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Help Needed on Puppy Agression

BlueBear

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Hello, I hope this is the right section for this.

Our puppy is 9 weeks old and we have had him exactly one week. He is a cross breed of Old English Sheepdog and Saint Bernard. A few times in the week we have had him he has bitten me and my partner several times which we recognise as normal puppy behaviour and have got it pretty much under control we think, by distracting him with toys and crate training.

Tonight was a totally different kettle of fish. In fact it was very out of character for him. It started at about 20:30, where he was barking at something outside the bifold doors in the kitchen. I thought it must be his reflection he was barking at because there was nothing outside (except for a low murmer of fireworks which were barely audible).

Earlier this afternoon we bought him a Kong toy and some of the Kong paste for him to play with (him having diarrhoea so we have removed it and put the paste to one side to rule out future episodes - we think this was the culprit).

As he had the diarrhoea earlier in the evening I thought the barking was because he may need to go outside again for the toilet so let him out as I normally would. He went out no problem but then his mood changed suddenly, he became very aggressive and started digging like crazy at the back door, snarling and barking. I tried to get him back in the house calmly but to no avail, he bit, barked and snarled at me and refused to cooperate, going back to his digging spot every time and digging again like craxy. In the end I grabbed hold of him, picked him up and put him in his crate and locked it (the crate is in the living room where we all sit watching TV).

I let him out about 2 minutes later when he had calmed down and then he stared at the living room wall, backing up and barking again aggressively. I managed to calm him with a toy which I played with him for about 5 minutes until he went to his dog bed and fell asleep.

I've never seen this kind of behaviour before in him and wondered if it has anything to do with the Kong paste, we gave him at about 5pm this afternoon ? It may be full of additives and bad stuff but I didn't think at the time when I bought it.

My partner is very worried about his behaviour now and has mentioned a few times she is scared of him, but I'm 100% sure we can sort the problem out. I guess I just need a bit of expert advise and if anyone has any suggestions ?

Thanks in advance
 
It could have been something in the paste, or it could have been the fireworks - a dog's hearing is far more acute than ours so a low murmur for you will be more noticeable for him. Or maybe he heard something else, or maybe he was overtired or maybe something totally different.

I'd see how he is today, if it was something in the paste it will have cleared his system. See how he is at the digging spot in daylight - if I understood you correctly it is outside. If it is convenient, you could even make that his digging place. If he likes to dig, it means you have one hole in the garden rather than many. If it isn't convenient, block access with garden furniture until he forgets about it.

If he starts again tonight, I'd do what you did, distract him with something. A toy, or if you want to encourage calm behaviour rather than play at that time of night, you could still use a Kong but maybe with cooked mashed vegetables or some of his food. If he is on dry food you could crush that down and mix with some vegetables, you can freeze it too to make it last longer.
 
It could have been something in the paste, or it could have been the fireworks - a dog's hearing is far more acute than ours so a low murmur for you will be more noticeable for him. Or maybe he heard something else, or maybe he was overtired or maybe something totally different.

I'd see how he is today, if it was something in the paste it will have cleared his system. See how he is at the digging spot in daylight - if I understood you correctly it is outside. If it is convenient, you could even make that his digging place. If he likes to dig, it means you have one hole in the garden rather than many. If it isn't convenient, block access with garden furniture until he forgets about it.

If he starts again tonight, I'd do what you did, distract him with something. A toy, or if you want to encourage calm behaviour rather than play at that time of night, you could still use a Kong but maybe with cooked mashed vegetables or some of his food. If he is on dry food you could crush that down and mix with some vegetables, you can freeze it too to make it last longer.

Thank you for your help. He is really good this morning but stared out the bifolds, barking for a couple of minutes this morning when I first opened his crate to let him out.

I've taken him outside and no digging so I think it may be the fireworks that were spooking him. I've increased the treats for rewarding calm behaviour and I'll see how he goes.

Thanks again for your help and great idea on the mashed vegetables in the Kong, I'll get on it later today.

Thanks again !
 
It was all going really well.

Then my partner came downstairs and the dog went for her. She no longer wants the dog in the house, she won't come downstairs because she is too afraid of him and in tears.

I had taken him outside for the toilet and he started digging in the garden again. He was well behaved and responded well to playing with the ball. He came in with me, got dried off and went in the kitchen. As soon as he saw my girlfriend he snarled lunged and kept biting her. He is calm now and in his basket asleep but now ive got to try and figure out where to start again


Any ideas ?
 
Start with having a read of this, and see if anything resonates. But come right back to us if you have any other questions, or think anything doesn't apply or won't work.

Puppy biting
 
Start with having a read of this, and see if anything resonates. But come right back to us if you have any other questions, or think anything doesn't apply or won't work.

Thank you Joanne that was really helpful.

I've been super calm all day with him and so far he has been OK except for the episode earlier with my partner. He had his 12:30 lunch and shortly after went for my girlfriend again who did her best to distract him with a toy but he bit her so hard on the arm he drew blood and she is now in tears again upstairs. I calmed him down then he suddenly turned on me so I managed to bundle him in his crate for another timeout.

Is this level of aggression normal ? I never had it with my German Shepherd and neither did my partner with hers. He just suddenly stops playing and goes on the attack. At nearly 10Kg this is going to be a big problem in a few weeks when he is bigger and stronger so any help would be really appreciated.

Thanks
 
Puppies are very seldom truly aggressive. Real aggression in a puppy of that age would be from something serious like a brain injury or disorder, much in the same way as in a two year old child. So while we can't rule it out, the likelihood is very, very small.

Since puppies play rough and tumble with their littermates, it's more likely to be over-exuberant play. He just doesn't realise how much damage he is doing.

If you follow the protocols in the thread I linked you to, you are giving two messages. When he mouths and is trying to engage you in play, your first message to him is okay, let's play but we don't play your way; we play our way. Your second message is that if he if he still mouths, we don't want to play at all. The fun ends.

Try to be very, very clear because his thinking brain is not working yet. Be careful of using the crate for time out, you don't want him to see it as punishment. As Judy's piece suggests, removing yourself gives a very strong message - teeth on skin makes you go away. But be clear, be immediate and be consistent - every contact, every time.
 
Puppies are very seldom truly aggressive. Real aggression in a puppy of that age would be from something serious like a brain injury or disorder, much in the same way as in a two year old child. So while we can't rule it out, the likelihood is very, very small.

Since puppies play rough and tumble with their littermates, it's more likely to be over-exuberant play. He just doesn't realise how much damage he is doing.

If you follow the protocols in the thread I linked you to, you are giving two messages. When he mouths and is trying to engage you in play, your first message to him is okay, let's play but we don't play your way; we play our way. Your second message is that if he if he still mouths, we don't want to play at all. The fun ends.

Try to be very, very clear because his thinking brain is not working yet. Be careful of using the crate for time out, you don't want him to see it as punishment. As Judy's piece suggests, removing yourself gives a very strong message - teeth on skin makes you go away. But be clear, be immediate and be consistent - every contact, every time.

Thank you.

I've bought another stair gate so we can isolate ourselves from him completely so we don't need to use the crate for timeout and Bev can isolate him from her while she does things in the kitchen.

Blue is perfectly fine first thing in the morning it's always at about 2pm and 6pm where he gets really aggressive.

I've got a slip lead too just in case.

Thanks again for all your help.
 
You might find it useful to have "something" he can safely bite down upon when he feels he needs to do this. For instance, a sock stuffed with - anything that will make the sock spongy and yielding to the bite. Biting is another thing that releases endorphins, which is why some of us people like crunchy food. Endorphins calm stressed animals (us too). So pup gets over the top emotionally, as any baby things do (think of the tantrumming toddler embarrassing all hell out of the parent) has the sock or whatever to bite hard instead of you or your partner, releases those endorphins and starts to relax. Because he is a baby and of another species, this will have to be done over and over again to begin with, until he recognises the sequence, you become more adept at getting the chewdown thing in his mouth before he makes wrong decisions, and he gradually grows out of it. It is helpful to have a number of suitable bite items around the house so you always have one to hand before you need it. Also, any pup only has so much bite in it, so if he has safe items to chew on as a separate thing from this, he is releasing these endorphins before he has a go at the nearest human. Be careful with pet shop "chewies" many of which have undesirable additives - half a cabbage, the stalk from a brussels sprout plant, cardboard boxes with any staples removed - all these are safer. We gave puppies big raw bones, but that might be too much for your beloved to have around the house - see what she says (and be sure to make her aware of how very much you appreciate her). Yes all this stuff makes a mess, but if you do the clearing up you should get away with it! Puppies grow up and the problem goes away, but it can be pretty full-on until that happy stage is reached (by then you will have forgotten about how intense it was!). Never leave him on his own with a bite toy, as if anything can go wrong, it will, and you don't need to have to deal with any more than can be foreseen.

One of the best dogs I ever bred, from a long line of lovely dogs, was an absolute fiend for biting until she grew out of it. In later life she was known as "Mrs. Perfect" because she was such an easy dog to train and work. Hang on in there - it DOES get better.
 
You might find it useful to have "something" he can safely bite down upon when he feels he needs to do this. For instance, a sock stuffed with - anything that will make the sock spongy and yielding to the bite. Biting is another thing that releases endorphins, which is why some of us people like crunchy food. Endorphins calm stressed animals (us too). So pup gets over the top emotionally, as any baby things do (think of the tantrumming toddler embarrassing all hell out of the parent) has the sock or whatever to bite hard instead of you or your partner, releases those endorphins and starts to relax. Because he is a baby and of another species, this will have to be done over and over again to begin with, until he recognises the sequence, you become more adept at getting the chewdown thing in his mouth before he makes wrong decisions, and he gradually grows out of it. It is helpful to have a number of suitable bite items around the house so you always have one to hand before you need it. Also, any pup only has so much bite in it, so if he has safe items to chew on as a separate thing from this, he is releasing these endorphins before he has a go at the nearest human. Be careful with pet shop "chewies" many of which have undesirable additives - half a cabbage, the stalk from a brussels sprout plant, cardboard boxes with any staples removed - all these are safer. We gave puppies big raw bones, but that might be too much for your beloved to have around the house - see what she says (and be sure to make her aware of how very much you appreciate her). Yes all this stuff makes a mess, but if you do the clearing up you should get away with it! Puppies grow up and the problem goes away, but it can be pretty full-on until that happy stage is reached (by then you will have forgotten about how intense it was!). Never leave him on his own with a bite toy, as if anything can go wrong, it will, and you don't need to have to deal with any more than can be foreseen.

One of the best dogs I ever bred, from a long line of lovely dogs, was an absolute fiend for biting until she grew out of it. In later life she was known as "Mrs. Perfect" because she was such an easy dog to train and work. Hang on in there - it DOES get better.

Thank you.

I'll try the stuffed sock :)
 
I'm not a big fan of slip leads on puppies - actually, I'm not a fan of them on older dogs either but I do appreciate a lot of people like them. But especially on a puppy, who hasn't developed much muscle around the neck, I'm always concerned they can do damage.

An alternative is a harness with six to twelve inches of a cheap lead clipped to it, with the looped handle cut off so it can't catch on anything. That still gives you something to get hold of while keeping your hands away from his teeth.
 
I'm not a big fan of slip leads on puppies - actually, I'm not a fan of them on older dogs either but I do appreciate a lot of people like them. But especially on a puppy, who hasn't developed much muscle around the neck, I'm always concerned they can do damage.

An alternative is a harness with six to twelve inches of a cheap lead clipped to it, with the looped handle cut off so it can't catch on anything. That still gives you something to get hold of while keeping your hands away from his teeth.

I'll stick the harness on him instead then.

Thank you
 
An alternative is a harness with six to twelve inches of a cheap lead clipped to it, with the looped handle cut off so it can't catch on anything. That still gives you something to get hold of while keeping your hands away from his teeth.

We used something similar with our lad when he was a pup (though it was attached to a fixed collar) - we called it his 'naughty lead':D

Try not to think of the behaviour as aggression - think of it more like a todder having a tantrum when they are unable to cope with all that life throws at them. And of course he has had a big change and a lot to get used to in the last week. If he is just like this for some of the day, rest assured that in time he will grow out of it.

But you do need your partner to be 100% on board with this. If she is nervous/afraid/resentful of the pup, he will pick up on this and it will feed into his behaviour, so she needs to be calm and trust in the process, while accepting that she won't be able to avoid those needle-like teeth every time because dogs are quick. Let her read all the resources we've suggested and talk it through with her. If she feels that she really can't commit to this, then it is best to find pup a new home sooner rather than later, while he is cute and malleable. It's possible the breeder would be happy to take him back.
 
We used something similar with our lad when he was a pup (though it was attached to a fixed collar) - we called it his 'naughty lead':D

Try not to think of the behaviour as aggression - think of it more like a todder having a tantrum when they are unable to cope with all that life throws at them. And of course he has had a big change and a lot to get used to in the last week. If he is just like this for some of the day, rest assured that in time he will grow out of it.

But you do need your partner to be 100% on board with this. If she is nervous/afraid/resentful of the pup, he will pick up on this and it will feed into his behaviour, so she needs to be calm and trust in the process, while accepting that she won't be able to avoid those needle-like teeth every time because dogs are quick. Let her read all the resources we've suggested and talk it through with her. If she feels that she really can't commit to this, then it is best to find pup a new home sooner rather than later, while he is cute and malleable. It's possible the breeder would be happy to take him back.

He has had a load of sleep today, more than he normally has, so with a bit of luck, he will be in a better mood when Bev comes back downstairs.

We all live him to bits. I guess we may have underestimated the amount of extra work needed. I work from home, and Bev is at home all day, too, so I'll try and keep an eye on things.

Thanks for all the help so far it's really appreciated.
 
It come come as quite a shock when you realise how much work a puppy is, particularly when yours seems to behave more like a Tasmanian devil. Human babies are a lot less work - they stay where they're put, they don't poo on the carpet, and even if they did bite they haven't got teeth! Hang on in there and it'll be so worth it in the long run.
 
Sorry if this has already been asked ...what are you feeding him ....
 
Sometimes what our pups eat play a big part in how they act ....
 
Sometimes what our pups eat play a big part in how they act ....

Your not joking I made the mistake of giving my German shepherd (no longer with us) Bakers dry mix and it sent him nuts.

I'm using the same as what the breeder used and then when he's old enough and needs the next level up I'll probably switch it and use James Wellbeloved chicken dry mix.
 
I think I'm right in saying that Wagg has,quite a lot of highly processed ingredients. Can you swap that out for something more natural? I'm not a huge fan of Purina foods either.

Have a look at www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk

It independently assesses foods, including treats.
 

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