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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
Sorry in advance as this may be a long post!
My partner and I have had Kipper with us since she was just over 8 weeks old (now 13 weeks).

She's always been a fairly nippy puppy (the whole litter was the same when we met them), and we assumed it was just golden behaviour as I've read they tend to be a bit more mouthy (as we've never had a golden before - labs and collies in the past). Her puppy nipping when playing is now much better.

However, over the last week or two, she has started to become (I think) very frustrated, and a few minutes of play or patting turns into growls, snaps and lunging to bite me or my partner. We trying to deal with this by redirection onto a toy (works maybe 10% of the time), asking for a sit/down, or leaving the room for a few minutes. However it seems to be escalating and happening more and more frequently. She also tends not to greet us when we enter the room a fair amount of the time, and will lie down somewhere else in the room and stare (alternatively may say hello and then two seconds later be growling and biting).

This can also happen out on a walk if it's a bit too stimulating I think - eg when it's windy and leaves are blowing everywhere, towards the end of the walk when she's tired, digging at the beach when it's time to go home.

She is very sociable and confident meeting other people and dogs, and has never done the same to any visitors / people she meets on walks.

She has lots of toys and stimulation, we work on training a lot, and we've done lots of work on socialisation and age appropriate exercise.

We've consulted a behaviouralist trainer, who is quite worried and says this is very abnormal behaviour at her age, and going back to the vet again next week. On their advice, we've started Whisper training (keeping her calm on a mat doing nothing but focussing on us) for a minute or two, multiple times a day. Only started this a day or two ago, so obviously no improvement yet. We also tried the Adaptil collar for the last few weeks with no apparent benefit.

I think a big contributing factor is the amount she sleeps. She's crate trained overnight so gets 6-8 hours then, but during the day only sleeps really short amounts very infrequently. We use a pen attached to her crate (with another bed there) and put her in there a few times a day (once we've played, trained, walked, had a meal etc) and then use a few treats to settle her to down on the bed. She sleeps anywhere between twenty minutes to an hour - meaning most days she only gets 10-12 hours sleep. I know how important it is, but don't know how to get her to sleep more. We also can't do anything in the house at all while she is napping as she wakes up instantly.

There's a few other issues - such as barking at meal times when I'm getting her food ready in the kitchen, humping when she's over escalated, hoovering up anything she can find - but I think we can manage these (eg we're teaching drop it/ leave it, playing hide and seek while partner makes meals etc).
Dog Dog breed Carnivore Companion dog Fawn


Just after some advice from you guys on this forum with your golden knowledge, or best case some reassurance that there's light at the end of the tunnel. Feeling really disheartened and miserable at the moment, and just want her to be okay.
 

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This is a normal puppy behavior. You just got a bit more bratty puppy. Need to teach her how to behave. Search a forum on how to work with her. It is not going to go away on its own. People have asked a question like this before. Think about human toddlers. Some are bratty and will bite you when you try to stop them from doing what they want. Good luck!
 

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I'm on my first golden as well, but for what it's worth...our dog went through a phase when she was about 6 months old where rustling leaves would turn her into a shark. If we were on a walk, and the wind blew the leaves around her for too long, she'd go absolutely berserk, jumping up and trying to nip us. I think it got her over stimulated? We worked through this by putting her in "down", giving her a treat, and then stepping on her leash until the crazy look went out of her eyes. It lasted about a month, and then she outgrew it thankfully.

Ours tried barking for her food as a young puppy too, but rather than distract her...perhaps it's better to teach her self control and consequences? We'd make her sit while we prep her meal, and each time she barked, we would tell her - too bad! and stop what we were doing. She quickly figured out that sitting quietly was the fastest path to food.

For day time napping, we did enforced naps during the day while she was that young. A cranky puppy is no fun! Also gives you a much needed day time break...
 

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My puppy used to bark for his food as well, but I realized he’d only bark for food if he was in his pen which is in the living room, while I got it ready in the kitchen. Once I let him in the kitchen while I scooped the food into his dish, no barking. He also stopped jumping on me while I walked his food to his crate. I also don’t put the food down until he’s in the sit position waiting and now he just sits by himself I don’t have to tell him sit before I give him his food. It’s very funny to see him firmly plant his butt down before I put his food in the crate. They learn fast. My puppy is also on the bratty side but we just try to keep at it with the training and positive reinforcement and it seems to work. Our trainer said puppies don’t learn laterally. One day they do everything we want the next they are bratty. I think that’s ok. That really stuck with me. Sometimes it seems like everyone on here has the perfect golden, but they just put in a lot of work and are experienced with the breed and dogs in general. There’s some good advice here if you read through the posts. I hope things get better for you!
 

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I’ve been lucky enough with 3 golden retrievers to not have terrible “land shark” phase, but there are plenty of people on here with expertise in this exact problem. I think at 13 weeks old this would be considered normal, albeit more hyper and pushing boundaries than some. I’m sorry for how frustrating it has been. It sounds like you are working hard to exercise which is great.
If she is lacking sleep, then I’m sure her nipping will be more out of control. At that age, my pup was sleeping 16-18 hours a day. Since you successfully use the crate at night, maybe you could crate her instead of the pen during the day, to help her have a smaller space where sleep becomes the most tempting option. I’m sure there would be an adjustment period where she will throw tantrums in her crate, but I would probably go that route. Just make sure you are consistent and never let her out while she is barking, whining, etc.
Are there times in the day when both of you are out of the house? I think it’s hard for a puppy to deeply sleep when people are home. When she knows you are out of the house, she will most likely nap better. If you tend to be home more often, maybe try to leave for a couple hours here and there. It may be nice to have a break anyways! I don’t like having to tiptoe around when I’m home, so I didn’t do so with my pup, but I also was out of the house a decent amount so I know he slept while I was gone.

Obedience training is a priority, obviously, and consistency with your training will bimprovement. BUT, she is a toddler, and will go through a variety of stages as she matures. Some more frustrating than others!
At a year old, my pup went through a “I’m gonna try to zoom around while on a leash” phase. I waited him out, corrected him, and sometimes ended our walks early when he wouldn’t relax. I also learned to find ways to exercise him off leash before attempting a walk to help manage his energy. I made sure he knew the behavior was unacceptable, but I also tried to create less opportunity or reason for the behavior. As he got older, he grew out of the phase. All that to say, you need training for bad behavior, but time is also very helpful :)

since you have a pen set up, I would probably place her in there for a break when she is riled up during play and redirection/ ignoring doesn’t work. I definitely do the stand up and leave the room for 30 seconds before returning. If that is ineffective though, I would probably have her take a short break.

Lastly, it sounds like you are working on training, but I encourage you to continue to make time each day for a couple short training sessions that are fun and positive. This builds relationship and trust. :) You could always use one of her mealtimes as a training opportunity. This will help exercise her mind in addition to physical exercise. Have you enrolled her in a puppy class?


I had plenty of moments of discouragement with my most recent puppy (mainly in regards to his tantrums in the crate), but things do improve with time, consistency and relationship. Hang in there and remember this is just one small moment in her entire life with you. There are so many knowledgeable and experienced people on here- I’m sure some more will come with some great advice. You’ve got this!
 

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To the OP, all puppies in any breed seems to go through some stages of biting. It happened to our lab too when she was few months old. Beside trainings and more chewing toys, I keep some frozen carrots in the freezer. Melody loves them. A frozen carrot buys me 30 minutes of peaceful time. 🙂

Hope that help!
 

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I'm surprised to hear that your behaviorist is "quite worried." I realize that trying to describe the behavior is very different than seeing it in person, but it sounds like normal golden puppy behavior. At 13 weeks she is entering the teething stage, where they become land sharks. I thought I was going to lose my ever-loving mind with my pup. And in the very beginning I thought he was being aggressive. He would wrinkle his nose, show his teeth, growl, and lunge at me while snapping. I couldn't even grab him when he did it because he was so fast. I read everything I could and came to realize that he was perfectly normal. My pup, now 11-months, is a mouthy guy. It's just who he is. He still does this to me at times and it still drives me nuts. I will say, however, that he's not being aggressive when he does this - even though he will grab my hand in his mouth, or "snap" at other body parts, he does not bite down when he does it. It hurts now and again, just because his teeth are big and his jaw is powerful, but he is very decidedly not trying to bite me, just mouth me. When he was a young pup, though, those teeth really hurt because he was not pulling his punches, so to speak. He hadn't learned that yet.

Frankly I think you've already identified the biggest problem: lack of sleep and over-stimulation. Pups that age need 18+ hours of sleep per day. I survived my pup's youngest months only because I got him on a schedule that included forced naps in his crate. If he slept, great. If not, he still had to stay in there and learn how to self-soothe. I even started doing a late evening/before bed short nap of 45 minutes to an hour, because after dinner was the "witching hour" with him, like many pups. He would go crazy with the biting and growling, and I learned he needed a short nap. Once he woke up, he was 1000x better, and at that age, it didn't interfere with his night sleep. I would highly recommend using your crate, as it's your friend AND his.

Obviously I don't know your breeder or your pup's background, so I can't say 100% this is all normal and everything will be fine, but I think that with time, patience, consistency, and far more structure and nap time (like I said, don't worry about whether she is actually sleeping while in her crate, and don't tiptoe around her; she will have to get used to the noise of everyday living and still be able to self-soothe), your pup will be just fine!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I mean I’m only on my first golden so I have limited experience with the breed but have been around enough golden puppies to say this is not normal in what I have seen. Was this dog from a good breeder?
Hi Chris, thanks for your reply.

Yeah, that's what is worrying us, not sure what's going on.

She's from a reputable breeder, yes. Didn't meet Dad, but Mum was the most gorgeous dog, with an amazing temperament.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks so much for all these responses everyone! It's really helpful, and keeping me going.

We're going to start with more enforced naps in the crate, rather than the pen, and keep to more of a routine. We were holding off making her nap in the bed, as didn't want to make her hate it and stop her sleeping through the night - but there's a definite improvement in her snapping when she's had a good nap / is less riled up.

Yes, she's been going to two different preschools, mainly to help with socialisation. Definitely on the boisterous confident end of the puppy scale when she's playing there! The trainer came from the one preschool as we highlighted some issues to her, and they were the ones who said it was very abnormal. I think being told this made it feel a lot worse and quite scary, so it's pretty relieving to see people with similar situations on here !
 

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Thanks so much for all these responses everyone! It's really helpful, and keeping me going.

We're going to start with more enforced naps in the crate, rather than the pen, and keep to more of a routine. We were holding off making her nap in the bed, as didn't want to make her hate it and stop her sleeping through the night - but there's a definite improvement in her snapping when she's had a good nap / is less riled up.

Yes, she's been going to two different preschools, mainly to help with socialisation. Definitely on the boisterous confident end of the puppy scale when she's playing there! The trainer came from the one preschool as we highlighted some issues to her, and they were the ones who said it was very abnormal. I think being told this made it feel a lot worse and quite scary, so it's pretty relieving to see people with similar situations on here !
I 100% agree on enforced naps. When my boy was growing up, probably a bit younger then your puppy (but they all mature at different rates and some can be more bratty then others) when he is over tired he starts to kind of go crazy and I got lots of nice little marks on my arms from his shark teeth as a puppy. Enforced naps really helped a lot. They need a LOT of sleep, 8 hours a night does not sound enough from my personal experience. My boy probably sleeps 12 hours! He usually goes to bed around 10pm or so and wakes up at 10am for breakfast. Then he goes back to sleep for another 2 hours. Which is usually when we go out for our first walk (unless I take him for hard exercise - fetching a ball at the park) before breakfast. Which I wake up earlier for. It’s also important to give them hard exercise like fetch 2x a week instead of just walks to get out more of built up crazy energy they have
 

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There is no single thing that you are describing that is abnormal. Do not worry. You have a normal puppy that needs direction. Be patient and consistent. I am sure you can get her to be as great as her mom. Why don't you reach out to her breeder? She probably knows better than the person from the preschool.
 

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I also agree sounds like very normal puppy behaviour. I got my first golden and first dog in my life in may of 2021. This forum helped a lot. It was ALOT of work!! Like a full time job when he was out of the crate. As soon as he was to try and bite on something he wasn’t allowed to he was redirected to a toy, he got bored of toys quick so i had to make sure I had enough toys in rotation I would play with when he got bored of a different one!
 

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We haven’t had a puppy for over 8 years and it’s so easy to forget the day-to-day activities of a new puppy. I started with the enforced naps a couple days ago and it’s really helped my Quincy a lot.
 
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