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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Guinness is almost 4 months old now. We got him when he was 6 weeks old (yes, I know this is too young to take him home, but the breeder assured us it was fine). He was super loveable, playful, and is an amazing puppy most of the time.

However, I have been struggling with disciplining him efficiently. Since I am a full time student, I am at home with him everyday and my boyfriend works full time. Guinness has always been a bit more aggressive towards me - biting me harder than anyone else, jumping at me, etc. I have tried many different ways of disciplining him: timeouts, firmly saying no, standing tall up to him to show him I'm the boss, giving him a light smack on the nose, walking away, and toy replacement. We also take him on walks almost everyday.

Over the past few months, his aggression towards me has gotten worse. None of the discipline methods are working for me. If I walk away he bites the backs of my legs, if I stand up to him and say NO! firmly he barks and bites my legs and rips my pants. If I put him in timeouts, he just misbehaves again once he's out.

My boyfriend and I have discussed taking him to obedience classes, but other than that I don't know what to do. He does not misbehave at all when my boyfriend is home and listens to him immediately when he says no, so its hard for my boyfriend to understand the type of behaviour I get when he is not around. I have been brought to tears multiple times by the painful bites in my legs and his negative energy and aggression towards me.

Does anyone have any advice on how I can discipline him properly and show him that I am the boss? It feels like he is trying to dominate me and its a battle I deal with everyday, that usually brings me to tears (I usually leave the room when this happens, to try to avoid him seeing my weakness).

Any advice would really help!!
 

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At this age, they have very high energy levels. Does he get enough exercise? Maybe if you tire him out enough, he will be more adaptable and respond to training. Also, are you consistent enough in your attitude? I have found out that using more than one method of "punishment" simultaneously only confuses young pups. I mean, I would either very firmly say "NO BITE", or walk away, or use time out, not all together. I would switch methods if I found them not working, but I would use one at a time, very consistently. Also, do you use treats to reward good behavior? I think this works better than punishing for bad behavior.
 

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He's just being puppy...not aggressive and not negative energy. In fact for him, it's pure fun! Puppy style.

The first thing to address is how much exercise he's getting. A tired puppy is a good puppy. He needs 2 or 3 vigorous exercise periods per day. Not just a walk but a chance for him to run, chase a ball, roll in the grass and explore his world. A couple of hours total, minimum. That will help a lot.

When he wants to bite, you need to redirect with toys. Or take him outside for some fun out there.

This will pass...it's all part of his growing body and mind. Don't take it personally. It isn't a case of who's boss...he's just being puppy. He can't begin to formulate a thought towards dominance...he's just being goofy.
 

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I can tell you from experience he sees you as a fun playmate. You are right 6 weeks is too early. It's when they are starting to learn from litter mates not to bite so hard. Again I know this from experience as Tayla was 5 weeks old when she was originally purchased. We got her at 4 months and from 4 months through 12 months I was her favorite chew toy and so was my husband. Teach the little shark something new instead of biting. Teach sit or down as a default. If he even looks like he wants to bite have him sit. Keep him too busy to think of you as a toy.
 

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Tayla's Mom is 100% right that Guinness sees you as a fun littermate and not an authority figure. Puppies are manipulative, opportunistic little creatures. They know when people don't act like they are in charge. Your boyfriend is probably much more direct, physical, swift, and sure with the puppy, the puppy respects this, can predict his behavior and adjusts his behavior accordingly. The puppy knows that you are a pushover and will only throw unimpressive, passive signals at him that really don't change his mind at all. IOW, he walks all over you because he can.
Dogs don't talk to each other with time outs, redirection to toys, longer walks, crates, hiring lawyers or letters to the editor. They are physical, loud, immediate, and get right to the point when they are unhappy. We need to mimic this to be the most effective communicators with our dogs. It's hard for a lot of people to act like this. You either have it or you don't :)
I would 100% recommend taking both classes and private lessons with a trainer. This isn't aggression, you don't need a behaviorist, you need a trainer who can get down to the bottom of it and give you some tools to change your dog's mind and earn his respect. Best of luck.
 

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I don't agree totally with K-9 Design. She has trained many great field dogs, but unless you have had specific issues it's hard to relate. A tired puppy is a much better puppy and physical exercise and mental exercise goes a long way. I would find a good trainer and someone who specializes in behavior issues using a very positive approach. I was blessed with a great trainer/behaviorist in my area. I know K-9 won't agree with me because when I was having issues her approach was not mine, but mine worked in the long run. You do have to be firm in your responses, but never harsh. Physical punishment was suggested to me by many and it never worked for Tayla. In fact, it made matters much worse. You need to work on not only obedience but impulse control. Your puppy has none where you are concerned. There are some great videos and books on this. The more you train, the more your dog will look to you are a leader and not so much a play mate.
 

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A lot of real good information here, but I think doing obedience training is a great start also, not only will you learn more about your dogs behavior but you will get feedback from a professional trainer. Stay away from Dog Store training, search the internet in your area and get references to talk to before you start...good luck
 

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Olliver was this way at a few puppy periods.
At 7 months he has outgrown much of it.
Best things that worked for me:
Lotsa exercise. Lotsa exercise. Lotsa exercise.
Identify the witching times. Ours were early morning and late day.
When you identify these extra snarky times, give lots of mental and physical tiring exercise.
I redirect/ignore/ then put in time out.
Frozen kongs were our best friends. Helps keep them busy and those painful teeth quiet.

And never hit. It only escalates the biting.
They need to respect what you say, not fear you.
And yes, obedience training would be a wonderful thing for both of you.
 

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When you get frustrated with your pup, does your voice raise up? Higher pitched than your boyfriend's voice? Sometimes that feeds the excitement in them.

I agree that lots of exercise makes for a happier puppy and a MUCH happier owner. A tired puppy is a good puppy.

If nothing else, put his leash on and take him for a 30 minute walk. While on that walk, stop every 10-15 feet and have him sit, down, wait, something different each time. Walk him in circles in both directions and then have him sit, down, wait again. You want to wear him out mentally and having him practice commands does that really well.

Good luck. It does get better, though he is just at the age where his puppy teeth will start coming out, so he'll be teething for another month or so. Then those sharp puppy teeth will finally be gone.
 

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With puppies, super-structure can also help. Make sure the pup isn't spending alot of "junk time" in which he is out of his crate or expen driving you crazy. Try to alternate times you give him 100 percent of your focus to play and train, and times in which he is confined with a kong, a picklepocket, or just to sleep. Get him on a schedule that meets his needs, but also gives you breaks. Try to manage him skillfully, so that he doesnt get in overtired wickywacky puppy mode. Some pups express lots of their needs and wants with teeth. When you watch a litter of pups develop, it is easy to understand why this is so. They do so much of their early communicating with mouthiness.

I agree with the tired puppy is a good puppy ( of course within age appropriate reason). He should have some time to run off leash and explore, and some time to learn his basics like sit and down in a fun way. I agree with Tayla's mom that physical punishment or harshness will only make matter worse. Puppies have only been on earth for a little while, and are toddlers. They do what is rewarding to them, so we want to reinforce what we want them to do in a thousand ways.

Just a little specific to help with the exercise component, this is a great toy to burn energy with the puppy, and at the same time teach him strict commands like "out"(drop it). You start the game, and you end the game. No teeth on human skin or the game ends. Put the toy away on a high shelf, so the pup cant access it without you.

Clean Run: Chase It Dog Toy

You can actually just buy an inexpensive horse lunge whip and tie a cool toy to the end.
 

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You're puppy has been on this planet 12 weeks. He is NOT aggressive, he is playing with you the way he would play with littermates. Puppies do not try to dominant people.

It will get better, pick the method that seems to be most effective and use it consistently. Please do not smack him on the nose, you will only teach him to be afraid your hands. It will take time, but he will get better.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you!

Thank you everyone for your suggestions and advice!!

The exercise thing was definitely an issue. We had to wait for him to get all of his shots before we could take him for walks (parvo virus was going around in our community so I had to be extra cautious). Once he got all his shots and we started taking him on more and more walks, his behaviour improved quite a bit. I still get moments where he will jump and bite me, growl, rip my clothes and no matter what I say/do he will not let go or stop. I eventually have to pick him up and put him in his crate for a time out - he is getting big quick though so I won't be able to do that too much longer.

My biggest worry is that this will continue as he gets older, and I want to nip it in the butt beforehand, so we don't have issues later on. Although, a lot of people have told me its a phase and he will mellow out after he is neutered and gets past his adolescence stage.

Also, he knows a ton of tricks: sit, stay, rollover, come, lay, shake a paw, high five. We work with him daily and when we take him for walks we make sure he walks right along side us and give him corrections when he pulls or tries to veer off the path. To be honest, he is a dream in all of these areas and picks things up really fast. I have started to ask him to sit or lay down when he starts getting playful aggressive and that helps sometimes.

I really appreciate all of your advice!!
 
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