Her Dog Sleeps On Her Bed And Growls At Her: Is This A Problem

Hi Adam! I have a two-year old Siberian Husky. I have had him since he was a puppy, and will be the first to admit I have been a LAZY dog owner.

I would like to remedy that and was wondering if it will be too much of a problem if I start using a whistle with training him. I am an elephant keeper at the Kansas City Zoo and am getting more and more training experience and would like to start implementing that in my relationship with my dog.

He knows a few basic commands, like sit and shake. I think that’s about it. My big question is this: He sleeps on my bed with me. Whenever I move my legs around or roll over or anything, he growls at me. He has never made an actual attempt to bite or anything, and most of the time just jumps off the bed. When this happens, I try to sit up and back him down, and like I said, he usually just jumps off the bed. What I’m wondering is, is this actually dog aggression?

He doesn’t show any other dominance problems that I’m aware of. If you could give me a possible explanation for this behavior, I could hopefully remedy it with the advice in my “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!” I don’t know if this helps any, but this has been going on since we moved away from my mother’s house and to the Kansas City area (I’m originally from NY), and I thought maybe it had something to do with that, being in a different environment and everything. As I’m re-reading this, I have probably given you way too much info. Sorry about the rambling. Thanks for your time and help, Adam. I appreciate it. Regards, Becky.

Dear Becky: Thanks for the kind words. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but… you definitely have a problem waiting to happen. I would strongly recommend NOT letting your dog sleep on the bed. This is probably the #1 way to undermine your efforts to establish yourself as the pack leader. Why?

Because instinctively, the most dominant dog will always sleep in the best spot… which is also usually the highest spot. (Remember, being the dominant one is also being the one on top). So, when you’re sleeping, you’re spending 7 to 9 hours in a horizontal position at the same level as your dog… who, in most cases, is not sleeping beneath you, but rather on top of you.

Furthermore, in the natural social hierarchy of the pack, a subordinate dog will never challenge a more dominant dog. And if he does, then the more dominant dog will always correct him and put him in his place.

However, when you’re in bed, in the middle of the night… it’s impossible for you to safely correct the dog for this type of aggression. So from now on, let Bubba sleep on the floor. Best regards, Adam.