I have a 2 yo rescue greyhound. By rescue I mean the trainer took her and her sister to the vet to be put to sleep, as they weren't running fast enough at the track.

She's a darling sweet girl. I have no issues with her. She doesn't chase our cats, she loves going for runs when I go to the horses and she spends most of her time sleeping.

The issue is:
Elsa growls when we move around (she sleep with us), especially if her legs are facing us.
She also can have some intense dreams it seems, where her breathing will get quite heavy and they do not seem happy. I haven't owned a dog who has dreamt like this before.

Apparently there's traits in the greyhounds that come off the track. I've spoken with other greyhound owners and it's due to them being kennelled separately and not being used to being disturbed at all in their sleep.

I don't know much about her past, except her trainer took her and her sister to the vet to be put to sleep and they would've been kennelled their whole lives, and not allowed into a family home and petted.

I'm looking for some tips to help her through this.

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  • 1
    Is it aggressive, conscious growling? My family's dog will growl if we try to move him while he's sleeping, but it's not serious - more like grumbling we disturbed him than he's alert and ready to attack. He's a schnauzer and very different background though.
    – user812786
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 12:57
  • @whrrgarbl yeh, it's more that grumbling, or she will actually bark - once. She doesn't snarl or bare teeth
    – user6796
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


While she's awake, work on touching and moving her, giving treats after each touch/movement, until she's really happy and comfortable (loose body, wagging tail, happy relaxed face) with you doing that. Practice at different times of day and night and do set ups where you get into bed and act like it's sleep time, but really it's a training session. This will get her to really like being touched and moved in general, and it could generalise to being touched while asleep.

If she growls, stop! That means you've asked for too much. Also stop if she freezes or seems tense at all; build up gradually to that movement, keeping at a level where she's comfortable at all times.

If she's uncomfortable being touched anywhere or moved when awake too (watch for subtle signs, not just growling), it's also worth getting her checked out for pain.

Please be careful - if a dog is startled when asleep they may bite in self-defense (even the friendliest and most gentle dog can bite if they feel scared enough in the moment). Could she sleep on a bed next to your bed instead of on it, at least for a while? That way, she can still be near you, but you can eliminate the situation where she growls until that is resolved.


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