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puppy aggression

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  • puppy aggression

    we just had a minature poodle join our family at 8 weeks of age. We are very experienced dog owners and have trained our boxer and mastiff with no problems. However this little bit of a thing has shown great aggression, not at our other dogs but at us or our four year old son. Example , the puppy was chewing on a plant so I said no in a soft tone ( i was told poodles were sensative ) " no chewing " . I then went to pick him up and he turned , showed his teeth, growled loudy and would not stop. I could not pick him up without getting bit, so I picked him up with a towel and put him in his kennel to let him calm down( not as a punishment) but to diffuse the situation. My little boy is terrified. and i have to admit i was a little scared too! We bought him at a pet store and was assured he was not from a puppy mill, but what would make a puppy behave like this and what in the world can we do to break him of it. I have little children in my home all the time and am afraid to have them over until i can correct the situation HELP.....

  • #2
    Hi Robynn,

    With a puppy acting that agressively at only 8 weeks of age, I think I would be quite concerned. And perhaps even thinking about returning him, if at all possible. Especially with young children in the house.

    That said, I'd also be wondering if he hasn't already experienced some abuse at the hands of humans. :cry: (Although, if it is an abuse/agression scenario, it can actually be a "hold over" from a previous lifetime.)

    Does he respond the same way to both men and women?

    As to training and difusing or eliminating the behavior with training. . . . There was recently a post here somewhere about feeding him exclusively from your hands for awhile, and then progressing from there. Perhaps that is a start (and hopefully you can find the post here which has a very detailed description of this).

    Perhaps someone else can offer other suggestions soon. . . .
    Juanita (& the kids - Missy, Taffy, Smudge & Marmie)


    • #3
      a coupleof added thoughts. . . .

      training, of course, is going to be an absolute must for this little guy. As well as neutering. And the sooner the better for both of them. Even if he is a small dog, the training part will still be very crucial.

      In the meantime, were I in your situation, when you were unable to pick him up for fear of being bit, once I had him in the towel, I would have immediately put him into a "submissive role" posture with him on his back and me rubbing his tummy area. And at that point, I would have been kneeling on the floor with him, so I was more on his level.

      Once he had relaxed and stopped growling and showing signs of agression, then I would have also put him into his kennel/crate for a "time out" of a certain length of time. Being sure to then allow him to re-join the family while monitoring the situation.

      I've also read that with the little breeds, they will sometimes do a lot of barking, etc. to make themselves feel "big" and in charge. One source I read said that this sometimes is a result of the dog not being fully connected with their hindquarters and legs, from an energetic point of view. This can often be addressed and reduced by doing certain massage techniques on the dog so as to help them connect in and be fully mindful and present within all of their body. :)

      This later, of course, would be in addition to basic training, etc.

      (the post about hand feeding I mentioned is in this area under the "puppy agressive with food" topic; I think it would still be pertinent here)

      Part of what you have to do, imho, is to establish yourself as the Alpha of your little pack and make sure this little guy know that he is beneath you and all humans in the pack order. :wink:
      Juanita (& the kids - Missy, Taffy, Smudge & Marmie)


      • #4
        Please consider returning this puppy.

        Please never buy ANYTHING in any store that sells purebred puppies or kittens.

        ANY "breeder" who would sell ANY puppy for intentional resale is completely clueless and ignorant if not stupid and malicious.

        Anyone knows that when the puppy is sold for resale it will be sold with no screening to anyone with the money.

        The behavior you describe is CLINICALLY ERRANT for a puppy that age, completely abnormal, and if you have any chance of doing so, return this puppy immediately.

        If they will not take it back and return your money, I would get an attorney.

        WHen you get ready for another puppy come back here and I will personally help you find a good breeder in your area.

        I'm so sorry, this must be a heartbreaking situation for you.
        Redyre Rottweilers
        "Penny" U-CH Eternal Moon Finders Keepers
        "Didds", TT * "V-"PeeWee" BH AD IPO 1 TT
        Waiting at the Bridge...
        V-Roxy CD, ASCA CD, TT, TDI, HIC, CGC
        Best in Vet Sweeps, ARC Reg. IV Specialty, 9/01


        • #5
          I thought I would put this up here since it was mentioned.

          It could help. I still think you should aggressively pursue the return of the pup, tho.


          I have several suggestions:

          1) get into puppy training class. Immediately

          2) if this puppy is not altered, do so immediately. This is not typical or correct behavior for a lab puppy, and this should never be passed on.

          3) No more eating from a bowl for her for 7 days. Hand feed only.

          YOU hold the bowl, feed her hand full by hand full, and she must sit or obey some command for each handfull.

          4) at the end of a week, put the bowl on the floor, and put her food in hand full by hand full. Wait until she is finished with each handful you have put in, and is looking up at you, before you put more in the bowl.

          Feed this way for 2 days.

          at the end of THESE 2 days, put her food in the bowl, and have some REALLY tasty treats handy. Put her bowl down, and at least 4 times during her meal, walk past the bowl and drop something tasty in. If you can get her attention from eating, show her the treat, and ask her to come away from the bowl to get it.

          MOst dogs desensitised this way learn that their food is not threatened and they can eat in peace.

          Feeding inside a crate is also good advice.

          This puppy needs leadership training immediately, which why I recommended class.

          Please see my puppy training article at

          I would also recommend you visit this website,

          print out this information, and go by it religiously, or at least until you get finish one series of training classes.

          Good luck.
          Redyre Rottweilers
          "Penny" U-CH Eternal Moon Finders Keepers
          "Didds", TT * "V-"PeeWee" BH AD IPO 1 TT
          Waiting at the Bridge...
          V-Roxy CD, ASCA CD, TT, TDI, HIC, CGC
          Best in Vet Sweeps, ARC Reg. IV Specialty, 9/01


          • #6
            Thanks to everyone who responded to my pleas for help with our new minature poodle! After reading, I was disappointed in myself for purchasing a puppy from a pet store, now I realize what can happen when you don't have a puppy history to go by and dont know the parents tempermant. I was encouraged by the training techniques I read and am excited to try them! I am not going to give up on the puppy yet, and return him. Since I am a stay at home mom I am able to moniter the situation. If the puppy continues to show aggression I will have no choice, my fear in returning him is, he will go to a family who wont train him and he will end up biting someone. Since I now know what to try, I want to a least give it and the puppy a chance. Thanks for all of your help, and please continue to make all of us aware of the problems with purchasing a puppy from a pet store, maybe if everyone stops buying puppies this way the pet stores won't be able to sell them, and puppy mills will be a thing of the past. Thanks again!!


            • #7

              Please, please DON'T do the 'alpha roll' thing! It is only a submissive posture if the dog chooses to roll over for you himself, not when he is forced! This type of method generally creates worse aggression in dogs such as yours, & even creates aggression, through fear in previously mellow dogs.

              The other thing with the whole idea of the 'alpha' theory is that even if you do it correctly, a dog with such a strong assertiveness such as your pup is always going to challenge it periodically & if he even gets a whiff of a win with anybody, he will want to enforce HIS leadership. After all, THAT is the law of nature.

              Try to avoid punishment & use only positive methods to train alternate behaviour, such as tolerance & obedience exercises.


              • #8
                i want to echo champ here the alpha roll idea is a massivly flawed one and i dont teach it.
                it sounds to me that you are treating this dog differently because he seems so much more breakable than your previous strong and sturdy dogs.
                if your 4yr old were about to eat that plant you wouldnt have said 'no' softly your voice would have reflected the seriousness and the urgency of what he was doing.
                when your dog growled you tried to pick him up. he has legs of his own! if your mastiff had of growled at you i doubt very much you would have picked him up, you would have said very firmly 'bed' and away he would have slunk.

                at 8 weeks of age you are creating a baby, please do enrol in puppy classes i think all pups should go as its great for mixing him with other dogs.when you are there do not over react when a bouncy lab comes over your dog can hold his own and is perfectly capable of telling the lab himself to back off.

                so what if you have a poodle he is a dog and should be treated as such.
                all dalmatian rescue 01255 220 649 (uk)