I did a search in this group on the problem of dogs that growl on waking up. I found a few threads from a few years back notably, one that sounded like exactly the problem I'm having, but didn't find anything saying what the owner tried or how things turned.

Anyways... my problem is that I recently adopted a dog, Winston (3-4 yrs old, llasa/maltese, or so they think,) who growls (menacingly) at anything that wakes him. We've only had him a couple of days. Basically, he's been great during the day. He's very smart, eager to please, and generally seems like he wants to be a part of the family.

But at night, if he's lying on the floor, snoozing/dozing/whatever and he hears the sound of approaching footsteps or voices, he'll start growling and if you're too close when he wakes, he will snap at you. This was pretty bad the first night but the second night, I was able to coax him into not growling or snapping every time he wakes (although I'm a little concerned that, rather than growl, he might just bite without warning in the future.)
Our initial thoughts:

1. He's a bit stressed by having new owners, by moving to a new home,etc.

2. He was (poorly) trained to be watchdog.
3. He was abused by a prior owner.

Notes:

1. The problem seems less when either I or my brother Fred wakes him.Winston seems to recognize me and Fred as higher up in the pack order than he is.

2. The problem seems more when my brother Jake wakes him. (Fred and Isuspect that Winston thinks Jake is his ***.)
I often hear that growling requires immediate action. I do wonder, though, whether this can wait at least a few days giving Winston time to settle into his new environment. (I guess what may not be able to wait is establishing that my mother and Jake are higher in the pack order than Winston.)
Any ideas? Thanks.
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how the hell is any body going to answer such a bad *** bunch of words!
uhh... what?
uhh... what?so hire me already

dog wants job
dog needs lots of money
dog needs funny honey
shut the hel.up un cross posting!
un blow yur nose
Anyways... my problem is that I recently adopted a dog, Winston (3-4 yrs old, llasa/maltese, or so they think,) who ... of approaching footsteps or voices, he'll start growling and if you're too close when he wakes, he will snap at you.

The growling doesn't concern me a whole lot. At least not for a short period of time. Our miniature schnauzer growls if you try to move her when she's asleep. OUR first concern was that she had a sore spot someplace but it's just her. She doesn't want to be moved. We just tell her to "shut up, silly" and move her anyway. I'm guessing it was because she lived for a couple of years with a large group of dogs and she was used to protecting her "prime" sleeping spot.
The snapping concerns me somewhat more but..
Our initial thoughts: 1. He's a bit stressed by having new owners, by moving to a new home, etc.

This is certainly true.
2. He was (poorly) trained to be watchdog.

Maybe but I doubt it. He's only protecting HIS spot.
3. He was abused by a prior owner.

It IS entirely possible that a previous owner thought that it was "cute" to encourage him to behave that way. I cringe when I see the videos on TV where they all think it's funny to make the little dog attack either people or the camera.
1. The problem seems less when either I or my brother Fred wakes him. Winston seems to recognize me and Fred as higher up in the pack order than he is.

Possible, especially if you are the ones who are feeding and walking him. A little less emphasis on the "pack order" explanation but yeah, the people who control the food and the fun will get more respect from him.
2. The problem seems more when my brother Jake wakes him. (Fred and I suspect that Winston thinks Jake is his ***.)

Nah. Winston knows that he is a dog and that Jake is a human.
I often hear that growling requires immediate action. I do wonder, though, whether this can wait at least a few ... not be able to wait is establishing that my mother and Jake are higher in the pack order than Winston.)

If the growling and the snapping escalate then you need to address the issue. I suspect that he doesn't feel safe. He knows he's vulnerable when he's sleeping. This could improve on its own given a few days and longer. I also suspect that someone at his previous home thought it was cute to poke him awake and have him growl and attack.
Therefore, I would work at making hin feel secure in his sleeping spot. Perhaps encourage the use of a crate (door can be left open) or at least a dog bed that is out of the direct traffic flow of the household. I would give him a few more days to settle in and if his behavior hasn't escalated, I would start conditioning him to having people approach him while he is sleeping. Approaching him while talking quietly to him and with very tasty treats - which he gets when he is awake and calm. Maybe start by staying back a little way and calling his name to wake up and come and get the treat from you. Then keep working closer. And NO one in your house does anything to encourage his old behavior.
Where does he sleep overnight? Does he sleep in bed with you or does he have a crate or a dog bed in your room where he can feel safe?

In terms of "pack order", I think you should just put it out of your head. Winston knows that he is a dog. And at all other times, he is friendly, happy and wants to be a part of your household. The people control the food, the play, the attention, the walks - he almost certainly understands that he relies on people for all of those things. He's not trying to dominate you when he growls or snaps. Dogs are usually pretty clear on who is the top person in the house and it's almost always the one with the food.

~~Judy
Thank you for your reply. Clearly, you're correct in noting that there's both good advice and bad advice to be found on bulletin boards. I certainly appreciate your cautionary words.
Thanks, Judy. Will definitely keep your thoughts on the matter in mind. (Fingers crossed.)
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