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I have had my golden retriever puppy for a week and a half. He is 7 weeks old. I bought Chester from a breeder, he is AKC registered. I have a spare bathroom that I have designated as “his room”. There is nothing in there except the toilet, bath, and counter for sink. He is safe in there and I block off the doorway with a gate, it’s about 4’x6’ for him to play during the day. I get up at 5 to let him out, feed him at 6, and go for a walk in the field outside the apartment for about 20 minutes before I leave for work at 7. I come home at noon feed him and let him out. And then get home around 5 to feed and let him out again followed by letting him out and playing inside an outside for about an hour total after work. He usually goes to bed around 930/10. He is pretty much house trained except for the occasional pee I’m assuming because he’s not mature enough to hold it.
Most of the time he is pretty good. On occasion he acts up and becomes viscous. I think he is “playing” but that behavior worries me at such a young age, or is this normal. Either we will be playing, or I will be telling him no for some reason, it happens at both times. And he will start growing and biting and barking. So I put him in his room and put up the gate; or if we are outside. I will lay him on his side and keep him on the ground until he calms down. Is this normal, or something to worry about?
He is constantly biting on shoes and pant legs. I put my thumb on the bottom of his mouth to tell him no and stop biting while holding the bottom of his jaw with my hand (the vet suggested this also).
The other issue is the leash. He wants nothing to do with it except to bite it. (also another time when he will bite, growl, and bark)
I had a golden retriever growing up and do not remember much about his early behavior except that as an adult he was very calm.
Is this behavior normal, am I approaching it wrong, or am I expecting to much at an early age. Any suggestions?
 

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Welcome to GRF!

He's only 7 weeks old, so every behavior he is displaying is totally normal for that age. It's okay to remove him (though better to remove yourself, but I can see why you have to do it the other way around right now) when he gets overly rambunctious. Basically, it's telling him that the behavior he is displaying makes you go away. I do disagree with holding him down on his side. That is considered an alpha roll and can actually make him fearful of you and erode his trust in you. Also, rather than holding his jaw when he is biting at you, I would give him an appropriate item for him to mouth. Goldens are retrievers, so they are more mouthy and bitey than a lot of breeds. The idea is to teach him what he IS allowed to bite and chew on.

He is pretty young to worry about using a leash on. You could probably buy a small dog leash if you want to use one for now. A regular dog leash is pretty heavy for a 7 week old puppy.
 

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Normal puppyness most likely. It will get worse before it gets better. I would recommend you stop the punishment ("No", hand on him, and laying him on his side). We want him to enjoy interactions with people and hands near him.

This is the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's statement on punishment:
http://www.avsabonline.org/avsabonl...Statements/Combined_Punishment_Statements.pdf

Some puppies get bitey when they're tired and others get this way when they want to play. Your goal is to give him play time or a nap -before- get gets worked up. Get in puppy class AND basic training class ASAP. You will learn how to teach him behaviors that can help when he gets wild.

If you mis-judge with your training and prevention and he does start to mouth. Just stand up and stand still until it stops. Then give him a treat and continue with a food toy or a training game.

If you are concerned about his behavior you can get a puppy consult with a veterinary behaviorist. (A vet that has special education in behavior). American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior - AVSAB - Find An AVSAB Veterinarian
 

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Lost Her Mind
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He's 7 week old and you say you've had him a week an a half? Isn't it illegal to send puppies home that early...

... Anyway. You have a golden... VERY mouthy dogs. Take it from me, stop holding him on the side and holding his jaw with your thumb. My old crap vet told me that and I did it for several months, making him WAY WORSE. I feel so guilty about all that stuff now. It doesn't work. Seriously.

Enroll in a good socialization puppy class.
 

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Welcome to GRF!

He's only 7 weeks old, so every behavior he is displaying is totally normal for that age. It's okay to remove him (though better to remove yourself, but I can see why you have to do it the other way around right now) when he gets overly rambunctious. Basically, it's telling him that the behavior he is displaying makes you go away. I do disagree with holding him down on his side. That is considered an alpha roll and can actually make him fearful of you and erode his trust in you. Also, rather than holding his jaw when he is biting at you, I would give him an appropriate item for him to mouth. Goldens are retrievers, so they are more mouthy and bitey than a lot of breeds. The idea is to teach him what he IS allowed to bite and chew on.

He is pretty young to worry about using a leash on. You could probably buy a small dog leash if you want to use one for now. A regular dog leash is pretty heavy for a 7 week old puppy.
I agree with all this. Also, it seems as though he was taken from his littermates way too early. He might not have had a chance to learn proper bite inhibition. This means you have a lot of work to teach him the appropriate behaviors and to make sure he gets PLENTY of socialization.

But retrievers are little land sharks for quite awhile, so normal.
 

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Here are training tips to avoid barking, biting, etc.

1. Fill up a can or bottle with coins or rocks... every time your puppy starts to do unwanted behavior, shake the can/bottle. They hate the rattling sound.

2. Sprit spray with water when unwanted behavior is made.

3. Make sure to reward good behavior.

Good luck! =)
 

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Lost Her Mind
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Here are training tips to avoid barking, biting, etc.

1. Fill up a can or bottle with coins or rocks... every time your puppy starts to do unwanted behavior, shake the can/bottle. They hate the rattling sound.

2. Sprit spray with water when unwanted behavior is made.


3. Make sure to reward good behavior.

Good luck! =)
These aren't just mean... but they're negative reinforcement. More likely to make the situation worse. Goldens (most dogs) respond better to positive reinforcement. Why would you want to make a sound that will hurt your puppy's ears... or spritz him with water?
 

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SUPER close... it's actually "positive punishment" (..."adding something to decrease the frequency of the behavior").

And she's so right... we want our dogs to NOT be bothered by noises and NOT be bothered by spray bottles. Sound and touch sensitive dogs have a much harder time with many things in life. Brave and confident puppies are much easier to train and live with.
 

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Kate
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First... bringing your puppy home at 6 weeks might not the reason why he's doing the shark face thing. It's normal puppy behavior after they've been in their new home for a week or two and are settling in.

That said, I was thinking about something we considered when I brought my previous guy home. He was about 6 weeks old. We were worried about him not having that extra 1 or 2 weeks with his littermates to learn bite inhibition while playing rough with them.

As it turned out, he was our only golden who never really went through the shark phase. He was confident and well-adjusted and he immediately knew his place in our home tagging around after our other golden.

I'm not saying everyone should bring their puppies home 2 weeks early (because I think that 8 weeks is best) but simply that when it happens, it isn't always a disaster.

All of our other goldens were 8 weeks or older, and they ALL went through that sharkface phase a week or two after we brought them home.

It rarely has anything to do with aggression. The puppy is playing and learning how his little body works... and learning what he can get away with. And they can be relentless.

My Jacks never had an aggressive bone in his body, but I remember that first month was pretty stressful with my mom (babysitter while I was at work) calling every day to complain. He didn't really mouth us, but he would not stop running after our old golden and chewing on him. He even gave our Danny a "dead tail" (tail sprain) from pulling on it.

It took a month or maybe two, but he did settle down. Some of that was training (both by us and the two other dogs). Some of that was him finally figuring out that chewing on bones, icecubes, and toys was a lot more fun. ;)

I suggest you read this article on bite inhibition. There are methods you can try, and it explains some of the psychology going on with your puppy. http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_BiteInhibition.php


*** tongue press - it does work (I used this technique on our dogs and also the cat when he was going through his mouthing phase), but the problem is your timing has to be perfect. It has to be accompanied with a sharp and low "NO Bite", and you have to quickly change the subject so your puppy can immediately be successful and be rewarded.

Because most people do not have good timing (even experienced trainers), I wouldn't advise everybody do it to correct mouthing.

If done incorrectly, it could just cause the puppy to get even more mouthy when your hand is anywhere near his mouth. Add to that the fact you will need to stick pills down his throat many times during his life, and you want your dog to be OK with you sticking your fingers in his mouth.

*** Squirt bottles - do not work with goldens. Or at least mine. Unless you are squirting them with something acidic that stings (and could damage their eyes), they love being squirted.

*** Cans - do work (again if you have good timing and immediately follow up with a distraction), but like the tongue press you have a limited window to get your point across before the puppy decides he wants the new noisy toy.

----- I do think that it is the best thing to be as steady and positive a trainer as you can be. Whether you refuse to use any corrections or if you do. You have to be consistent, gentle, and kind with your puppy, even when you are correcting him. A correction needs to be firm and exact and immediately followed up with a positive experience for the puppy. Never lose your temper and take out your emotions - especially anger - out on a puppy. Don't yell, hit, yank the puppy around.

Negative training (meaning you are over the top with the corrections, take out your anger on the puppy, yell, sob, etc) will most definitely create a timid and neurotic dog.
 

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Nancy
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First... bringing your puppy home at 6 weeks might not the reason why he's doing the shark face thing. It's normal puppy behavior after they've been in their new home for a week or two and are settling in.

That said, I was thinking about something we considered when I brought my previous guy home. He was about 6 weeks old. We were worried about him not having that extra 1 or 2 weeks with his littermates to learn bite inhibition while playing rough with them.

As it turned out, he was our only golden who never really went through the shark phase. He was confident and well-adjusted and he immediately knew his place in our home tagging around after our other golden.

I'm not saying everyone should bring their puppies home 2 weeks early (because I think that 8 weeks is best) but simply that when it happens, it isn't always a disaster.

All of our other goldens were 8 weeks or older, and they ALL went through that sharkface phase a week or two after we brought them home.

It rarely has anything to do with aggression. The puppy is playing and learning how his little body works... and learning what he can get away with. And they can be relentless...
I totally agree. We brought Hank home at 5.5 weeks, DD also brought his brother home. Neither went through the shark face phase. My Lab-X was by far the worst but my last Golden was pretty bad too so I was ready for Hank to start with those little shark teeth. I was pleasantly surprised. I think it has more to do with personality than age leaving the litter.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I did not know that this was considered "early". He just turned 7 weeks yesterday and I've had him since 9/12.

As of yesterday, I have stopped using the tongue press and the "alpha hold" and simply when he starts biting ignore him and give him his rawhide. He's been a lot better about that since. And it's encouraging to hear that it's a phase of him adjusting rather than worrisome aggressive behavior. And, since I have also stopped using the leash and will work on that at a later date.

Can I exercise him to much at this age? We go for a good 20 minute walk 2x a day in a field, plus playing inside and out. And then he plays with himself a lot (empty cardboard boxes and I gave him an empty 64oz plastic bottle...those are his favorites).

His new thing now is barking and whining as soon as he wakes up in the morning (~5am) because he's hungry. I feed him at 530am, ~1130am, and ~6pm. During the day it's about every 6 hours. I imagine that the almost 12 at night is what's bothering him... is there any way around this or a better feeding cycle?
 

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He probably is getting a bit hungry. He will get past that within a couple of months at the most. I don't know anyone who does a feeding at night, though you might want to give him just a little food around 8-8:30 PM for the next week or so. It could be that he's headed into a growth spurt.
 

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I could have written this post myself. We brought Dixie home two weeks ago and she is now 8 weeks. I didn't realize 6 weeks was too early, we bought from a breeder and they didn't say anything about needing to wait ??? Makes me wonder about them. I am happy to see that her behavior is perfectly normal and that she isnt' a "bad" dog. I hear so much about how wonderful goldens are, I guess I have to get her through this "land shark" stage first.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
He's 3 months now and things are much better. I let him stay out in the living room of the apartment during the day and at night and it seems that trust I gave him helped improve his behavior a lot. His house training was briefly interrupted by a UTI at 9 Weeks, but since, both have improved. The only issue now is that he realized he can get attention when barking. But he has really shaped up to be quite a good pup. And his loyalty is great.
 

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Glad to hear he is doing so well.
Isn't this forum great? You ask a question, people give you tried and true suggestions, you try them, and they work!!
 

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So glad to hear your good report. It's kind of funny with these pups that when you raise the bar on expectations, they raise to reach it. Keep rewarding his good behavior with more responsibility and you'll have a wonderful dog...even MORE wonderful than he is now!!!
 
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