We adopted Max a week ago, after our beloved Aussie died at age 14 1/2. The "old dog" was very gentle and had been with the kids their entire life (the kids are 8-yr old twins and a 2-yr old). They got used to doing whatever they wanted with her, and she never nipped or growled. Max is 1 year old, neutered.
Max is very submissive, an Aussie/border collie rescue dog. He has bonded with my husband and me, and is very loving and cuddly. He hasn't growled at the youngest, but every once in a while he's growling at the 8-yr olds. Usually in the evening, when he's laying down and they come up to pet him. It's a low growl, not very loud, and he doesn't show his teeth.
We're trying to figure out what's going on. He's not being aggressive towards them - just growling. We're thinking that maybe he's just telling them "I've had enough" and that they should leave him alone.
But, I'm also thinking that maybe he's trying to find out who is alpha? Youngest daughter pushes him around, tells him no and isn't scared at all - she shows NO fear. So either he's decided she's above ihim on the totem pole, or she's lower and doesn't need to be taught her place. The older kids aren't very forceful with him and are actually a bit fearful that he's growling. I'm thinking if he is trying to find out who is top dog, maybe they should forcefully tell him NO when he growls.
So what do we do? Tell them to leave him alone when he growls, or to growl back so he'll know they are above him? He is such a sweet, loving dog and I haven't seen any signs that he'll bite or nip - at first he was submissive to my son, but now he's not doing that.