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Me and my partner got our golden Toby around 10 days ago and he's absolutely nailing most things. I would says he's pretty much potty trained, he goes to the back door and whines or barks when he wants out and we haven't had any accidents in days now. Crate training has been a breeze, he barely ever cries now. He's also a very smart boy, he's already learnt sit, down and paw.

There has just been a couple of problems developing. He humps, a lot! His bed, my feet, my curtains! I wasn't expecting the humping for another couple of weeks. When we try and stop him he growls sometimes. He also keeps jumping up at the sofa or at us to nip at us and we are struggling to teach him 'off'. I will try and distract him with a toy but he is just too interested in lunging at me to try and bite me. When he comes back in from peeing outside he is often quite wet and muddy so we try to dry his feet with a towel, half of the time he is fine, I give him a treat and then its done. But if he is in hyper mood he will snarl and snap to bite us, sometimes quite hard. If he gets too carried away sometimes we will put him in his crate for 'time out'.

I know that he is just a puppy and he may grow out of these behaviours, but I am a big worrier, and part of me is worried that this aggressive behaviour will carry into adulthood. We are both first time dog owners so any advice, even critical, will be very much appreciated.
 

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All of this is very normal Golden puppy behavior and you are already doing everything right. The land shark behavior will ease over time, and its important to get up and walk away when you are being "attacked" and keep plenty of chewies around. A trick I use for drying paws etc is that I bought a couple of cheap huge bath sheets, and I just bundle my puppy up like a swaddled baby. He will get used to being groomed, dried, ears checked etc. it just takes patience and persistence.

My own 14 week old puppy has an affinity for humping anything that is polar fleece - a blanket, my jacket, a robe. He also likes to dominate a large hide-a-squirrel toy. I wouldn't allow him to do this to people though - gently push him off with your chosen command. Beyond that, he won't reach puberty until 9-12 months and this is control or domination behavior. Most dogs will do this off and on their whole life depending on how much training their owner applies to stopping it.
 

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Thank you! I think I just need to be bit more patient. The breeder we got him for said that he was the 'leader of the pack' so I was wondering if that's why he barks and snarls a bit.

Apart from the growling and snarling he is an absolute sweetie though. If I'm sat on the floor and he’s in a sleepy mood, he will come crawl in my lap to nap. We are about tackle his first bath today so fingers crossed.
 

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Me and my partner got our golden Toby around 10 days ago and he's absolutely nailing most things. I would says he's pretty much potty trained, he goes to the back door and whines or barks when he wants out and we haven't had any accidents in days now. Crate training has been a breeze, he barely ever cries now. He's also a very smart boy, he's already learnt sit, down and paw.

There has just been a couple of problems developing. He humps, a lot! His bed, my feet, my curtains! I wasn't expecting the humping for another couple of weeks. When we try and stop him he growls sometimes. He also keeps jumping up at the sofa or at us to nip at us and we are struggling to teach him 'off'. I will try and distract him with a toy but he is just too interested in lunging at me to try and bite me. When he comes back in from peeing outside he is often quite wet and muddy so we try to dry his feet with a towel, half of the time he is fine, I give him a treat and then its done. But if he is in hyper mood he will snarl and snap to bite us, sometimes quite hard. If he gets too carried away sometimes we will put him in his crate for 'time out'.

I know that he is just a puppy and he may grow out of these behaviours, but I am a big worrier, and part of me is worried that this aggressive behaviour will carry into adulthood. We are both first time dog owners so any advice, even critical, will be very much appreciated.

First: I have just seen, from your most recent comment, that your pup was considered to be the "leader of the pack". This means he's assertive and bossy. Since you're a first-time dog owner, I'm surprised your breeder felt he was a good match for you, because this type of pup can be a real handful, needs a lot of human input to function well in the early months and years, and would normally have been matched with an experienced owner.



What your pup needs is consistency and firmness, and a lot of training. Right now, he's being bratty because he can. While some of this is normal puppy behaviour, the snapping and snarling is not. It's not aggression, it's brattiness and him trying to boss you around (and succeeding). I'd suggest (strongly) that you get yourselves into formal training, quickly. Find a school with a good reputation, one that uses positive methods, and sign yourselves up for a puppy class. The puppy class should focus on training humans to train dogs. This will give you the tools you need. After puppy class, get yourselves into a formal obedience class. Obedience training helps you to build a relationship with the dog where you're in charge, not him. It's important to do this with an assertive dog. Training is a lot more than just teaching a dog to "sit" or "lie down"; it's building the type of relationship where your dog looks to you for leadership.


Humping is often considered to be dominance-related and can indicate over-stimulation too. It is something that needs to be stopped, especially as he's doing it such a lot and resisting your interventions. When he starts humping, either pick him up and put him in his crate, or give him an alternative activity in the form of a short training session. If he growls, put him in the crate right away.


For the jumping, lunging and biting, don't give him a toy: if your timing is off, you might in fact be rewarding the behaviour, not redirecting it, or you might be giving him the impression that it's a game. Instead, give him a short training session. I would suggest that you have him wear a short leash in the house (but only when you're actually with him - never leave him unattended with the leash on because he could hurt himself). When he starts lunging or jumping, grab the leash to get him under control, and when he's calm, have him do a series of commands and reward him when he complies. If he doesn't calm down, or doesn't engage in the training, put him in the crate and leave him there for a while.


For the snarling, biting and snapping, put him straight in the crate. You shouldn't tolerate this behaviour at all when you're trying to dry him with the towel, because it will spread to other handling situations - nail clipping, ear cleaning, brushing, etc. He doesn't get to choose when these things happen and when they don't.


Pups like this are a handful, more so than mellow pups, but once you've got a handle on them they become great companions. Don't be discouraged - assertive doesn't mean aggressive, it just means he needs more human input and effort to accept the rules of the human world. It really is only a question of learning how to train him. A good training school - or a good one-on-one trainer - will help you with this.


As an aside, I do agility with my dogs, and I would be more than happy with this type of pup because they grow into confident dogs that will tackle any challenge you throw at them. My last Golden (the one in my signature photo) was like this, and she became the most amazing agility partner. But she was a real handful as a puppy and adolescent - most memorably, she broke through a closed window to get at a squirrel outside. There was glass everywhere. Thankfully she was ok ... I have other memories of her using a picnic table full of food as a springboard to jump over our 4' pool fence and "retrieve" the children who were swimming ...
 

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Eeekkkk, that’s not what I wanted to hear. Not that it wasn’t helpful, it very much was! I just guess I wanted to hear that it would just go away. When we went and visited the puppies to pick one they were only 3 and a half weeks old, and we chose the one the breeder said wasn’t too independent but not overly clingy to the mother. But when we went and picked him up I asked the breeder how his character had developed and he said that he would often bark at the other if they were getting too carried away.

We gave him his first bath and it’s seem to go fairly well. He growl/snarled at us a couple of times though.

When I gave him his evening meal today I was doing some desensitisation with him by touching him and taking his food away while he was eating and he very quickly turned to snap and bite me. I’ve been doing this a few times and this is the first time this has happened. We quickly put him in his crate even though he hadn’t finished his food, was this the right thing to do? Also was it maybe too much having a bath and then a desensitisation session one after the other. He’s been fab at letting things go including his toys and food up until now and then sitting to get it back. Is this the right technique?

Can puppies go to 1 on 1 training sessions before they are fully vaccinated? He won’t be vaccinated until 8th December and I will have puppy classes lined up for him then.

Getting quite worried he will grow into a massive golden with aggressive issues that I won’t be able to control. He is already 18 pounds and only 9 and a half weeks old.
 

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Sounds like you most likely bought your puppy from a BYB. No caring, ethical breeder would allow you to pick out your puppy at 3 1/2 weeks. Most good breeders do an evaluation of their pups temperaments, and behavior, around 7-8 weeks of age. The breeder has lived with the puppies for 8 weeks, and should know which pup is matched best with each home. As you can see things can change in 3-4 weeks...a good breeder knows how to match homes.

Please STOP touching your pup, and taking away his food from him while he is eating. You are making him food aggressive by doing this!! If you want a calm puppy that does not get food aggressive...then hand feed him at least one meal...kibble by kibble. The other meals....walk by and throw a tasty treat into his bowl and keep on walking. Leave him be when he is eating. If you need to take his food away (not sure why you would??)….then call him away from his bowl...with a tasty treat (piece of cooked chicken, piece of cheese, or hot dog,etc.)

Looks like you are inexperienced, and got the puppy that should have gone to a dog experienced home. Get some one on one help...so they can correct things with the way you are handling your pup. Once things are better at home...get into a group obedience class.
 

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Eeekkkk, that’s not what I wanted to hear. Not that it wasn’t helpful, it very much was! I just guess I wanted to hear that it would just go away. When we went and visited the puppies to pick one they were only 3 and a half weeks old, and we chose the one the breeder said wasn’t too independent but not overly clingy to the mother. But when we went and picked him up I asked the breeder how his character had developed and he said that he would often bark at the other if they were getting too carried away.(...)

When I gave him his evening meal today I was doing some desensitisation with him by touching him and taking his food away while he was eating and he very quickly turned to snap and bite me. I’ve been doing this a few times and this is the first time this has happened. We quickly put him in his crate even though he hadn’t finished his food, was this the right thing to do? (...)

Can puppies go to 1 on 1 training sessions before they are fully vaccinated? He won’t be vaccinated until 8th December and I will have puppy classes lined up for him then.

Getting quite worried he will grow into a massive golden with aggressive issues that I won’t be able to control. He is already 18 pounds and only 9 and a half weeks old.

You can't choose a pup at 3 weeks of age; their personalities don't emerge until much later, closer to 7 weeks. You probably didn't get the type of pup you wanted, but it's not your fault. And it doesn't mean you can't train him to be the dog you want.


For the food: please don't touch his food bowl. By doing so, you're actually encouraging him to be food aggressive. Bigblackdog's advice is spot on: leave your pup alone while he eats, or if you must interfere, simply toss a treat into the bowl from afar and move on. Dogs naturally guard their food and need to feel safe while they're eating. Hovering, fiddling with the bowl and taking it away aren't going to make him feel safe - quite the reverse. He's going to become wary and much more likely to snap and bite.


I've always taken my pups to training classes as soon as they come home, regardless of vaccines. If you choose a good school and if parvo isn't a problem in your area, you should be ok to take him to a class. There is no issue with one-on-one training with a private trainer - you can start right away. Many trainers will come to your home if you want. But it's important to choose someone who works with positive methods and will teach you how to train your dog.


I'll repeat what I said in my earlier post: what you have here isn't aggression, it's brattiness. He's still very young. Snapping and snarling are what puppies do with one another - he's trying it out with his humans, to see if it works. If it works, he'll keep doing it. If it doesn't work, he'll stop doing it. All he needs is some structure and education, to help him understand the rules, and he'll be fine. It's probably going to be more work than you thought, but it'll be worth it. As for his size, were his parents big? Normally a fully-grown female golden will be around 55 lbs to 60 lbs or a bit more, and a male will be around 65 lbs or a bit more.
 

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If he is food driven then you can work on the sit for treats without verbal commands method my trainer taught me. Now this sounds very simple but let me explain.

Get your pooches attention with a treat then hold it against yourself sort of just below your belly button or bend down just a little as he is very small right now and make sure he can see it. Now don't tell him to sit instead he needs to figure it out for himself. He has to sit before he gets it and he has to figure it out for himself. He will try and jump, bark or act up to get it but the only time he gets it is if his bum is on the ground. Reward him quickly at first as soon as he sits and don't fish with the treat but give it to him as soon as he is still with his bum on the floor. He will do it but you have to be consistent. If he tries to jump then just use your knee to pop him back so he learns that jumping isn't appropriate. If he does sit nice reward him and tell him "Good" or "Good Boy". That will build value into that word as well.

The reason I know this should work for you is that my pup that I brought home was acting much like yours. I would do 3 sessions a day 10 to 15 minutes each. You can then start to stretch out the amount of time he has to wait for the treats which will help deal with his reactive behavior.

So as to the theory behind the sit without command with treats method. A dog needs to learn to learn and by that I mean he needs to learn how to think instead of just reacting. Up until this point he has just been on autopilot. By Using the sit without commands but just with food you are channeling his troubleshooting thought process and engaging a part of his brain he hasn't used before.

This will also instill in his mind that you are his leader and it will help build the relationship. After about 3 to 4 weeks of this you can move onto healing and start connecting verbal cues. The key is that food is the tool and he only gets it if he is good. Never reward bad behavior but also never use your hands for anything but fun, praise or treats when he is good. In his biting stage you will struggle but you will get thru it as I did. By 5 months my boy had knocked out all of his baby teeth and pretty much changed over night. Oh and the treats have to be something that he loves and he needs to be hungry so do it before any feedings.

I hope you found this helpful. I am passing this on from the training experience I went thru as it worked for me. I would also consider hooking up with a trainer that is a well respected balanced trainer. https://www.ronniesmithkennels.com is a good trainer imo. Good luck and let me know if you have other questions about my method, I will do my best to answer.
 

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I am disappointed in the harshness and criticism leveled by some of these responders - geez. You all have managed to scare this poor person unnecessarily, criticize them personally and their choice of breeder. If you cannot offer kind and constructive assistance, why respond at all?

There is virtually nothing in the original post that can be described as even slightly alarming behavior and this person has done nothing wrong. You cannot reasonably expect a 9 week old puppy to behave perfectly or absorb tons of training. Cut me a break.

I'd ask my veterinarian before taking the puppy to public places with other dogs for training. I would never have taken mine before at least the first parvo shot if not the second, but I don't know what vaccine schedule is being followed. Risking contracting parvo at this age in the name of training that can be done over time is very bad advice in my opinion, and parvo is not the only disease related consideration with such a young pup.

I totally disagree with the comment about the food bowl too. I feed my puppy in two parts for each meal, partly so he eats a little more slowly but also so he is accustomed to my hand touching his dish. And, at 10 weeks old I also started making him sit for his bowl this helps establish who is providing the food and pecking order.
 

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I am disappointed in the harshness and criticism leveled by some of these responders - geez. You all have managed to scare this poor person unnecessarily, criticize them personally and their choice of breeder. If you cannot offer kind and constructive assistance, why respond at all?

There is virtually nothing in the original post that can be described as even slightly alarming behavior and this person has done nothing wrong. You cannot reasonably expect a 9 week old puppy to behave perfectly or absorb tons of training. Cut me a break.

I'd ask my veterinarian before taking the puppy to public places with other dogs for training. I would never have taken mine before at least the first parvo shot if not the second, but I don't know what vaccine schedule is being followed. Risking contracting parvo at this age in the name of training that can be done over time is very bad advice in my opinion, and parvo is not the only disease related consideration with such a young pup.

I totally disagree with the comment about the food bowl too. I feed my puppy in two parts for each meal, partly so he eats a little more slowly but also so he is accustomed to my hand touching his dish. And, at 10 weeks old I also started making him sit for his bowl this helps establish who is providing the food and pecking order.
I see where you are coming from and I think the issue with forums like this is there are many different opinions about dog training and raising when you get this many people together. I found that frustrating as well when I got my boy. There are so many people telling you to do this or that and not to do this or that. My method that I use isn't for everyone and I only use it because it is what my trainer believes works and I can't testify that it does. But all that aside I think most everyone in here means well and wants the best for folks on here even if it comes across a bit abrupt and without a filter. I would recommend this person line themselves up with a good balanced trainer and not ask everyone what they think as that will only confuse them more or at least until they get a good foundation of understanding.
 

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I agree about the harshness leveled here. It is not a great way for a new dog owner that wants advice to feel welcomed.

I am old enough to remember when there were very few professional trainers around, and classes were almost unheard of. SOMEHOW, our dogs always survived and turned out just fine, using common sense and love. I admit that in over 25 years of dog ownership, that my Golden was a bit of a challenge! (I bled alot..LOL). I watched a few of Zak George's FREE U-tube videos, to get a handle on things, and voila....she is becoming a well mannered young lady of 7 months. The thing that she is very attuned to is the word "OUCH". If she is playing too rough or squeezes my hand too hard (she loves holding my hand in her mouth), and I say OUCH..she releases immediately and begins licking.

Dogs don't know, or care where they came from, and whether their human parents were professional breeders or farm breeders. There are good and bad to be had from both. (Mine was bred on a farm by my friends that gifted her to me). Wherever you got your dog from, she will be a great pet and companion.

Your Puppy is new to your home and he is still unsure of where he is and what is expected of him (manners take a long time). I would not mess around with his food right now, and most puppies and dogs in general, don't like having their feet messed with. I agree with your approach, just not quite yet. Once he feels comfortable, it might be easier. I was lucky and my friends (that bred her) played with the puppy's feet and as a result, my 7 month old doesn't mind a bit. I use the occasion to give her a nail clip and so far, she has been ok with that. When she does her zoomies, I just let her get it out of her system with the other dogs. (and not me!)

Teaching to drop is also very important. My pup will drop anything on command (including food, and bones)..except paper, which she takes great delight in shredding. Even after having her for over 4 months, I am still cautious if I want to remove a bone or other high value item from her. She has never snapped, but caution is still needed as she grows up.

Good luck, and keep at it..It will payoff for you all!
 

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CeeGee is a wonderful trainer- I would be thrilled with any puppy she trained.
I do not find it harsh advice at all, and in fact, doubt the OP did.... but sometimes when people are given the op to choose their own puppy, instead of the normal breeder choice based on info from new owner, the new owner ends up with a puppy that is going to be a ton more work because puppy was in need of a more experienced home. IT is what it is. And I do not doubt OP can do this, and get on top of pup's issues now before pup is too big physically to handle easily. It'll just be more thoughtful work..
 

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At 9 weeks old your puppy has been on earth 63 days. You have had the pup for 10 of those days. Puppies don't come with all the good manners programmed in. It really is an on going process throughout their first year to train a pup to fit into a home comfortably.

It takes time, practice and lots of repetition to perfect the skills we want our pups to have.

When pups are doing things we don't like and we haven't given them the skills to offer other behaviors it is good to be proactive and prevent these inappropriate behaviors to continue to occur as it will build bad habits.

1. Have a plan to immediately stop inappropriate behavior. For first time inappropriate behaviors to stop it put the pup in a crate/gated area to stop the behavior.
2. Now that the pup is in a safe zone evaluate what you would want the pup to do instead of what he did.

When a pup is having a tantrum like a toddler they are over aroused. They cannot think or hear they are working on instinct. In this moment no real training can happen.

Playing with the food bowl and/or taking it away can be threatening to a pup. Those that suggest leaving the pup to eat in peace for most of the meal and starting from a distance and adding in a special yummy item to the dish are spot on. You want to change the dogs feelings so they don't feel threatened. Also hand feeding part of the meal helps to build the idea that good things come from you can also help change the dogs view. We have our dogs for 12 years or so hopefully a little extra time in the beginning training can help set the stage for a life long journey filled with success.

In the beginning some pups can get over aroused very easily. Again, figure out what happened before to get the dog to this state. Little changes to the routine may help to keep things at a little less excitable moments. Trial and error will help you figure it out. Super short play times with short calm moments of easy training behaviors.

Lots of rewards for good behavior. None of us like to work for free.

Wiping paws at the door.

Practice Training not when it is necessary.

If your dog doesn't understand sit yet train that.

Ask your dog to sit. reward

You could train the dog to give paw. reward

Or you could ask for the sit. reward
touch paw with towel reward
repeat

next touch paw with towel reward
touch next paw with towel reward
repeat

a few training sessions later
ask for sit reward
touch paw with towel, rub paw with towel reward.

After many sessions and your pup is comfortable with you cleaning the paws with the towel you can slowly back off the rewards, one reward for each complete paw
a day or two later one reward after 2 complete paws, a day or two later reward after 3 paws then 4 paws.

Now when you actually need to do this at the door when coming in for the first few times reward for each paw as this is the real deal and not training and again you are setting up for success. Over time you can back off the rewards until the one when the task is completely finished.

Every dog is different so for each behavior being taught some may need it broken down into baby steps as I did above and some can bounce ahead and have a few baby steps all run together depending on the end behavior. Sometimes it only takes a little adjustment for a training session to go from a disaster into a fantastic learning experience. I think we have all been in both situations at least once in our lives.

I do believe in making life as easy as possible and for anyone that hasn't trained a pup in years or never may choose to seek out a good trainer to give them great information and help by a second pair of eyes to guide you during your training.
 

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Some golden puppies can be a handful - your sounds very smart from what you've described, which means he can learn quickly. Also, being food-motivated can help the learning process. Goldens are great dogs and you get back what you put in...the more time you spend now, the better bond you will develop.

Perhaps someone here knows your area and can recommend the better classes?

I understand that it may seem like aggression, but it sounds like you might be describing mouthy, nippy, golden puppy behavior. He may be bossy, but you have identified this early and you are in prime time to start training! I ALWAYS make my dogs sit and wait before getting their food. This is a GREAT way to work on being patient, learning stay, and reminding them that you bring the good stuff. I rarely take it away, but I do walk by and put treats in. If they seem completely unbothered, I may be louder about it, talk to them and drop extra-good treats in there so they learn that humans approaching their bowl is a GREAT thing!!! We will progress to me being klutzy and moving the bowl a bit, with bonus goodies dropped in...again, I am a GREAT thing when approaching so he doesn't mind...I can pet, he doesn't mind. But it's gradual and I watch his body language. I don't want to see panic or stiffening (and with a golden you may not ever see this anyway, but I'd watch the body language). Same thing with chew toys. After a while, their tail may even wag as you approach. My current young golden could care less as I approach his food bowl and brings his chews over to chew near his people with a wagging tail. You want them to feel like they have no reason to "defend" their food or chews.

Humping may bother people, but yes, young dogs sometimes do it. It is almost more of a play-behavior for them and they may do it with littermates or even their bed. You don't have to be alarmed by it. If it were all-dominance...yes, I've had a golden who was quite dominant over...his bed. ;)

Handling is a must, so again - always make it a great thing. Teeth are brushed every night and I look at the mouth. I chose a paste they like - poultry is a favorite. I also use treats when doing less favored things like nail trims. It's a necessary thing for them to learn, so a calm voice, a firm hand (I NEED to trim your nails...you can carry on, but I'm not letting go because this must get done...just maybe one nail a day for a little while), and I tend to have a Kong loaded with peanut butter inside nearby to lick and distract. They do learn...my last golden hated having them done as a pup and later would lie there napping while I Dremmeled them. My kiddo right now still carries on, so I clip quickly with the Dremmel on nearby (so he gets use to the sound), Kong paste or peanut butter handy, because he's a drama king at the moment. ;) But I'm going to trim his nails. And I'm going to wipe his feet. But I give him love, so he will learn to accept it and perhaps even enjoy the attention (Ok, the nails are a maybe ;) ).

Golden pups really do differ in their levels of mouthiness - I've had two and one stopped naturally by 6 months and the other still needs to be reminded to "go get a toy" when he gets mouthy. Some of them are quite oral and need to be taught to keep something other than your pant leg or arm in their mouth.

I strongly recommend a good socialization class if you have one nearby AND a good obedience class. Goldens are working dogs, so keep up the training. It is wonderful that you are already identifying things you want to work on! Goals are great!

Best of luck and let us know how it is going.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you everyone for the advice. I’ve taken everyones comments and advice on board. I think one of the mistakes I made was trying out everything that I got told and listened too. Sometimes one piece of advice I followed would contradict the next. I can imagine this would be quite confusing for a small puppy.

In regards to the breeder I got him from, I researched breeders extensively and got him from a reputable one. He has 5 generations pedigree and he came with all the relevant paperwork and the breeder couldn’t have be more reassuring when we visited. It was clear he loved his dog and the puppies very much. He has been very supportive and kept in touch with us since as well.

I understand that maybe getting the ‘leader of the pack’ wasn’t ideal for a first time dog owner. However at the same time I love my little pup to pieces and wouldn’t trade him even for the most loving best behaved puppy in the world. I would really like to focus on how I can deal with his issues in the present and future rather than focus of what I could have done differently in the past.

I have researched puppy classes and dog trainers in my local area. He will be going to puppy classes as soon as he is fully vaccinated and in the mean time I have emailed a 1 to 1 dog trainer who specialises in dog behaviour to have a session with him.

I have not touched his food since I read these comments, I realise now how that would have come across to him. Again this comes back to reading opposing advice. I read in a few places that you should do this to avoid food aggression.

I’ll admit things have gotten to me… a lot. There has been quite a bit of crying on my part. For a day I kind of took a step back and thought about how I wanted to approach things. I need to choose which training method I want to stick with and not deviate from it. One thing that I have read everywhere (no matter which method spoken about) was that consistency is key.

We have been doing better on the whole. Training is going very well. He is very very smart. Whenever he is displaying good behaviour e.g calming siting or laying, i have been giving him treats. He is very good at dropping his toys, I go up to him and say ‘leave it’ and he drops it and I reward him. This has been extremely helpful for when we play fetch.

I have stopped picking him up to dry his feet. Since he has learned paw and sit we have been able to make him sit on the back door mat and give his paws to dry them off with a towel giving a treat continuously throughout the process. He clearly prefers this method and we obviously do too as he’s not growling and snapping at us. Also one of the main times he growls at us is when he is picked up so now we only do this when necessary e.g to stop him running out the front door or when he needs to go in his crate (he does it himself most of the time anyway).

I do still have a couple of questions which I would appreciate peoples advice on.

The other times he’s been growling at us is when he is getting a bit too carried away during playtime, all of a sudden he will loose all interest in his toys and start jumping at us to get to our faces. What would you suggest I do in this scenario? Do I ignore him, gently push him off and say ‘off’, put him in his crate or something else?

What he’s done since we’ve got him is that when he is playing, he will often pick up a toy and come sit on our lap to chew it? Is this behaviour because he feels secure being near us with his toy, or is it some sort of dominance play?

A mistake I made when we first got him was to have him on the sofa with me while he slept, big mistake as now he keeps coming up to the sofa and trying to jump on. Obviously he’s still too small to jump us but I am worried about the joints in his back legs as he often resembles a kangaroo while doing it. The rare occasion I do let him up he just wants to play so I put him back on the ground. Is there a good method to make him stop jumping up at the sofa?

When we play fetch, we do it in the hallway where we have ceramic times for flooring. Does playing fetch on this surface and the impact affect him legs and joints at all?

Also any tips of bath time? How do I make it an enjoyable experience for him? Lickpad? Hairdryer or no hairdryer?

Again thank you everyone for your help and sorry for the super long post. Here are some photos of my pup child. He’s a sweetie… most of the time.
 

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Hi SWilson,

The best thing for a trainer to hear is that the owner of a 'problematic' dog is fully committed to resolving the issues, no matter what it takes. So I commend you for your firm commitment to see this through. I believe you can get through this, and it will make you a very good dog owner in the long run. And if you really do put your nose to the grindstone, you will probably end up with a much better dog - in terms of behavior and potential - than if you had gotten an 'easy puppy' which would have allowed you to be very lazy about training.

I also really agree with the earlier responses that the breeder did you no favors by giving you, in his own words, the "leader of the pack" when he let a first-time/inexperienced dog owner walk away with this particular puppy. You would have had a much better introduction to the wonderful world of puppy ownership had he given you a puppy that was squarely in the "middle of the road" in terms of energy, intelligence, social rank, precociousness, etc... Even if you were the last person to reserve a puppy from this litter, and this was the 'leftover' puppy, it was inappropriate for him to match you with this dog. And I agree that puppy matching should not occur at 3.5 weeks old, when puppies are only just transitioning to food and gaining more independence from their mom. So I don't think anyone was trying to scare you, just trying to give you a heads up of the reality that you have entered, and the fact that you will be working with this puppy pretty consistently for the next 18 months or longer, until he successfully gets through adolescence.

I think private training is your best option for this puppy, although I would not discourage you from attending group classes as well, and from arranging private puppy playdates with slightly older friendly dogs (such as a 1-year old female large breed dog, or a 2-3 year old playful male) who can role model appropriate behavior without you worrying about your puppy trying to maintain 'leader of the pack' status with a small shy puppy. With a private trainer, you can move at a pace specific to where you are with your puppy, accommodating your lack of experience as well as your puppy's intelligence. You should also arm yourself with a variety of dog training books, so that you don't have to waste the expensive time of a private trainer by explaining concepts you don't understand. You will get the most bang for your buck, if you have a fairly clear picture of where you need to go and why, and just need someone to help you put it in place with your specific puppy. By doing a lot of reading, you will also be in a better position to judge the quality and effectiveness of your trainer, because you will understand more about dog behavior, and what it takes to change dog behavior. You need to find a trainer that you like and trust when he or she handles your dog. How does your trainer go about engaging your dog? What does the trainer do when the dog offers inappropriate behavior? Be careful with the whole treats thing. If your trainer does not really believe in using treats when working with a dog this young, I would be wondering how he/she plans to incentivize the puppy. Does your trainer explain how critical timing is when using or withholding treats, especially when the puppy is already exhibiting some undesirable behavior? Most importantly, it is good to understand how many of the things you are doing are sending mixed messages to your puppy, since few people are born being able to 'speak dog.' Hopefully your trainer can give you some insight on how your dog sees the world, and how most of these problematic behaviors are really experimental techniques as he tries to figure out how to get what he wants (or stop you from doing something he doesn't want). Once you understand that, you will be amazed at how consistency in YOUR behavior will generate appropriate responses from him.

Some books to consider are: Carol Lea Benjamin's 'Surviving Your Dog's Adolescence;' Jean Donaldson's 'Mine' (a short but very good book that will really help you think about how to deal with your puppy's resource guarding); my favorite, 'When Pig's Fly,' by Jane Killion; and The Puppy Primer, an easy-to-read guide for puppy parents by Pat McConnell. Most of these can be found on Dogwise.com, which is having a black Friday sale right now. Look for discounted shopworn copies, or ebooks to get them right away.

A few other guidelines, which are my opinion only: never play fetch on tile or other surfaces with no traction (go outside to play fetch, unless you want your dog to learn it is ok to ramp up indoors); don't encourage any jumping on couches or into the car until he is over 6 months old (use a ramp or pick him up and help him); delay neutering until he is 18 to 24 months old if possible (unless there are very very problematic behaviors which are being exacerbated by testosterone and sexual frustration); get some dog playdates set up right away where he can mouth and growl to his heart's content; stop playing immediately the second he ramps up and jumps at your face (don't use the crate as time-out or punishment ever); initiate all play and affection with this dog (don't let him dictate when play begins or how rough it is); don't let him jump in your lap unless you invite him to come up (especially if he wants to lie on top of you and chew something); separate yourself from the dog any time you run out of patience or get frustrated, since he will sense everything you are feeling; and create a schedule (and adhere to it) for structured exercise/training followed by play(reward), followed by meals (when tired), nap/down time (after every meal), and then repeat it all until bedtime.

Good luck. He is a cutie pie indeed, if a bit naughty, but should be worth it in the end.
 

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If he is food driven then you can work on the sit for treats without verbal commands method my trainer taught me. Now this sounds very simple but let me explain.

Get your pooches attention with a treat then hold it against yourself sort of just below your belly button or bend down just a little as he is very small right now and make sure he can see it. Now don't tell him to sit instead he needs to figure it out for himself. He has to sit before he gets it and he has to figure it out for himself. He will try and jump, bark or act up to get it but the only time he gets it is if his bum is on the ground. Reward him quickly at first as soon as he sits and don't fish with the treat but give it to him as soon as he is still with his bum on the floor. He will do it but you have to be consistent. If he tries to jump then just use your knee to pop him back so he learns that jumping isn't appropriate. If he does sit nice reward him and tell him "Good" or "Good Boy". That will build value into that word as well.

The reason I know this should work for you is that my pup that I brought home was acting much like yours. I would do 3 sessions a day 10 to 15 minutes each. You can then start to stretch out the amount of time he has to wait for the treats which will help deal with his reactive behavior.

So as to the theory behind the sit without command with treats method. A dog needs to learn to learn and by that I mean he needs to learn how to think instead of just reacting. Up until this point he has just been on autopilot. By Using the sit without commands but just with food you are channeling his troubleshooting thought process and engaging a part of his brain he hasn't used before.

This will also instill in his mind that you are his leader and it will help build the relationship. After about 3 to 4 weeks of this you can move onto healing and start connecting verbal cues. The key is that food is the tool and he only gets it if he is good. Never reward bad behavior but also never use your hands for anything but fun, praise or treats when he is good. In his biting stage you will struggle but you will get thru it as I did. By 5 months my boy had knocked out all of his baby teeth and pretty much changed over night. Oh and the treats have to be something that he loves and he needs to be hungry so do it before any feedings.

I hope you found this helpful. I am passing this on from the training experience I went thru as it worked for me. I would also consider hooking up with a trainer that is a well respected balanced trainer. https://www.ronniesmithkennels.com is a good trainer imo. Good luck and let me know if you have other questions about my method, I will do my best to answer.
Here is a list of other trainers that have gone thru the program if you are looking for another option. They specialize in bird dog training but the foundation for puppy work is generally the same except for the exposure to birds and working on soft mouth. https://www.ronniesmithkennels.com/certified-professional-trainers/
 

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That little cuite is causing all of those problems? He is very handsome! It can be hard to take in all the advice and know what to do when you don't really know what to do. You ARE doing the right thing though in asking what to do. I like to help people, and I know others on here do as well. We all have experienced different things with our dogs. Certain things work with some dogs, certain things don't. I do agree he is being bratty. I had a bratty Beagle puppy. I did seek help and got some great advice. Be consistent, get him on a regular schedule and stick with it. You will have a great dog and it will be worth it. I also agree about the food. I really think that causes a lot of problems. If I was eating and someone kept taking my food away I wouldn't be happy. Your pup will grow fast, there will be days that are harder than others. Take a step back like you said and treat each day like a new one. Happy puppyhood!
 
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