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Hi all, been lurking here for a while and have found lots of answers to some of my first-time dog owner questions.

I have a 6 month old field line female that's been a bit of a handful ever since we first brought her home at 6 weeks. As we found when trying to curb her puppy biting with a lip curl, she has a very high pain tolerance, and is more apt to continue bad behaviors with more gusto after a correction.

For some reference, she's a working retriever, and is a joy to watch in the field. She walks on a line quite well now, and gets about a 20-30 minute walk in each morning and evening, in addition to any field training that I do with her. We're just starting to formalize some of her obedience training, and she's being e-collar conditioned. All of that is going fairly well.

More or less since we first brought her home, it's been evident that she's a very anxious dog. she was the smallest from a litter of 13, and I think that contributed a lot to her temperament. Our breeder did supplemental feeding as needed, and I trust that the pups were well cared for, but with that many, she no doubt had to fight a bit to get food at times.

We were careful to not be hard on her as a pup, gentle corrections, redirecting her behavoir whenever possible, etc. As time has gone on, she's not outgrown her anxiety, and if anything it's become worse. When she gets nervous, she does one of 3 things:
  • Starts mouthing the couch cusions
  • drags the kitchen rug off and starts chewing on that
  • demands attention by grabbing our pant legs and growling
In all of these cases, we've tried redirecting her to an appropriate toy, giving a stern "no" and moving her mouth off the couch, etc. So far, nothing has been effective. Any physical correction, however slight (even just gently moving her mouth off the couch, for example) results in her cognition going out the window and her barking aggressively at us. Usually if an event escalates like that, almost nothing brings her out of that mental zone. She will usually respond to "bring me a toy", but for quite some time afterward she's on a hair trigger, and it takes very little to send her back.

I'm looking for some advice. Physical corrections are obviously not going to do the trick, and her cognition seems to go out the window for the most part, so progress with anything else I've tried is almost nonexistent. I'm reluctant to "ignore" her and leave the room because I feel that's letting her win (is it?). She hated the tin can w/ coins trick (seems a bit noise averse in the house, even though she tolerates gunfire without issues).

My unqualified opinion is this is either a dominance issue (she escalates very quickly if I look her in the eye, though she always looks away when I do) or fear agression, which could stem from her not understanding why she isn't allowed to chew on the couch. I realize this is the age where dogs start to challenge their owners and break rules they previously obeyed by, but this is an ongoing behavioral issue she's shown since 9 or 10 weeks, and the agression is somewhat worrisome.

Appreciate any advice, however unorthodox :) I'll be around to answer followup questions in case I left something out. Thanks!
 

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Kate
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I'm really confused reading this, because to me those behaviors are not very extraordinary in a high enery and spunky and oral (loves to get her mouth on everything) golden puppy. And not what I would call anxiety or aggression even. o_O
 

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Dog Lover
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Hi!

HI!!

I am not an obedience trainer, but here is my input.
Your dog sounds like a normal six month old pup to me. The redirecting you are doing sounds like the correct thing to do.
Do you use a crate at all, when you can't watch her every minute? This will keep her from biting the couch cusions and getting hurt in the house when you aren't there. Just make sure to remove her collar before putting her in the crate-it can catch on the crate and dogs can choke.
I remember my pups nipping at my ankles and it really hurt-I didn't know about redirecting, so when I couldn't handle it, I just put them in the crate for awhile.
 

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Dr. Rainheart
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First off, don't let her on the furniture if she chews on it. That should solve that problem. Next I think you need to take her for a longer walk in the mornings/evenings. Probably at least 45 minutes each time. If she is nipping at your pant legs, either crate her for a few minutes after she calms down or just leave the room until she realizes that nipping at pants isn't going to get her attention.
 

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Nancy
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The 3 behaviors you mentioned just sounds like typical puppy behavior to me rather than nervousness. Goldens are a mouthy breed and play in the ways you described. She's only 6 mos. and I'm thinking you're expecting too much.

My guy is 2 yrs.+ and doesn't grab our pants legs or the kitchen rug anymore (he did as a puppy!) but still loves to suck on the fleece blankets from the sofa any chance he gets :doh:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Do you use a crate at all, when you can't watch her every minute? This will keep her from biting the couch cusions and getting hurt in the house when you aren't there. Just make sure to remove her collar before putting her in the crate-it can catch on the crate and dogs can choke.
I remember my pups nipping at my ankles and it really hurt-I didn't know about redirecting, so when I couldn't handle it, I just put them in the crate for awhile.
Thanks, Karen. She's crate trained, and she's in there whenever we can't watch her. My wife works from home, so sometimes the pup is left to roam the kitchen (we quarter it off with baby gates), and she's fine in there.


She's not allowed on the couches, though she seems to forget at times (normal, I know).

Interesting that several said this is typical, I feel like the loud barking at me when I take something from her, or try to guide her to something appropriate isn't normal, but I honestly wouldn't know better :confused:

Perhaps the best thing would be to strictly ignore her and leave the room and see if that curbs her behavior some.
 

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Dog Lover
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Pyroz

Pyroz

I think telling her to stop barking and then ignoring her and leaving the room should she continue is the best things.

I think your girl sounds like a totally normal puppy to me!

I googled: Training a Six Month old puppy and came up with this:
Google

KEEP ASKING questions here-I know lots of people will offer advice.
 

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Dog Lover
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Yes

Yes

I would NOT CALL her anxious or aggressive at all!!
 

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Can you explain what a lip curl is please and how you would use it as a form of correction for a puppy nipping? Is it something similar to how a twitch would be used on a horse's mouth?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
There's probably a more correct term, but it's rolling their upper lip over their canine and pressing directly up until the puppy shows a reaction while calmly saying "no bite". With other pups, and talking with other owners, it's usually sufficient to just roll their lip over the tooth so when the pup bites down, they bite themselves and quickly learn that it's not very fun to chew on people.
 

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aka Sam =)
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Enzo used to nip at our pants when he was excited about something. We would just put him in his crate for some "quiet time" when he did that to give him a chance to calm down. When he was calmed down, we'd play fetch or do some training to tire him out.
 

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She sounds typicalBy leaving the room you are not letting her "win" you are making her associate her unwanted behavior (nipping, tugging at pants) with no attention/playtime. For a Golden that is definitely a loss.
 

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.. trying to curb her puppy biting with a lip curl, she has a very high pain tolerance, and is more apt to continue bad behaviors with more gusto after a correction.
Lip curl or any other forced correction WILL NOT WORK with Goldens, especially at that young age. Mouthing is natural way to explore the world for them and when you punish for biting, they simply won't understand the reason. As you noted she didn't stop biting, but your relation with her will jeopardized ...
... she's being e-collar conditioned.
WAY TOO EARLY to use e-collar for 6 months pup
I'm reluctant to "ignore" her and leave the room because I feel that's letting her win (is it?).
Please, let her "win"!!! It seems to me she really need to gain some confidence with you ... Don't try to be Alpha, you already are, so no need to prove it every single time. As a general advise - FORGET EVERYTHING YOU HEARD ABOUT DOMINANCE AND BEING AN ALPHA IN YOUR PACK. It doesn't work, at least with Goldens. They are most loyal and human friendly dogs on a planet and though they can be mouthy, biting in anger or protection is almost unknown.
She hated the tin can w/ coins trick (seems a bit noise averse in the house, even though she tolerates gunfire without issues).
I would hate that too! Throw away that stupid can with coins!!! It seems to me you are using lots of correction of unwated behaiviors. I would strongly recommned to change the tactic completely: REWARD HER for the proper behaiviour and IGNORE the wrong one, like she didn't do it.

she escalates very quickly if I look her in the eye
Why did you look in her eyes? Again that Alpha things ... DON'T! Try to speak to her in a very calm voice all the time and give her lots of rewards when the she's doing the right things. You'll amazed with result. I guarantee.
 

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It sounds to me that she may have some anxiety issues and the methods you're using could be making them worse. My guy is fieldy and anxious (which comes out as frustration and extreme excitability) by nature but a great worker WHEN I can get him to THINK through his anxious state of mind.

Read Control Unleashed, a pratical guide to working with anxious dogs, written by a behaviorist who is also a dog competition person. It will open your eyes to seeing the world from the dog's perspective and understanding learning. She also specifically addresses hair-trigger dogs.
 

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I have to agree with everyone else that your girl sounds very normal. And remember at 6 - 9 months they become bratty teenagers. Honestly, I felt like I was reading a description of my guy and though he can be difficult at times I would not call him anxious. I can understand why at times the behavior seems aggressive and why you are concerned but I think if you just stick with consistent calm corrections things will eventually sink in.

I did have to particularly laugh at this:

Any physical correction, however slight (even just gently moving her mouth off the couch, for example) results in her cognition going out the window and her barking aggressively at us. Usually if an event escalates like that, almost nothing brings her out of that mental zone. She will usually respond to "bring me a toy", but for quite some time afterward she's on a hair trigger, and it takes very little to send her back.


As I was reading this I was sitting on the couch with my laptop and Ozzy jumped up next to me and he's not allowed on the couch. I pushed him down and he proceeded to bark in my face. I ignored him and he eventually went away. I look at the barking as the equivalent of of a temper tantrum. I always imagine what he's trying to say to me: "I WANT ON THE COUCH!!!!" IT'S COMFORTABLE AND THE FLOOR IS NOT. IF I HAD THUMBS I'D OPEN THE DOOR AND BE OUT OF HERE!"
 

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Lip curl or any other forced correction WILL NOT WORK with Goldens, especially at that young age. Mouthing is natural way to explore the world for them and when you punish for biting, they simply won't understand the reason. As you noted she didn't stop biting, but your relation with her will jeopardized ...
WAY TOO EARLY to use e-collar for 6 months pup
Please, let her "win"!!! It seems to me she really need to gain some confidence with you ... Don't try to be Alpha, you already are, so no need to prove it every single time. As a general advise - FORGET EVERYTHING YOU HEARD ABOUT DOMINANCE AND BEING AN ALPHA IN YOUR PACK. It doesn't work, at least with Goldens. They are most loyal and human friendly dogs on a planet and though they can be mouthy, biting in anger or protection is almost unknown.
I would hate that too! Throw away that stupid can with coins!!! It seems to me you are using lots of correction of unwated behaiviors. I would strongly recommned to change the tactic completely: REWARD HER for the proper behaiviour and IGNORE the wrong one, like she didn't do it.

Why did you look in her eyes? Again that Alpha things ... DON'T! Try to speak to her in a very calm voice all the time and give her lots of rewards when the she's doing the right things. You'll amazed with result. I guarantee.
I totally agree - I was very concerned when I read what the original poster was saying and I would like to thank you for such sound comments on his behaviour.
 

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There's probably a more correct term, but it's rolling their upper lip over their canine and pressing directly up until the puppy shows a reaction while calmly saying "no bite". With other pups, and talking with other owners, it's usually sufficient to just roll their lip over the tooth so when the pup bites down, they bite themselves and quickly learn that it's not very fun to chew on people.
Oh dear!!! - I am vey aware that I am on a predominately American forum and in "someone else's backyard" so to speak, so I am careful to be very polite with what I say on this forum, but rather than leave this I must comment.
I believe you are being way too hard on this pup and I think you may well spoil her with your harsh treatment (e-collar conditioning - for heaven's sake - you should learn how to train her without resorting to using such things for a young pup - then results will be achieved by your own skill and effort, not a lazy, barbaric quick fix, which will add to your dog's anxiety, if anxiiety is what is actually the problem) - You have nothing to prove by being rough with her, you are the stronger one and your pup knows it. - It is your job to sensitively show her and teach her what you want, not to bully your pup into co-operating, just because you can. You need to get a trusting relationship going before you can achieve anything :(
 
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