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Puppy snarling and nipping

(22 Posts)

Our new puppy - small poodle cross - is 10 weeks old. She is DD's (8) puppy. (Obviously I know that I am really the one who is responsible.)
She has recently started growling, then snarling and finally this morning nipping DD when she picks her up to put her in the garden for a wee or gets her out of her crate; ie does anything which the puppy hasn't decided to do herself. Puppy has tried it with me once or twice, but far less. Puppy also guards her food.
Our old dog is gentle and submissive and I have never had any problems with her, nor has DD.
What can we do to make sure that this behaviour stops?

fanoftheinvisibleman Sat 16-Aug-14 10:29:52

I had the same thing happen with my BT puppy at the same age. I ended up in a blind panic thinking he was vicious. My issue was a garden with alot of steps and a puppy too small to get up and down. He'd cry to go in or out but turn into a snarly monster if you tried to help. I nicknamed him.napoleon!

Turning my back instantly and folding my arms until he was calm worked best. Walking away was.not so useful, it was like he had to see he was being ignored if that makes sense.

It was all over in 2 or 3 weeks but I really thought I had the makings of a hell hound! He is not remotely aggressive now.

fanoftheinvisibleman Sat 16-Aug-14 10:30:50


fanoftheinvisibleman Sat 16-Aug-14 10:32:46

I wouldn't pick her up for anything where you can use a treat to lure/teach her the instruction though either. Obviously there are times it is unavoidable though.

That's reassuring ... DD is so upset. Will try putting a lead on the puppy and rewarding with a treat when she lifts her over the barrier to the garden.

fanoftheinvisibleman Sat 16-Aug-14 12:14:08

Mine did actually frighten me, he used to throw him himself at you in a snarling frenzy.

Hr has never so much as growled at anyone since those weeks. Even the vets commented when he was neutered that he has such a soppy personality that they genuinely would never worry about anything they had to do with him. That did make me wonder if there was something on his file from those early days. He snarled at the vet having his puppy vax and she gave me a stern lecture about how he needed taking in hand as he was dominating us and would be a nasty dog (cue mutterings about terriers hmm) Although the memory still gets my own hackles up, I am grateful that she gave me a number of a good behaviourist. Someone who thankfully set me straight that domination and pack theory was a load of old bunkem!

Booboostoo Sat 16-Aug-14 12:31:20

It is possible that the puppy is being aggressive at such a young age but exceptionally rare, so I would explore other possibilities.

Firstly take the puppy to the vet for a check up. Pain is a very common cause of unusual behaviour.

Then check how your DD is lifting the puppy, she may be inadvertently causing him pain.

What have you done with the puppy in terms of training? I would start with teaching manners around food and a leave it command as that helps with using food as a reward.

When you say he guards food what does he do and how do you react?

If the puppy is truly aggressive at this early stage you need a qualified behaviourist ASAP.

Booboostoo Sat 16-Aug-14 12:36:05

Sorry just to add, you DD should stop handling the puppy in all the situations that seem problematic for safety's sake. While it is better to use hands off techniques to get desired behaviour dogs should also learn to tolerate handling (for examinations, washing, safety reasons, etc) so you do need to address the picking up issue, but your DD should not be the one to do so.

CalamityKate1 Sat 16-Aug-14 12:41:13

I'd discourage your DD from picking the puppy up, for a start. There's no need, dogs tend not to like being picked up and the puppy isn't a toy to be carted here there and everywhere.

The food guarding I haven't seen; puppy was at a day-care place while we were out for the day.
Yes, puppy fell recently and hurt its leg, so maybe she is hurting it; had totally forgotten that (but had been grumpy about coming out of cage before).
Have attached a lead so that she can encourage it in the right direction but it will still need to be lifted over puppy barrier - I should obviously do that. Puppy is very cute trotting about with its lead in its mouth.
No snarling frenzy, just a sort of casual sideways 'Harrrr' at us.
But bit DD's finger this morning. I didn't see what happened - it could have been an accident.

CalamityKate1 Sat 16-Aug-14 12:49:01

It sounds as if you need to be supervising a bit more closely.


insanityscratching Sat 16-Aug-14 13:43:52

Eric was a bit nippy with dd at about the same age (he's a poodle cross too) I'm sure it was excitement because she was the smallest and loudest and most fun member of a mostly all adult household. I used to put him behind the stairgate and ignore for a few minutes if he nipped her because yelping or her turning her back had no effect. He had stopped by the time he was 14 weeks old.
He is also very vocal and some growling is part of his "speaking" alongside the whining and yapping so when he greets someone coming in he picks up a toy and growls with his tail wagging furiously it's not aggressive at all. Could your dog be a vocal dog too?
Eric is very much a dog who likes to think he is in charge however he also has a huge weakness for ham and so can be persuaded to do anything for a piece of ham smaller than a 2 pence piece.

moosemama Sat 16-Aug-14 13:59:49

Why is your dd taking the pup out of his crate?

His crate should be his safe space, where he goes when he doesn't want to be disturbed or needs to rest. Nobody should be disturbing him in there, let alone picking him up and removing him from it.

All my dcs have been taught not to bother our dogs when they're in their beds. Sleeping/resting dogs and kids are a real flash point and it's far better to teach children never to disturb a sleeping or resting dog right from the start than it is to deal with a resulting bite.

I would stop your dd picking up the pup at all and work on making it something positive that you, as the adult, do instead, as obviously there will be time times when you need to carry him eg for socialisation purposes and vet visits etc. Agree also with doing plenty of short, positive handling/grooming sessions with him as well, to ensure he becomes easier to handle as he gets used to it.

Good advice also given upthread to create positive associations with the lead and lure him with treats, then reward.

You mentioned that there's a barrier your dd needs to lift him over to take him in the garden. Could you invest in an opening pressure-fit baby gate instead, which would eliminate the need for picking him up at these times?

Floralnomad Sat 16-Aug-14 15:41:33

10 weeks is very young to be going to day care - perhaps she was scared . I agree with other posters that you need to reduce the picking up and perhaps persuade your dd to take a bit of a back seat for a while . I would also try to avoid letting the pup have the lead in her mouth as that's obviously not what you want when you start to go for proper walks .

Good point about lead holding ... Day care was a one off as we were unavoidably out for a whole day. Puppy sometimes has to come out of her crate .. If we are going out, for example. Now waking her gently and offering a treat rather than lifting her out.
Eric is a great name for a dog!

insanityscratching Sat 16-Aug-14 17:08:58

Dd chose it, I assumed after Prince Eric in one of the Disney films but apparently he is named after Bananaman grin She plans to call our next dog Edgarhmm

calmtulip Sat 16-Aug-14 17:52:29

All really good advice. I would only add that if you Have to pick up your dog it's worth teaching her a cue for this, like "lift" and then at least they know what's coming and aren't taken by surprise.

EvenBetter Sat 16-Aug-14 18:49:17

From the positive dog training Facebook group I remember it says biting is normal puppy behaviour, they need to do it, just teach them what you do want them to bite-a toy rather than your hand.

With the food guarding, just leave her alone when she's got her dinner! If you must go near her, only do so to drop more high value food into her bowl and go away. When she's finished and leaves her bowl, remove it until the next meal, so she doesn't have the opportunity to be a dick.

WeAllHaveWings Sat 16-Aug-14 20:37:33

Is pup kept in the crate most of the time or is she nervous and staying in there by choice?

Our pup had the run of the house and only went into crate/bed at night time. ds(9 at the time) was trained how to interact with the pup and not pickup, cuddle or tease. If I left the room I made sure pup followed me around rather than stayed with ds alone. Is pup getting enough exposure to the sounds/sights/smells of the house to not be frightened when she is out?

noddingoff Sat 16-Aug-14 22:19:02

Eight years old is too young for a child without previous experience to raise a pup without very very close supervision.

The puppy is quite the opposite of nervous! she bullies our old dog and steals her food if she can break into the kitchen while old dog is eating.

We are taking her all over the place for 'socialisation'; she has never looked remotely worried. She goes in the car, to town, meets horses, chickens, other dogs, cows ... must take her to the sea soon.

We put her in her crate to sleep for naps and at night so that we know where she is - she is very small and likes to sleep under the bed or a chair and we panic when we can't find her. I also want her to get used to her crate so that she - and the house - are safe when we have to leave her.

DD is experienced with animals - rabbits, guinea pigs, cats, ponies, dogs etc but has never had a puppy before. I have been encouraging her to take an active part in caring for the puppy so that it becomes 'hers' ... our old dog is mine and, while very affectionate to DD and patient with her, never does as DD tells her. I do supervise! (Although obviously I have missed the odd interaction.)

The idea of the 'lift' command is a good one ... maybe accompanied by treat.

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