So there've been a few developments with Charlie, my new rescue. I knew he had some quirks when I got him, but now I'm wondering which issues need attention and which may have just been misunderstood eccentricities by his foster family.
First, he's clearly very uncomfortable with strangers. A few days after I picked him up I was walking and ran into one of my neighbors walking his dog (a small, confident jack russel). Charlie wasn't overly aggressive towards the dog - he firmed up a bit in a pointer stance before sniffing him, but didn't growl or bark at him at all. However, after a few minutes of calm talking with my neighbor, he reached down towards Charlie with the standard, palm-down, greeting and Charlie growled very deeply and wouldn't let the neighbor touch him. I don't remember him snapping or baring teeth, but it was clearly a very uncomfortable situation for both him and my neighbor.
This weekend, I brought him to my parents so they could meet him and ran into the same discomfort on Charlie'st part. After calmly talking to them in front of them and clearly showing him that they aren't hostile, he still reacted like he did to my neighbor. This time, he also snapped back at my dad while he was scratching him behind the ears (no biting action, but it was a clear head jerk.)
Both of those situations are somewhat understandable, especially considering his abusive past. From the beginning, I planned to set up training lessons if needed, so I have no problem signing him up and going with him to courses to help him with this xenophobia.
However, the past two nights have made me a little more curious about his personality. He's been completely calm and loving with me for the first full week, showing no hostility at all, in or out of the house. The past two nights though, he's started a very low, mumbling growl every once in a while when I pet or scratch him. It's not every time, but maybe every fourth time that I reach over to pet him. He'll allow me to scratch him, but will continuously growl on and off. He doesn't avoid me or shy away, and even rolls over to allow me to keep rubbing him, but he still continues to growl at the sensation. His lip quivers a bit like he wasn't to bare teeth, but he hasn't snapped or even jerked towards me at all (even a few minutes ago when I continued petting him, despite the growling, for about 5 minutes). Sometimes he'll stop growling for a bit while I pet him until I talk to him or say his name. When I talk though, he starts up again.
I know it's a thought that goes against biology, but I'm wondering if he's just slightly confused by what growling means when he's around me, haha. By typical dog standards, talking to him with my familiar voice in an affectionate tone while petting him should calm him instead of encourage the growl, right?
Despite his quirks, he's definitely a cool dude.