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Puppy Takes Over Alpha Position!! Need help!!!

February 16th, 2007, 07:20 AM
I kind of adopted an "8 week" old golden retriever from my sister-in-law. She got the puppy for her son and after a week decided that she could no longer take care of her. The family is gone all day long leaving the puppy locked in the bathroom. At night when they came home she would put a pamper on her & let her roam the house until bedtime then back in the bathroom again. She complained that the barking was too much & they got no sleep along with not being able to house train her using the terrace.

I know that she was taken from her mother before she was 8 weeks as thats the age I got her at. No telling what age the store got her at.

I took "Molly" thinking that with the help of the internet I could take her & give her a better life. She came to me in the alpha position. She bites, growls & does anything to prove to me that she is not to be taken over. I must say that the only thing that I have been able to get across to her is the house training. After having her for 3 days, she was barking or whining to go out doors with an occasional accident.

Molly is now 10 weeks & I have been having to use a cardboard box as her crate as we live in a very small town which has no place to purchase a crate so I have to wait until I can get to the city to buy one or have one made.
Molly started tearing it up & knocking it over to get out so I took her out of it keep her in the den with us leashed.

She is constantly biting & barking at us. I am trying to train her not too and at times it seems as though she is learning. She does love it when I say "Good Girl Molly" but 5 minutes later she goes alpha on me again. I go through doors before her, she sees me feeding her, we play with her allot, she has chew toys galore & shes never left alone. I have even started sleeping in the den to make sure I get her out when she needs to. I am stern when correcting her. I have tried so many things that are posted on the net but so far nothing has worked.

If I could just teach her that we are Alpha, I believe that all else will be taken care of.

February 16th, 2007, 07:56 AM
I would start by eliminating the word "alpha". It ends up being an excuse for unacceptable behaviours. She is doing many things but basically they are just to get your attention. Setting up rules, being consistant and giving lots of exercise will help to keep her behaving in the house.

Ignore her when she bugs for attention. Don't say anything, touch her or look at her when she is looking for attention from you. Attention is reward for her behaviours.

February 16th, 2007, 08:03 AM
Yeah..shes just a puppy. She doesnt know any better.

Get her into a puppy play class and learn her some obedience. Then go on the NILF program! (Nothing In Life is Free). She earns everything. She wants a toy, she has to sit or shake paw. But I think some socializing and a good obedience class will do wonders.

Some other ideas are always eat your meals first. Then feed the pup. Go through doors first. Make her sit before going through doors. This kinda stuff. But i really suggest a good class. And remember, shes only 10 weeks.

February 16th, 2007, 08:09 AM
First ~ thanks for taking in this puppy.

Second ~ stop obsessing on the need to be "Alpha" (you've been reading waaaaay to much). You have a puppy ~ a BABY. A baby who may have been robbed of her puupyhood all too soon.

You will not correct this with crating. Furthermore crating is not right for every dog regardless of their early days. Crating will not make you "alpha" ~ only earned respect can do that.

You need to look at each behaviour as distinct and work through it. I'm afraid there is no "if I was Alpha they would understand" answer. May I suggest that you isolate everything you want her to do and post that as separate questions ?

The fact that you've taken her on :thumbs up

February 16th, 2007, 08:46 AM
Is this your first puppy? Please be patient with her as this sounds like normal puppy behavior . A crate is stongly recommended as long as you use it as a training tool.

There are lots of excellent books I would recommend you read as soon as possible. "After You Get Your Puppy" by Ian Dunbar. "Parenting Your Dog" by Trish King. "Don't Shoot The Dog" by Karen Pryor. There are many more but these are the ones I found most useful when we had a puppy for the first time.

You will also find some great tips at . Click on "Dog Training Tips" on the right hand side of the page. (I still believe the books are important though as they are more in depth).

Commitment, education, and patience will see you and your puppy successfully through the puppy and adolescent stages. You won't regret it. :) Keep us posted.

February 16th, 2007, 08:57 AM
I don't know if anybody noticed,but the poster lives in a small town in Turkey,says there are no crates available to buy and probably less likely a puppy-training class:frustrated:
With a little ingenuity she could probably make some sort of crate..
I certainly don't have much experience with puppies,but this little pup is a tiny baby,please do not expect too much from her and please no hands on reprimanding,that will only frighten her:sad:
The OP should,like someone mentioned give us a more specific list of problems...,but we all know puppies are puppies,with time,patience,love and the right training,the pup will grow in to a wonderful dog.

February 16th, 2007, 09:03 AM

This puppy was taken from mom during the very time they learn how to be light on the mouth. This is why the mouthing seems so hard.

February 16th, 2007, 09:12 AM
I thank you for setting me straight on the Alpha & I have read way too much & have found that suggestions are different in almost every site. I have tried several ways of correcting, nothing yet but hopeful. I will also do as you said & ask each question seperately. As for obedience classes, I live in Turkey in a very small town. I am lucky that I have access to have a great vet. I am 4 hours away from any city that would have classes which is sad. Maybe its my patience that needs working on!!! :o Again thank you all for your suggestions

February 16th, 2007, 09:17 AM
What have you tried, some corrections could make it worse.

February 16th, 2007, 09:42 AM
My goodness, everyone is so helpful here. There were post, I answered posted & found more when I returned. Thank you all so much. Your all great!

barking, I say "enough" I will now try to ignore during daylight hours, nightime, I can only hope!!

biting "No Bite"

jumping up "Down"

Chewing on furniture & etc. "No"

I say these stern & look her in the eyes. I also say her name with each command.

I will try to get ahold of one of the books that were mentioned & am now in sfspca reading.

February 16th, 2007, 10:06 AM
Barking:When you say "enough" and she stops,praise her like crazy.
When my dogs were pups I gave them the 3 bark limit.After the third bark,that was when the "enough" was said.

Biting:When you give the "no bite" command,and she stops,praise her again.What you can do is give her a toy.You want to re-direct the biting(this works for chewing too.Remember she is teething)

Jumping Up:Again,when you give her the "down" comand and she stops jumping,again,praise her.

Chewing the furniture:Do the same as the biting.Re-direct her with a toy.This way she will learn what she can and cannot chew.

It takes time and patience.But it also takes alot of praising...:)

You can also start teaching her the basic commands.Sit,stay,come,down(as in laydown.

February 16th, 2007, 10:39 AM
Barking-Correction depends on the why factor. What is the reason for the bark. If it is for attention then the best way to correct is to ignore. Turn your back, leave the room, etc. The correction needs to last about 5 seconds after the barking has stopped then turn back around or re-enter the room, ask your pup to do something for you such as sit and then reward.
If your pup is barking at something, give the cue enough then re-direct their attention to you, cue to sit and watch you. Have them hold a quiet sit for about 5 seconds and reward.

Jumping- It is not advisable to use the cue down when teaching not to jump when you will use the same cue for laying down. "off" When greeting others stand on leash and do not allow puppy to greet unless they are sitting.

Mouthing- Yell ouch and then walk out of the room and close the door. Wait 30 sec and return. If you need to, repeat. Once stopped give puppy an alternate chew object. Don't give a toy while puppy is mouthing because you will reward it.

Chewing-Deterent sprays work great for this. Spray object when puppy attempts to chew item.
You can also give a cue to no chewing and then re-direct attention. Cue for something else like sit and give acceptable chew.

February 16th, 2007, 10:54 AM
Puppies are notorious for mouthing! It's going to be a while before it stops, no matter what. But you are right to think it should be discouraged.

When the puppy nips you, say "OW!" in a loud, dramatic voice, turn your back, and utterly ignore the puppy for a whole minute (or leave the room, like someone else suggested.) Do not react no matter what she does during that minute. It's not much fun playing (which is what she thinks she's doing--playing with you) with someone who stands there like a lump. After the minute is up, play with her as normal. Eventually she'll realize that when she nips, playtime stops and when she doesn't, playtime continues. Also, praise her like crazy whenever she chews on her toys instead of on you.

You might try spraying Bitter Apple or some other sour (but not dangerous) substance on your hand so that she gets the idea that it tastes bad.

Thanks for taking this puppy in! I think you're doing fine. It will just take some time because your puppy is, well, a puppy. :)

February 16th, 2007, 11:22 AM
I have just finished reading so many articles on training on the sfspca site as recommended. I tested the biting tip to see if she was really biting or play biting. I sat next to Molly and started petting her. As usual she started biting. I did not pull away, instead left my hand near her mouth to see what happened. Several times it was a hard bite & I pulled my hand away saying "ouch" & let her see me rubbing my hand. I put my hand back next to her mouth & she started nibbling softly ending with a hard nibble. I did this several times until they all became soft nibbling. I praised her so much! With your help & the sfspca I may have found a way to cure what I now see as a small problem. I can' thank you all enough. Now I'll begin with barking & whinning. Patience!!! :goodvibes:

February 16th, 2007, 11:45 AM
Good advice given by 4thedogs. "Down" is one of my pet peeves, when what people mean to say is "off". My roommate still sometimes does this with my dog if he puts his paws on the couch, and it drives me quite mental (he never jumps up on the couch, but will sometimes put his paws on my roommate as an attempt for attention). OFF is the word here.

We also use "off" if he jumps on someone BUT since "off" only works after he jumps, it doesn't stop the intent (it only teaches him the command, and not to jump in the first place).

As for the "biting", biting, nipping, and mouthing are three seperate things. Which of these your puppy does, can be fixed in different ways. Some good advice above though.

When puppy chews the furniture, you can spray it with a deterrant, but if the smell doesn't turn your dogs head away, then associasion must be used. This means spraying directly in their face (just once, to startle them) before spraying it on what you want to be left alone. You can use water mixed with vanilla extract if you want... it doesn't have to smell bad, but once the dog associates that smell with something negative, it will then back away from whatever it is you want it to stay away from.

I MUCH prefer replacing said item (ie couch) with an appropriate chew toy. It took me less than 2 days to teach my dog "Chew toy!", if he went for something he wasn't allowed to chew (his favorite chew item was the brick along my fireplace). I used the "UH-UH!" sound when he went for the bricks, and when I said "chew toy!" he would go get one. "Uh-uh" (or "ah-ah") was then easily applied to anything I wanted him to leave alone (forever).

"Leave it" is a command I use outside, or for when I need him to leave something alone (something I don't want him to have now, but he can have it later - a toy, for example). "Uh uh" is what I use when his body language shows me he's ABOUT to jump up on someone. "Off" doesn't work because he already IS off, but "uh uh" stops the intent.

Remember that you're dealing with a puppy here, who simply doesnt know the rules. It's not likely trying to be "alpha" (which doesn't even apply here, imo), it's just trying to find it's place in your pack by doing things that puppies do.

I say teach, not train. :)

February 16th, 2007, 12:12 PM
How great that you have this web site to get the help you need - isn't the internet such a blessing?

Deep breath - this is a baby who needs a parent to teach the rules, manners and boundaires. As everyone said - don't obsess about the 'alpha' role. Its much better to think about who is in charge or making the decisions - it paints a nicer picture. Just as the parents set the rules in the house so do the people - kids and dogs need to listen. No dog can 'take' the leadership role unless the person allows it to happen.

This is simply about setting the pup up for success. Which means that you must have a heightened level of awareness and be ready to intervene on bad choices and teach the good ones. For instance - if you teach your pup to sit for attention then you shouldn't have problems with jumping up, pawing or barking for your atttention.

There are a thousand and one different resources on dog training - you have to do what makes sense to you and is kindest to the pup. You should never have to itimidate or scare a dog but the dog should not be ignoring you either. You have to find the balance in what works with your pups personality.

Since you don't have a trainer handy in your area - I would recommend getting a video to show you what to do and how to do it. Yes, we have one on our web site - ;) Love Them & Lead Them, but you need to do your homework and research what resonates with you. Please avoid any training that uses harsh devices or methods. I would google Stanely Coren, Ian Dunbar or Bruce Fogle.

February 17th, 2007, 02:08 AM
thanks for taking in the puppy.our obedience trainer had us do when jag was nipping and mouthing was say ouch in a loud pitch.then in a firm voice with a light growl in it say no bite.and when the biting or mouthing stopped say good boy.same with the barking say no speak.if he didn't stop ignore the behaver till he when i say something to jag he stops.if not a soft growl and that usually works.she's just a takes time and patience.and when you start feeling frustrated take some deep breaths and relax then start your training they can pickup on your frustration.some learn faster then others.and don't forget lots of praise when you get the behaviour you want.

February 17th, 2007, 12:08 PM
All puppies pretty much start off the same some just are more energetic than others and enjoying playing some a little rougher than others, and like a young toddler/child they don't know what is right or wrong so need to be taught rules and boundaries and what is acceptable behaviour. And like little children they can get tired, frustrated, moody and have temper tantrums and like little children they go thru teething some of the same ideas that apply with children can applied to puppies, time outs, distracting them with something else, giving them something to chew of when teething, a wet cloth put in the freezer to chew can help with teething pain, a dogs mouth is used to explore things around them, and much like a toddler everything needs to go into the mouth :rolleyes: though with a pups sharp teeth they can do more damage then a toddlers just getting new teeth.

As for age leaving the litter, it was common years ago for pups to be sold at 6 weeks, and at that time I did not see more behaviour problems as a result, but it was necessary to socialize the pup with other dogs so they learn how to be a dog and learn how to communicate with other dogs. the problems wwere with owners who did not socialize the pups, and they did not learn how to behave and communicate with other dogs and they often got beaten up as a result or would fight with other dogs, so keeping pups with the litter longer allows them to learn how to be dogs and how to communicate with one another. Older dogs tends to give a puppy leeway and allow for "some" bad ettiquette till 6 to 8 months of age with often only gentle punishment, but after that corrections will become much more harsh which in an unsocialized dog who does not know how to communicate or understand the rules can be very traumatic and causes them to be fearful of other dogs and possible very defensive around them so it is important to get the pup vaccinated to protect for dog contagious illness and get it out and around other dogs so it can learn how to be a dog and communicate effectively with other dogs before it gets too old where other dogs will not tolerate it