He also went through some sort of weird "fear period" when he would growl/bark at me if I had specific objects in my hand, like the remote for the TV or a fork...
How old was he during that? I've hear that dogs can have another fear period around a year (9-18 months or thereabouts)...I've wondered if that is some of Robin's issue, and we are also working on a touch command. She cracked me up while she walked HUGE circles around a chunk of asphalt in the parking lot the other day. She wasn't going anywhere NEAR that thing.
The "drop it" command is far from solid in the real world; it's pretty good when we've got the clicker out.
Though she is getting pretty good and understanding she has to drop it when we play tug, or the game doesn't continue and she doesn't get treats. She's at least getting conditioned to that circumstance.
Convincing everyone else in the house that she needs to be tethered would be difficult, but honestly, as long as she's monitored, she's pretty darn good. We've been making an effort to keep the place puppy-proof (our other two dogs have spoiled us with not getting into trouble) and if I see her going for something (including the cats), I can ask her to "leave it" and "come" and she does (maybe 80%+ reliability?); keeping treats on my person at all times helps tremendously with that portion of her training. I bought some Charlee Bears since they are tiny and dry and won't make my pocket slimy.
Dogs are very good at reading body language, so if she *thinks* you are intimidated by her growling and it *does* make you go away/leave her alone... you could be *teaching* her to communicate that way more and more.
Unfortunately, this is what I think is happening. It surprises me and I jump back. Having also lived so many years with a dog to whom I was eternally grateful every time he would growl and NOT just bite, I'm hyper-sensitive to not training OUT the warning, and also to knowing that dogs do bite-- just because they are your sweet family dog, it doesn't mean they won't use teeth. And it doesn't make her a bad dog. It makes her a dog. But it still surprises me. I need to make extra effort to just calm down.
But on the other hand, if she growls what should I do? When she's giving me a warning, I don't want to push her to more escalated warnings, and at the same time, I don't want her to think it's ok for her to always call the shots. Sometimes I'm going to need her to do something she doesn't want to do. Such a catch 22.
The other thing I can say I've noticed is that she doesn't like being pushed around, and will growl or go still if she thinks she's being forced to do something. Sometimes, she doesn't want to be moved from where she is by collar or by picking up her legs. I know that's a bad move, but I think we took her otherwise good temperament for granted. I work on an "off" command, and general handling-- and, again, learning recall has helped tremendously. We just have to remember she came to us with no obedience whatsoever, and we're all learning to live together and get to know each other. The more SHE learns, the easier it is for ALL of us, as we are already seeing!
Just have to carry on! Everyone's help and encouragement here has been invaluable!!!
"In these bodies, we will live; in these bodies we will die.
Where you invest your love, you invest your life." --Marcus Mumford