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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone, thanks for your time. Our 4.5 month old puppy has recently had a trip to the Vet’s with a stomach bug which resorted in catheter / sedation / xrays. He’s home now (still feeling very sorry for himself 😞 ), but the Vet made a point to mention he had been ‘showing his teeth’ to her and the staff, and that he had also been quite bitey (particularly when staff were removing his leg bandage).

We have just started 1:1 dog training with a professional who has also noticed his resource guarding and growling/snapping.

My Vet is saying that it’s a good idea that we’re training him before he grows bigger (for obvious reasons), and now I’m becoming quite anxious that our puppy has some kind of genetic / in-built aggression that is going to be a real issue. Originally I thought ‘oh this just a normal puppy’, but I’m genuinely worried that we have a real behavioural problem.

Do any of you have similar experiences and tips for how we ‘train’ out the aggression? We chose this breed specifically because of their temperament so I’m a little taken aback that this is the main issue for us.

Thanks for your advice in advance.
 

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I'd say it all depends. Is your breeder someone who is deeply involved in her job raising litters? Does she stress puppies from the start and teach them that stressors are not bad things? A puppy that age almost certainly showed signs of resource guarding as a wee one and if breeder was paying attention, she noticed it. Growling and snapping and showing teeth are all signs of a very stressed dog who has not learnt how to roll w the punches of life any other way. These lessons are best learned in the whelping box and puppy pen. In other words, well before 8 weeks and go home.

Thankfully, I have not had this issue. But feel certain if I did have a puppy whose disposition was less than Golden, I would have noticed it and would never have placed that pup w anyone not super experienced (which I am assuming you are not). This is part of what makes a good breeder- knowing the personalities of the puppies, alone and together, and with group feeds, toys, strangers, etc.
I feel like if you are being told by professionals that this pup might have innate aggression, or fearfulness playing out as aggression (which is more likely imo) a behaviorist is important to consult (and I don't mean one who just hung out a shingle after an online course- I mean a Boarded one who is also a vet)- here is a site to search for your nearest one, perhaps after a consult you can get a referral? https://www.dacvb.org/search/custom.asp?id=4709
 

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Sorry that you may have a problem. I do have experience with this. My advice to you is the following:
1. Keep a detailed record of incidents. Describe in detail time, place, people present, and what the dog was doing before the incident. This will help identify the specific problems.
2. Record incidents on a calendar. This will give you a quick reference as to frequency.
3. Record/examine how the person reacted. This is important.
4. See a veterinary behaviorist. This vet will most likely examine the dog and order bloodwork. The vet will also evaluate behavior.
5. Choose a trainer who does not use aversive methods which IMO is bad for the dog.
6. Educate yourself with some good literature.
A. HELP FOR YOUR FEARFUL DOG
B. MINE! A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO RESOURCE GUARDING IN DOGS
C. HOW TO RIGHT A DOG GONE WRONG


I have found that this kind of behavior can be made worse by the dog owner's response. Also good thing the dog growls, he is letting you know he is stressed/uncomfortable. You don't want a dog who bites without a warning growl. Your veterinary behaviorist's evaluation will be important.


Good luck!
 

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Kate
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I'd want to start with the vet.

Do bloodwork and full physical exam to rule out any causes of pain/discomfort which might be making your puppy be nasty when handled. <= That was literally my first thought when reading that your 4 month old puppy was snarling when getting his leg unwrapped.

If it's not pain/discomfort - then it could be fear aggression. I have no idea if this pup has been handled rough by somebody, but that's literally my next concern. And then it might not even be fear aggression, but lack of socialization and handling during key periods of his young life already.

It could unfortunately be a variety of things, including genetics. Some goldens are higher strung than others. With people not being careful when breeding the dogs, it can lead to nasty behaviors from the dogs - especially as the hormones start checking in.

PHP:
5. Choose a trainer who does not use aversive methods which IMO is bad for the dog.
I somewhat disagree with this, because it not METHODS alone which are bad. It's communication or lack of... and unfairness which cause problems.

My 5 month old puppy - when he gets carried away playing with his overly sweet brother who won't correct him, I will swoop in and pin him. This is a method which is frequently demonized by certain training communities. But the way I do it, the reasons for doing it, etc... are all geared to be practical and fair.

I'm not recommending that the OP pin her dog when he's being a jerk nor am I going to attempt to describe how to do it because odds are very likely that some casual reader will try to do it and do it wrong.

Personally speaking, I think that as people stray away from organized classes and learning hands on and visually how they are supposed to communicate with their dogs and train them, there are more problems - particularly as people get upset and lose their tempers when they attribute human personalities and behaviors to dogs. Or they go overboard resource guarding their human stuff (resource guarding their couches, beds, etc) and stress their dogs out.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks All. We ticked off all of the key socialisation boxes before he was 16 weeks, and couldn’t think of a time he was handled roughly. He’s normally fine being handled, but the Vet mentioned that when they were removing his bandage then he was particularly bitey - but I assume that’s because it was quite an irritating feeling and he was feeling under the weather from the sickness bug he’d had.

I’m based in the UK so will look at the equivalent behaviourist - however our trainer has the official dog training certification and comes across very dedicated to their job, involved in various dog seminars.

Our breeder was also established and she did mention one puppy in particular was to go with a very experienced owner (which it did), as they were certainly ‘more of a handful’ - so she specifically avoided putting certain pups with people.

Will keep a diary of when it happens - but generally, it’ll be when he’s got hold of something outside (like a rock) and we try and coerce him into giving it up (think he’s cottoned on to our trick now).
 

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Puddles
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I'm sorry you are having issues with your puppy. This may be an odd question but a little confused... you said the pup has had a stomach virus, right? So why is the leg wrapped? Maybe I don't really understand what your pup is being treated for.
Not feeling well, staying in a kennel environment with lots of noise, barking and handling by strangers. Sounds like a horrible experience from a puppy perspective anyway.

I'm in no position to offer advice but could certainly ask for more information. Breeder? Did you research the breeder or just find a puppy? What is your puppy being treated for? How long has he been at the vets? What medication (if any) is the puppy on? All of these things can certainly influence what your pup is going through.
 

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(...)

We have just started 1:1 dog training with a professional who has also noticed his resource guarding and growling/snapping.

My Vet is saying that it’s a good idea that we’re training him before he grows bigger (for obvious reasons), and now I’m becoming quite anxious that our puppy has some kind of genetic / in-built aggression that is going to be a real issue. Originally I thought ‘oh this just a normal puppy’, but I’m genuinely worried that we have a real behavioural problem.

Do any of you have similar experiences and tips for how we ‘train’ out the aggression? We chose this breed specifically because of their temperament so I’m a little taken aback that this is the main issue for us.

First: you're not going to resolve your specific problem with advice from the Internet. It's important to work with a good trainer, someone who will teach you how to read your dog's personality and behaviour. I would also suggest enrolling in a group obedience class at a good school that uses positive methods. There's a lot of learning to be gained from group classes, not only from the instructor but also from the other participants, and it's important for dogs to learn to function in different contexts with distractions.


Having said that, while you're not going to resolve the problem on the Internet, the Internet is a good place to get information that might help you to understand where the problem comes from. As Prism pointed out, some behavioural issues can stem from how the pups were raised by the breeder. If the pups weren't properly handled or exposed to different environmental elements, this would make a difference, as would the choice of pup for each owner. Most good breeders select the pups for buyers because they are best-placed to know each individual pup's temperament. As Prism noted, a good breeder would not (for example) place a shy puppy in an inexperienced home. If, on the other hand, you chose your own pup from the litter, maybe you could think back to why you chose him. What did he do that made you think he was the right pup for you? This would give you some insight into his personality. As Prism also pointed out, innate aggression is extremely rare in Goldens. The likelihood that you got an "aggressive" puppy is very small indeed.



The reality is that an awful lot depends on what you do with the pup in the early weeks after you bring him home. The period from two to four months is extremely important for socialization. This does not only mean playing with other dogs. It also (and mainly) means introducing the pup to the world in which he will live: taking him out and about, showing him new places, introducing him to new people, sounds, sights, smells and surfaces. Handling him extensively, clipping his nails, cleaning his ears, brushing him, lifting him on and off tables or furniture, teaching him the basic commands, getting him used to being handled by different people.


If you didn't do this with him, then that may well be at least part of the reason why he reacted as he did at the vet's. He would have been frightened because he had never been exposed to anything like that before.


The other thing I would say is that IMHO many if not most problems of this type are caused by what humans do with dogs, and not from an innate behavioural issue in the dog. Aggressive puppies are rare, but puppies with fear issues or resource guarding issues (i.e. pups that react defensively) are more common because in many cases they haven't been given the tools they need to function in the human world. They are stressed because they don't know what's expected of them.



If this were my pup, I'd start by having his personality assessed. Is he shy, fearful or wary? Is he bossy? Etc. I'd do all the things on Gdgli's list. And then I would work on developing his confidence, through formal training in a group setting. A dog who knows what's expected of him and how to behave in specific circumstances is less likely to react defensively. I'd take him out and about, making sure not to overface him and not to force him into situations where he's uncomfortable. And so on. Very rarely, with 4-month-old puppies, will it be a case of "training out aggression". It's more a case of forming a relationship in which the dog is comfortable and confident and able to function well.


Best of luck! Let us know how things go.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks 🙂 his leg was bandaged for his catheter as they wanted to give him fluids through the night.

They found a small infection too, so is on antibiotics and also a probiotic paste (although I thought they’d counteract each other).

Breeder was kennel club registered and had been showing and breeding dogs for years, although it was the mum’s first litter.
 

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Puddles
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The probiotics are to settle the tummy as antibiotics usually upset them as well as put some good stuff back in the tummy that the meds can kill off. That's a whole lot of invasive treatment for such a young pup. No offense but kennel club registered isn't a big recommendation, all they do is keep track of paperwork and hold no value as far as quality of the pup or breeder. Does the breeder have any opinions or suggestions? Did you get to spend any time with the momma dog? what was she like? This sounds like a pretty serious infection for such a young puppy. Did any of the other pups have the same problems?

Not sure I would jump to aggressive under the current circumstances. Those places are really loud and scary, just doing treatment and removing the wrappings are really uncomfortable and stressful... even being held down for x-rays and a catheter. I would imagine all of this is very overwhelming and may be nothing more than defending himself from the big bad Dr monster. Not even the best personnel can provide the comfort needed to a puppy that's terrified and alone. Wait until you get your pup home and well. Give the pup time to feel safe again and then determine if you have a problem. When the pup is well you can start some training like a basic sit and/or down to help build trust... NO CORRECTIONS. If they get it wrong, just do it over. I hope this all works out and you give us a glowing progress report in a few months.
 

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Thanks, he’s actually almost back to his normal self tonight, which is great (although tiring!). The vet said his infection was minor, but the other checks were to rule out an obstruction as there was a suspicion initially.

His mum was extremely friendly (she immediately sat next to us and nudged us on the leg when we stopped petting). On the second visit, she was exactly the same and wouldn’t stop jumping up to hug us (which in hindsight was perhaps a sign that she was quite stubborn as the Breeder kept saying ‘get down’ with no reaction).

As others have mentioned, I’m not expecting his behaviour to be diagnosed or corrected online but it’s helpful to understand if others have experienced the same when their puppy was young.

I’ll contact the breeder and get their thoughts. I’ve also found a few of his siblings on Instagram so can see how they’re getting on.
 

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His mum was extremely friendly (she immediately sat next to us and nudged us on the leg when we stopped petting). On the second visit, she was exactly the same and wouldn’t stop jumping up to hug us (which in hindsight was perhaps a sign that she was quite stubborn as the Breeder kept saying ‘get down’ with no reaction).

More probably a sign that she wasn't well-trained. There are very few stubborn Goldens in this world, but a whole lot of poorly trained ones.


Glad to hear your pup is feeling better!



My suggestion would be to get him into a good obedience class, practise the exercises at home, and watch him flourish as he gains confidence.
 

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Oh that’s reassuring, thanks 🙂 we set aside quite a lot of time during the day for training (plus ad-hoc ‘real life’ training) so hopefully it’ll all come together in time with patience and dedication.
 

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Well, a 4.5 month old puppy would be bitey by nature and he was probably scared in addition to not feeling well. I'd be a pretty cranky puppy too. You don't mention if you have noticed anything at home - so i am guessing you haven't. A vet who maybe had a difficult day and a scared sick puppy do not equal an aggression problem and may have sent you into a tailspin. I'm frankly stunned a vet would even say this.

I once had a veterinarian suggest I use a shock collar to keep my 6 month old puppy from jumping. He was quite literally the world's most docile laid back dog otherwise. I never went back to that vet and my puppy did not have a jumping problem, and I never used a shock collar. I was stunned that a vet would suggest this at all.
 

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Puddles
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It's amazing how many new golden puppy owners post about their aggressive 4 month old and they aren't going through what your baby is. I've had hundreds of puppies and never have I had one that nipped and attacked (in play) like a golden puppy. This is why they call them land sharks! But if you have never been around a golden puppy before this is a very natural assumption.

I have pulled many of dogs from the pound for years that were going to be put down because of being labeled aggressive and every one was just a sweet, frightened little dog that couldn't handle all the terribly loud noises and tons of strange people ... sitting alone in one of those cages and they weren't being treated for anything!

So get your puppy home and healthy :) Could be you don't have anything more than a frightened little puppy. If you are still having a problems, LOL even if you are not... find a good obedience class and see if you can work through all this drama. Just remember, the puppy is going to let go of all this faster than you are. Let it go and enjoy your pup.
 
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