Help! REAL aggression from 11 week GR puppy - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 09:45 PM Thread Starter
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Help! REAL aggression from 11 week GR puppy


Ryder is 11.5 weeks old cute and well behaved. Loves to please us with sits and downs etc loves new people (though gets scared of traffic). We got him at 8 weeks from recommended breeder (mum field line dad show line).

We have been very careful from the word go to make all interactions positive - lots of treats, only positive clicker training, not taking toys off him without big rewards (though does have a tendency to run off with stuff) etc.

Today he started digging in the garden (which he often does), he was digging and chewing a good five minutes, ignoring me completely (normally great recall), when I approached him and touched him gently he growled menacingly. I was surprised he has never shown any sign of aggression before, I touched him gently again without thinking and he immediately snapped hard at my hand. He missed but got the bag i was holding.

I was shocked.

To be clear; he's always been mouthy, nippy and likes to play rough etc (and that's to be expected and dealt with as a puppy parent), but there's a BIG RED LINE between rough play and nipping and what was clearly a: "DO NOT DISTURB, BACK OFF OR I WILL HURT YOU" growl followed by the clear aggressive attempt to bite.

I came again towards him with some treats to get his attention but nothing really worked, he was obsessively digging chewing the soil. Any light touch (showing treats in hand) resulted in warning growl. After a while he left the digging and 'returned to normal'.

We have young children and cannot afford to take chances with an aggressive dog who will attack anyone disturbing them while 'in the zone'.

We are terribly disappointed as we love him and have invested a tremendous amount of money and energy, particularly in a GR renowned for their placid and good nature, but I am about to call the breeder and discuss our options.

I would be grateful for any constructive comments from anyone with any experience in this regard.

Thank you!!!
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 10:59 PM
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My suggestion would be to call the breeder ASAP and discuss what happened. You don't need to call to talk options yet, but if this breeder is good, they can discuss what happened and determine if it was aggression, annoyance or play. Did you startle the puppy at all? Was the puppy being kinda crazy (sometimes they get in psycho mode!)? Hav the kids been grabby with the puppy at all? You can also call your vet and get a referral to a behaviorist.
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 11:08 PM
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I'm sorry that happened. I could call a private trainer right away. Good luck and keep us posted!
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 11:21 PM
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Goldens acteth as thy rewardeth

Inequivocally, the solution to your "Crazed Puppy" Dilemma, is sucheth:

One musn't reward puppy (or humans) for behavior that is not suitable on this mother earth.

You simpleth confuseth your puppy by doing the age-old not wise act of giving a treat when puppy does something he shouldnt(eth).
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 12:16 AM
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1. Call your breeder *now* - not four months from now when there's a real problem and the pup is conditioned to react inappropriately. This is fixable now. It won't be near as simple in four or six months.

2. Do not - do not! - repeat what you did. Reread your post. Pup growled, you did not correct. You walked away, thought about it, walked back, checked to see if you had the same reaction (yes), and then tried to get pup's attention with a treat. If you don't understand why the above is *bad* you need to find a good trainer and follow every piece of advice they give you.

3. Put a leash/rope/checkcord on this pup so you can get your hands on him anytime you want.

4. You're going to need to change your perspective on the pup's place and your place in this world. You are allowed to tell your dog no. You are allowed to tell your dog to move. You are allowed to make rules, set expectations, and demand your dog meet them. This is okay. Normal. Perfectly acceptable. It is your house, your family, your stuff. He needs to behave and be a polite member of the family if he's going to be allowed to stay.

On the topic of the perspective, allow me to explain. This-- "I came again towards him with some treats to get his attention but nothing really worked, he was obsessively digging chewing the soil. Any light touch (showing treats in hand) resulted in warning growl. After a while he left the digging and 'returned to normal'." --would never happen at my house. A) If a verbal command didn't get his attention he'd get physically moved and he'd pay attention the next time I said something. Ignoring me is not acceptable. B) The pup would probably never growl at me because the "pack structure" had already been established through the course of normal day-to-day activities. If he did growl he'd find out very very quickly that behavior is not acceptable. C) I would never ever sit around watching the misbehaving puppy until he finally left digging... wow... I would strongly recommend obedience lessons with a good obedience trainer who has a proven track record. Pup needs obedience training. You need a crash course in reading and responding to canine behavior. (You have kids - would you sit around casually watching while they mock you and refuse to clean their room or other requests?)

Not trying to be mean - just blunt - you've got some phone calls to make and major life changes to make or this pup will hurt someone (you or your family), or he'll be euthanized before he's 2. He's likely not a dangerous animal (most aren't), but poor training/lack of training can turn normal puppy behavior into something incredibly dangerous.

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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 12:34 AM
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Little Red Dawgs, I couldn't have said it better. Great advise. I was thinking exactly what you said!

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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 02:06 AM
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Welcome from the UK. Hi I had a similar issue when my pup would try to dig a hole. I kept her on a long line when in the garden so she could be quickly removed without touching if needed. She learnt quickly at that age was was appropriate or not because fun ended quickly and calmly if it wasn't. Are you booked into training classes or have you found a good training club?
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 02:31 AM
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I'm sorry this happened. Your pup needs to understand who's in charge at your house and what behavior is acceptable and what is not.

LittleRedDawg absolutely hit the nail on the head in every way. Act now by calling your breeder and find the best trainer in your area right now before this type of behavior happens again.
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 08:20 AM
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Don't loose perspective... this is a baby puppy that has only been in your house for 3 weeks! As a baby they have to figure out the world, they don't get a book telling them how a golden retriever is supposed to act. Part of having a puppy is helping them learn, much like your kids. When they were babies you didn't expect them to understand the rules, you had to teach them as they grew. It's not about behavior of the puppy, it's about the behavior of the owner at this age.
Take the puppy out on a leash (harness?) or a long line. If the pup gets into something clap your hands, coax and give a pull on the leash to bring them to you then reward.
Getting into a power struggle with at puppy at this age is setting up a life long debate between you two.
A really great trainer once told me to never negotiate with toddlers! Set them up for success by being smarter than the puppy. They don't know what the rules are yet you have to show them. Always try to be one step ahead of the puppy.
Read the sticky about the journey... or the one about it's a puppy not a problem. This is not aggression at 11 weeks, it's a puppy. Find a good Star puppy class and start the process of raising your puppy.
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-18-2017, 08:50 AM
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Golden Retriever puppies are a lot more work than the average puppy. And it sounds like you have a puppy who has the potential to be a serious handful if you aren't careful. As Puddles mentioned, this is a baby puppy who has never been taught a thing. It's up to you to be firm and give him structure and rules.

The advice given here is great, I just wanted to emphasize that your management style needs to be very hands on and proactive immediately. This isn't something you can take your time researching and considering your options with. Whether you understood what you were getting into or not, this puppy is going to be a full time, serious project for you for the next couple of years - not just a cute family dog for the kids to play with.

I absolutely agree that you need to contact the breeder and be honest about your observations and your best course of action. For sure, this puppy needs to be dragging a leash at all times while he's out of his crate, (you can buy a cheap one from walmart and cut it off) this gives you a way to handle him and control him without putting your hands on his body. Start working on daily grooming where you gently handle his paws, touch his toe nails, give him a little brushing, and treats to make it happy. Choose a time where he's not in whirlwind mode and really make a big deal out of him accepting touching from you.

Have a serious discussion with your children about not EVER taking anything away from the puppy, they need to call an adult to help - and this puppy should not be out playing with the children unless there is an adult giving hands on supervision. This is super important. The last thing you need as this puppy grows is to have an incident with the kids and you aren't sure exactly what happened because you're relying on the child to tell you the story. The kids need to understand that this dog is an animal, not a stuffed toy (I know this sounds silly but they forget that it's a living creature with moods and a mind of it's own.) Dogs are individuals just like people and are all different. Your puppy is not irredeemably aggressive. He just sounds like he may be a bit strong willed and have the potential to be a handful. If you make a commitment now to working with him, plenty of training and lots of exercise, (swimming, puppy playdates, off leash hiking) it will go a lot better for you and for him long term.

If you aren't willing to invest in the training and exercise requirements on a daily basis (this is a major project) then be very open with the breeder about your feelings on this and what your options are.

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Last edited by nolefan; 05-18-2017 at 08:55 AM.
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