attack of the growling puppy!

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blue4's picture
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I don't know what to make of our 20 week old. He is not allowed on the bed, but can get up there now. When my daugther, age 9, went in to get him off the bed, he growled at her. This is not the first time. He has also growled at my son (7 yr.). He growled at all three of us when we came from the grocery store to let him out of his crate. We have been so careful to help the kids learn how to handle a new puppy - and they've done really good! My husband and I are not new to dogs, but we are new to dobermans. Is this common? He gets really huffed up at anything new - bikes, boxes, people. We've been out with other dogs, been to the park, tried to do all kinds of things to help him. So, any thoughts about what we can do? We spent two days with the parents and felt they were very good tempered, but what's going on??? Thanks for your help!

Wolfgirl_121's picture
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some dogs just don't have good tempers... it could be other things... how long is he in the crate... who feeds him... he may just not like you... there are many things it could be, but your best bet is to try and get him into a training class or private lessons.

So how do you handle the current situation? Is he allowed to be on the bed? what do you do when he does growl? What do you do when you are out and he alerts on things? Do you have him in puppy classes? What commands does he know right now? Does he sit and wait for his food, do you make him sit and wait while you go out the door, where does he sleep at night? Much more info is needed to be able to help or even suggest things to you.

Wolfgirl_121's picture
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Well said Des.

blue4's picture
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He sleeps on a dog bed beside the bed at night.  Just last night he tried jumping up on the bed 5 different times, we gently put him off the bed and told him a firm no.  He sits, lays, shakes, and speaks.  We are working on stay.  He does have to sit and then wait before we give him food.  We all take turns giving him food.  He is never in the crate more than a couple of hours.  I homeschool, so we're with him probably 85% of them time.  I seem to miss the opportunities to work with him on something new - such as the bike.  I was working in another part of the yard and did'nt know my daughter got the bike out.  Maybe I would have grabbed the leash and introduced him.  When someone comes to the door (which hasn't happened often) I try to make sure he is behind me and has sat before I open the door.  What should I be doing when we are out and he alerts me of things?  He is convinced there is something in the back yard he must growl at at least once a day...but I go look and don't see anything, so I just make a little quick "shh" sound and give him a little poke on the rear to distract him.  Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. He bit my daughter this morning, after jumping up on her 3 times and her telling him firmly "down" and pulling him to the down position by his collar.  He didn't bite hard enough to bruise or bleed, but it still hurt.  I told her that if he did not obey her the first time, the second time he jumped up she should have done the correction then.  He is a sweet dog a lot of the time, I don't want to give him a bad rap... I was in the kitchen with them when this happened, I just didn't get over to the table fast enough to help before the whole thing unfolded.  Is this an issue of authority?   

Wolfgirl_121's picture
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you said he's 20 weeks?? he could be going through the "I don't wanna listen so I don't hafta" stage... you just have to be firm... as for the thing in your back yard... Haven't you been warned about the dragons?? they are in sofa cushions and tablelegs and toys(espesially the stuffed ones) and your bed and your shoes... etc. they seem to like to manifest themselves in the image of small lawn critters like squirrels and bunnies too.

blue4's picture
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So do you think this growling thing is pretty common behavior?  I've never had a dog that acted like that as a puppy...maybe I've been really blessed!

Wolfgirl_121's picture
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I don't think it's commen... I still think youshould try to get him into puppy classes. I was just making suggestions as to what it might be. Growling at things outside is pretty commen... I haven't met a dog that doesn't at some point... but you should try to figure out why he is growling at you and your family.

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Hello and welcome.  I sure hope we can help you.  This situation has the makings of a bad outcome.  Growling and biting your children in earnst in unacceptable.  Puppy biting is a whole other issue, but that is never done with a growl.  He is old enough and big enough now that a child may not be effective in doing the correcting.  I agree that puppy classes are a MUST, and also neutering him in a month or so, BEFORE he reaches sexual maturity.

He's going through his testing you stage, and for sure is testing his place in the "pack".  He's winning.  Good luck and keep us updated.

blue4's picture
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Through research and the help of an online trainer, we have discovered Reesie is "dominant aggressive".  It is unusual for a dog this young to display dominant behavior in the many ways he has been - lots of them I didn't even realize were displays of him trying to gain dominance.  We were also doing several things wrong - letting him walk in front of us, letting him sleep in the bedroom (even though it was on a dog bed), him on the furniture...all these things and more in his mind, gave him some leverage over our kids.  So we have goals and are working toward a happy, well adjusted dog.  We live in a rural area, and I am unsuccessful at finding puppy classes.  I'm not sure how I'm going to work that.   

You mentioned having him neutered...I read somewhere that neutering too early interupted the develpment of certain glands and functions .... I've never heard this before.  Does anyone know anything about this?

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In his case do not even consider the negatives on a pediatric neuter.  You should neuter him ASAP so you don't have him also hitting a hormone surge.  He will not have any negative ramifications.  I always say go longer on neuters unless shown otherwise (in temperment) that you shouldn't wait.  I don't think you should.

When he growls, force him on his side or on his back and stand over him.  Not out of anger.  Just flip him and hold him down until you see the tension leave his body.  I use this reprimand with a pushy dog of any sort, especially when I am "pack leader".  Sometimes it takes 5 minutes before a dog will relax into this postion.  Once he does then you can let him up but no sooner than that. 

 I don't talk to my dogs a lot, I am all about posture.  Give him his food and walk away, come back and push him off his food and take it away.  Give it back in a few minutes.  Make sure he eats after you all eat.  I think a crate in the bedroom would be better than kicking him out of the room completely.  That is not good for a doberman they need to be with you and will be very upset over not being in the same room to sleep.

What is his level of exercise?  To better control your situation, have areas he is allowed and not allowed so your children have safe places to go when you can't be there to help them with the pushy puppy.  I use dog-style baby gates that divide my house from Steve and my small dogs.

You probably need to up his exercise, more walks and runs.  If you can't run, you can get on a bike and bike him around on grassy areas and that will get some of his pent up energy out.

Its good you are making changes now.  I'm not so sure any of us can give great advice over the internet, that "online trainer" included.  See if anyone in your area (I understand you are rural) can come to your house and assess the whole situation.

Good luck and keep asking for feedback.

blue4's picture
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That's a great idea about the food...I'll have to remember to do that.

 

We're making a "mini" agility course in the yard, hoping that gets us all motivated to be out more.  We usually do about an hour exercise at one time, and then I break up our school day with several 10 minute "runs".  We'll go out and "throw stick".  He's a crazy good retriever! 

 

I really appreciate all feedback.  It is so helpful to get us on the right track.  We want to make this work for our family.  I don't want a constant struggle between the kids and him.  Will it be?  Anyone with experience in that?

Thanks again! 

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Because my dogs know I am boss, they don't test the kids I nanny when they are over (they are babysat ovenight once or twice a month and a few days a week in the summer). Steve really respects them and the boundaries they want. He minds the 10 year old who loves to train him and gives the 6 yr old space because she likes the small dogs.

Get his head straight that YOU are boss and it should go away

blue4's picture
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Reesie is making some progress - as we are too!  He's sitting and staying before he is fed.  We go through doors and down stairs before him...etc.  I think it is making a difference.  We've had fewer incidents of him on furniture and no issues with growling.  Thanks for the input!

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Glad to hear it!!!!

KevinK's picture
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I would keep up the training, look into resource guarding, and just always have rules for everything.  I think a great program would be nilif for you, google it and you'll find some great tips.  When you are dealing with a dominant personality doberman, you need to have a set of rules, and daily structure for everything you do if you want him on his best behavior.

I strongly disagree with alpha rolls, especially with a dominant dog.  That's the equivelenat of me walking up and holding a knife to your throat because you didn't listen to something I said.  It's asking for the ultimate submission, in doggy terms, when a dog is flipped on it's back or side and held down, it is often about to die... when your dog finally calms and submits, it's basically saying to you, "Ok, get this over with, do me in".  Your dog is submitting out of fear, not respect.

The agility course will be great, just be careful with alot of jumping at this age.  You don't want to start doing heavy jumps until down the road.

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Wow!  Nilif looks really good!  Especially since we had been doing some of this already without knowing it!  He absolutely LOVES to retreive, so I had been rewarding him when he brought the stick back by saying "Come" as he brought the stick... I say come, you get a treat.  Then I tried it randomly when we were out in the yard.  Then when he was on the other side of the house...

But I see that I let him initiate play instead of me.  I'm learning so much! 

Making the appt. Monday for neutering.  It seems very clear - hubby just wanted to keep the lively, fun alive!  You're right about the comparison - that wasn't really a good thing to do.  I guess we just don't know a lot of people that keep active dogs!

We have been doing jumping for a week now on a little jump - maybe 6 inches off the ground.  We noticed that he goes around looking for things to jump over - the little garden timbers, the brick around the flower bed, the fallen trees behind the house...so much energy!!!

Mostly we've worked on the lay and stay commands and tunnel and simple weaving - not the real deal, just little fun things to get us started. 

KevinK's picture
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The biggest thing with dog sports and games is that your dog is excited to do them.  When trying something new, I always look for excitement, and if the dog is having fun, I don't put much emphasis on how good they do for a while.  If the pup is having a great time, then the skills can be taught, and even if he will never succeed on a competition level, if he's having fun, keep doing it!

blue4's picture
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Thanks KevinK!  We are having fun!  I don't think we even have anywhere within a 4 hour drive to try a real agility course.  I'd love to think when he gets older we could let the kids take him once, but so far, our only goal is to play!

Do you do agility courses?  Any advice on getting started?  We looked building equipment websites and the AKC, but I'd like to hear someone's personal experience....maybe I need to go read on the other forum topics on this already!!

blue4's picture
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After looking over some of the other threads, looks like I need to get a good book and give up for a while!!  We've been doing basic obedience...we just don't live in an area where anything is offered close by.  The nearest basic obedience training classes are two hours away! 

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well the biggest thing that will help big time when doing agility is to already have a pretty solid obedience understanding.  Since it is done off leash, and your dog has to follow your direction, (for competition at least) you want a dog that listens well.  You can make many of the obstacles very cheaply if you're just a little handy, most can be made using pvc piping that you can get at any hardware store, or home depot or lowes or something similar.  There are also places online you can go to buy them.  

We have just messed aroudn twice with agility equipment at one of the dog parks, they have a pretty good setup, but I am not the biggest fan of dog parks so we don't really go too often.  We're working on nosework right now, which is something Dakota loves, and is alot of fun.

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Ok, so let me get more advice.  We've been doing nilif.  We've been teaching basic obedience.  We're keeping the tightest ship we ever have with dog.  Reesie is working for everything.  He loves it.  He's doing great EXCEPT yesterday, my son came into the room where Reesie and I were and Reesie (who wasn't completely asleep, but was being lazy) growled.  It was short.  Low.  but it was there.  My son didn't hear him and sent right up and sat down beside him.  I turn to face them and Reesie just put his head down.  Reesie was on a bean bag everyone shares.  Does this mean he's taking over the bean bag??  Do I have to banish him from that too?  What should I have done to respond to that growl.  It is unacceptable.  But I'm not sure I did the right thing other than change my posture and attitude to address the growl.  I'm not going to do alpha roll.  I don't feel comfortable with that.  I'm not going to yell etc.  What do I do in the exact moment this happens to show him it is unacceptable.  We've been doing so good since we changed everything.  Is there some small thing we did inadvertantly that day to give him freedom, you think?  This is getting overwhelming to keep up with! 
Anyone got advice??

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Cisco is a dominate little (er ...well ya know what I mean) boy- He back talks me constantly growls and yaps at me when he isnt getting his way- I am training w/ a K9 officer and he is helping us w/ the alpha issue leaps and bounds- it is getting better everyday- He and my vet told me to get him neutered ASAP before sexual maturity or it will be too late to stop some of these issues even with training... He is going Next tuesday he will be 6.5 months old roughly... And honestly I should have done it a month ago- but my dear husband was having issues w/ him losing his manhood(until my trainer told him what was up)

He is the sweetest boy when he wants to be and he is a little shit when he isnt getting HIS way- Well I am learning and so is he that it is MY way or NO way....

Good luck, I recommend finding a trainer who deals w/ dominance issues and talk to yur vet about neutering as soon as you can...

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blue, in my house, everything is earned in terms of priveledges.  I consider a priveledge to be able to go on furniture.  Even still, I only allow on the couch by invitation only.  I almost never don't invite her up, but she doesn't just jump on the couch, which I like.  Same goes for bed, she waits until I tell her to jump up.  The only piece of furniture we allow her on without an invite is the futon in the office, because she likes to stand on it and look out the window while I'm outside.

If you want him to stop going on the bean bag chair, tell him no BEFORE he gets on it, and then show him where he is allowed to go.  With a few repititions, he'll start to learn that the bean bag is no good, but the blanket, or his bed on the floor is ok.

 

What you should do exactly, is hard to say without being there to see it.  I would look into a trainer that could be available to show you exactly how to handle the dog when it does certain things.

I'm late getting back to this post. It sounds as if you are on the right track with him. Removing him from sleeping on the bed or couch, starting your training with him and implementing PROPER NILIF.

I think most of the questions I asked originally have been addressed. I think this is going to be a dog that you are going to have to stay on top of all the time. I do agree that neutering should be in his near future before he really gets out of control. I know that there is much debate about proper times to neuter a male dog and while I would be one to wait 12mo or later I would not hesitate to neuter one that showed any types of behavioral problems. Your childrens safety is priority. Not that this will solve everything but it will surely help for what will come. He hasn't even begun to get into his hormones and testing.

I would not allow him to be on the couch or anything that the family uses. He should not be allowed to sleep on your bed or if it were me I might consider depending on the situation to have him out of your room completely. They see this as an alpha position. I would also talk to the kids about not disturbing him while he is sleeping just as a safety precaution. I do not agree with alpha rolling a dog at all. It really is to bad that you can't locate a trainer to help you with him. I know you said the nearest was 2 hour drive. Depending on the person it might be worth meeting once a month. I have a personal trainer that I use for my dogs and I sometimes meet with her on a monthly basis. Sometimes they can give you exercises to work on and will be willing to do email follow ups with any questions until the next visit.

As I read through your original post, it made me think of an incident with one of my dogs and my 7yr old at the time. You also have to keep in mind that your puppy has been allowed to (Not intentionally) have a place of authority within your home. Even though you didn't know this was going on now you are having to retrain what his place is in your home.

I cant remember the exact age of our dog at the time but I do know she was less than a year old. Our dogs have always been allowed on the couch (I know bad habit lol) and they sleep in our room. While I never have problems with the dogs because they know I'm alpha over them, my daughter did. While our dog was fast asleep on the couch my daughter went over and did something to the dog. Nobody was in the room she claims she was trying to pet her which was most likely the case. Anyways the dog woke from a dead sleep and bit her. She was bit in the nose and it did break the skin. I wasn't home at the time so it was dealt with by my husband. Immediately when I got home I got on the phone and called one of the personal trainers that I use. She gave me all kinds of suggestions which we implemented. We never had another problem with this dog afterward. It was terribly frightening but we too had allowed her to have a place of dominance. She had to learn her place with the kids in our house.

While some dogs are very easy going and laid back and you never have to worry about them others have to be taught from day one what you expect of them and with your family. I'm not talking in a mean way either. I think Kevin gave some very useful info.

In regards to your beanbag incident, the minute I heard any kind of growl I would have immediately went over and disciplined. My dogs know by the tone of my voice when they are in the wrong. If I get a deep throated AUUGGGT NO sound then they know to stop. If that had been my dog he would have immediately been removed off of the bean bag chair. You want to make sure that he is not just moaning though. I know it sounds funny but sometimes people do get paranoid after something like this happens and mistake other noises. I've personally witnessed this as silly as it sounds.

As far as agility at his age you really have to be careful of his joints. I do agility with all of my dogs and compete in it but I haven't even started my boy who is 15mo old yet. He can run through tunnels and things like that but absolutely no forced jumping. He will probably start his agility classes next year. There is all kinds of equipment that you can build yourself for agility use. It is a very fun sport my daughter LOVES to compete in agility with our dogs. Another thing that you may want to consider is a 4H program for the kids. I've very active in the dog 4H in our community and it to is a great thing for both dogs and kids.

You asked if there were books that I would recommend on training and things I will try and look into a few that you might want to consider. I think most people would be amazed at what obedience things can actually be taught and how well controlled your dog can be with proper training. Most people see obedience as just sit, lay down, stay, heel, there really is soooo much more. One book that I really like that I just got is called "The focused puppy" it is by Deborah Jones & Judy Keller. Fantastic book that covers all kinds of things but gets the dog started in the right way. It is a great book for raising a great companion or performance dog. The exercises that they teach in this book are key components to further any kind of work you would want to do with a dog.

blue4's picture
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Wow!  Thanks rnd!!!!  I'm heading over to Amazon for that book - and I thank you for the comments on agility.  Since we've never been involved in it before, maybe I should pick up a book for future reference too.  He just loves to jump over things, so now I see I should abandon this for a while.  This is very helpful.  Thanks. 

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Thanks rnd, I was looking to get a good puppy training book for me and Blade, and your suggestions seems perfect. I just purchased it and will look for it in mail.


Blade, my 11 weeks old, is mouthing/biting and also grabbing the pants around ankles. When he gets wound up it is hard to stop him. I am waiting to hear from puppy classes that have started a session this week, and hope to get in. Otherwise I will start the next session whish is in 5 weeks. I got to stop Blade's biting.

blue4's picture
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I ordered my copy too!  We'll have to compare notes, newtodogs!!  I've been looking over the body language stuff too...it is helping me understand some of his behavior.  And sometimes, I'm just confused!!

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Cisco turned 6 months old and the nipping has all but stopped- he was a major pant leg, shoe biter, Since Saturday he hasnt done it at all...