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4 month old aggressive puppy

Discussion in 'Training & Behavior' started by lumineuse, Aug 23, 2016.

  1. Noah George

    Noah George Little Dog

    Kinda long here...

    Honestly, your boy just sounds like a puppy to me – a teenage puppy, but a puppy all the same – and that’s exactly what he is. Some of these behaviors, when worked on, may well sort themselves out once he reaches maturity at 2-3-years-old.

    Strict respect the way we see it is a rare thing in a dog this age, particularly in a breed such as these. I agree with not free feeding (although for some people it does work), and manners at doorways are imperative to me (manners aren’t synonymous with only you walking through the door first: a dog that waits isn’t always mannerly). Sleeping in the bed with rules that enforced is neither here nor there in my experience, as long as you’re the one setting and enforcing those rules, of course, and controlling resources like toys and such isn’t a bad idea. Not allowing him to follow you, however, and insisting that he stay in “his spot” when home unless getting a drink? Those two don’t make sense to me, and the latter doesn’t sound fair. As for the former, personally, I want my dogs to want to be with me, and I don’t mind a Velcro dog, given they know how to stay out of the way.

    Personally, with sneaky dogs, I don’t bother playing games and allowing them chances to sneak in where they don’t belong. I’m a big fan of using gates/barriers rather than the headache of enforcing the same rule over and over again. Sometimes that barrier gets the point through that they are not to be in the area and can gradually be used less and less. If they can’t be watched, though, I don’t allow the opportunity to get away with the behavior again when I can’t stay on top of things and just put the barrier up instead.

    Keep working with him -- not just “obedience training,” but truly working with him. That’s where the bonding exercises come into play. Training sessions should be fun, and if there’s a behavior or trick that he particularly enjoys, incorporate it into every training session and always end on a positive note (even if it means asking for a different behavior, rather than insisting on another). Play and interact with him, even on your walks. Your boy unquestionably wants to engage with you, so engage with him, but in a structured way. Do so on your terms but always prioritize him having fun. Even just be silly with him. The more your dog enjoys the time he spends with you, the greater the bond. So play tug with him, and as long as he isn't out of hand really get into the game, even slapping his sides and getting him riled up (without losing control). Keep things interesting. When training, use tug as a reward, lots of sincere praise, be enthusiastic. Do as many things interactively as you can, be fun, and be interesting (but also firm and consistent): that’s probably the easiest way to improve your bond.

    As for growling: growling is just a form of communication, especially with “talkative” dogs. In the case of your dog bringing you a toy and growling, he’s just communicating that he wants you to play with him, not being disrespectful. Personally, I wouldn’t worry about it, but if you’d rather he try to initiate play in a different way then have him offer an alternate behavior (have him sit instead, for example) and only play with him after he has done that. Of course, give him plenty of praise when you do reward him for the behavior and move to play with him.

    There is the argument that teaching a dog not to do something is easier after teaching them to do that thing (teaching them to bark on command with the idea that they then better know what “no bark” means), but personally, I’m not entirely convinced it’s the best route to go. It is an option, though. You may just have to come to terms that you have a more vocal dog, though, and then decide whether you want to encourage growling or discourage it. If you want to stop his growling to initiate play, then teach him to sit or do something else instead. Ignoring him can work, but for it to be truly effective it must be done every time, and you should do so only until he does something you decide is an appropriate way to initiate play and reward that choice by giving him what he wants.

    I’m not saying you always have to play when he wants to, there’s nothing wrong with telling him “not now,” basically, but 7/10 is still often enough to encourage a behavior because it sometimes works. It’s all or nothing. But giving him another option that works better will give you better results.

    I will say, if his go-to is to stand in front of you and growl, you’ve come a long way from what he used to do! My old girl would nudge with her nose when she wanted something, and get more insistent if I ignored her, then she would get her feet involved…once she even started tossing bones to try and get my attention before throwing a sock at me and staring at me. In the grand scheme of things, standing and growling/grumbling is fairly polite.
  2. Mister

    Mister Little Dog

    I've had a few youngsters that would fight the lead and grab it, one even chewed through a lead in seconds a couple of miles from home. All I did to cure em of the habit was to give em a toy or something else they wanted/liked, to carry on their walks.
    Noah George and Nat Ursula like this.
  3. lumineuse

    lumineuse Puppy

    Thanks so much all your answers, it always helps to read them. And it's always a relief to hear that you think it's puppy behavior, and not the beginning of the end :-)
    I forgot one thing the trainer told me, because I dismissed it immediately. She told me to always put a harness plus a collar on my dog. If I put the leash onto the collar, it means: strict leash walking. As soon as I stand somewhere, I switch to the harness. Harness-leash should mean to the dog: you can sniff around, you can take your time.

    To tell you the truth, I don't like the dog harnesses in general. But I found a way that makes sense to me now.

    I had problem in that I was never clear with my dog. I now am: I only give him one foot of leash when I want to walk strictly, straight ahead, to reach a place. No sniffing, no stopping, no peeing, just walking.
    As soon as I want him to sniff, pee etc, I give him the whole leash (6 feet maybe?). If he has got the whole leash, I take my time, let him do his thing, even follow him for some steps, as long as he is not pulling.

    So far, this works great. I feel more clear on a walk with him.

    I make him wait longer before allowing him to eat. I make him wait for my ok before he is allowed to go through the balcony door onto our balcony. Even though the door is open, he has to sit and wait for my sign.
    Same with the bed. I make him wait longer.

    I ignore him completely, when he wants to initiate play.

    When I come home, I used to ignore him when je jumped on me, but now I correct him, and only pet him after he completely calmed down.

    I don't know, if it's just a phase, but I haven't had a single issue in the past week. I feel better structured. My boyfriend has been gone for the past week, too. I need to teach him my new way of doing things, hahahahhaa. Hopefully he's on board.

    I still let him sleep in my bed, it's just the best part of having a dog. We will stop that when we move though, because we're planning on having a baby then. I hope, moving takes a couple of more months hahahaha. WE LOVE OUR DOGGIE IN OUR BED!

    I just wanted to share, and keep you posted. Maybe this helps someone else. Thanks for all your advice. I always pick a little bit from everybody, and sometimes it's just great to get feedback and it helps me feel better.
    Damn, I start a lot of sentences with "I".... seems I'm a bit self obsessed
    Nat Ursula, Noah George and Leslie H like this.
  4. leavesofjoy

    leavesofjoy Big Dog Premium Member

    That's some great progress in working with him and you two understanding each other!

    Consistency in rules is the most important thing, I think, but it doesn't matter as much what the exact rules are, they just have to work for you and your dog. Cuddling in bed with a dog is awesome, we allow Griffin on the nap daybed, I wouldn't miss that for anything.

    Noah George and pitbulldogs like this.
  5. pitbulldogs

    pitbulldogs OHMUHGERD Staff Member Administrator

    Glad things are getting better!

    Not sure what the theory is behind the collar and harness. That just seems like a bunch of unnecessary things to do for the outcome you are looking for.
    Noah George likes this.
  6. Leslie H

    Leslie H Good Dog

    While dogs do learn that there are different behavioral expectations with different gear, I agree w/the no need for a harness. You can even just use a verbal command, (like heel) to mean structured leash walking, and a release to mean go ahead, do your thing. I agree w/Noah George's suggestions, I'm pretty sure we have a lot in common w/our training philosophies.
    Nat Ursula and Noah George like this.
  7. Noah George

    Noah George Little Dog

    I thought I had responded to this after your latest post, lumineuse, but must be I got busy and, since you found a different approach anyway, forgot to come back. Hopefully things are still going well for you all!

    To support Leslie's statement: I, too, would go the verbal command and release route opposed to switching gear -- to me, it seems a clearer communication of what you want. Even if you do switch the leash from a collar to a harness (I've done this on walks, depending on the situation), I would still recommend using a command and release.
    Nat Ursula likes this.
  8. lumineuse

    lumineuse Puppy

    One last update because puberty is kind of over, puppy turned 1 in April and it's end of August now :) He is such a great dog, he is good with children, I trust him completely not to hurt anyone. We get complimented all the time how happy go lucky our dog is, at the dog park he is very playful and fun, and with us he never has any crazy episodes anymore. What did we do? Normal structure, some training but we stopped going to all the dog trainers, we just do the normal stuff ourselves. More or less Cesar's recipe of "exercise, discipline, affection" but we do it more like: affection exercise affection affection discipline affection affection affection exercise affection affection discipline affection affection hahahahhaha

    So thank you all! I must tell you, this chat here helped me calm down. The trainers failed to do that. But you all with your breed related experiences helped me a lot when I questioned everything and I want to say THANK YOU for taking your time. I opened a new post about our puppy's hip dysplasia and I'd be very thankful to get your thoughts or exerpience on that as well.

    Thanks again!
    Leslie H and Nat Ursula like this.
  9. pitbulldogs

    pitbulldogs OHMUHGERD Staff Member Administrator

    Awesome! It is so hard to judge what a puppy is really thinking or doing as they are just far to playful at that age, glad it got better for you guys! Now please do us all a HUGE favor, this favor is asked from the rest of us as owners of bull breeds, please stop taking the dog to the dog park, it is an accident waiting to happen! You can't love the genetics out of the dog, with him being just over a year, you still have time where he may turn on and not like other dogs and animals.
    Leslie H and Nat Ursula like this.
  10. lumineuse

    lumineuse Puppy

    Thanks for your reply. May I ask how you feel about going on walks with other dogs off leash? I often go with my cousin and her pug. And he loves to play with an eight month old mix in our garden (rough housing). Would you allow your dog to do any of those activities? At any age? Or only up to a specific age? Or wouldn't you recommend any contact with other dogs. Our dog is an American Staffordshire Terrier with quite social parents. Does this make a difference? Thanks
    Nat Ursula likes this.
  11. pitbulldogs

    pitbulldogs OHMUHGERD Staff Member Administrator

    Nothing wrong at all with dogs playing and rough housing as long as it's monitored closely in a controlled environment and not at a open public dog park. imho, one should have a basic understanding of dogs body language even when playing at home, know each dog involved. it's just a rule of thumb that bull breed dogs do not belong at dog parks, if something did happen, no matter what, the fat headed dog will always be to blame, no if ands or butts, which is why we all avoid dog parks. As for age, not really a concern for me but i do have a good understanding of these dogs and my particular dogs even more so.

    Off leash dogs are a HUGE no no, i have had to change my walking path many times due to this. Fact of the matter is, my male would try and kill any dog he sees outside of his house, my older female, not so much but even then, i do not walk her where there are dogs off leash, it's just something to avoid if at all possible, you never know when they might decide to fire up and have an incident where the "blocky headed dog on his leash killed the little yorkie who was off leash and running free", im sure you can guess who gets portrayed as the bad dog here.
    Leslie H and Nat Ursula like this.
  12. leavesofjoy

    leavesofjoy Big Dog Premium Member

    In my mind, the problem is not playing with other dogs (as long as yours likes to and is cool about it), but being with random excited dogs in an uncontrolled setting, especially with owners who are likely not paying attention to step in when needed. That seems to be the scene at the dog park, and as pitbulldogs has pointed out, it will always be your bully's "fault" if something happens, just because that's how the blame lands.

    When I was still doing training classes with Griffin, we also went hiking regularly with other dogs and owners from class, and it was great fun. We made sure dogs were well-matched in size and temperament, and each person was there with one dog and were all experienced and careful enough to watch their dog. We did do off leash hiking in some remote areas, and it was ok for a while, but then Griffin discovered cattle and now he's only off leash in our yard.

    Leslie H, Nat Ursula and pitbulldogs like this.
  13. pitbulldogs

    pitbulldogs OHMUHGERD Staff Member Administrator

    It's just good to practice these few things we suggest as a responsible bull breed owner, it might also do you some good to get a break stick or two and learn how to use one. Not trying to scare you or anything, just trying to help you be prepared for what "could" happen. Nothing may ever happen for as long as the dog lives but if something does? You are prepared.
    Nat Ursula likes this.
  14. Nat Ursula

    Nat Ursula Good Dog

    Wow, that is great news! I thought about you and your dog many times. You ha such a rough time.
  15. marlicorn

    marlicorn Puppy

    I am interested in the outcome here - how is your dog today? (Assuming you still get these notifications of course)


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