Another miserable new dog owner

(84 Posts)
lainiekazan Thu 13-Jun-13 09:32:05

I am so worn out and worried.

We were all eager to welcome a dog and prepared by and large for what it entailed.

However, 3-month old puppy is displaying some really challenging behaviour. He is getting increasingly aggressive - snarling and growling if he's prevented from doing something (eg eating stones/attacking tv). Or if I try to tempt him into his crate if I have to go shopping/school run. He is quite big already and frankly it is a bit scary. He is well house-trained, but if I have to go upstairs he leaves a well-placed poo by the stair gate.

Also, dd said last night, "Look, Mummy, he's dancing with your cardigan.". He was most certainly not dancing, unless it was dirty dancing... He is only 3 months old!

Ds loves him, and is getting upset with me as a couple of times this week I've burst into tears. He also rises at 4.30 every morning and refuses to bed down again.

lainiekazan Thu 13-Jun-13 14:25:57

I have booked a trainer to come this weekend. Poor dog is, ironically, on his best behaviour this afternoon.

Perhaps he has gone feral, as we have a large garden and in the nice weather he free roamed all day. He likes snuffling in the bushes and then reclining with his legs in the air on the sofa, and woe betide anyone who tries to interfere with his chosen routine.

Spero Thu 13-Jun-13 14:40:20

This is why I don't think it is helpful to talk in terms of 'fault'.

Dogs and humans have very different personalities and sometimes you need help figuring out the dynamic.

My dog would never act like yours - she follows us around like a shadow, I just to raise my voice slightly and she looks horrified and rolls over.

So we get on fine! But if I had a more headstrong, less 'needy' dog, no doubt I would have had other problems. I am not sure it is helpful to say that would have been 'my fault'.

coffeeinbed Thu 13-Jun-13 14:58:03

I agree with the treat it like a toddler's tantrum post.
Just be patient, firm and kind.

When I said long walks I mean you want a happily tired pup.
Of course you'll have to be mindfull of a young growing puppy's limitations.

idirdog Thu 13-Jun-13 16:20:22

3-month old puppy is displaying some really challenging behaviour this is normal puppy behaviour.

Here lies the route of your problems he free roamed all day

I did wonder about that too, do you mean he was in the garden all day roaming around by himself? Sorry if I have misunderstood!

Looks at Springer puppy who will only just go into the garden by himself (for 5 minutes max) even now but prefer to flop at my feet smile Even though I would love him to go by himself in the garden more often now, not sure if I would have let him at 12 weeks but each dog and owner is different.

He might benefit from a routine maybe? Gwen Bailey has one I recall in her book, it's for very young puppies but you can adapt.

HoneyDragon Thu 13-Jun-13 16:48:44

Oh Tabularasha, you have described my 13 month lab to a tee. Steals, chews, rude and over friendly. grin

But also, walks beautifully on the lead with the odd glitch, recalls well with the odd glitch, and loves learning new human pleasers [sit, stay, commando, through, stand etc]

lainiekazan Thu 13-Jun-13 18:41:04

Oh, no. There I thought he was loving the garden, and I've made a bad error. No one has said or has written anywhere that you should restrict puppies to a small area. Now I've f-ing blown it.

D0oinMeCleanin Thu 13-Jun-13 18:45:39

You don't have to restrict them to a small area, but it is generally easier to do so, rather than puppy proof an entire house and garden.

What people were getting at is that puppies need regular interaction and supervision and guidance generally and they love routine.

Allowing a puppy to be free range with minimal human input will result in a confused, over stimulated puppy who lacks boundaries. Same as if you did that with a young toddler.

It's easily rectified. Stop being so hard on yourself.

Set regular meal, training, rest times and get clicker training.

tabulahrasa Thu 13-Jun-13 18:49:24

Oh no - he can play in the whole garden, I think it's more the amount of time that people are on about and that he's doing it at will.

At that age, really you should be taking him in and out when it suits you (as well as toilet breaks obviously) so, if you've got a period of time where you would be walking him when he's older, or where it'll suit you for him to be tired after, take him out to play/explore so that he gets into a bit of a routine.

Puppies get overtired and overstimulated, just like toddlers do...you need to manage their time for them a bit so that they don't get hyper or grumpy.

Honestly - it's so like having a toddler, lol.

tabulahrasa Thu 13-Jun-13 18:51:23

'Oh Tabularasha, you have described my 13 month lab to a tee. Steals, chews, rude and over friendly.'

I'm always so glad when it's not just mine that's like that, lol...I know full well it's just his age, but sometimes you feel like 'that' owner.

lainiekazan Thu 13-Jun-13 18:57:00

He hasn't been free roaming all day, just when he goes out and obviously in the warmer weather there were longer periods of this. He follows the Gwen Bailey routine to the last letter (except the family meals every day - honestly - what family spends all day together every day?) We do have a rather wild garden blush which is an inquisitive puppy's paradise.

tabulahrasa Thu 13-Jun-13 19:02:36

Ah you made it sound like he'd just been wandering round all day left a bit to his own devices...he's fine to explore when he's out there.

IAmNotAMindReader Thu 13-Jun-13 19:42:55

Golden retrievers are an intelligent breed and do require lots of mental stimulation. Until he can reliably come when you call try teaching him to sit, stay, lie down and of course come to you on command rewarding with food. They are a breed which is very food motivated find the right treat and they will do anything for it. Wear him out mentally and he will be a lot calmer.

They are also very vocal and a lot of their vocalisations are through growls. They are said to be one of the few breeds that growl through pure happiness. You will learn the difference between a yeah I love this, I really love this and go away. Look at videos on you tube etc of dog behaviour for the other behaviours which say I'm not happy (looking away, yawning, leaning away, lip licking and tense body).

Ours was a total land shark you couldn't sit in the garden when she was out or she'd think it was an invitation to play and leap on you growling happily and sink her teeth in. Gradually she learned this was not acceptable. She worked her way around the stair gate and made her way upstairs and ate the bed. She has now accepted when the stair gate is on she doesn't go up even thoguh she could easily defeat it.

Calm, consitant, firm training with lots of praise as reward, they don't do well with shouting and punishment. Praise the good and ignore the bad by turning away with arms folded (mainly so they don't get chewed) or substituting a forbidden item for one they really like (favourite toy, treat filled kong etc) and a bouncy puppy will soon give up as that is boring.
Remember their coats and skin is thicker than ours so they have to learn bite inhibition and to be gentle.

Dominance theory is complete bollocks, some of it has merit because it is common sense, ie you go through a door before the dog not because you are asserting your dominance but because you don't know what is on the other side and can handle the situation better with a heads up.

Be aware as with all dogs but particularly golden retrievers due to the intelligence they learn to manipiulate us really quickly. There is no ill intent behind it they just read our body language well and soon learn if I act like this (the worlds most emo dog) then I get (insert whatever they have their eye on). Channel that intelligence with training and they will love to please as it is fun for them too.

LittleFeileFooFoo Fri 14-Jun-13 03:21:47

Is he neutered? That may help with some of the aggression too.

And exercise helps right before training, I think.

But others have very good advice.

IAmNotAMindReader Fri 14-Jun-13 09:18:54

With a large breed most vets advise neutering at around 8 months. The snapping is also a learned behaviour he has learned he gets left to do what he wants if he does it, doesn't mean he wants to rip your throat out. Dogs are relatively simple things that use the idea of do what works.
They quickly work out what gets them the response they want, if I do x (look sulky, snarl, respond to owner) I get y. You just have to approach things form a different angle now to redirect this focus to he gets his reward from responding to you. See a few trainers and stay away from those who start on about dominance, however you need to be firm, calm and consistant.

Also keep on top of training all the time, around the teenage years (8 months to just over1) it can be like being back to 3 months again with some behaviours so remember to reinforce what you learn then.

It may seem like a hard slog but put the effort in now to moulding the dog you want and he will be a wonderful family friend for years to come.

tabulahrasa Fri 14-Jun-13 09:46:42

There was a recent study (actually done on golden retrievers) confirming that early - before the growth plates have closed at about 18 months - neutering is linked to joint problems.

Besides, hormonal aggression wouldn't start a good couple of months before puberty hits.

There's no quick fixes for puppy behaviour, just training, consistency and time for them to learn what you expect.

Gingersstuff Fri 14-Jun-13 09:47:48

Little Neutered? At 12 weeks? shock No, no, no. We've had goldens many years, neutering them much before they are 2 is asking for trouble with major hip dysplasia in later life.
OP, your pup is very young and as many have said, goldies are a very intelligent breed who do need a routine, plenty of exercise (tho obviously restricted at that young age) and most of all, a calm, rational approach to training. They will take advantage of you if they're allowed to. Your pup can't be so big at 12 weeks that you can't pick him up off the sofa and put him on the floor with a "Down" or "Off" command.
Keep in mind that these big breeds don't mature much until they are 2-3 so he has a lot of growing and development to do. You do sound like you need help with him though so get ye to a good trainer who will start you off on the right foot, then consistency is the key.
Honestly, once you get past this you'll realise that goldies are just the best...calm, intelligent, loyal, laid-back dogs who are just a joy to have around. The very best of luck to you.

Gingersstuff Fri 14-Jun-13 09:52:37

IAm neutering really isn't recommended for goldies (especially males) until at least 18 months-2 years, as Tabu says. Early neutering is very probably the cause of ongoing genetic hip dysplasias as they have a surge of hormones around that age which fuse the big hip and skull joints together, which doesn't occur in neutered males (which is why the stats show much more hip dysplasia in males than females).
Vets will always advise neutering sooner than later to prevent unplanned litters and some cancers in females but specifically for male goldies, this isn't the best option.

Spero Fri 14-Jun-13 11:24:13

I hope it is going ok. My dog hurled herself on my bed this morning and flopped on her back with such a goofy expression of adoration. It is a nice way to wake up.

I hope you can get there with your dog -when it works it is great. Best relationship with another living thing I have ever had!

Confusedandfedup Fri 14-Jun-13 11:39:39

I'm hoping it gets easier. I felt a little better this week as we got rid of the crate (which I hated...it was huge, ugly and in the way). Dog is fine without it and as crazy as it sounds it was like getting back to normal (how things were before we got her).

Gingersstuff Fri 14-Jun-13 13:19:33

It does get easier though they still have their moments...my three all rolled in fox poop the other week, I washed the two girls first and while the boy was in the shower getting a scrubdown, the ladies decided they'd use my freshly-changed duvet to enthusiastically dry themselves on. I could have wept sad

lainiekazan Fri 14-Jun-13 14:00:11

Feel much better today. Dh got up at 5am this morning allowing me two hours more sleep.. Consequently dh is in a right grump and the dog is wearing a halo and has barely put a paw wrong.

Now why didn't I know that about neutering goldies until later? My vet was trying to neuter ours at 6 months. I held off until 18 months because he was bonkers and I wanted to give him a chance to mature beyond bonkers behaviour before neutering him, but I didn't know that about hip dysplasia being linked to neutering age.

I would get some training in positive reinforcement. Ours (nearly 3) is still very bouncy when excited so I have done an awful lot of work on 'down' because if he is lying down he can't leap up and at an all over people. He loves food rewards in the house, completely ignores them when out, so I have had to start using throwing a ball as the reinforcer for training when out & about.

They are very clever - which is both a help and a hinderance. Good luck!

LittleFeileFooFoo Fri 14-Jun-13 15:28:34

Animals that are neutered younger grow larger. That probably is part of the hormone surge thing too.

EuroShaggleton Fri 14-Jun-13 15:42:18

My parents got a female goldie pup to get me over my awful, awful fear of dogs when I was a child.

She was mega cute and fluffy to start with. Then she turned into the anti-social bitey bullying "toddler" that you describe. She was hard to walk and in the house had to be kept in part of a room that was fenced off otherwise she would just nip at people all the time.

The answer was dog training classes. This was a while ago so it might be unfashionable now, but it worked. We were told to establish one member of the household as pack leader. We were told to give strong clear commands (I remember at the class she was trying to bite the lead and not paying any attention to what my dad was saying. The instructor said "we don't say 'naughty' we say 'NOOOOOOOOOOO'" in this big booming voice. The instructor combined it with grabbing her by the scruff of the neck). It really worked. She turned into the most lovely, good-natured dog you could imagine. She'd walk by us off the lead, be pulled around by the local children and all sorts. She never went for anyone.

So those tehniques might not be fashionable any more, but I would say that a good dog trainer would be invaluable.

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