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Discussion Starter #1
Parker is 7 mos old and even when he was quite small and my daughter would come over with her same age lab he would get very fiesty and aggressive acting at the first meeting. I have to keep him on a leash until the initial greet has settled, then he is perfectly normal and they run, jump, chase and play like any other pups. He's always a perfect teddy bear with all humans including small children.

I worry that if I don't handle the greeting thing right it will get worse. Aside from that brief negative behavior he is a jewel, in fact Tilley and Sammi (both females) rule the roost over him and he will quickly back off if they tell him so. There is never any aggression between any of them.

Is this common behavior for a male? He is still intact and I don't plan to neuter him for hopefully another 6-12 months if possible. The girls are both spayed.
He starts school next week and I'm worried he'll act like an idiot and cause me great embarrassment. What can I do to work on this? I don't want him to be the only kid in class that can't participate in social time.
 

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What is the aggresive actions that he is doing? Sometimes it is excitement they are showing. The classes will really help to work on those issues and I think playtime will be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, he growls, holds himself in a very aggressive bold stance and starts biting at his neck and ears. When her dog starts sniffing back he sounds terrible, not a playful growl at all. It frightens them that he is going to hurt their dog.
If I hold him by the collar and correct him he settles down and I can let him go and they start playing. It is only upon the greeting that he acts studly. But as I said he did this once as a 3 or 4 month old puppy too. I had him at the vet and when we were paying they brought out my vets 4 or 5month old female that had been sleeping and was extremley docile. She just stood there looking totally bored with him while he sniffed her over and then growled at her, but I didn't think it was a "play with me" type of growl, so I pulled him away. She never even reacted to him.
Now with my daughters dog he starts off that way and actually tries to fight until I correct him, but then like I said after a correction they will romp and play. I always make sure they meet outside and neither of my girls are present just in case he thinks he's guarding them.
 

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I wouldn't collar correct him when he's doing that. His behavior smacks of insecurity, and being handled right around the neck at those moments might just increase those feelings of nervousness and insecurity. I know he looks like a big tough brat right as he's doing it, but chances are that's not what he's feeling.

A puppy social session at class, as long as the trainer is good, will be awesome. When he gets too worked up, they'll probably just gently prevent him from engaging with the other pups until his state of mind changes and relaxes. When you repeat that interruption over time, they do learn that those aggressive and nervous displays end play time, and simply removing him from the social interaction interrupts his ability to act through that negative series of emotions. Each time he's interrupted, he's less likely to work it through again and more likely to do something else.

That's why a correction can backfire. At the height of his insecurity, somebody manhandles his neck, so he may learn to become more agitated during those nervous moments.

A matter of fact voice (all done play!) and gentle restraint are the way to go. He'll learn that being agitated simply leads to a calm removal of the play, but calmer states of mind allow play to continue. Also, training builds confidence, and training in the presence of other dogs (especially if he's getting treats) builds confidence in association all those smells, sounds, and sights.
 

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Tracer, Rumor & Cady
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There is no doubt you will get a workout from a 7 month old golden in obedience Class for the first time! No doubt he will make you blush....

Couple of thoughts....

You probably wont have any social time...everyone should be on leash.. I would be really surprised if intact dogs, at this level of training, and of this age would be allowed to co-mingle in a class situation.

Honesty doesn't sound like aggression, but a foolish pup that just needs to learn the rules.

When going to class...
If using a flat collar, make sure his collar is TIGHT, put it up behind his ears and allow for 1-2 fingers....so many dogs come to class with collars draped like necklaces. Dogs can pull like huskies with their collars low...

Wear comfy lace-up shoes with good traction...no crocs, clogs, boots or high heels -

Dress comfortably - you will be bending over and moving around..if you are worried about your cleavage or your butt-crack showing.....well, you wont be paying attention to the dog and he will take full advantage of that fact! :)

Dress in layers...if you get too warm you can peel off your sweatshirt...

Dont feed your dog before class...if his belly is full....what does he need to work for when there is so much visiting to do!

If your class is rewards based....bring PLENTY of REALLY good treats...bring out the big guns! Pencil eraser sized bits of chicken, bits of hot dog, maybe cheese if your dog tolerates it...If you dont want to serve people food...NaturalBalance makes a dehydrated dog food that most dogs really like to work for...

Figure out how you are going to store your treats on your body...you want to be able to get at them fast...if you don't have a bait bag or a fanny-pack kicking around the house...a nail apron from the hardware store works just fine...pants pockets are too slow to get into all the time...coat pockets seem to spill...Youve got a week to start looking around your house

Bring a comfortable leash....slid that sucker through your closed fist...if it hurts bring a different one!

Leave the retractable leash at home...

If you have one of those handy little poop-bag-dispenser things hanging from your leash take it off....they just get in the way.

Stuff some poop bags in your pocket...you will make your class instructor soooo happy if you clean up after your dog!

BE STRONG, KEEP THE FAITH, CRY IN THE CAR ON THE WAY HOME IF YOU MUST, PRACTICE ALL WEEK SO YOU CAN GO BACK AND DO IT AGAIN NEXT WEEK AND THE WEEK AFTER AND THE WEEK AFTER - PROMISE YOU.... IT WILL BE WORTH IT!
 

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Tracer, Rumor & Cady
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missed your response...I agree with Tippy....he sounds insecure....not the kind of dog that should be grabbed....<not many should...>
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you all for the tips! I will take them all to heart. I know I should have enrolled him sooner but when the time was here I moved my 89 year old dad in with us and I work part time as well as babysit my 2 and 4 yr old grandchildren 4 hrs a day so my life got tumbled around a bit.
However, I have now realized I cannot put it off any longer.
We actually had our first session Saturday without dogs. I don't know if you are familiar with Pat Miller but she has a farm/training facility 15 minutes away and they use only positive training. I was hoping to work with him some this week before he goes for his first lesson and did not want to do more harm than good. I know he'll be a handful but I'm confident he'll get over this.
I will practice having her bring her dog over and when he does this I'll take him in until he acts better, then I'll reward him?
 

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Thank you all for the tips! I will take them all to heart. I know I should have enrolled him sooner but when the time was here I moved my 89 year old dad in with us and I work part time as well as babysit my 2 and 4 yr old grandchildren 4 hrs a day so my life got tumbled around a bit.
However, I have now realized I cannot put it off any longer.
We actually had our first session Saturday without dogs. I don't know if you are familiar with Pat Miller but she has a farm/training facility 15 minutes away and they use only positive training. I was hoping to work with him some this week before he goes for his first lesson and did not want to do more harm than good. I know he'll be a handful but I'm confident he'll get over this.
I will practice having her bring her dog over and when he does this I'll take him in until he acts better, then I'll reward him?
Usually, the chance to play itself is a great reward when you're working on greeting and socialization. When you throw food into that mix, you can use its calming influence with positive effect, but if you're holding/giving treats with the two dogs right there, it can just make the anxious dog feel competitive and actually increase the anxiety. Be careful.

You don't have to reward the positive feelings. Rewarding behavior is powerful when you're teaching an actual skill, but when it comes to feelings and confidence, you just want to take the dog through the positive and desired states of mind over and over while preventing him from experiencing the undesired state.

What I'd do, if you have another dog to practice with, is take them both to a neutral spot and train separately (20+ feet apart) from one another with treats. Don't correct when your boy tries to get to the other dog, just patiently prevent him and wait until he gives up and tries something else (like offering you attention or sitting). Don't give any commands, especially if you can tell you'll be blown off. Just wait him out and be super calm. Praise and treat anything he'll do in terms of working with you, but wait for him to give up on his distraction. You can say the command as or after he does it and offer a treat.

It can take a few minutes, but he should settle down about the other dog. That's when he's allowed to get off leash and go play. That way, you start him off in a calm, relaxed state of mind. Then, you supervise the play (it helps if the other dog will come straight back to her owner, since you don't want them to get too agitated or rough when you can't immediately separate them). If he gets too would up, gently separate them, wait for a minute or two, and if he calms down, release. If he doesn't, leash him and start training again.

This is just one idea for approaching the situation. I'm sure others will offer advice that's as good or better.
 

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I've been meaning to ask about a problem (slight but still annoying) with Karma. She is the bigger of the two - when we take her for a walk and she sees other people she often stops sits down and stares until the person passes or gets inside. When a golden puppy we know is walking with her dad and Karma sees her coming she lies down on the street as flat as she cam get with her chin on the ground between her paws until they get to us. When they do she acts a little aggressive toward the puppy or another person by growling or barking - if we stay long enough she rolls over on her back and nips at the puppy with her mouth upside down while batting at her with her front paws. If we are outside, she tolerates most people but some she barks at as if she is being protective. When she gets in the car to go for a ride she will bark at anyone walking by if we are stopped (right in my ear) and it sounds to the person as if she is a dog to fear. There is the cutest springer spaniel at the park where we take them sometimes - this dog will drop her right shoulder and push it along the grass with her back feet like she's a boat or somethign - it's so funny but it freaks Karma out and she starts barking and growling @ the dog. It's gotten where when the owners see us coming they turn and go a different direction because of Karma's behavior. I don't blame them but I wonder why she is acting in this manner. Anyone. Is she being protective? Oh, a man approached us to do some work and she growled and barked until I shook his hand and got onto her then she settled down.
 

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she does exhibit signs of insecurity now that you mention it - she gets scared of palm fronds in the street 20 or 30 feet in front of us and stops walking, sits down and just looks at it. It take some coaxing to get her to move. She does need training, for sure she is getting to where she doesn't listen and leads us off where we are walking. I've become more assertive when walking than just letting her go where she wants. I hold a short leash and make her stay next to me as much as possible, then when we get to an open area I let her have some slack but she's often a brat.
 
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