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Is my puppy aggressive?

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by Beefy, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. Beefy

    Beefy New Member Registered

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    Hello,

    We're struggling with our Pup Molly, she's 19 weeks old currently and displays behaviour that I honestly can't tell if is aggression or play. I was hoping someone may have had similar experience to me and advise on whether or not it sounds like my puppy is showing true aggression or is just playing aggressively.

    The problem is specifically when she wants to play and it's time for the play to end, for example - she bites the cuff of a trouser as we're walking past. So we exit the room and shut the baby gate, as we approach the baby gate she may bark even more, growl etc telling us it's not time for play to end.

    Or sometimes Molly is the one who gets placed out of the room as there can be up to 4 of us in the room at one time, including 2 younger children. In this case she might start backing away as we go to pick her up, barking/growling at us - I have noticed her tails wagging along as she's doing this. I see it as a sign she's not wanting us to remove her, however shes being removed for trying to bite/mouth one of us.

    It came to a bit of a head yesterday when she managed to get upstairs when someone wasn't quick enough to shut a door she's normally not allowed through. She got upstairs and chased one of our cats and was barking away at her, I followed her up to bring her down. She displayed the usual behaviour, backing away a little barking and when I went to pick her up she nipped towards my hands. She had gotten very excited at the cat and she does tend to mouth a little more when excited.

    It's confusing as through all of these her tails wagging, she doesn't go stiff or snarl. She just growls, barks and has only once nipped as mentioned above. When I say she's backing away, she's jumping around with a lot of energy moving backwards - rather than a slow cower away. Again this makes me think, she might perceive it's all a game.

    Honestly, I'm just worried we're doing something wrong and whatever it is she's hating enough to be aggressive.
     
  2. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I'd think of this as similar to a temper tantrum in children, rather than 'proper' aggression. Tail wagging in dogs can be a sign of appeasment or in some contexts can be challenging and could be a precursor to aggression.

    It might help to put a house lead on her - a lightweight lead with no loop that could get caught up on furniture. Then when you need to move her, you can pick up the end of the lead and lead her. Some dogs hate being picked up and it's best to avoid it if gets her worked up. Keep doing the timeouts for nipping in the calmest way possible (so probably you leaving her rather than putting her out of the room). Eventually she'll realise that nipping means the fun stops and tantrums don't achieve anything.

    Training a really good recall in the house can be really helpful, for instance when she manages to get upstairs. Also, I'd work on impulse control so she can manage her frustrations better without resorting to tantrums.
     
    millymojo1, Beefy, Ari_RR and 2 others like this.
  3. Beefy

    Beefy New Member Registered

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    Thanks Judy,

    We do need to work on the impulse control, that was my next step with her training as she loves to try steal food! I do leave the room myself when possible, but as you can imagine when she's biting a 4 year olds leg/cuff it's impossible to make everyone leave the room in a calm manner and the only realistic option is to remove Molly.

    She's often quite happy to be picked up, just not when it means her fun is going to end. With the nipping she has been really improving there, before we couldn't have her and the kids in a room together. Now she can be giddy and worked up around them without constantly trying to play in her way :). Also with me especially I see her open her mouth as if to mouth me and then stop herself which is a good sign.
     
  4. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    That's brilliant - make sure you reward her then for 'not being naughty'!

    As for stealing food - it's so rewarding that really, your only option is to make sure there's no food to steal. With many dogs, there's really no way of training them to reliably leave food if it's not being closely supervised. Though I say that as the owner of a lurcher, originally bred as poacher's dogs, so it's in his nature to sneakily filch anything if he thinks you're not looking.
     
    millymojo1, Biker John and merlina like this.
  5. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    To be frank I don't think dogs do impulse control! (And neither do a lot of children and even adults.) I agree you have to adjust her environment. The majority of dogs of every breed will take food. Your original detailed post described a very normal puppy. You'll find it's best early on to do things by persuasion/reward. If you want her in another room offer a treat or fav toy rather than picking her up. Our puppies would always come for a squeakie! After all when she is fully grown this will be hard work otherwise. Also it teaches her that hands can be used for things she doesn't like- can therefore make a puppy snap at them. Hands should be for giving praise, treats, strokes. Good luck- she sounds like great fun!
     
    millymojo1 and Beefy like this.
  6. Caro Perry

    Caro Perry Well-Known Member Registered

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    I think all dogs love to steal food and are hard wired to try- you do need to train a reliable "leave it" if you haven't already for her own safety.

    Harri will look at me if I use that command and then await permission to take it. I would still expect him to help himself to any food left within reach though if I'm not there to say no!
     

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