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Hi everyone!

My family and I just adopted an 8-month old golden retriever from a rescue organization. Sophie is a sweetheart when she'd calm but totally out of control at least a couple times a day. We're in the process of training her with a professional coach (plus an obediance class). We've had her for almost a month now and we're seeing some scary behavior. She hasn't bitten anyone, but today when I was trying to get her to drop something she'd picked up she snapped at me with lips curled. When we try to get her to leave a hole she's digging or come away from the carpet she's tearing up she curls her lips back to show her teeth.

I have a 2 year old, an 8 year old and a 10 year old. We're all falling in love with Sophie, but I'm afraid that her behavior might be warning us of aggression. Both the trainer and the vet say she's not aggressive, just dominate.

Has anyone dealt with this issue in their puppies (I know she'll be a puppy until she's about 2)? Do they outgrow it if you continue to show her it's not acceptable or will they always snap and lip curl???

Thanks for the help!
 

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How have your trainers suggested dealing with it? I would personally start with NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free). You can look it up by googling. It sounds to me like she just needs some regular structure and lots of exercise.
 

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My trainer was suprised by the behavior since she seems very eager to please him. He's shown us how to act the alpha (where to hold her, how to stand) and to not let her get away with it (and then to not hold a grudge since he says dogs don't). Well we've been doing this for a couple weeks and the lip curl still happens and then she snapped at me today. But perhaps it will take longer.

I glanced at the NILIF info which sounds great. My problem is getting my kids to understand that they're undermining my training.

Thanks for the response!
 

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By the way, I live in North Raleigh!

A lot of trainers adhere to the dominance theory. I really don't believe that is what dogs are doing most of the time when they are pushing their limits. Standing over a dog or holding them from above can be very scary for a dog and can actually cause them to growl or snarl.

I like NILIF because it's just a way of life. You can use it more if you have a pushy dog (like my Jasmine) and use it a lot less if you have a less pushy dog (my Danny and Jasper).

Did you adopt her from Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue? I foster for them. They are a fantastic group.
 

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NLIF I think is a very good tool and will help you with her tremendously. Start teaching her the "trade" game, she has something, you offer her another item she wants, then trade. Eventually she will learn it's a good thing to let you take what she has. If she is in a location you need her to move from, or away from a stationary object like the carpet, either offer a treat or toy to lure her away, or even go in another room and call her. Make it fun for her to come to you and leave whatever she has.

Trying to forcibly take things from her will make her escalate the guarding, which you don't want. If your trainer has been instructing you use the "alpha roll" with her, I would not use that method, it only makes the dog feel like they need to defend themselves.
 

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I also agree with the trading game. Mojo would growl and snap when we would try and take a bone or bully stick from him... scary stuff. We started "trading" with a hot dog or a piece of cheese, and he's doing a lot better now.
 

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I am also going to echo using NILIF method with her and also keep a very close eye on your younger kids around her until this issue is resolved. This is not puppy phase behavior but a more serious challenge that could continue into adulthood if it is not stopped. And while she may warn you, she may not warn your children. You may be seeing the real reason a previous owner relinquished her and they may not have informed the rescue. Be sure to get your trainer and obedience class teacher on board and solicit their advice too. The main thing is to nip it in the bud quickly and appropriately.
 

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Ditto to the above...

There are other ways of dealing with it but I wouldn't suggest them unless you are comfortable with that sort of thing. I've read of a few different more harsh ways of dealing with dogs who snap at people which sound pretty bad but have worked really well for dogs who otherwise wouldn't be alive. Catch 22 I suppose...

Lana
 

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I would find a trainer that uses positive reinforcement training. Did you adopt her from a rescue or thru a shelter? Most rescues know of an behavorist and can work with you. Until then I would use the trade with treat method. Find something that she really likes to eat and when you want to take something from her then give her that treat to trade.
To me it sounds more like resource guarding. the NILIF method is really good to helping it. I know it is hard with the kids but you need to sit them down and give them certain rules they need to do around the dog.
Good luck!!!
 

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Lucky is a very submissive dog...but even he had flashes of "dominate" behavior from 5 months to 1 year. The episodes he had at 9 and 10 months were nerve-wracking...playing.....but not really playing. He was sowing oats....

Having a puppy in that "hormone' stage for just one month...a very short time really..., your puppy hasn't figured out yet who's the leader....I don't think he's comfortable following you yet.

Just my opinion...totally non-certified:p:

I would keep close watch with him and the children until you are comfortable. I was super supervising until Lucky was about 1.5 years. By then I had figured him out enough to relax.
 
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