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Puppy agressive towards humans when excited

FirstTimeOwner
November 12th, 2007, 10:23 AM
Hello,

I have a 6 month old lab/collie mix who is a sweetheart and gentle at home. He loves attention from other humans. However when we have visitors over, go to obedience class, or take him to puppy socializiation groups, he becomes aggressive towards me and ignores my commands. He started biting other people at the socialization group. I'm so glad they were understanding but it was embarassing. At obedience class he's known as the terror, and one of the trainers taught me to use bitter spray when he becomes aggressive like that, but I can't carry bitter spray with me everywhere I take him.

I'm at my wits end. We tried the ouch and ignore method when he was younger. He didn't seem to care when we ignored him and proceeded to play with his tail. Now he's learned that if he bites us, we don't like it, so he bites us when he doesn't like a command.

He gets anywhere between 1-3 walks a day. There is someone home all the time with him. It's been like this from day one with him. I realize we got him young (6 weeks), but I thought he would have grown out of this by now, which is why we are trying the puppy socialization groups. He was the runt of the litter (don't know if this is important) and is afraid of the other puppies in the group. One of the people at the group showed me a way to pinch his cheek when he bites (he had started gnawing on her). I tried this once and it turned into a power struggle where he would just clamp down harder, forcing me to pinch harder until he cried and let go. I don't like doing this and I'm not sure this is a proper method of teaching him not to bite...

Any suggestions? I'm at my wits end. I love my dog, but he acts like a spoiled brat sometimes. What am I doing wrong? Thanks in advance.

otter
November 12th, 2007, 11:29 AM
Sorry, I don't have much experience with training for that kind of thing but, maybe try doing one on one with a specialized trainer, is he better when there aren't a bunch of people/dogs around (even if not at home). I'd look at getting some professional help of a different kind :shrug:

white wrabbit
November 12th, 2007, 11:39 AM
i'm sure others will offer you better advise but i know if you stick you hand in a dogs mouth when they are bitting down or trying to bite and you make their bottom jaw go down they can not bite you.. (my mom learned this beaning a postal carrier for many years) and is some thing i still remember...

and they don't like it... could this possible be a dominance issue with the people and wanting to establish where he fits in.. 6 months has he been fixed yet?

Writing4Fun
November 12th, 2007, 01:59 PM
Sorry, this is a little long... :o

Has one of the trainers labelled his behaviour as agressive? Are you sure he isn't just trying to engage you in play?

If it were me, I'd talk privately with the obedience instructor. See if they can confirm that his behaviour is true agression, and not just over-excited puppy play. Try the spray bottle method they suggested. You can carry one around to most places, and it's really only a temporary thing until he gets the message. I'm also curious as to whether or not he's been neutered yet. This might be another issue altogether. ;)

If it is true agression, I'd have to guess that he's trying to dominate you because he feels threatened by the other pups, and maybe doesn't see you as his "leader" so he feels he has to take the "lead" against this perceived threat. Just a guess, since we can't see how he's behaving in class, and you said he's afraid of the other dogs.

To stop the biting: "Ouch" and "ignore" methods have never worked for me. It's been explained to me that these behaviours put you at the same level (of the pack) as the puppy, it doesn't show him that you're boss. Remember, you're the boss, not another puppy, so you have to sound like the boss. Momma dog wouldn't yelp ... she'd growl. What has worked best for me is the "large mouth bass" hold. When he's biting, you hold onto his lower jaw, firmly but don't hurt him, with your fingers under the jaw and your thumb inside his mouth under his tongue. Just the same way you'd pick up (or you'd see a TV fisherman do it) a large mouth bass. :D As you do this, give him a firm "No bite!" command and let go. It shouldn't hurt him, but dogs really don't like your thumb under their tongue - it's not a pleasant sensation. ;)

You also have to establish his place in the "pack" (your family). New rules at home (if they're not already in place):
- No food until the rest of the family has eaten. In a pack of dogs, they eat in order of dominance. He needs to know he's lowest on the totem pole, so he eats last.
- No table scraps.
- No getting up on the couch or bed. Again, this puts him on the same level as everyone else in the family, which is a no-no.
- Anyone giving him treats has to make him work for them. Have him perform his repetoire of tricks for every treat you give. No more freebies!

Good luck! :fingerscr

pitgrrl
November 12th, 2007, 02:14 PM
Hello,

I have a 6 month old lab/collie mix who is a sweetheart and gentle at home. He loves attention from other humans. However when we have visitors over, go to obedience class, or take him to puppy socializiation groups, he becomes aggressive towards me and ignores my commands. He started biting other people at the socialization group. I'm so glad they were understanding but it was embarassing. At obedience class he's known as the terror, and one of the trainers taught me to use bitter spray when he becomes aggressive like that, but I can't carry bitter spray with me everywhere I take him.


Are you sure he's actually being aggressive or is that label based on the fact that he's using his mouth? Are there other indicators to you that he's being "aggressive" rather than over excited and mouthy?

When he bit other people, what's the context?
When he "becomes aggressive towards me and ignores my commands" what else is he doing? Jumping around? Trying to do something else? There's a lot more to the whole picture than just the dog's mouth on your hand.


He gets anywhere between 1-3 walks a day. There is someone home all the time with him. It's been like this from day one with him. I realize we got him young (6 weeks), but I thought he would have grown out of this by now, which is why we are trying the puppy socialization groups.

Puppies learn a ton from their mom and siblings, things like bite inhibition, so now you need to teach that.

You mentioned ignoring him when he nipped at you, can I ask how you did this?
One of my dogs is crazy for people (in a good, but over the top, way) and was extremely mouthy up to about 2 years old. He's the friendliest dog you'll ever meet, but even eye contact from someone is enough to turn him into a wiggling, bouncing, mouthy ball of excitement. We literally had to instruct anyone he met not to interact with him in any way, not even make eye contact, until he calmed down enough to be able to sit. For a longtime the minute he got eye contact, he'd be back jumping an nipping, so we'd repeat the removal of any attention. Boring, tedious and people think you're nuts, but it works with consistency and small steps forward.

It also helps to give an alternative behavior, like "sit", "look at me" or "go get a toy" (especially good because then the mouth is busy).

If you really think you're dog is being aggressive though, I would get thee to a qualified trainer to help you deal with the problem.

FirstTimeOwner
November 12th, 2007, 04:49 PM
Thanks everyone,

I have not had him neutered yet, although I do plan on it in the upcoming weeks. The trainers have not labelled him as agressive, but desribed him as a spoiled brat, a jerk, and overly exciteable. He is very fidgety in class and needs constant attention otherwise he gets excited and starts barking and/or wanting to run around. He is fed separately from everyone else (mealtime together as a family is rare due to our schedules), but is not ever allowed on the couch or is fed directly from the table. He does, however, get occasional food from the fridge, such as cheese, or chicken, for coming when called, but I don't let him see me take it from the fridge. He is given treats for following commands, being quiet (followed by "good quiet"), or going to the potty successfully outside, but never just because he's cute (he is though!!).

At this point I will continue with the spray bottle technique until the neutering. After which, I will consult with a professional behavioralist if it doesn't improve. Thanks again, any further suggestions or comments are appreciated!

FirstTimeOwner
November 12th, 2007, 05:11 PM
Are you sure he's actually being aggressive or is that label based on the fact that he's using his mouth? Are there other indicators to you that he's being "aggressive" rather than over excited and mouthy?

I guess I've labelled him aggressive as I usually come home with cuts on my hands after obedience class or play groups. He does fine initially in class and tends to become over excited, at which point he mouths hard.


When he bit other people, what's the context?

He had approached them in a friendly manner. When they went to pet them, he mouthed them.


When he "becomes aggressive towards me and ignores my commands" what else is he doing? Jumping around? Trying to do something else? There's a lot more to the whole picture than just the dog's mouth on your hand.

Sometimes he is barking, or just highly excited. He is usually trying to get the attention of another dog or human. When I tell him to "sit" or "settle" so that he doesn't jump on anyone, he either ignores me, or nips me. He is compliant at home when we're alone.


You mentioned ignoring him when he nipped at you, can I ask how you did this?


I ignored him by moving away, occasionally even leaving the room. He gets overly excited by other people and dogs. He wants their attention and gets mad at me when I ask him to stop barking or "sit" so that he doesn't jump up on anyone.


It also helps to give an alternative behavior, like "sit", "look at me" or "go get a toy" (especially good because then the mouth is busy).


This works to some extent. After a while, he ignores all commands altogether, even with a treat in my hand.


If you really think you're dog is being aggressive though, I would get thee to a qualified trainer to help you deal with the problem.


Thank you. I really would like to stop this behavior. I've had scars on my hands for the last few months. I'm getting frustrated as I feel like I'm trying to do everything right by him and yet he still behaves this way. I was hoping to wait a few weeks until after my wedding (Feb) to get him neutered and call the specialist, but it doesn't really seem like this can wait....

Thanks again!

Tommysmom
November 12th, 2007, 06:37 PM
Is he teething? That's pretty much the right age. My pup was a NIGHTMARE at that age, but we re-directed him with toys he could chew on - kongs, rope toys, stuffies, anything that would interest him. Anywhere I took him, I brought a purse full of toys with me, LOL. It worked though - when he chewed the toy we praised him, when he chewed us we removed ourselves from him for short periods of time.

Even today, when Tommy gets super excited over visitors to our house or something, he'll start looking like he wants to chomp on your hand and then he'll run and grab one of his toys... it's pretty cute, he'll be running around and rubbing up against you to play, but all the time with his toy in his mouth as he's chomping away:laughing:.

FirstTimeOwner
November 13th, 2007, 06:26 AM
Is he teething? That's pretty much the right age. My pup was a NIGHTMARE at that age, but we re-directed him with toys he could chew on - kongs, rope toys, stuffies, anything that would interest him. Anywhere I took him, I brought a purse full of toys with me, LOL. It worked though - when he chewed the toy we praised him, when he chewed us we removed ourselves from him for short periods of time.

Even today, when Tommy gets super excited over visitors to our house or something, he'll start looking like he wants to chomp on your hand and then he'll run and grab one of his toys... it's pretty cute, he'll be running around and rubbing up against you to play, but all the time with his toy in his mouth as he's chomping away:laughing:.

Yes, he is teething right now. He's lost a few teeth already. He's been mouthy from the start, but it has gotten worse lately. I was worried giving him a toy would give him the impression he's being rewarded for mouthing us, but it's worth a shot at this point. Thanks,

thnord
November 18th, 2007, 04:03 PM
He loves attention from other humans. However when we have visitors over, he becomes aggressive towards me and ignores my commands. I don't understand this. It don't make sence.

one of the trainers taught me to use bitter spray Well, that certainly works, but for all the wrong reasons!

Now he's learned that if he bites us, we don't like it, so he bites us when he doesn't like a command. He may be taking command

He was the runt of the litter (don't know if this is important) and is afraid of the other puppies in the group. Not a good sign, but not critical

One of the people at the group showed me a way to pinch his cheek when he bites (he had started gnawing on her). What was that supposed to be good for?

I'm at my wits end. I love my dog, but he acts like a spoiled brat sometimes. What am I doing wrong? Thanks in advance.

There may be many reasons, but one reason is that you are loving him to death and spoiling him rotten. The good news is that this is curable. You will need help though.

You may want to be a little worried about him being the "runt". You really want to get some help here. The prognosis is questionable with a "First Time Owner" Get help, but avoid stuff that "will really teach him a lesson".

Finally, and here is something that may get me banned. A serious breeder would have put him down and never sold him. Only a firsttimer or a dog lover with a heart the size of Texas would buy him. And maybe you are both :).

You know already that you have the best dog in the whole world, but you just need a little help to make it show.
And something I have learnt from horses: " The best teachers charge the most!"

Tom

Tommysmom
November 18th, 2007, 04:24 PM
A serious breeder would have put him down and never sold him.

Tom

Ummm, unless I missed something huge, I see NOTHING here that would merit a comment like that. Training issues, sure... but THAT? I have no idea where that came from, and it's really not of a lot of help to somebody who is here to get suggestions on how to fix the issues - and the issues don't seem really that insurmountable at all.

SolaMio
December 8th, 2007, 06:41 PM
Hi FirstTimeOwner,

I'm wondering if you solved your problem since your last post? I'm having a similar issue with my pup Sola (she's a little over three months, black lab/malamute mix). I know labs are supposed to be mouthy when they're pups, and she definitely inherited those traits, but jeesh.

To recap my situation: Sola would get excited when it was playtime (alone, with others around, children around, etc.). I enrolled her in puppy pre-school and she was as good as gold. She would nip at ankles, bite toes, and latch on to pants/hosiery/jeans/pyjamas/bathrobe stings and growl and not let go when we were at home. My method was to say "NO BITE" firmly and look her in the eyes, and give her a toy to distract her or soothe her mouth/gums. Another dog owner suggested I gently hold her muzzle but I found this made her MORE aggressive rather than submissive. The "ignore" technique did work, but Sola had to see me purposely ignoring her due to her biting. I used a method I found on a website where you would go to the opposite side of a baby gate (puppy gate) from the pup, and not come back over to "play" unless she calmed herself and stopped mouthing. If you began to put your foot back over and she went for it, you put your foot right back over the gate, wait, and try again. She got the message I think. Also, crate training seems to calm her down, and she doesn't mouth when we let her out now.

I thought I was making some progress over the past few weeks with Sola until we had a bit of a "setback day" today. I'm trying to go through everything and figure out where I/we went wrong. I do find that giving attention to the behavior (even bad attention) makes her worse.

Anyway, just wondering if you had made any progress yourself and thought I would share my tale of woe, I'm not an experienced owner either... Maybe you have some good "tricks" up your sleeve :thumbs up

Does this sound to anyone like aggression, or just a playful pup with some bad habits that need breaking :pray:?

Cheers,

S.