Puppy being aggressive towards DS

(80 Posts)
Opoly54 Sat 23-May-20 13:21:37

I have contacted a behaviourist, I’m just waiting for a reply but thought I’d come here for advice in the mean time.

Our pup is 8 months old, spaniel/terrier cross breed. Over the last few weeks we’ve seen some behaviour towards DS that looks aggressive.

The first incident was when DS startled him awake, he was obviously scared and growled/snapped the air. I take full responsibility for that and had a long talk with DS about respecting pups space, leaving him alone when he was sleeping etc. That was about a month ago. Over the last week or so we’ve had a few incidents:

-he growled at DS when DH hugged him on arriving home from work
-growled and snapped the air at DS when he approached DH sitting on the sofa with pup next to him

This happened last night and so today I asked DS to come into the kitchen and give him a treat, he jumped at DS again growling and snapping.

My plan is to get DS to throw a treat on the floor for him everytime they’re in the room together. To not allow pup on sofa to sleep or sit next to DH and for DH not to hug DS in-front of pup (whilst we’re dealing with this at least).

DS is calm around pup, doesn’t rough and tumble with him but is obviously now feeling nervous around him.

Any suggestions or experiences gratefully received! I’m really worried about this and I’m desperate for things not to escalate and to do the best by our puppy.

OP’s posts: |
Ylvamoon Sat 23-May-20 13:27:18

How old is DS? I find the best way to teach children to interact with dogs / puppies is to involve them in training. Do sit, down roll over, .... with plenty of treats.
This teaces the dog to see DS as something fun and it teaches DS how to "control/ interact" with the dog.

Opoly54 Sat 23-May-20 13:29:28

He’s 11. He has been doing some basic training with him, he’s a really calm sensible boy. No other children in the house.

OP’s posts: |
grumpyorange Sat 23-May-20 13:33:51

There are a few things this may be

1. Your DS scared him so now he is nervous and wary of him. Do lots of play time together.

2. He's at an age where he will be testing boundaries. It is up to you to reinforce them. Say no in a firm voice and remove yourselves from the room for a minute then come back and give love. He will soon learn it's no fun to misbehave!

3. If he snaps when he's on the sofa remove him from the sofa. Don't let him get away with it put him on the floor and again say no. Then let him back up when he settles down.

Opoly54 Sat 23-May-20 13:37:46

Many thanks, I’ll try all those things. I think it’s a combination of the initial startle, him pushing the boundaries and I think there’s a bit of jealousy there too.

Is this a big deal? I’m treating it very seriously but is this common? Can we sort it? I’m a first time puppy owner so this is all new to me.

OP’s posts: |
grumpyorange Sat 23-May-20 13:41:27

@Opoly54 it is fairly common. If you look at most puppy Facebook groups it is always happening.

It is normally easily sorted as long as you take a consistent approach however if you feel it's getting worse call your vet who will be able to check him over for anything physical or refer to a behaviourist off needed.

Do treat it seriously because it is an issue but it can be sorted

Windyatthebeach Sat 23-May-20 13:42:22

Our dpuppy growled at ds 11 for a week! He was gutted!!
100 % supervision and ds being extra nice, soft extra friendly voice!! Once dpuppy knew I was on to her she stopped!!

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Opoly54 Sat 23-May-20 13:42:55

Thanks so much for the reassurance. I’m waiting for the behaviourist to get back to me. I’ve had a couple of older rescue dogs before and they were the most chilled dogs ever. I’ve never been through the puppy phase before.

OP’s posts: |
frostedviolets Sat 23-May-20 14:43:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

frostedviolets Sat 23-May-20 14:51:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

vanillandhoney Sat 23-May-20 15:02:11

The first incident was when DS startled him awake, he was obviously scared and growled/snapped the air. I take full responsibility for that and had a long talk with DS about respecting pups space, leaving him alone when he was sleeping etc. That was about a month ago. Over the last week or so we’ve had a few incidents:

Unfortunately I think this incident has made your puppy really wary of DS. Dogs don't like being disturbed while they're asleep and unfortunately once it's happened, they do remember.

-he growled at DS when DH hugged him on arriving home from work

-growled and snapped the air at DS when he approached DH sitting on the sofa with pup next to him

These both make me think that the puppy has bonded to your husband and is guarding/protecting him. Do you think that's the case? Lots of dogs have a favourite human - it sounds like DH may be "the one" in this case!

If the puppy is guarding the sofa I would promptly remove him from the situation - use a lead so you can do this safely. Puppy needs to learn that growling means he loses that privilege.

This happened last night and so today I asked DS to come into the kitchen and give him a treat, he jumped at DS again growling and snapping.

I think I would keep them separate for a while, for your DS's sake as much as anything. Keep the pup on a lead or house line so he can be safely removed if the situation escalates.

Then, you can use lots of positive reinforcement. Like you say, treats are a good way of doing this, but also encourage DS to feed the dog, take him for walks (with one of you there, but have DS holding the lead if he's strong enough) and do training. All these things will encourage a bond between them and hopefully things begin to calm down.

Good luck! Ours was a bit nippy and snappy as a teenager but he's two now and he's fine. The teenage hormones won't be helping!

jinxpixie Sat 23-May-20 15:37:11

There could be many reasons and noone can give you safe advice unless they can see the situation in real life. (some of the advice on here has been pretty irresponsible). At this point I would not be encouraging any interaction between DS and the dog until you have received professional advice.

You are correct that this will not go away on its own and does need professional advice to correct. The right thing to do was to contact the behaviourist.( I am sure you have found qualified one)

Opoly54 Sat 23-May-20 16:37:25

jinxpixie which advice do you think is irresponsible? I don’t want to fuck this up!

We’ve been for a nice walk all together, DS was giving the treats for recall. We’ve got home now and he’s given pup his food.

Can anyone clarify this for me. I’ve read and been told that you should tell off growling as it’s a dogs way of communicating and if you take that away they won’t warn you, they could just go straight to biting. So what do I do if it happens again? I’ve given a stern no and removed from the situation so far.

The hugging thing. I just meant until I’ve had advice from the behaviourist. DH is obviously still going to hug DS just not in front of pup until we’ve got some advice.

I do think pup has bonded strongly with DH. He’s also a key worker so while DS and I are home all day the pup gets very excited when DH arrives home.

Would anyone else pup a puppy down under theses circumstances. That’s what you’re suggesting * frostedviolets*

OP’s posts: |
PennyInMyPocket Sat 23-May-20 16:43:32

You have contacted a behaviourist. That’s good. Your behaviourist will see what’s going on and how to remedy the “problem”. Nobody on an anonymous forum can advise on something they haven’t witnessed. Good Luck! 🍀

jinxpixie Sat 23-May-20 17:03:29

The points below are points that should not be followed unless the situation has been observed in real life and some of them not at all!

1. Your DS scared him so now he is nervous and wary of him. Do lots of play time together.

2. He's at an age where he will be testing boundaries. It is up to you to reinforce them. Say no in a firm voice and remove yourselves from the room for a minute then come back and give love. He will soon learn it's no fun to misbehave!

Puppy needs to learn that growling means he loses that privilege.

If she had dared to ‘growl and snap the air’ at my DH I’d have gone fucking nuclear and she would have got the fright of her life.

Like you say, treats are a good way of doing this, but also encourage DS to feed the dog, take him for walks (with one of you there, but have DS holding the lead if he's strong enough) and do training

Re growling it is a dogs way of communicating so no you should not tell the dog off but you should study the situation that is causing the growl and act accordingly. It may be by control and management, or preventing the situation from happening to start with.

frostedviolets Sat 23-May-20 17:10:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

frostedviolets Sat 23-May-20 17:12:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Shambolical1 Sat 23-May-20 17:14:11

Male adolescent pups are sometimes challenging.

They don't need putting down or 'going nuclear' on (unless they are an exceptionally 'hard' breed).

Testing the boundaries like this is absolutely part of normal growing up for many pups, and in the Rescue I work with the most common age for young male dogs to be surrendered is 7-8 months old. They're not cute puppies any more, they are nearly grown and they are getting stuffed full of testosterone.

A decent trainer will sort it out on seeing the degree of the 'aggression' your pup is offering. Try not to take too much internet wisdom to heart as threads like these always go the same way, there is one who says have it shot, another who says alpha roll it and a third who says you can cure it all with cuddles.

Pup needs to be seen to put your mind at rest.

Opoly54 Sat 23-May-20 17:28:52

frostedviolets
Could you explain how I’ve been ‘way too soft’, I don’t know what else I could do other than a firm no and removing pup from the situation.

I can’t imagine any vet would actually euthanise an 8 month old puppy that has displayed this behaviour. Would they?!

Shambolical1 many thanks, I feel reassured that we could resolve this.

jinxpixie thankyou. What you’ve written makes a lot of sense to me. Do you think it’s sensible to have DS give pup treats? This afternoon I’ve had him walk into the kitchen where pup in, go to the fridge and simply throw some pieces of chicken on the floor next to pup then say ‘good boy’ and leave the room again.

OP’s posts: |
jinxpixie Sat 23-May-20 17:35:25

Opoly54 sorry not a very helpful answer but possibly/maybe not

The issues are that the puppy could see your DS as a treat machine and this can increase the excitement and jumping up,high energy around your DS which is not what you want at this stage.

However as I can not see the puppies behaviour it could be the right thing to do but personally I would wait until the behaviourist has seen the situation.

Shambolical1 Sat 23-May-20 17:36:54

Two other threads on the same page of the forum at the moment, for those 'needing to know you're not alone' moments:

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/the_doghouse/3917142-Adolescent-puppy-driving-me-to-distraction

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/the_doghouse/3391205-Adolescent-Dog-Survival-thread-anyone

Opoly54 Sat 23-May-20 17:39:07

Ok thankyou. Gosh dogs are complicated aren’t they! I don’t even know how the behaviourist will advise us as he won’t be able to visit. Hopefully a consultation over the phone will be enough.

OP’s posts: |
frostedviolets Sat 23-May-20 17:39:35

First, I’ve reported all my comments on this thread because although I do stand by my views on this subject, thinking about it, giving any form of ‘advice’ on an aggression thread is irresponsible and I really shouldn’t have done it and I think my comment re euthanasia could be taken all sorts of wrong ways.

Like I’d have a dog PTS for the slightest indiscretion and that’s not the case at all.

I would personally PTS if I felt the dog posed significant risk to the safety of members of my family.
No one has seen your dog and no one here is qualified anyway even if they did.
I based my comment on what you said about the dog growling at air snapping but I shouldn’t have said it.
It’s your dog and I wish you all the best with the behaviourist.

Re being soft.
I meant that the dog presumably didn’t start out air snapping and this has progressed from much milder forms of aggression/warning/discomfort.

I am of the somewhat ‘old school’ dogs should be told off if doing something undesirable or dangerous mentality.
I don’t know if this is correct or not, the current scientific research would suggest not but it’s how I personally deal with dogs.

In any case, I hope all goes well with the behaviourist x

Opoly54 Sat 23-May-20 17:43:48

It hasn’t really escalated, not that I’m aware of, maybe I’ve missed things! The first incident was when DS startled him in his sleep.

He’s a very ‘growly’ puppy. He sounds like a gremlin when he’s playing with his toys, he grumbles when he wants to go outside. I’ve been reassured it’s just his way of communicating what he wants, that it’s the terrier in him.

I don’t know, I feel way out of my depth at this point. He’s so lovely, he loves other dogs and strangers. Our trainer said he was so happy he was almost a lab. I don’t know where I’ve gone wrong.

OP’s posts: |
tabulahrasa Sat 23-May-20 17:48:55

“I don’t even know how the behaviourist will advise us as he won’t be able to visit.”

If you’re in England they should be able to... or soon if not now, I’ve lost track of what week yous are in. It’s no different as far as that is concerned than cleaners or nannies.

You want to try and avoid situations where the dog is reacting like that until you can get help tbh...

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