Golden Agressivity issue 4 months old
We took Snow at 2 months from a friend. It is our first dog and we chose this breed based on its reputation. It is not a dog with pedigree and we didn’t knew much about his parents when we took him. Later on, we found out that his mother is having the same possessive and aggressive behaviour when bones are involved.
In the first days there were some problems with accomodation, he has not been eating about 2 days or was eating a little, which seemed to be kind of normal. He has received all the vaccines for his age (4 months now).
At the beginning he was biting and playing all the time. We tried some tricks („OUCH”) to make him release, which didn’t work, and we have also tried some kind of Alpha role playing by keeping him from his neck but that seemed to make him even more angry. That happened at 3 months when the bites where not so easy to handle. In the following weeks he was tearing off some of the clothes we were wearing ). However he seemed to be happy to please us when learning some basic commands: sit, stay, lie, come when he was rewarded. As reward we use boiled beef meet.
One day I boiled some beef with bone, then gave him the bone to play/lick it and eat some meat over it. When I tried to take it from his mouth he became very aggressive and tried to bite me or whoever else tried (my wife, my sister). So we realised at that time that we really had a problem. Then was the first day out of the apartment, when he showed possesive aggression towards anything he takes in his mouth and he takes a lot .
Also he showed some aggression at the vet’s, when he tried to bite the doctor when checking his ears to see if otitis has dissapeared.
So we decided to go to a really good dog trainer and behaviourist from Romania, probably one of the best in our country. In the first session he confirmed that Snow isn’t really acting like a Golden and, joking, he said that it would be much easier to make him a defense dog. Here is a video from the asssessment meeting. Actually he was not so aggressive as I expected because he didn`t like so much that raw bone compared to the one I was giving him at home.
The first ground rules were to also leash him in the house, to have him carry kind of leash all over the place and stop saying anything to the dog by only correcting him using the leash. So now he is not allowed to do many things starting with getting up on the couch, sleeping with us in the bed, chewing the furniture, biting us etc. Actually he was extremely possesive on the couch. For example when giving him a toy down he was taking it on the couch and there it was impossible to take it back from his mouth. Down on the floor, the changes of not getting aggressive were smaller.
We had 4 sessions with the dog trainer so far and there are some signs of submission. The last session was a special submission one with leash conditioning. Snow was really not happy with it and started to tremble when he realised that he doesn’t have control anymore on my wife. Moreover, today he was suprised when I applied the same leash control techniques and food limitation (with food as reward). Also in the 2nd session the trainer showed us that he doesn`t like it when people were touching him and we are working on that too. I understood the thing with food possesion, but this kind of things I don’t get: he was sitting in the car and my wife as usual tried to touch him and he growled and tried to bite her. He is not allowed to get near people/dogs without the leash because we cannot trust him.
It is obvious we were doing some mistakes at the beginning leaving him to control us, based on the fact that „he’s still a puppy”. He is not a happy golden, doesn’t like to play so far or run outside and probably that’s because he is still trying to get the Alpha Power.
It should be enough as a presentation. I hope I didn’t bored you so much. We start from here and let you know the outcome. Any feedback would be much appreciated.
I'm sorry you're facing issues with your puppy. Do you practice regular basic obedience with him? (Sit, down, stay etc.?) Do you go to a class or practice at home?
Could you explain a little more about what you mean by "special submission with Leash conditioning"? I am familiar with having the puppy drag a leash around the house so that he can easily be handled without grabbing his collar, but I don't understand why the trainer would say you shouldn't speak to the dog (tell him "off" when you are removing him from the couch for example).
I can tell you that you will receive concern here that by forcing your puppy to submit you will be making any fear issues he has much worse. Also, by giving him a meat bone or other food treat and then taking it from him, you are reinforcing his fear that you want to steal his food. Your puppy is still so young that you have a wonderful chance of overcoming the problems with gentle, positive methods. Many dogs are possessive of bones and food and teaching the dog to "trade" for a better, more valuable (to the dog) treat is a good way of working on this. The mother may have passed on some genetic component to his behavior, but that doesn't mean it's a lost cause.
I am sure you will receive more input here, it sounds like you have a big project ahead of you. Are you and your wife able to make sure your puppy gets daily exercise and playtime outside your apartment? I know in winter it can be a challenge, but it would help him feel better to be getting proper exercise.
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I have watched your video, I don't see an 'aggressive dog', I see a pup that has learned through experience that you will 'steal' what he has. Your pup has great bite inhibition (he could have bitten but he didn't) - a good thing! His behavior is as 'normal' (inate) as one can expect when a pup has a high value item (a bone) that he doesn't want you to steal. Don't give him bones (or if you do - leave him alone with them- he deserves that much) start teaching him to trade for non-food items. When he has something, offer him a treat, when he drops the item, feed the treat and give him back the item. Repeat often and with as many non-food items as you can.
Please understand that 'alpha rolling' him will be percieved by him as an 'attack' and make him distrustful of you (as will 'stealing' things from him). He is not trying to 'run you' or 'take over' - he doesn't know what you want from him because he hasn't been taught (yet)- it takes time,repetition, consistency and patience. Your pup (any pup) needs training, - show/teach him what you want him to do, and reward him for doing it - he will repeat it when he understands what you want. Your pup (any pup) needs socializing - exposed to the 'real world' and creating positive associations with it. He barks and lunges at dogs and people because he is likely excited to see them - he's a pup. Teach him to sit to greet people. If you can, take him to classes or playtimes or get together with other people who have dog friendly dogs, where he can appropriately and safely socialize with other dogs - he needs to know how to do that.
Until there are none, rescue one.
Regarding the "special submission with Leash conditioning" I think I didn`t make it so clear what I wanted to say. The trainer had a little hard time with us at the beginning. In the video it is obvious that our tone was not a good one at that time and in order to keep the little Snow calm he advised that at the beginning it's ok for him to understand what we mean from our gestures. He also said that just a word "down" + leash slow drag will make him understand that he has to get down from the couch. That was true and 90% of times it works just fine. He is also trying less to get on the couch.
Yes he stays about 3 hours/day with me/my wife or my sister. I`ll explain in the next post which things give us some hard time outside
Last edited by Danielu; 12-29-2012 at 01:57 PM.
Socializing with people/dogs/kids is ongoing. With people it's getting better and what you suggested with Sit it's almost happening with down. However he is hackling up to some people (if that's not the word then this image should reflect the behaviour). I`m concerned about him having this behaviour with all dogs. So far he has only showed signs of aggression towards them even most of them just want to play or smell him. We first tought that these are signs of fear from his part, but the trainer said that it is definitely aggression because he is not only hackling up but he is also trying to dominate that dog.
Regarding the trade for dropping whatever he takes in his mouth, we are working on it for about 3 days and it really works. Unfortunately now it works only with food and I don't understand why he doesn't enjoy almost any toy. We have about 5 toys and he is getting bored of them in just few minutes.
Outside, unfortunately the situation is not pink as you would probably expect. Probably you don't know the actual conditions in Romanian parks, but I`ll explain them so you understand my exact concern. He loves a lot to take things in his mouth like soil, rocks, sticks, plastic bags, food wastes etc. So it is really dangerous because there are some small bones offered to stray dogs by "good people"; plastic bags also can be dangerous for him when swallowed. That's the issue that he is not just playing with things but he is also trying to eat them, so it's important to drop the dangerous things he "steals".
Also the "environment" has a lot of company dogs but also a lot of stray dogs which might come to you 4-5 at a time.
Today we decided to go into a park which is a little far from our apartment but where there is less garbage on the ground. The big surprise was when an adult rotweiller without a leash was trying to smell us. He reacted like usual with no fear and I have dragged him and hoped that the rotweiller can control itself. Fortunately we were lucky that the rotweiller was properly trained by his owner. The sad thing is that most of the dogs in Romania are not trained at all and you can have some hard time with dogs used for company, not to mention stray dogs.
At the training classes at one out of two sessions there is also another dog to play with. Unfortunately so far he has showed only aggression signs and we had to stop that instead of letting them play.
Tomorrow we will have a new session, I`ll get back with a feedback
Thanks for your good advice!
Last edited by Danielu; 12-29-2012 at 02:05 PM.
It sounds like you are making good progress. When you are trading him for something you must use food items to offer him that are more "valuable" than the item you want him to give up. Toys would generally not be valuable enough to get him to exchange.
"To my mind, I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man."
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
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I don't really see an aggressive puppy, I see a very confused puppy.
Start playing (training) in low distraction areas such as your house/apartment. Start with low value food rewarding for higher value food. You can practice this with other items besides food such as the rocks/(garbage - such as food packages, plastic bags etc). Don't practice this with high value items such as that raw bone until your pup gives you good choices with the much lower value items.
Also work on the trade game. Your puppy needs to trust you that if he gives up an item he will be rewarded with something much better. It really takes a long time to build that trust up. Again do this at home often with low value items at home. When on a walk you can do the same for now.
What you don't want to do is let your pup practice what he was doing in the video. As you say the mom seems to have issues so this probably has a genetic component to it. This means you have to help the pup feel safe and trust you so that the pup doesn't feel the need to protect items from you. It means you have to have good habits yourself so you don't put the pup into the position to feel the need to be protective of items.
A Dog Is A Life Time Commitment
Daniel - incearca comenzi scurte - Lasa, Jos, Sta, culcat.. Pentru Snow osul este de valoare foarte mare. Ce mananca de obicei? Incearca sa ii dai de mancare din mana (pumn)ca sa vada ca tu esti cel care ii da de mancare. La momentul de fata Snow crede ca o sa iei inapoi mancarea (mai ales mancarea de valoare). Doar dupa ce se obisnuieste ca sa manance din mana ta incearca sa iei niste friptura. Tu mananci din friptura de pe os si ii dai cate o bucatica de carne. Pune-o in gura is scoate-o din gura si dai la Snow cu mana (nu o arunca - lasa sa ia mancarea din mana). De fiecare data cand ii dai mancare dai inainte o comanda scurta (jos, stai - ce folosesti tu de obicei - scuze ca Romana mea (mai ales scrisa) nu este asa de buna dupa 20 de ani). Cand ia mancarea incurajeaza-l cu bine. O sa ia timp - dupa ce are incredere in tine dai de mancare si apoin iao inapoi, dai din nou mancarea. Incepe cu o bucata de paine uscata, cand lasa painea dai o bucata de carne sau branza.
Unde esti? Din prima poza arata ca esti undeva in Nord - cel puting dupa casa. Daca mergi in parc tine-l mai departe - pe marginea parcului - foloseste timpul ca sa vezi de la departare ceilalti caini. Daca vezi un caine care se comporta frumos incearca sa vorbesti cu "parintii" si sa vezi daca nu puteti sa va intalniti altundeva unde nu sunt gunoaie si caini salbatici.
Din fericire, Snow este inca tanar si cu rabdare si persistenta o sa ai un caine frumos si bucuros.
Rose Bud - Golden Retriever (June 2012)
Darcy Bud - Flat Coated Retriever (June 2009)
Last edited by Claudia M; 12-30-2012 at 01:48 AM.
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@solinvictus: yes, we are doing something similar and we call it "resource limitation". Later on I`ll put a video with him "down" with bunch of treat in front of him and also 3 pieces near his month. He wait until I give the command free. In the apartment usually there is no issue doing that because he is in his environment and not distracted. Outside it is a little harder for him but he is doing perfect.
Also today at the training session he found 2 bones but not very attracted. I asked to leave it, he stopped leave the bone and get back to me to receive the reward
@ Claudia M, incantat sa dau de un roman pe acest forum . Este foarte pretentios la mancare. Initial am inceput cu royal canin dar nu a mai mancat dupa o saptamana. Apoi am incercat Acana, la care a renuntat la fel dupa o saptamana si jumatate. Acana parea sa-i faca si probleme la stomac facand moale. Acum mananca Bosh, dar dupa o saptamana parea sa se plictiseasca si de ele. Pentru a nu-i mai schimba mancarea am decis sa-l ajutam cu putina branza de vaci peste bobite si momentan pare sa-i placa. Nu stiu exact ce vom face cu mancarea dar cel mai probabil vom lua o reteta de la un veterinar pentru mancare gatita. Nu este dificil de preparat si prefer asta decat sa tot incercam boabe sa manance o saptamana apoi sa le lase. Ca strategie pentru a-l obisnui pe boabe am inteles ca ar fi infometarea pentru 1 chiar 2 zile, insa cred c-o accepta pentru ca primeste destul de des recompensa carne de vita fiarta sau la gratar, iar eu presupun ca poate "sa traiasca" doar cu recompensa cateva zile bune. Consider ca nu merita efortul. In plus daca nu mananca 1-2 zile ok, nu doar ca nu isi mentine ritmul de crestere, dar si slabeste aprox. 1 kg.
Am facut ce ai sugerat mai sus cu obiecte de genul: jucariile lui, servetel, punga plastic. Renunta f. usor la ele la comanda "lasa". Diferenta este ca eu ii aruncam recompensa jos pentru a-l indeparta de obiectul respectiv. Dupa toata atentia lui este catre mine si practic uita de respectivul obiectul. Am vazut un video pe care din pacate nu-l mai gasesc de nici o culoare si mi s-a parut foarte buna strategia. Dupa ce totul merge perfect cu recompensa obisnuita se poate trece la recompensa prin joc, dar asta mai tarziu cand va adora sa se joace.
Poza respectiva este de la bunici in Oltenia :P
Noi stam in Bucuresti.
One recent picture:
And a video from this morning:
Last edited by Danielu; 12-30-2012 at 07:39 AM.