explaining, though.

When she fights, she makes no warning sounds. The only warnings you get are silent ones - ears back, head turning away(avoidance) then BAM! all this happens in in 2 seconds.

If she only growled, it would make things so much easier on the other dog, who doesn't pay attention at all to visual cues.

She never has gotten along with other dogs, she's never been comfortable around them. Only with Louie, now they aren't even friends/tolerant of each other after 5.5 years together.

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Re: Barking and snarling...what do you think?

Postby Mya&theSiebenDackels » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:18 am

I find this very interesting as Mya(who was very DA) never made a sound and was completely silent. She never barked or growled at dogs even while on a leash. She would just watch the other dogs every move and if she got close to them, she would immediately attack them. If she was off leash with them(except for Tank) she would just immediately go up and attack them. Which is also how she started to look at people except without the attacking part. She was protective of me even though she did not warning bark. She was just very aware of her surroundings.


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