May 5th, 2008, 04:40 PM
As many of you know (from the pictures :)) I have a 5 month old puppy.
When we first got the puppy, he was a little hesitant, but pretty playful. We took him home and things were pretty good.
He had some problems with our older dog (1 year) taking his toys, food, etc, and developed some possession issues. She was also overly rambuctious with him as a puppy.
Anyway, over the past 2 months we've had him, he has become more and more shy with strangers and strange dogs. He is extremely friendly and out going with my immediate family (face licking, sleeps on our bed at night, plays non-stop, etc) but as soon as someone new comes to the house or we take him somewhere with unfamiliar people or pets, he becomes very shy and almost fearful.
We took him to the dog park last weekend and he ignored most every dog there. A 15 week siberian husky puppy was trying to play with him, and he slowly backed away until finally he attacked it. It wasn't a normal "play" attack, but definately a tail between the legs, ears pinned straight down, growl first, then lunge attack.
(The other possibility is that he's very possessive over us, and was upset that I was petting the other puppy)
It really scared me because later that night our neighbors came over, and as he was so scared of them as well, we decided not to let him interact for fear he might attack their 17 month old baby.
I feel like all this is a recent development. He was friendly with the vet, and with our other neighbors when they came to feed him. Its just over the past 2-3 weeks that hes really developed this fearful issue.
Weve already signed him up for puppy school to try and get him some more socialization, but I want to do everything we can in the meantime!
May 5th, 2008, 06:54 PM
Take him places where he can see people and other dogs but isn't required to interact with them. Watch from a distance where he feels comfortable and each day, try to move a little closer. Make sure he is comfortable where he is, you don't want him to be all antsy and edgey.
Keep a container of treats by the door that people enter your house through. Put pup on a leash when there is a knock and have visitors give a calm, sitting puppy a treat.
Classes should help tremendously, but these should do some good in the meantime.
May 6th, 2008, 10:29 AM
So this isn't a permanent thing hopefully, right? He will hopefully be able to adjust to a more normal attitude? Do you think he'll be able to get along with other dogs?
Does it sound like a normal aggressive male dog or a fearful, shy, scared dog?
May 6th, 2008, 10:36 AM
That sounds like typical puppy fear period to me. Puppies often go through these stages where, all of a sudden, they react in a fearful manner to new situations, sounds and people and to ones they were previously fine with as well. I've provided a link and if you google you will find lots more. The key is to remain calm and try to avoid situations, like the one you describe above, until he is over it, as LavendarRott says. By avoid I mean not everything fearful, just ones like your description where he felt so overwhelmed he had to defend himself.
My Lab puppy went through a mini fear period at five months. I could tell because all of a sudden the refuse put out on the street on garbage day elicited wary backing off, slight woofs and avoidance. Previously the garbage had been a source of much interest, I assume due to the enticing smells. We just walked on by with me ignoring his behaviour in an attempt to not react and convince him it was nothing to be concerned about. You need to try to not reinforce negatively by coddling him but also not push him too much. Please google for links which will, I am sure, provide better explanations than I might.
My puppy is also getting "woofy" with strangers and doorbells and people we meet on walks sometimes. This I think is not fear but just him growing up and beginning to think he must be the master and define his position. He does tend to be pretty sure of himself. In these cases I implement some training. SIT, DOWN, WATCH ME. All clickered and treated for appropriate response. This for one, distracts him, two establishes me as the person in control and three gives him a reward for doing a correct thing.
May 6th, 2008, 10:38 AM
Honestly, I wouldn't want to venture to say whether it is temporary or part of the pup's temperment without actually seeing the behaviour in person.
At the very least, with desensitizing as described above and a couple of classes under your belt, if this is part of the pup's temperment, you should be able to control and manage. Worst case scenario - no dog parks and getting put up when you have young children visiting.
However, your pup is still very young and with persistance and training, you should be able to get him past this.
Just remember - be consistent, don't push the dog to or beyond it's limit, and don't coddle.
May 7th, 2008, 01:04 PM
How much socialization has your puppy been getting??
Unfortunately, most people do not realize that puppies/dogs need to be socialized with a vengence (me included!)... Puppies need structured socialization, it is not enough to know that you have to socialize him with people... You need to go about it with purpose... For example, he needs to meet people from different age groups, ethnic backgrounds and sizes. He needs to meet people who are bald, wear hats, or have baggy pants or laugh loudly etc...
Some dogs mature fine without extensive socialization but most do not... Most will become reactive/fearful/aggressive/shy/unpredictable. You need to get your puppy into socialization and training classes yesterday...
Having said that, its possible that this is related to a fear stage BUT I would not make any assumptions, especially if you haven't been actively socializing your puppy. Also, it sounds like your puppy has slowly declined - when fear periods are involved, its usually an instant "out of the blue" fear, not something that you have been slowly picking up over a couple of weeks or months!
I am also a little concerned about a 5 month old puppy "attacking" another puppy... It sounds fear based and its good that your puppy gave plenty of clear warnings to the Sibe to stay away (before lunging). However, that kind of over the top reaction in a puppy, is something to take notice of. LavenderRott is right, you want to start with immediate desensitization. I would also encourage to continue socialization (at her comfort level) as well as counter-conditioning. Something I like to do with my reactive/fearful dog is called "open bar/closed bar"... My dog is scared of other dogs so the instant he sees one, the rewards come out (open bar) and stop when the other dog is out of sight (closed bar). If you do this consistently, your dog will quickly start looking for whatever he is afraid of (make sure you are using something that he finds really rewarding)... As soon as you get to this stage you can start changing the criteria and either bring the fearful thing closer or start working on active attention (ie: obedience commands with the scary thing in site).
Something else I like to do is teach "go to your mat" (which is basically targeting)... You want all good things to happen on his mat, the mat is safe and rewarding... This often helps a fearful dog work around things that scares them because they can focus on their mat. It is also extremely useful when you have guests over or are eating your dinner - your dog has a clear and portable spot to seek out or be sent too.
Since you have 2 dogs.... Ensure that each of them have separate mental and physical stimulation - especially as your puppy matures. You don't want your puppy relying on your other dog or becoming fearful when away from him.
Lastly, about dog parks...Even though I think your puppy needs more socialization - I am not sure dog parks are the place, especially if he is going through a fearful stage. Right now you need all of his interactions to be positive and at the dog park you cannot control the interactions (with dogs or with people). I would suggest that you find a puppy play group (some dog training facilities offer them) or set up your own play dates in a backyard (make sure the other dogs/puppies are well-socialized).
May 7th, 2008, 01:23 PM
I sit out in the front of my house with Buddy tethered out there with me, many kids and people are always around playing, jumping, basketball, bikes, skateboards, you name it. He was in a barn his entire life, so exposing him to everything and everyone every day does wonders.
Spend time out front, or if it's not busy (like my neighbourhood) go to a busy park Maybe try giving the kids(they love helping with dogs) and people in your neighbourhood doggie treats so they can come up and give them to him, so he can associate people coming over to him as a good experience.
May 8th, 2008, 11:47 AM
Just to share a little. I don't remember much about my boy going through his fear period but I do bring him out a lot when he was a puppy, every single day and few times a day. We used to live downtown Toronto so there were lots of sounds and different people he gets to meet and he still have some doggy friends that he prefers more over the others. I do learn that he does get jealous if I praise someone else's dog so I do not pet the other dog and say "You are so cute!" thing anymore in front of him and it helps. They do have feelings and I think he wants to be my cutest and best pup and I am not allowed to say that to anyone else! Usually I will let the other owner know I do think their dog is cute though.
May 8th, 2008, 12:27 PM
Wow - I have just learnt a lot.
My two boys have the same problems and I think it's my own fault (with Gizmo anyways since we have only had Tonka for six months). I coddle my dogs way to much by the sounds of it. I guess the my boyfriend is right, I am turning my boys into sucks.
I thought that taking the boys to the dog park was a good idea but after reading all this great advise I have learnt otherwise. I think I might just start taking them for more walks down by the lakeshore where it busy but wide open so that I can still keep our distance.
Thanks Geoffh4, this has helped answer a lot of questions that I didn't even know I had.
And thanks to all of the above posters who have given very well laid out instructions.
May 8th, 2008, 04:14 PM
Elizabeth Ann, when you coddle, you are reinforcing bad behaviour. If your dog is afraid of the vacuum, for instance, if you start the vacuum and react to your dog's fearful behaviour by shutting of the vacuum or picking him up and cuddling him - you are teaching him that when he is acts frightened, he gets what he wants. Go about your vacuuming in a matter of fact manner, ignoring the fearful behaviour as much as possible. The pup should learn that this is just something that happens, nobody gets hurt, and stay out of the way.
If you are out for a walk and pass a yard with a large barking dog inside a fence - instead of picking up your pup and talking sweet to it, laugh at the big dog, tell your dog how silly it is for getting all worked up and keep right on walking. Your pup will get his cue as to how to react from you.
As for dog parks, some people think that they are wonderful. Personally (and this really is just my personal opinion) while I can guarantee my dog's behaviour, I can't another dogs behaviour and I have met way too many people who don't take their dog seriously to risk my dog.
May 8th, 2008, 06:10 PM
you havent said what type f dog it is, i may have missed it though. im overly tired, today, lol
it sounds to me, like your dog is displaying fear agggression signs. You can help overcome this by doing more serious socialization with it. take it to obedience classes with other dogs its age, go to the dog park everyday. Do you work at home? or do you leave the dog for a few hrs per day, if so how many? dogs that become bored and lonely or left alot do show signs of fear aggression. the best way to handle it is not to coddle it or play into its reactions. when you are at a dog park and it starts to get upset or it starts feeling like it is being ganged up on, try to get its attention with something else, say a toy, etc. i wouldnt allow it near strange children though until you work on it for a while. take the pup for frequent walks past school yards where you know there will be alot of kids during the day to see how it reacts. let us know how things go. another thing to do besides the classes is to practice the NILIF technique. it works wonders.