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Young puppy who can suddenly turn very aggressive, what is the best way to deal with it?

(42 Posts)
Freddieready Sun 10-Jan-16 11:02:37

We have a 12 week old male Wire Fox Terrier who is doing quite well. He is starting to socialise well with other dogs, a generally lovely demeanour with people and his toilet training is progressing well. We have however noticed a disturbing sign that we would like some advice on. This has now happened about 4 times this week. Sometimes if we are holding him and he wants to go on the floor he can suddenly become wildly aggressive if he does not get his own way. This is far more than play. We are currently putting him down as quick as possible, saying "NO" quite loudly during the tantrum and leaving him alone for a few moments. He is then perfectly play full as if nothing has happened and is then happy to be held. We do need to be able to carry him as we are having building work done and to get to the garden he has to be carried over the building area so as to avoid glass etc which is on the floor. During his life there will also be numerous occasions when we need to carry him which I think is normal.
I believe one option is a sharp tap on the snout with our hand, this is possible but of course he has sharp teeth and he could easily bite. We are concerned not to damage his spirit but know that this behaviour is not acceptable and would like some advice from experienced pet owners about the best way to tackle it.

Squirbo Sun 10-Jan-16 11:05:15

Why are you holding him when he wants to be on the floor?

Squirbo Sun 10-Jan-16 11:07:57

I'm an idiot. Having read your post properly, I understand completely. I think it's just frustration. I wouldn't tap his nose but the ignoring him sounds right.

marmaladegranny Sun 10-Jan-16 11:12:56

Unfortunately by you putting him down he has achieved what he wants. I would suggest a very firm No, hold him more firmly until he is still and then put him down. He needs to understand that you are in charge.
In different circumstances I found that slamming a small tin containing some baking beans (or small stones) on a table etc at the same time as saying No worked quite well

tabulahrasa Sun 10-Jan-16 11:16:16

It's really common for puppies to object pretty strongly to being held when they want to be down.

It's the equivalent of a toddler having a tantrum because they want to do something themselves...I just treat it pretty much the same way tbh, ignore it, wait for them to stop and then reward good behaviour instead.

Booboostwo Sun 10-Jan-16 12:29:22

do not tap the dog on the nose or anyone else.

I would separate teaching the dog to be carried from taking him out to the garden over the building works. Get a pet carrier, pop him in there (after getting him used to it of course) and then carry him that way over the building works. Then work separately on reinforcing good behaviour when carried.

Shriek Sun 10-Jan-16 13:20:23

I think you need to define 'very aggressive'

If he normally seems to have a pleasant and reasonably relaxed nature, it sounds like he's just getting exasperated in a puppy way, but nevertheless those teeth can cause a lot of damage, but by putting him down (even though you said NO at the same time) he's achieved exactly what he wanted, so his 'aggression' worked.

Watching litters of dpups interacting they are very aggressive little things and make each other really scream sometimes, and will fight over food if allowed, snap at each other, these are all instinctively normal things for them.

If you are holding him for a reasonable amount of time for a dpup and you are clearly doing this for his own protection then you are doing nothing wrong.

what i would do is introduce today, a quick pick up, good fuss, a treat and then put back down, turn and walk away, the fuss is at time of being carried, not when put back down. If you do it quickly the first time just literally picking him up to say clever boy, fuss and back down, walk off. try that several times over a couple of hours and then hold for a very short while continuing the praise, noticing whether dpup is all tensed for action or legs dangling relaxed. Its all about the timing, and then progress to taking a couple of steps. because its a very quick exercise its only going to take such a little amount of time, but it takes the preparation.

I would repeat this many times today, and increase the time and always notice the state of relaxation. If dpup is relaxed when you first pick up then treat straight away, if dpup is immediately struggling to get down and starting growling and snapping then be prepared for it - put leather gloves on and tie your hair back and wrap in a towel if needs be! so that you can hold until he gives up, and the very moment he does give your reward and put back on floor.

I carry my dpups around a lot (because of steps and other dangers for them when so little) that i find it a bit weird that he is creating so badly. I am forever carrying sleeping dpups back to bed that have played and crashed around the place, and picking them up to take out so there's no 'accidents' indoors. I wonder how much they have been handled because being high up must be quite strange to a dpup not used to it perhaps.

Good luck and let us know how you get on?

Cheerfulmarybrown Sun 10-Jan-16 13:21:50

Ignore any comments about needing to be in charge or aversive training unless you want to have a highly strung or shut down dog. Bottle shaking and noise banging will just make the dog more anxious and they will probably run away when you try to pick them up in the first place.

Puppies need to get used to being handled, most don't like it for varous reasons (but it is never to dominate you or try to be the top dog - so no need to worry about that)

I would pick up and then treat whilst holding. I would touch his back and various parts of his body and treat when he is being touched - make being touched a good thing. Keep the being held short as possible. Some dogs will hold a toy when being held , if this is the case pick him up and give him the high value toy gently tugging it a bit as he is being held.

You need to show him that being held is ok and only good things happen when being held

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sun 10-Jan-16 14:11:39

I second Cheerfulmary. Reinforce the holding and associate it with nice treats. Do not put him down when he bites or you'll simply teach him that to get his own way he can bite you. Have a yummy treat ready in your hand, something really high value, and pick him up and keep giving the treat. Practice makes perfect. Otherwise you'll have an adult dog who thinks biting is acceptable and won't let you pick him up.

lighteningirl Sun 10-Jan-16 14:15:29

Mine pup was the same hold on to hi. Firmly and calmly do whatever you need to do then put him down talking in a reassuring g voice. Noise tapping is no more productive than smacking a tantrumming toddler pretty sure tantrumming is not a word

PiglettWithAttitude Sun 10-Jan-16 14:16:30

I third the positive training and treats while you are holding him.

CMOTDibbler Sun 10-Jan-16 16:07:00

I think a visit to the vet to just check that there is nothing hurting him when he's being held would be a good move as well.

AnUtterIdiot Sun 10-Jan-16 16:41:42

I second positive reinforcement (ie holding and treating).

Please don't tap him on the snout. Not unless you want a nippy dog who is also terrified of hands coming at his head from the front.

Freddieready Sun 10-Jan-16 18:28:12

Thank you for the replies, I am so pleased I did not follow the tap on snout advice, I will be working on what has been advised and I feel hopefully after a few weeks we will see an improvement. We feel he is very bright as after 4 weeks with us when we take him out, he will wee almost to order, he rarely soils inside our house and he will happily "fetch" his rope in play, with an appropriate treat of course!!
Thinking about it we just need to train him gently not to get angry, thank you.

Shriek Sun 10-Jan-16 18:32:25

you can do this in a day! two at most grin

he'll catch on quick and at this age keen to please. Meant to say also, to run your hands all over him just to make sure there isn't anything causing him pain anywhere otherwise all the kindness in the world will still cause him to associate the pick up with pain. Glad you didn't bop him on the nose, bless him

sounds like you are going great with him.

taptonaria27 Sun 10-Jan-16 22:10:37

I have an almost 6 month old wire fox terrier snoozing at my feet. He was/ is exactly as you describe - they are seemingly a "feisty" breed and we have been working with a dog behaviourist on aspects of his behaviour. I was also taught the puppy squeeze by a trainer which worked well in the instances you describe.
Keep all training positive and minimise as many growling triggers as possible so it doesn't become ingrained behaviour. We have learnt that we have to be very firm and consistent with him ( the reason he is snoozing at my feet is because he became snappy at anyone trying to sit on the sofa with him so he's no longer allowed on it). Despite the aggression which we were unprepared for and shocked by, he is a lovely dog who we are really starting to enjoy now we understand and can predict or interpret his behaviour a little better. Here he is:

Shriek Sun 10-Jan-16 23:42:33

oh what a handsome cutie! whats the 'puppy squeeze'?

does your trainer think he is trying to take control of the sofa, so has to remain on the floor? like territorial?

When you bought your wire fox terrier were you told about their nature being this way, and given advice on the breed generally? or how to manage this 'feistiness'?

It doesn't sound good that ddogs are being bed with this aggression inherent in their lines.

Shriek Sun 10-Jan-16 23:43:01

'bred'!!!! not 'bed'!

taptonaria27 Mon 11-Jan-16 16:04:11

The puppy squeeze is a way of holding the dog where they can't get away and can't bite you, it calms them very quickly whilst also making sure that you stay in control.
I'd try a google as I can't describe how best to do it but once you are holding him you tighten (squeeze) your grip when he struggles and relax when he does. It good to prevent aggression but too late if he's already got his hackles raised.
I didn't realise that he would be feisty so it's been a steep learning curve, if I'd known then what I know now about breeds and temperaments I'd probably get a spaniel. However, we are definitely getting there

taptonaria27 Mon 11-Jan-16 16:20:44

The puppy squeeze is a way of holding the dog where they can't get away and can't bite you, it calms them very quickly whilst also making sure that you stay in control.
I'd try a google as I can't describe how best to do it but once you are holding him you tighten (squeeze) your grip when he struggles and relax when he does. It good to prevent aggression but too late if he's already got his hackles raised.
I didn't realise that he would be feisty so it's been a steep learning curve, if I'd known then what I know now about breeds and temperaments I'd probably get a spaniel, as frankly feisty is a euphemism for snappy. However, we are definitely getting there and the incidents of him snapping/ growling at us are down from daily to around one a week.
Our main issue has been resource guarding - the sofa, bean bag, pigs ears, bones, food all of which have been taken off him, we now feed him a little at a time so he eats it all - all other other things he no longer has.
And no the Breeder didn't warn us, though we later saw a Fox terrier breeder on to saying she wouldn't let her pups go to first time dog owners which we are - it was too late by then though!!

Shriek Mon 11-Jan-16 16:42:55

what a shame, but its good to have that out here spreading the word, sad yes, that yours didn't say that to put them off.

I definitely couldn't do 'puppy squeezing' it sounds awful!! Such little dpups getting squeezed!

taptonaria27 Mon 11-Jan-16 16:58:20

You don't squeeze them hard!!! It's simply a hold that they can't escape, you hold firmly when they're wriggling and less so when they're not.

banff82 Mon 11-Jan-16 17:21:55

taptonaria just what you say about getting a spaniel instead - spaniels, particularly Cockers, can be very prone to resource guarding and Cocker puppies can be positively evil, they aren't known as Cockerdiles for nothing!

Kettlebettle Mon 11-Jan-16 17:57:14

Feisty is in the DNA of terriers but some individual dogs and all Jack Russells seem to have an extra dollop of it.

Cheerfulmarybrown Mon 11-Jan-16 18:03:53

I would never ever use a "puppy squeeze" shock no wonder terriers are feisty.

Fancy being held tightly by someone much bigger and stronger and not being able to escape - I too would wriggle and use my teeth to be released

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