fbpx

Signs Of An Aggressive Puppy: Is My Puppy Normal, Or a True Terror?

Aggression By Kayla Fratt 14 min read May 24, 2021 148 Comments

signs of aggressive puppy

All puppies play bite, but some puppies are more intense than others.

It’s rare, but even at a very young age, some puppies have an “edge” to them. As a dog behavior consultant who’s worked with thousands of dogs, I’ve only seen one or two puppies that I would even consider classifying as truly “aggressive” (we’ll talk about one of these pups later).

Nevertheless, I get several calls or emails per week from owners who worry that their puppy is aggressive.

So, how do you differentiate the signs of an aggressive puppy from puppy rough play that’s within the range of normal? We’ll focus today on answering that question for dogs less than 6 months old. Then, I will give some suggestions as to what you can do if you do have an aggressive pup.

What Exactly Is An “Aggressive” Puppy?

It’s very common to see puppies that have an overly rough play style, low bite inhibition, low frustration tolerance, or even mild resource guarding issues. When I get a call about an “aggressive puppy” from a client, it’s almost always a puppy that fits into one of these categories.

While these puppies might fall under the layman’s umbrella of “aggressive,” I set them apart from puppies that seem to be truly behaviorally “off.” Those puppies still may need help from an experienced trainer to prevent further problems down the line, but they should not be confused with puppies that are behaviorally abnormal.

puppy-biting-another-puppy

I often explain aggression in puppies to clients through the lens of children.

It’s not very nice for a six-year-old to push his sibling down or hit a friend – but it’s not a huge cause for alarm, yet. However, if that same six-year-old pushes and hits all the time (frequency), is very forceful with those pushes and hits (intensity), or keeps hitting for a long time (duration), that is a cause for concern. This is especially true if the child is not just rude, but seems to have the intent to harm the other child.

Similarly, if your puppy is unusually intense in her painful or threatening behavior, or displays these behaviors frequently and for a long time, this is a cause for concern.

Normal Vs. Abnormal Puppy Behavior

So, an “aggressive puppy” is a puppy that displays an abnormal intensity, frequency, or duration of behaviors such as lunging, snarling, growling, baring teeth, or biting.

But what’s “abnormal”? As I discussed in my article on puppy play biting, “normal” varies. A lot. Normal play biting for a Belgian Malinois puppy would be quite concerning to see in a Shih Tzu.

While what is classified as “normal” play biting can vary depending on breed, age, and other factors, some behaviors are red flags across the board.

It’s almost always abnormal to see a small puppy growl or bare teeth, lunge at dogs or people, or bite and hold onto littermates while they cry. These puppies should see a behavior consultant sooner rather than later.

If you feel like your puppy is abnormally aggressive, it never hurts to contact a certified dog behavior consultant – not just your local obedience trainer – and ask for their opinion. Dog behavior consultants will have knowledge and skill sets that differ from even the most experienced obedience trainers. Some trainers are also behavior consultants, but don’t assume without asking around.

two-puppies-aggressive

The Paradox of Puppy Aggression

It’s hard emotionally to look at a small, young dog and consider the fact that this puppy might grow into something dangerous. It’s easy to overlook concerning behavior in something so cute and fluffy!

Yet, paradoxically, most animal behavior consultants will say that the younger a dog is when it displays concerning behaviors, the more alarmed we should be.

Some level of over-arousal while on walks, growliness with other dogs, and even growling over shared resources isn’t at all uncommon for dogs 9-18 months old. They’re terrible teenagers! These dogs require training to help them grow out of these naughty behaviors, but this is actually far less concerning than seeing the same behavior in a ten-week-old puppy.

When I see an eight-week-old puppy growl at its siblings over food, or a four-month-old puppy on a leash lunging at other dogs, alarm bells go off. Pre-adolescent dogs should not, for the most part, be reacting to their environment in a highly negative way.

Warning Signs of an Aggressive Puppy: When to be Concerned

If you’re concerned at all about your puppy, it’s never a bad idea to contact a certified dog behavior consultant. They may ask you to film the behavior and send it along, or they may want to come meet you and your puppy in person.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not your puppy is “abnormal,” here’s a starting list of “red flag” behaviors that warrant an experienced eye. This list is not exhaustive and is aimed at puppies under the age of six months.

Puppies that growl (or worse) when you or another dog approaches their food or toys. Resource guarding is a common and natural issue – but it’s unusual to see in young puppies. This problem is more common in puppies that were all fed out of a single shared food bowl, so ask your breeder if your pup was fed that way.

Teaching the puppies to “compete” with their siblings at a young age for food isn’t a good way to help them share later!

Puppies that continue to bite or “go after” playmates even when the playmate has its tail tucked and/or is attempting to get away. Not all puppies are awesome at reading social signals from other dogs. However, it’s concerning to see one puppy blatantly ignoring another puppy’s pleas for play to be toned down.

Puppies that lunge at strange people, dogs, or other objects on walks. It’s pretty normal for most puppies to be interested in their environment. They’re generally loose, waggy, and curious. Some puppies are a bit more reserved – that’s also normal.

What isn’t normal is a puppy that is so scared of something that it thrashes on leash or growls, snarls, or snaps at the offending subject. It’s also highly abnormal for puppies to lunge towards things on walks, especially if their body is stiff and they’re growling, snarling, or snapping.

This is a very concerning behavior for a pre-adolescent dog (and should be addressed in dogs of any age).

Puppies that show their teeth, growl, snarl, snap, or bite with a “hard face” and tense body. There’s a difference between a puppy that’s play biting, or even biting because it’s overly excited, and a puppy that is biting out of a strong negative emotion.

It’s hard to see that difference at first, but aggressive behaviors are often described as having a stiffness, stillness, or hardness to them (we also talk about this in our article on how to safely break up a dog fight). If you feel that your puppy’s behaviors have an “edge” to them, it might be time to call in help.

Puppies that bark constantly, bite during play (but are otherwise relaxed), play growl while engaging in a game of tug, nip at hands or clothing playfully, or pull towards others on walks to go say hi are not necessarily aggressive.

These puppies might be rude and may benefit from training (or some puppy teething toys if your pup’s adult teeth are coming in), but these are not big “red flag” behaviors.

A Case Study in Puppy Aggression

Only one puppy in my time as a dog behavior consultant has been truly concerning – even frightening – to me.

I’ve seen many puppies that growled or snapped around their food, puppies that were very fearful of their environment, and puppies that played or bit far too roughly. These puppies almost all had excellent outcomes thanks to some training interventions.

But this puppy – we’ll call her Halley – was different. She came into the shelter I worked for as a transfer, meaning that a shelter in Texas was overflowing. My shelter in Denver brought in a truckload of dogs per week from the Texas shelter to help the Texas shelter reduce euthanasia rates.

The puppies were in the Denver shelter for under a week – just long enough to get spayed and neutered, get medical clearance, and go up for adoption.

Halley had a few siblings with her. They were cute eight- or nine-week-old hound mix puppies – huge ears, big spots of tan and black and white, soft dairy cow eyes. Halley looked just like Copper from Fox and the Hound.

Cue melting heart (img from Character Wikki)

The second day that the puppies were in Denver, the entire behavior staff got an email about Halley.

The email said that, when animal care staff fed the litter of puppies that morning, Halley turned snarling towards her siblings. She pinned one of her siblings to the ground while the other puppy screamed, but Halley didn’t let up. She latched onto the other puppy’s neck – luckily it was the loose skin on the back and not the throat – and shook.

Halley wouldn’t let go, even when staff banged on doors and shouted to try to startle her. The animal care staff had to spray her with a powered hose to get her to let go of the other puppy.

The puppies were separated, and the behavior staff brought Halley down to hang out in our office for a while. We played with her and watched her interact with us and her environment. We didn’t see much of concern, other than knowing that this cute little puppy had nearly given her sibling stitches over a pile of food.

Eventually, we decided that there was nothing that the behavior team could realistically do in the shelter environment to help modify her behavior around food and other dogs. We reached out to a few rescues with more long-term resources but didn’t have much luck.

Halley was adopted to a couple that was given full disclosure on the incident and several good resources for help. Halley never came back to the shelter; hopefully, this means the couple had success in dealing with Halley’s behavioral problem, although I’ll never be totally sure.

On one hand, Halley seemed to be a normal puppy in many ways. She was quite friendly and curious. But the incident with her sibling over food still haunts me.

I don’t know what happened to Halley, but if she had been a private client of mine, I would expect a relatively long road of behavior modification to help keep other dogs safe around her as she reached adulthood.

How Do I Teach My Puppy Not to be Aggressive?

If you’ve adopted or purchased an aggressive puppy like Halley, it’s time to get some help.

Your first step should be to contact a dog behavior consultant through the IAABC. If there’s no one near you, feel free to reach out to me – I take clients via video chat from anywhere in the world, and I can help.

While you wait for the dog behavior consultant to see you, you’ve got some steps you can take on your own:

1. Video the behavior, if possible. Don’t provoke your puppy into displaying her bad behavior. But if you can catch it on camera, that’s very helpful.

2. Document the times your puppy behaves aggressively. This will help your dog behavior consultant find a pattern. Try to note the time, the situation, and her response in as much detail as you can.

Be as descriptive and objective as possible – say “Ruby lifted her lips and stared at my daughter Karen when Karen reached out with her hand to pet Ruby. Ruby was on the couch sleeping at the time and Karen had her side to Ruby. It was 4:30 pm after Karen came home from school.” That’s much more helpful to your dog behavior consultant than something like, “Ruby gets aggressive when my daughter tries to pet her.”

3. Manage the situation. If you can figure out what triggers your puppy’s aggression, that’s great! Your next step is to set up your home in a way that reduces the likelihood of your puppy becoming aggressive.

For example, if your puppy growls when you touch her food, your job is to avoid touching her food bowl. If your puppy keeps practicing these unwanted behaviors, it’s just going to get harder to go in and “fix” them.

4. Start training: counter-conditioning, desensitization, and forming an alternate response. Now that you can control when your puppy is exposed to the situations that cause her unwanted responses, you can start to change her emotional response to those situations.

Counter-conditioning and desensitization can be tricky to do at first, so don’t rush this step and don’t do it alone if you don’t have to!

Here’s an example:

Penny the puppy lunges and snarls at other dogs on walks. We’ll teach Penny to look at her owner for a treat when she sees another dog instead of lunging and snarling. That’s the alternative response. Pairing a formerly stressful item (the other dog) with treats is counter-conditioning. Doing so slowly and systematically is desensitization.

A sample progression would be:

a. Teach Penny to look at you in exchange for a treat when you say her name and practice this hundreds of times.

b. Go outside and set up a friend’s dog a football field’s distance away. The friend’s dog should be lying down with its back to Penny.

c. When Penny notices the other dog and does not react negatively, say her name and then give her a treat. Retreat a bit from the other dog, take a break, then repeat.

d. Repeat until Penny sees the other dog, then automatically looks at you for her treat.

e. Gradually decrease distance and allow the other dog to move a bit. If at any point Penny lunges, snarls, tenses, or stops eating treats around the other dog, you’re too close. Take a break and start again further away from the other dog.

Counter-conditioning and desensitization can only work with proper management in place. Do not skip step three (managing the situation) and just go straight to the juicy training bits. Counter-conditioning and desensitization is a long, slow process. Be patient. It’s going to be much easier to do with the help of a dog behavior consultant.

What If I Can’t Keep My Aggressive Puppy?

Sometimes, a dog simply isn’t a good fit for a home. The puppy might be too unpredictable or severe in its aggression. The owners might not be up for the time, money, and attention needed for training. The home might just be too chaotic for effective management.

If keeping a puppy in your home is dangerous because the puppy is aggressive, it’s ok to admit that.

There are times when seeking a new home for an animal is the best thing for that animal.

“Till death do us part” is not generally part of your adoption contract. Most adoption contracts (or buyer contracts) will say that if the puppy or dog can’t stay in your home, it needs to be returned to the rescue, shelter, or breeder.

Ideally, you should be able to return the dog or puppy to the rescue, shelter, or breeder you first got it from. This should always be your first step if you cannot keep your dog, especially if it’s in your contract. Some rescues, breeders, pet stores, and private sales don’t have this stipulation. What then?

Before passing your puppy to the next home, it’s smart to get a dog behavior consultant involved. They might be able to help you out and fix the problem. They might not. But they also will be able to give you some feedback on what’s most responsible to do next.

In the case of severe aggression, rehoming the dog might not be responsible. That’s not an assessment or decision for anyone to make for you, but this is an important discussion to have.

Many certified dog behavior consultants will help you weigh pros and cons, but ultimately the final decision is yours.

Dogs and puppies that pose a serious threat to other people and dogs shouldn’t just be shuffled from one home to the next or dropped at a no-kill shelter so that they can live out years in a concrete cell waiting for an adopter that might never come.

So how do you make the decision of what to do next with your aggressive puppy? I’m kind of a flowchart person, so here’s one to help.

Remember, though – in the vast, vast majority of cases, your puppy is not aggressive. Your puppy may be rude or easily frustrated, but she’s not aggressive.

Even if your puppy is aggressive, there are steps you can take to help her going forward. If you can’t give your puppy the support she needs, you will probably be able to find her another home that can help her.

Do you have an aggressive puppy? Do you have questions about whether or not your puppy’s behavior is normal? We want to hear about it!

Dog Doesn
Recommended For You

Help! My Dog Hates One Family Member!

Written by

Kayla Fratt

Kayla Fratt is a dog behavior consultant and freelance writer. She is an Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and is a member of Dog Writer’s Association of America. She travels full time with her border collie Barley and her boyfriend, Andrew. Before coming to K9 of Mine, Kayla worked at Denver Dumb Friends League as a Behavior Technician. She owns her own dog training business, Journey Dog Training and holds a degree in biology from Colorado College. When she’s not writing or training Barley, Kayla enjoys cross-country skiing, eating sushi, drinking cocktails, and going backpacking.

Dog

Join our pup pack!

Get tons of great dog training advice and tips about gear!

Mailbox

148 Comments

Leave a Comment

Name
Email Address
Comment
Shawna Kramer

Hi! This was a great article. My situation is a little different. We recently adopted an almost 6 month old cockapoo. She is from a reputable breeder, parents both very sweet. We have only seen sweetness out of her, but she got groomed for the first time today and went ballistic. Trying to bite the groomer, growling, she couldn’t even get a muzzle on her. The groomer was able to finish the cut with using only scissors. The groomer who we have known for a very long time is very concerned about the aggression. We have not seen any of that at all, and now I’m concerned if this is something that could happen if she is triggered by something. We have a 2, 6, and 9 year old so we obviously can’t have an aggressive dog. Any thoughts! Thanks!

Reply
Ben Team

Hey there, Shawna.
We can’t provide ideal advice from afar, without seeing your pooch, but that certainly doesn’t sound like “aggression” as much as it sounds like “self defense.”
It sounds like your little gal was very frightened by the groomer/grooming process and reacted accordingly. A lot of dogs don’t like being groomed, so it isn’t an especially unusual issue.

All that said, you should obviously speak with a certified dog behavior consultant if you’re worried.
Best of luck!

Reply
Aly

Hi there!

Truly desperate for some educated/seasoned advice. It’s getting to the point where I’m feeling hopeless. We have a beautiful rescue, unclear on the mix but have guesses of German Shepherd, Basenji, Shiba Inu, Jindo, maybe Husky. Unfortunately, many breeds that are loyal/protective. We adopted him at about 5 months from a shelter that saves dogs off of the streets of Puerto Rico. He’s very bright, lovable toward us and our friends, and especially loyal to my partner and me. He’s always been fearful of children, but for the most part, it wasn’t an issue until about 6 months. And even then, it was only when children would run by him. Now though at almost 8 months, he has gotten increasingly aggressive and even if children walk by, he snarls, lunges, and barks like a maniac. I’m sure he could be capable of biting at this point. We’ve been taking him to weekly obedience classes since we adopted him and he was doing great on all of the basic commands. He was also always fine on walks, but now, he seems to even be afraid of strangers, crowds of people and will lunge, snarl and bark very aggressively. I don’t think I’ve been helping the behavior, because I’ll see children or a group coming by and tighten his lead close to my side, because I don’t want to risk him hurting anyone. But it seems to be making it worse. Even with other dogs, whom he’s always loved, he’s now starting to snarl and lunge (not just for playing, like he used to).

We are hoping it’s because he is still intact and have called our vet this am to get his snip scheduled. But looking for any other advice you can provide. He was always so good, but now I dread taking him outside. We live in a crowded city so this behavior is not sustainable if we can’t correct it. I also love him from the bottom of my heart and can’t even consider rehoming at this point.

Many thanks for any help you can provide.
Aly

Reply
Ben Team

Hey there, Aly.
Sorry to hear about your pooch’s reactivity — it can definitely be a difficult problem to endure and treat.

Aggression is often something that requires professional help to address, so the very best course of action would probably be to have a canine behaviorist assess him, identify his issues, and provide a strategy for moving forward.

In the meantime, you may want to check out our articles on leash reactivity and helping to build confidence for fearful dogs.

The only other advice we’d usually offer is to eliminate his triggers to the extent possible. But that doesn’t sound like something you can do very easily.

But from personal experience (I also have a reactive pooch and live in a fairly densely populated area), I like to try walking my pooch at “off hour” times, when fewer dogs are around (my pooch really doesn’t mind people — it’s just other four-footers that set her off).

We usually go out around 5:00 AM, then I take her to a non-crowded park during the middle of the day, and then we go out again pretty late, after most of the other locals have completed their evening walks. We’re also working on her reactivity, but simply avoiding other dogs has done wonders for my sanity and hers.

Best of luck!

Reply
Steven Nguyen

Hi there!

Thanks for the article. I have a 3 month old golden doodle puppy who has been very great so far. Very social, loves people and other dogs, currently teething and likes to nip at my other dog. However, we recently socialized with 2 puppies who are smaller than him and noticed that he will get on top and get very aggressive and almost try and bite the other puppy (don’t think he has bit them because we remove him very fast). He has only shown this twice with smaller puppies but has been an angel to every other dog/human. I’m getting concerned he may try to bite another puppy, but I don’t know how to fix this without risking him actually biting another smaller puppy. My current dog is smaller than him and he has never been aggressive with her. Any tips?

Steven

Reply
Ben Team

Hey there, Steven.
Light biting is often a part of dog-dog play. As long as the dogs are all comfortable with it, and your dog is backing off when the other dogs want him to, it’s probably not a huge problem.
Check out our article on dog body language and be sure to look for lots of wagging, “loose” body language, play bows, and other signs of play. As long as you’re seeing those, he’s probably fine.
Best of luck!

Reply
Gina

I need advice. I have a 4 and a half month old, male, Jack Russell. He is very obedient, clever and cuddly. Apart from his high prey drive he is great. My problem is my children. I have a 3 year old and a 6 year old girl (who is on the autistic spectrum). Regardless of my constant supervision and commands they push the puppy’s buttons and he has bitten. Yesterday my youngest tried to cuddle him while he was sleeping and he bit her face . I (as the main dog carer) wasn’t home at the time. Im devastated and mortified. Is it time to consider a new home for him? He would never bite unprovoked but he is more on edge now and will growl and put his teeth on me (with zero force) if I pick him up to take him to his pen as a punishment. Im torn. Could this be adolescence? Will he be more patient after castration? He does have an overbite and I worry his teeth hurt him. I’m willing to do what’s right but I don’t want to rush a decision. I need advice. Thank you!

Reply
Ben Team

Hey there, Gina. Sorry to hear about the troubles with your pooch.

Ultimately, you simply have to make the best choice you can on behalf of all parties involved — including the dog and your kiddos. You know the dog and your children better than anyone.

However, we have put together a guide to deciding when it is appropriate to rehome a dog, which you should check out.

But honestly, if you can’t supervise the dogs and kids constantly, you may already have your answer. Not all dogs tolerate children — it really is that simple.

One final bit of advice, we think dogs can be marvelous companions for many kids, including those on the autism spectrum. In fact, we’ve put together an article discussing some of the best breeds for autistic children, which you should check out if you decide to rehome this dog and start anew.

Best of luck with your decision!

Reply
Molly

I just got a Pomsky puppy who is almost 12 weeks old. I have had her for a week now. I have been home with her the whole week while my boyfriend works and she listens to me, but she barks and lunges at my boyfriend. She will only come when I call and completely ignores him. If I leave the room she barks excessively at him and will growl. Sometimes when she does this to him she bows down and lunges towards him. She hasn’t show any food aggression. The aggression mostly seems directed towards my boyfriend.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey there, Molly.

Obviously, you’ll want to keep your boyfriend safe (even a tiny Pomsky can deliver a serious nip!), but as long as he’s comfortable doing so, we’d recommend counter-conditioning the pooch to your boyfriend’s presence.

Stock up on the treats and have him dole them out liberally — anytime the pooch is doing something “good,” (even just laying calmly on the ground), have him give her a treat. Lather, rinse, and repeat for a few days/weeks, and your pooch will likely take an entirely different view of your boyfriend!

Also, you may want to read our article about dog body language. I only mention this because you mention that she “bows down,” which sounds a lot like a behavior known as a play bow. And that is something dogs do when they’re having fun.

Best of luck!

Reply
Donna

I adopted a boxer mix puppy that was found in ditch. She was only a couple weeks old when she was found and barely survived so was never socialized. Along with lacking social skills she was spayed by the time she was 2 months old which has caused medical problems. Now she is starting a new behavior that I don’t like, but my husband says is just playing. She is biting to the point of breaking skin. If I correct her she gets more aggressive. Today I was working in the yard and she started biting at my hands and arms. When I stood up she jumped up on me and tried to bite me. I knocked her away and she tried to bite my ankle but only got ahold of my pants legs. I thought things were over, but she went to the back corner of the yard and ran at me full speed. When she jumped up at me at used my arm and knocked her away. She did this to me 2 more times before I got her to quit. I’m afraid one of us is really going to get hurt if I don’t get this under control because I really don’t think that this is healthy play.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey there, Donna.

It’s hard to tell from afar, but that does not sound like “typical” puppy play behavior to me. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “aggressive” behavior, either — a lot of puppies (and adult dogs) get so excited that they start nipping during play.

It’d probably be wise to have a canine behaviorist assess her and (if necessary) provide some training tips for addressing the issue. In the meantime, you can try some of the tips we provide in our article about stopping a puppy from nipping when excited.

Best of luck with your little gal!

Reply
Alysa

Hey there!
I just adopted an adorable four month old Chihuahua two weeks ago. I’ve been trying to socialize her with friends and family but when she’s around them she starts growling and barking in a defensive manner. She seems very protective over my family and I. I’ve tried taking her aside and giving her treats to positively reinforce her but it doesn’t seem to be working. Is this normal behavior for a four month old Chihuahua? Or should I be concerned.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Alysa.
It’s hard to tell based on your description, so you’ll need to do some detective work.

First off, be sure to consider the concerning signs Kayla mentions above. Are you seeing any of those issues? Also, be sure to check out our article about dog body language, so you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on in her head.

Definitely continue to use positive reinforcement when she’s meeting other people, and if that doesn’t seem to curb her behavior, be ready to reach out to a canine behaviorist for help.

Best of luck!

Reply
Karen Chapman

Hi,
Can you please help. We recently homed a Belgian Malinos. He is 9 weeks old and is adorable. He is very good with his food or sitting before eating and we can take it away from him without any problem. He is also very good with other people. We have yet to know about other dogs until his 2nd job. Our problem is he doesn’t take well to “no”. When we take him anyway from digging or chewing he becomes very angry. He snarls, growls and bites. He have been told to pull him away by his coller and then calm him day via a restraining position whereby he cannot bite. Today he was very very angry and extremely distressed. After he calmed down he literally feel straight asleep . The confusing thing is that it’s not all the time but every day. It’s very upsetting for me to see as he is such an affectionate puppy and so loving.

Please help

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Karen.

We’d start by recommending that you stop using “restraining positions” or “alpha rolls.” They’re likely to exacerbate some of the problems he’s experiencing, and they’re likely to damage your bond too. Instead, learn to implement positive training principles — they’ll not only work better, they’ll help build trust between you and your pooch.

Also, try to work on redirecting your doggo, rather than simply pulling him away from things he likes. We talk about redirection a bit in our article about dogs who play too roughly.

If none of these suggestions help, you may just need to reach out to a canine behaviorist (the sooner, the better).
Best of luck!

Reply
Shanna Given

Hello. We recently just bought a blue nose pitbull 6 weeks ago. Weve definitely have had our hands full. My daught is the one who bought the puppy. She came home with him when he was 5 1/2 weeks old and he was tiny and very skinny. The owners said he was a pup of 12 and the mom had quit feeding them. Since then we have had it at the vet 3 times and he finally looks health and is gaining weight but he is so aggressive. Weve had a lot of puppies in our house and Ive never seen a puppy be so aggressive as he his. He bites, growls, lunges at you and when punished he just gets more aggressive and tries to attack even more. Its not just a puppy biting from teething or going after to you like hes playing. I seriously feel like hes attacking to hurt me. Diesel is his name and he is only 12 weeks old. Never in my life have I seen a 12 week old puppy bite growl snarl attack and be so aggressive. My daughter and her dad think I am over reacting but thats because I dont think they want to be honest with themselves. My neighbors have seen it and even at 12 weeks now they shy away from him. He can be super sweet when hes tired and sleeping but when hes awake and plays he doesnt it all the time. I just dont know what to do.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey there, Shanna.
Glad to hear Diesel is doing better than when you first welcomed him to the family, but we’re sorry that you’re dealing with some doubts about his personality.

You don’t want to overreact when dealing with young puppies, as they can change a lot as they mature. But you also need to listen to your gut. If you are concerned that he may be aggressive, it would be wise to reach out to a canine behavioral consultant and have the little guy assessed. That’ll help you all make better decisions moving forward.

We’d also recommend that you check out our article about positive reinforcement and back away from the “punishment” when he misbehaves — punishment will only exacerbate things like anxiety, which may manifest as aggression.

Best of luck!

Reply
Cayleigh

Hi,
I got my Boxer-German Shepard mix back in February when she was 8 weeks old… so she is now around 6 months. Beau is a handful and I’m not sure what I should do. I have two other dogs at home who are 13 and 14 years old and Beau loves to jump on them, and get really aggressive/go into attack mode when they are around me or when they are around her toys/food. When I take her on walks, she is calm one minute and the next she is looking up at me and jumping/biting/has a really aggressive growl towards me. Even besides from the walks, she is calm one minute and the next minute she is doing the same jumping, biting, and snarl (and this is after she has daycare, so she should be tired!!). What do you think the best thing for me to do is? Not only has she been kicked out of one daycare because she plays too rough, but she has also been to two different weeks of training and nothing seems to help:(. I feel stuck!!!

Reply
Ben Team

Hey there, Cayleigh.
It sounds like it’s time to talk with a canine behaviorist. Working with a trainer can be really helpful for teaching basic obedience, but behavioral problems — particularly those involving aggression — are best handled with the help of a certified behavioral consultant.
Best of luck!

Reply
Ashley

Hey,
We just got a 10 week old Rottweiler. He chases anything that moves and we’ve created a environment to train and feed him where there are minimal distractions and no furniture. We have him on a consistent schedule between quiet crate time and play/training. And we try to redirect and use positive reinforcement only. We’ve started to notice he hyper focuses on an object or food. But at the same time he has a very short attention span and cannot be unsupervised for even a few seconds. Recently, we’ve started noticing him lash out when he doesn’t get what he wants. He’ll growl and try to bite our faces. He only nips our hands and feet when he’s playing. He will growl, bark, and give a deep stare. We notice this happens mostly when he’s being held. But lately it has carried over to toys and treats. We don’t want to reinforce this violent attacks and are nervous since he won’t be small forever. My husband and I are both exhausted and very worried that we won’t be able to mend these behaviors. Is this normal or so we have legitimate concerns?

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Ashley.
Congrats on the new Rottie!

It’s hard to tell if this is a real problem or just typical puppy silliness from your description, but a couple of things you said (“try to bite our faces” and the bit about hyper focusing) are potentially concerning. Ten weeks is still really young, and these things may just be your dog taking playtime too far, but they may also hint at potential problems.

How’s his body language when he’s doing these things? Is it “loose” or “stiff?” Is he putting his but up in the air or bending his elbows to lower his head in a “play bow?” These are the kinds of things you’ll want to consider.

But honestly, given your pooch’s eventually size and strength, you don’t want to mess around here. You could probably start by calling the breeder and discussing your concerns. If that doesn’t help and he continues to display troubling behaviors, you’ll want to reach out for professional help immediately.

Best of luck!

Reply
Julia

Hi i own a female, 5 month old working cocker spaniel and yesterday and today she gave me the hard stare for no reason, i walked into the room after we played for a bit and she stared at me with a whale eye stiff and frozen, is she showing signs of agression or is she being a moody teenager? she has showed signs of her being frightened of everything so pretty sure she’s going through her fear stage but has been shows signs of hitting puberty… can anyone please reply i’ve been worrying so much i can’t get on with anything.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey there, Julia.
It’s hard to know what’s going on from afar, but we wouldn’t necessarily call one instance of freezing/whale-eyeing “aggression.”
Definitely keep an eye on things (and check out our article on fear periods), but don’t panic.
Just keep working to strengthen your bond and trust and don’t hesitate to reach out to a canine behaviorist if she does start showing troubling signs.
Best of luck!

Reply
Donna

Love what you wrote. I have now 3 month old MOX puppy. Honestly not sure if its pit lab mix or boxer lab mix but generally a good puppy. My concern is honestly if I play tug of war if my Freddy and he growls and barks am I teaching him to becaggresive. ? Please help. Thank you

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Donna.
Growling and barking are often normal parts of play — especially during tug-of-war.
As long as his body language is OK (“loose” body posture, tail/butt wagging, etc.) and he’s not exhibiting aggression in any other contexts, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Best of luck!

Reply
Charlotte

Hi there,
My puppy is a 15 week old golden doodle and lately she has started to behave quite badly. She will make a snarly face and air snap at anyone who is near. This happens sporadically throughout the day, sometimes when we are petting her, sometimes when she is walking past and we aren’t paying attention to her, sometimes when we are playing, and sometimes she seeks us out to snarl and snap. We aren’t sure if she is bored, frustrated, tired or just testing boundaries. We try and redirect her with toys, give her treats and puzzles, take her for a walk, ignore her, put her in her crate for a nap, verbally correct her, but nothing seems to be working as she continues to do it.

It escalates more when we are on walks, she barks, snaps and gnaws on the leash. She barks at everyone and almost everything, no matter how much we try and get her attention to correct her. We can’t seem to get any engagement with her, as she is too distracted. She goes as far to spit out the treats we give her, which she will normally take when we’re inside. We tried changing treats and brands and flavours, which didn’t work.

Just wondering if you have any advice?

Thank you!

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Charlotte.
Those behaviors sound pretty strange. Especially the combination of her being “distracted” and spitting out treats when offered.
We’d recommend reaching out to a canine behaviorist so you can have her assessed.
Best of luck!

Reply
Eric

I have a 12 week old pitbull terrier puppy that I got at 8 weeks. We started her socialization early with twice daily walks (in my arms pending a 4th parvo shot) through our neighborhood and sit on a park bench and watch people, kids, dogs go by/play. She has also been to a handful of puppy socials and is enrolled in a month long puppy school, 3 times a week. She has shown signs of aggression (growling, snarling, body stiffening, hair raising) from the time that I’ve had her. This typically occurs when we are out for walks. In the puppy socials and class, she does growl and snarl but it seems a little different than what is displayed on our walks. Today, as we sat a park bench, a small fluffy not threatening dog was about 3-4 yards away, my puppy stood up on my lap, growled, snarled, bark incessantly, her body went stiff and she was intensely focused. People around were shocked by the behavior and remarked that it seemed unusual for a puppy her age, I tend to agree. I removed her from the situation, got her calm, went back to the bench and when that dog walked by the same reaction. In puppy socials, when other puppies are winding down or being responsive to their person, she will go full throttle the entire time, nipping and barking at the other dogs, and it is very difficult to get her attention. Notes from puppy school state that there isn’t anything that they would label alarming, however, they note that she does not pick-up on social clues and has had time outs because she will continue to go at dogs that have not interest. At one puppy social, a puppy at least twice her size was very fearful of the other puppies, she would not leave that dog alone, even after an initial back-offs, when that puppy let to out a couple clear barks/signals that he was not interested and wanted to her to go away. I wanted a happy go lucky puppy/dog and instead I’m dealing with what appears to be aggression and potentially will be a life-long issue. I’ve sought the help of behaviorist recommended by my vet and they want to charge a lot of money to have a zoom call and their first response was to avoid situations that trigger the behavior? So, keep her away from other dogs? I don’t know what to do, I’ve already invested a lot of time and money into working on the issue. I don’t feel equipped to handle it/know what to do and don’t want to have a dog that I’m going to have to constantly watch for fear of an altercation.

Reply
Meg Marrs

Hey Eric, that does sound stressful for sure! I’d definitely recommend consulting with a behavior expert who can offer a bit more guidance. I’d suggest reaching out to Kayla Fratt at Journey Dog Training – she is the author of this article and very knowledgeable. I know her online consultation fees are pretty reasonable compared to others, so I think she would be a great place to start. But, from my experience, I think a great starting point would be to reward her for being calm in the presence of other dogs. So, for those times when you are at the park, monitor your pup’s body language and keep her at a distance where she can stay calm. This isn’t in an effort to avoid her triggers, but to simply work with her at a distance she is comfortable with. Encourage her to check in with you and reward her with treats when she looks away from the other dog and looks at you instead, and continue to reward so long as she is not displaying reactive body language.

The folks you’ve spoken with already suggest avoiding triggers mainly because every time your pup has the chance to practice this behavior, it is reinforcing, so you do want to avoid her responding this way whenever possible. But instead of just avoiding other dogs completely, just keep them at enough of a distance for your pup to stay calm and not feel threatened, and offer treats and toy play while she is calm and under threshold.

We have a full guide to dog reactivity here you might want to check out to learn more about this whole process. Dogs usually react this way to other dogs due to fear or over-arousal. An expert can observe and might be able to guess why she is responding this way. Brushing up on dog body language will definitely be helpful too to give you a better idea of when she’s getting near her threshold. It definitely could be that another pup freaked her out a bit and now she’s nervous around other dogs. It could also be that she is going through a fear period right now, making her extra sensitive to scary triggers.

Good luck, I know this can all be stressful. It sounds like you’re taking some solid steps to getting your pup the help she needs, so hang in there!

Reply
Hannah Dorian

Hi! I really appreciated this article and it helped a lot. I currently have an 8 week old pit bull puppy who plays very aggressively when she gets really hyper and excited. She is not aggressive when it comes to other people or dogs but when she gets really excited she will start playing very rough. This includes growling, and snapping and biting at your arms and legs too hard. I have tried to act like I’m in pain to get her to stop but that doesn’t stop her from quitting the biting. I have also made the mistake of allowing her to play rough with me and lung at me in a playful way but am not realizing how bad of an idea that is as she gets older. I want to be able to help her get out of this behavior as quickly as possible. Do you have any advice or suggestions?

Reply
Ben Team

Hey there, Hannah.
Glad you found the article helpful. We have another one that may help in your situation: How to Stop a Dog from Nipping When Excited.
Go check it out! Best of luck!

Reply
Leanne

Hi,
We have an 11 week old huntaway puppy. She has been with us for 6 days. She is very sweet and has learnt to sit, fetch in 6 days. However she has started biting our (husband, and kids and my) , feet, ankles, trousers, slippers on feet and grabbing sleeves. She will NOT let go. We all try to distract her with other toys but she is not interested. It’s hard to get her to let go as she keeps pulling and pulling and I have to get my hand next to her mouth to pull the garment out. She sometimes growls when she does this too. I say no and if I manage to get her off I stay still and ignore her. If she keeps repeating I give her a time out in her crate.
I was playing a lot of tug of war with her but stopped as I don’t want to encourage this behaviour.
Is this normal behaviour?

Reply
Ben Team

Hey there, Leanne.
It sounds like she’s just playing, but perhaps taking things a bit far.
It would probably be a good idea to have a trainer or behaviorist take a look at the behavior in action.
Best of luck!

Reply
jon

Good morning, my name is Jon and i adopted a 4 month old mixbreed puppy a week ago. So far he has been very docile but, he lunged towards one of my family members because she had to remove a clothes pin that he was chewing because he was probably gonna hurt himself with it. He also growled and lunged at another family member because she pushed his face away from a rug that he was chewing. He likes to play rough a lot by biting our ankles, arms, fingers, toes, and other things but I recently learned that he’ll stop chewing on us if I tell him to stop or if I give him a chew toy. I would be very grateful if I can get any help because I’m afraid I wont be able to keep him if he does show more aggressive behavior towards family members.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Jon.
If you’re concerned about the pup’s behavior, it’d be a good idea to consult with a behaviorist, as Kayla recommends in the article.
But, if you continue to employ the tips shared above, set boundaries for your pup, and re-direct him when he does bite, you may find that he calms down a bit and starts behaving better.
Best of luck!

Reply
Meg Marrs

Hey Jon – I completely understand why that behavior is upsetting! However, I’d cut your dog a bit of slack – he’s only been in your home a week, and his entire life has just been turned upside down! Give him some time to decompress a bit – most dogs take anywhere from 3 weeks to 2 months to fully decompress. It’s possible he is showing some resource guarding, although hard to say for sure. It sounds like you are on the right track redirecting to appropriate chews and toys. One thing that worked great when my rescue dog displayed a lot of aggressive play is to put gates up all around the house between rooms. When your dog bites or nips at you, simply stop and leave the room. Don’t yell or say anything, as any attention can be seen as the dog as reinforcing (they want you to play and engage with them). So just leave quietly and return 30 seconds later. Re-engage your dog in appropriate play with a toy. If he bites again, just get up and leave. Eventually, he’ll learn that nipping means you leave, but playing politely means you stay and join in on the fun! Good luck, and absolutely considering reaching out to a force-free trainer if you’re continuing to struggle.

Reply
Travis H

I have a German Shepard pit bull husky mix. She is around 5-6 months old. She won’t stop biting hands feet and clothing and lunges towards the face frequently but doesn’t bit. If you take your hand away she will snap her teeth/jaws. She isn’t aggressive to strangers or anything but as soon as she sees hands or feet it’s all over. She will play with other toys but limbs are her thing. She will sometimes growl when I attempt to correct her for biting. Is she aggressive or just a stubborn Puppy?

Reply
Meg Marrs

Hey Travis – I’d avoid trying to correct her, as many pups will consider any engagement with them a reinforcing reward (even if it’s a stern “no”). Instead, try giving her other things to bite on, like chews or fun toys. Work on constantly redirecting her to toys and chews. You could put up gates as well and as soon as she nips a limb, just ignore her and leave the room. Now suddenly her play partner is gone – that’s no fun at all! Return to the room and engage her in play with appropriate toys. As long as she plays well, you play with her. But if she nips, leave the room for 30 seconds to a minute before returning. She’ll learn that only polite play gets your company. Puppies can be pretty over-exuberant and will try to engage you in play any way that they can, even if it means sticking her baby shark teeth into you for a reaction!

Reply
Kayla

Hi! Three weeks ago we adopted a rescue puppy, who is now 15-weeks old. We’re not quite sure of his breed, although we were told he’s probably an Australian Shepherd/ Great Pyr/ Lab mix. He’s going to be a large dog as he’s already over 20 pounds. Overall, he is a sweet boy. He loves his big brother dog and plays well with him constantly. He is still warming up to us as his owners and is now displaying concerning behavior. Over the past week, he has growled, barked, snapped, and bit us. He resource guards when it comes to human food. Last night I brought home groceries and put the bags on the kitchen floor as I sorted through them. Jackson (our puppy) jumped on top of the pile of bags, and when we tried to move the bags, he barked so ferociously and bit my fiancé’s leg when he tried to move a bag with potato chips in it. Then, he continued to growl at my fiancé throughout the night. We have not seen this behavior with his food or toys. I have worked with him so that I can easily take toys or bones away from him, and he does not give us an issue when we take his food bowl away. However, another issue is touching him. He lets us pet him and kiss him most of the time, but sometimes it turns for the worse. When he has his mind set on doing something, and we say no, he growls and snaps! For instance, I took him on the leash in the snow. He loved it, but it was time to go inside. I tried to get him in, but he refused. So I went to pick him up and he flipped out! Barked at me, snapped, and nipped my wrist! He was so loud my fiancé heard the whole thing from inside the house with the windows closed. I love this little puppy, but I am so scared that this behavior will continue to worsen. I don’t want to be frightened of my dog, but I am starting to walk on eggshells around him since his behavior is unpredictable. I feel like this is not normal puppy aggression.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Kayla.
We’d agree that the behaviors you describe don’t sound like normal puppy behaviors.
Check out our article on resource guarding, but it’d probably be wise to start working with a force-free trainer ASAP — especially given the fact that he’s actually biting.
Best of luck!

Reply
Meg Marrs

Hey Kayla – I agree that it might be best to consult a force-free local trainer or veterinary behaviorist on this matter. Some things that come to mind that may help would be to brush up on dog body langage to better read how your pup is feeling. I might suggest letting the pup come to you for affection and let him be if he’s in his bed or crate. Some pups can be quite touch sensitive, and he might simply not enjoy being picked up. One other suggestion would be to be careful about punishing him for growling – you never want to punish a dog for communicating and for letting you know they are uncomfortable with something. If you punish the growl, they might go right to a bite next time they are uncomfortable!

Puppies can be jerks about play sometimes for sure – try practicing toy-based play and leaving the room if your pup plays inappropriatly. Lastly, you could also do a consult with Kayla from Journey Dog Training, who does online consultations. Good luck!

Reply
Chantal

I got a now 11-month-old female American Staffordshire (25%)/Chihuahua (25%)/Labrador (10%)/Great Dane (10%) mix at 5 months of age from a rescue. I also have a 6-year-old female Maltipoo. From day 1, the puppy has tormented the older dog. No matter which toy I gave the puppy, she took the toy the older dog had. Being in the same room, she would snarl, show her teeth, and get on her hind legs to the older dog, who would return in kind, but would then try to retreat. My older dog now avoids her at all costs and I keep them separated with the crate, a gate, or separate rooms. I have gotten them to sleep with me on the bed together without bothering each other and sit quietly at my side if I am giving each a treat, but that’s about it. The puppy also stands over the older dog with her long legs, assuming the dominant position. I tell the puppy “no” (she doesn’t much look like a puppy at this age), take her off the older dog, and the older dogs trots off as quickly as possible to a safe area.
I can deal with the puppy trying to be the dominant dog in the household – I having been looking for an animal behaviorist to work with her. What I’m having a real issue with is that she has started to attack both my grown son, who still lives with me, and me. This started two weeks ago. My son and I both work from home and since I didn’t want the puppy to be confined in her crate, I have been keeping her with us in our home office with the door closed. She has a dog bed, lots of toys, and I occasionally throw a ball around and play with her. The first incident occurred two weeks ago when my son reached into a bag on the floor to pull out some work. She had a treat in her mouth, but he had his back to her and was nowhere near her. She ran up to him, lunging, barking, and showing her teeth. I ran up to her, grabbed her by the collar tightly so she couldn’t twist her head around to bite me, and said “Let’s go for a walk,” which seemed to calm her down. I took her out briefly because she knows the word “walk” and I wanted to follow through. The second incident occurred a couple of days later when I looked down at my feet and saw the remains of a Kong toy in shreds. I started to pick up the pieces and she started to lunge for my hand. I moved my hand back and she continued chewing on the Kong toy. I later saw that it had some treat still stuck inside, but she had never done this to me before. A couple of days later, she jumped up on my son’s legs and barked aggressively, showing her teeth, in his face a couple of days later. I had to pull her off by her collar again. Yesterday, he was lying on the floor next to her and she suddenly starting barking aggressively and showing her teeth. There was no food involved. This scared me because it was totally unprovoked. I don’t know if she was resource guarding her dog bed or what. Finally, this morning, I was working at my computer. I had taken her out from the crate so she could spend some free time out of the crate before I went to work, but instead of lying down, she was just staring at me. The stare is not an adoring stare, but a something is up stare. She has been doing this for the last two weeks, ever since that first incident. I get goose bumps when I see it because it makes me nervous. I decided to pick her up to put her back in her crate and she started snarling, barking, and showing her teeth at me. I again grabbed her tightly by the collar, as she was trying to twist her head to get at me. I put the leash on her and took her outside, which calmed her down, and then put her in her crate.
I love that dog so much, but she now scares me. I spent all day crying about it yesterday. She wags her tail and loves to play outside with my son or me. She loves to go on walks and I cuddle with her on the patio all the time. My son and I walked to the store yesterday, after the incident on the floor, and she whined when she saw him inside paying and jumped all over him when he came out. I don’t know if a behaviorist can help or not. I hope I can get over the fear and that I’m not afraid of her for the rest of her life. I’ve had six dogs in my life and never one like this. I may have to call the rescue and have them take her back. She may need a one-dog home and someone with more experience than me with aggressive dogs.

Reply
Meg Marrs

Hi Chantal – I completely understand how stressful this must be! It sounds like you are feeling very overwhelmed and frightened of your pup’s behavior, which is totally normal considering the situation. It sounds like she is having some resource guarding issues which you can practice working on via some training games. What does she do throughout the day? It sounds like with the recent incident she reacted badly when she realized she was going to be put in the crate. I’d suggest going back to the basics with crate training and ensure you are making the crate a really fun and exciting place to be. Try incorporating LickiMats and stuffed Kongs into her crate time, and make sure she has some fun toys and puppy-safe chews in there too. Additionally, you’ll probably want to seek out a local force-free trainer in your area who may be able to witness the behavior and provide some additional guidance.

Lastly, I’d just say I find that it’s more helpful to consider that while your dog is indeed displaying some aggressive behaviors, she is not inherently an “aggressive dog”. Dogs don’t act out for no reason – they often display aggressive behavior due to fear or pain (which is why I’d also suggest taking your pup for a vet check to ensure she’s feeling OK). So while your dog may be displaying some upsetting behaviors, she’s not trying to be difficult, she’s going through something herself that can sometimes be difficult for us humans to figure out! I don’t say this to be critical of you, but simply because this tends to be a much more constructive and appropriate way to think about dog behavior, especially where aggression is involved (which can really generate a lot of emotions in us humans)!

Reply
Angel

Hi, we got a 10 week old puppy mix breed female Heeler/Catahoula leopard. We currently have a 2 yr old pitbull male. She does the normal puppy biting but is very tenacious and Alpha personality. She has started aggressively snarling and snapping and actually bitting. when you pick her up and no matter how you pick her up. What do we do?

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Angel.
It’d probably be a good idea to go ahead and work with a trainer at this point, just to be on the safe side.
If you don’t already have a trainer you can work with, consider reaching out to Journey Dog Training.
Best of luck!

Reply
Makenzie

Hi there,
I recently bought a 9.5 week goldendoodle who, in his abundance of cuteness, is having a hard time controlling his mouth. I know that puppy mouthing is a normal part of raising a puppy, but I am concerned with his “temper tantrums” that occur when he is picked up or put on leash. I have not been able to capture it on film yet, but found a different Youtube video that is pretty close to what he does (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-JJd32AMKE). He makes the same noises and behaves in the same way to being restrained as the puppy in the video and while he has not yet broken skin, he bites incredibly hard and much harder than his normal mouthing. This is happening multiple times a day, though not every time we have to pick him up, mostly when he seems over aroused or after play. We have been handling it so far by just holding onto him and not letting go until he is calm while trying to protect our hands, which is most of what I have seen to do online. We have also been trying to work on handling exercises, pairing human touch with treats and kibble. I am nervous that this behavior will continue to escalate as he continues to grow. Please let me know if we are on the right track and if this is “normal” behavior for a puppy this age!

Reply
Lindy

I have a 6 month old lhasa. He is the sweetest dog most of the time. Never had one that wanted to give and everybody else so many kisses. This is exactly the reason it surprised me when he growled at me. It’s happened 3 or 4 times. I know the difference in play growling and mean growling. This is mean growling. He even shows his teeth. Of course he doesnt scare me, but I’m afraid he will bite someone. He seems to do it when hes super tired. When he’s about to go to sleep or if you wake him up. He does sleep very hard. The first time I woke him up, when i first got him, I thought something was wrong with him. He was so groggy. Do dogs growl when they are tired? If so how do i fix it? He really is the sweetest thing any other time. I just don’t get it.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Lindy.
Just a quick note first: We’d call it “defensive” growling rather than “mean” growling, but we certainly understand what you mean.

Many dogs are grumpy when sleeping and more apt to act defensively, growl, or snap if bothered. My own dog (who’s normally a bundle of love and slobber) does NOT appreciate being bothered when she’s sleeping.
It’d probably be a good idea to have a trainer evaluate your pooch, just to be sure that it’s just sleepy grumpiness, rather than a more fundamental issue.

Best of luck!

Reply
Lorraine Blue

Hey, I hope you can help. We have a 11 week old beagle x jack russel who is exhibiting some worrying signs. She learns quickly and when calm is a cute dog. However, she often runs up to us and bites us. If we say no or try to ignore she curls her lip and tries to bite further. She lunges at me on the sofa when she is on the floor trying to bite, if I pick something up of the floor she bites me. Growls and hangs onto clothing and if i get her off she snaps at me. She bites my legs as I walk and I do the ignoring method but she bites me harder. Today I had to carry her through a shop and she was biting me as hard as she could to get me to put her down. My partner is now afraid of her and she is so small!

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Lorraine.
Sorry about the problems with your pup. We’d recommend working with a private trainer ASAP. Even though your pooch is pretty small, dog bites can be serious and lead to infections. For that matter, she may also bite a child, which would obviously be a horrible turn of events.
Let us know how it goes!

Reply
Tonya

I’m pretty sure I have an aggressive puppy, he just turned 11 weeks old yesterday and I love him and hope he can be helped. He does not have a certain time of day to be aggressive, he is only on good behavior while sleeping and on a good day 2 hours of his awake time. He bites us, growls at us, showed his teeth, challenges every rule we have, growel, lunges, bites till we bleed and doesn’t stop even with sternly say no with eye contact, or yelping to show pain. He growls bites and shakes on clothing while we are sitting or walking. He is also digging holes on the yard, humping legs, animals, pillows, etc. He is napping at the moment or I would send a video. I sure hope he can be helped, because I’m afraid he will have to be put down, I love him and im afraid without help he will need to be put down or he is going to seriously hurt someone. He is a husky mix and beautiful but very naughty. He started challenging rules the day he turned 6 weeks old. He is also very smart he will look right at you and deliberately go after things that are off limit or after one of us.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Tonya.
Sorry you’re having trouble with your pooch. We’d strongly recommend working with a private trainer to help address these issues before they become dangerous.
If you don’t have a trainer you like, check out Journey Dog Training — they offer a variety of long-distance training solutions (and you can enjoy a discount as a K9 of Mine reader).
Best of luck!

Reply
Linda Bruce

We have a 6 month old puppy that we got from acquaintances when he about 7 weeks. We were told he is a pit mix. His name is Jett. We brought him to our home which currently ha 2 female small dogs and my three sons (17, 14, and 11). He’s such a good boy and he’s really smart… trains easily. When we was about 3 months old, he would growl at my 14 year old Aiden when he picked him up. Once Aiden showed that he wasn’t scared and was more dominant, Jett stopped and now they’re super close. Jett was really aggressive one time toward the girls when they went near his treat but that hadn’t happened again but mainly because the girls don’t go near him when he eats. He is now 6 months old and nearly 50 pounds. In the last 2 weeks, he has started snarling at my 11 year old when he tries to pet Jett. I had my son stand next to me and watch Jett curl his lip and bare his teeth with no growl. I told him no but of course my son is scared now. A few minutes later Akobi bent at the waist and tried to talk to Jett sweetly and Jett lunged at him! I scolded him and told him no and put him in the crate. I’m really confused at this newly formed aggression toward my youngest son because just a few days prior Jett and my youngest laid down together and took a nap. I don’t know what to do. Please let me know what we should do to sp this behavior immediately. We love Jett and I don’t want my youngest to feel afraid in our home

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Linda.
Given that your pooch is lunging and (potentially) showing some signs of resource guarding, you need to speak with a trainer right now. This is especially true, given that children are involved.
If you can’t find a trainer in your area, consider trying Journey Dog Training — they offer long-distance training solutions.
Best of luck!

Reply
Cherie Goodwin

I was in the park with my 10 wk mini pincher sitting on a bench when 2 young lads approached and asked if they could stroke her..I said yes but they must approach from the side they did this and she screamed long/loud as if she was been ill treated I’m totally confused why she did this and it’s not the first time ?… Also my older 2 year Pomeranian cross parsons is constantly following her and barking… we’ve had her 3 wks and give my older dog and her their own space, he’s growled at her and snapped a couple of times but not with curled lips etc his barking is constant when he’s around her so have to separate them for some peace and quiet..Are the above normal…

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Cherie.
Those do not sound like normal, well-adjusted doggo behaviors. It’d likely be wise to work with a private trainer, who can observe your dog up close and make recommendations.
If you don’t have a trainer you can work with locally, just check out Journey Dog Training. They offer a variety of long-distance training solutions.
Best of luck!

Reply
Elizabeth Percy

My 10 week old Jack Russell puppy comes back at me growling and biting when I try to correct him. Verbally or by pushing him off things he is trying to take that he is not allowed. I pick him up and give him time out in his crate for a few minutes. This usually calms him but I worry as he gets older and stronger what I will do. He is intelligent and co operative over potty training so it is not like he cant be trained but he is pretty much fearless and the lockdown and waiting for jabs has prevented socialisation.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Elizabeth.
Sounds like you are on the right track, but you’re correct — it is important to correct these issues before he gets bigger. If the time outs don’t work, you should probably reach out to a private trainer.
If the current situation makes that difficult, you can always reach out to Journey Dog Training. They offer a variety of long-distance training solutions.
Best of luck!

Reply
Emily

Hi,
My puppy is a lab/hound 3 months old. We’ve had him a week. He bites pretty hard when we play and he does not respond to high pitched ow or limp hand etc. he has also started jumping, barking, growling and biting us with force that draws blood. On walks he will be fine and then all of a sudden turn around and do this. Sometimes its after he plays in water, or smells mud or mulch. Other times it’s just we walk into the backyard. Is this normal?, are there specific things to do to prevent/train for this so he is safe to walk and be with us and others?

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Emily.
Biting hard enough to draw blood — especially in sudden fashion — is cause for concern.
We’d recommend reaching out to a trainer and having your pooch assessed. If you can’t find a trainer in your area, you may want to try Journey Dog Training. They offer a variety of long-distance training services.
Best of luck!

Reply
Diane Mireles

Hello we just got a puppy a couple weeks ago at 7 weeks, mini aussidoodle. Mom got her brother who is the runt, we are staying with them till next week then will be heading home. Our puppy Xena is now 9 weeks and over past week have noticed that she has a tendency to growl and snap/ bite (does not break skin) when going to pick her up or pet her when she is resting. This is mostly with my 7 year old but has also done a couple times with adults: for instance she was laying down on my moms lap yesterday and was enjoying being petted, my mom scratched behind ear which she usually loves when she sudden groveled and turned around and snapped. I have checked and cannot find a Behavior specialist near were we live in New Mexico. She is generally a sweet happy girl but does have a bit of dominate personality. Her brother does not do this and we have an Australian Shepard at home who does not do this, she is first puppy I have had who does this and it is not playful aggression but a leave me alone or I will bite behavior. As I said seems to be mostly when she is reasting and You go to touch or pick up more with my youngest child. We are trying to work on it but my concern is that we got her for my kids to do 4h with and cannot have a dog that might snap at young kids. Is this abnormal for puppies or is it common and what do you recommend if cannot find behaviorist to evaluate. Would like to correct ASAP as we want her to grow to be a health dog we can trust around kids

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Diane.
That does not sound like typical puppy behavior, and you’re likely right to be concerned.
Ultimately, you’re just going to need professional help. Try contacting Journey Dog Training — they offer a variety of long-distance training and evaluation services, which should help in your situation.
Best of luck!

Reply
Lisa yates

I have 11 month male Staffordshire bull terrier and I have an 8 year old female, they both get on really well puppy is well behaved and they have never had a fight.
The 11 month old is vey submissive to other olds mainly bigger ones but the one thing that lets him down is he has a go at puppies that are younger than him, he will sniff then lunge and growl when I call him he will leave the dog and come back it’s just the initial first few minutes, he’s never bit or hurt one but I’m worried he could do.
He’s amazing 99% of the time I can’t fault him. He gets 3 hours walk a day and I’m at home all the time. I keep being told I should keep him on the lead but I feel he will never learn that way.
If I notice the puppy before he does I normally call him over to me and make him stay I basically let him know I’m watching him and that does work.

Reply
Nafisah

I have two 10 week old male puppies that I brought back to Canada from India , they would be called Indian Pariah Dogs. Teddy and Mini. They are very playful, teething as normal, however one of the pups (Mini) often shows aggression towards Teddy it almost seems like jealousy. If I’m holding Teddy, Mini will come and start growling at Teddy and start biting him, which then turns into a full on fight. Also both pups when i give them their teething bone rings, start growling if I try to take it away from them. They also growl at each other and nip at each other if one tries to steal the others food or comes near him while he’s eating. Sometimes Teddy when he’s comfy and tired growls and nips if i try to pick him up, but I still pick him up and pet him while he’s doing that to calm him down. My big concern is their fighting with each other, and the growling. Is any of this not normal or is it normal puppy behavior.

Reply
Meg Marrs

Hey Nafisah – it sounds like the issue you are dealing with is resource guarding. Your dogs are defending their resources (toys, food, even access to you). We have a full article about how to deal with resource guarding here. It’s often easiest to resolve this with the help of a professional behaviorist in your area. Best of luck!

Reply
Kathy

I have a 16 week old bull mastiff/doberman/husky mix who has started snarling and biting when I try to move her (off the couch, out of a room, away from something I don’t want her to have). Essentially it seems when I am trying to keep her from doing or going after what she wants. She becomes stiff and snarls. I can usually snap her out of it just by saying “what’s this” especially if I have a treat. Should I continue with that… my only concern is that she starts to associate snarling with treats.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Kathy.
I think you’re right, and you may be drifting into “reward” territory there. Given the eventual size of your pooch and the potential ramifications of a bite, it’d probably be wise to go ahead and start working with a trainer or behaviorist.
If you can’t find one in your area, you may want to check out Journey Dog Training — they offer a variety of long-distance training options.
Best of luck!

Reply
Sharon

We have a not quite 7week old Border Collie. I have never seen a puppy be so aggressive. She is super smart and within a day learnt to come to her name. But if she is chewing on something that you don’t want her to or need to pick her up she can at time become extremely aggressive. I have videoed her and would love your opinion. I do not want a dog that I can not trust around my daughter.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Sharon.
Journey Dog Training offers long distance training solutions — you may want to give them a call and see if they can help.
Best of luck!

Reply
Angela

My 7 week old puppy (border collie) and my daughters 4 month old mini Aussie will play and then the play turns to my puppy growling, ears back, and very stiff stance. Then the fight starts. my puppy also growls when anyone is near her food when she eats. I have had her a week and it is getting worse as she gets more comfortable in the home. I am worried.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Angela.
Given that you just brought the border collie home, you may want to reach out to the breeder and explain the situation.
He or she may be able to offer some advice or even exchange the puppy for you before things get any more difficult.
Best of luck!

Reply
Sidney Cantway

Hi! So I have an almost 4 month old male purebred German Shepherd puppy. He’s a very good and very smart boy, very loving and easy to train. I’m his main caretaker. I’ve never heard him growl or snarl, and he rarely barks (mostly just at inanimate objects that make loud noises, people repairing the neighbor’s roof and using loud hammers, and squirrels, etc.). He never resource guards, just because I’ve been overly insistent with messing with him whenever he eats, playing with his food, taking it, and constantly rewarding him (along with my 5 siblings, parents, other dogs, and cat). Resource guarding is definitely not an issue. His issue is biting. I don’t THINK it’s aggressive, but I really cannot tell. He’s a little mouthy sometimes like a normal teething puppy, and redirecting to a chew toy works wonders for him. But sometimes, usually in the mornings (maybe when he has a lot of energy) he seems to go attack mode on feet, heels, and calves. We’ll be playing fetch or something and suddenly he’ll just chase my feet. That in itself seems like normal puppy herding instinct. But he clamps hard, and pulls cloth and rips it, and draws blood often. He does it to other people more than he does it to me, but he does do it to me sometimes. It’s like he gets in a frenzy, nothing but biting and pulling and ripping. And if you put your arms near him to try to pull him off, he’ll bite those (he doesn’t bite them otherwise). Sometimes, I can redirect him into a sit and a treat, or a throw of an enticing toy, but sometimes he gets so riled up, I can’t pull him off of the person or myself. It has hurt a lot and ruined a lot of clothes. But he doesn’t snarl or bark or growl, and he seems to be just a really really rough player, but I’m not 100% sure. My younger siblings are a bit scared of playing with him because of his leg biting habits. But it’s been going on since we got him (about a month and a half) and hasn’t seemed to improve. I don’t know how to move forward.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Sidney.
Unfortunately, it sounds like you and your pupper may need some professional help. You can just search for trainers in your area, or check out Journey Dog Training (there’s a 10% off coupon code in that link) if you’d like a long-distance training option, given the current state of the world.
But whatever you do, try to address these issues sooner than later, as he’ll likely end up being a pretty big guy.
Best of luck!

Reply
Iulia

Kayla,

Would need personal help via video
Can I get you contact?

Thank you.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Lulia.
Just check out her contact info here.
(There’s a discount code on that page.)

Reply
Ruth Farrell

04/27/20
We are at our wits end and need help. We have a 19 week old ( 4.5 mos.) male labradoodle that continually
jumps, lunges, growls, bites and barks. We got him from a local breeder, the same one where we got our previous labradoodle – we had not problems with him, nor the golden retriever before that. Initially, he started nipping at the feet/ankels at 8 weeks and it has progressed to stronger bites/ breaking skin on arms and upward body, and sometimes tearing clothing. I can’t even walk down the hallway without being attached at some level. He is initially very sweet in the mornings, then it starts. He bites my husband hard and sometimes unexpectly. Is this just overly agressive puppy play with hormones mixed in? Although I may have given mixed commands initially, I am now more consistent, however, it doesn’t change things, nor does he seem to understand. I’ve done all all the suggestioned methods – screach in a high voice/walk away; provided play toy/bone distraction which doesn’t work. My only relief is to place him in his crate for a period of time until he settles down. That helps some. I’ve noticed that he gets really reved up after eating or being taken for a walk ( 3’xs a day). He likes to play ball too ( indoors). He doesn’t growl or become agressive while eating, nor towards other dogs….although I haven’t allowed him to play with any yet…out of fear and with he COVID-19 restrictions in CA we have lno contact with our family that have yards too. I also have a 2 yr. old great-grandson that hasn’t met him yet, but am concerned for him too. We live temporarily in an apt. for approx. 1 more year, then will move back to our home. We/I don’t know what to think or do. We love him and want him to be part of our life. Is there hope?

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Ruth.
Sorry about your problems with your pooch, but there is almost always hope!
It definitely sounds like you need to work with a trainer or behaviorist. I know that’s hard right now, but Journey Dog Training offers distance training solutions via phone calls, video conferencing, etc.
Give them a shout and see what they can do to help!
Best of luck!

Reply
Ruth Farrell

Thank you for the resource Ben, I will contact them.
Ruth

Reply
Lizette Ramos

Hello, I would like to have your contact info. I have not search your contact info yet. I have not see one yet.

Sadly, I am the victim of “aggressive” puppy. My puppy is victim as well.

I want to let you know that, more than a month ago, I got 3 months old puppy. I want to let you know, sadly, the puppy started to get worst, more “aggressive” than before. He was really off all day yesterday. His body was full of tension and gave intense stare with white lines whenever people and I pet him when he was sleeping or lay down. He was really off! I already called two dog trainers of that behaviors and they said right away, send him back to the breeder. They said, right away, without meeting my puppy, that is not very normal behaviors. They said brain damaged in his mind.

Max never nip or body tense with me ever for more than 4 weeks but, all that had changed, yesterday, the puppy is like a totally different dog!

I have not contact the breeder yet. I am planning to do that today or so. Please contact me through my email address to discuss this. Thanks.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Lizette.

So sorry to hear about your troubles! It definitely sounds like your puppy has some issues that’ll need to be addressed.
There’s not really much we can do to help, but we would encourage you to heed the advice the trainers provided and contact the breeder immediately.

If you’d like another opinion about your puppy’s behavior, you may want to reach out to Journey Dog Training. They offer a variety of long-distance training solutions, which may prove helpful in your situation.

Best of luck!

Reply
Sam

My fiancé and I have had our pitty mix pup, Lucy, since she was 8 weeks old. She’s 5 months now and is very smart, sweet and cuddly. However, she’s timid around new people when she meets someone – once she’s comfortable in the situation, she’s your best friend – She barks at people walking by, and she barks and even growls at young kids – older kids that are 8+ she does well with. She’s working with a second trainer – she’s gone through a four week puppy program and is now in a 5-week obedience program. On walks, I distract her with treats, switch sides of a person is walking towards us, or go the opposite direction. With this, she has gotten better on walks and has experienced some people walking by her without being reactive. The kid situation is what I’m concerned with because she hasn’t had bad experiences with kids. We noticed this behavior when we had her for only a week when a friends son came over who is 5. She was barking and actually started to growl when he went to pet her and I stopped him immediately. What can I do to make her feel safe and non-reactive? I know she’s young and is still learning. These lockdowns aren’t helpful with socialization. Her current trainer says that she has a lack of confidence which is causing her to be fearful of the world around her. Any advice would be great!

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Sam.
We have just the article for you: How to Help a Fearful Dog Gain Confidence.
It sounds like you’re doing a great job with her so far. Just keep at it!

Reply
Sue

We just adopted a sweet 5 month old pup, she is quiet sensative, but very sweet and loving. We have only had her 2 weeks and we have already taught her to shake paw, lie diwn and fetch. Her fosters taught her to go potty snd sit. She is a rescue so there guess is she is a lab/shar pei cross. She is a huge sniffer so Im very certain she has hound in her. We have a 5 year old who has gotten way to huggy with her. We are working very hard to teach him personal space. She has started low level growling and barking at us when she wants something. We try to ignore but it kind of scares the kids. She is afraid of the kids toys snd barks at them. Just today I was vacumming and she kept hiding from it. I brought her over and gave her treats as I vacuumed. I even put treats on the vacuum to help ease her anxiety. On the last 2 walks I have taken her on she tries to grab tbe leash in her mouth. So I have been getting her to sit, shake paw or lie down as we go on our walks. If she starts to pull or loose focus I get her to look at me and do a trick for a treat. I has been very positive.

Today after vacuuming I took her for a walk around the block while my 5 year old road his bike. His chain fell off and I had to end the walk early, I asked her to change position to head back toward the house and she snarrled at me very aggressively. I said sit please, and got her to shake my paw then gave her a treat before heading home. I put her in her crate to give us both a break for 30 minutes when we got home?… I’m dont want this behaviour to continue what do I do?

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Sue.
There are definitely some red flags there you’ll want to address — especially considering you have a 5 year old in the mix.
We’d recommend working with a trainer or behaviorist ASAP to get these issues under control.

If you can’t find a trainer with whom you can work in person because of current events, you can try reaching out to Journey Dog Training.
They offer a variety of phone- and video-based training options that’ll work from anywhere.

Best of luck!

Reply
Kara

Hi there, I have a 10 week old labradoodle. He recently started growling and biting at my daughter, 9.5 and now my husband and I. He seems to growl/ bite when overexcited, when corrected and sometimes when picked up. He lunges when he bites, often going for the face. We are able to give and take food and toys away without issue. I believe growling started from roughhousing with my 6 year old lab/ Rhodesian mix, but she does not bite, or growl toward any of us. Please help.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Kara.
We’ve got just the article for you: How to Stop a Dog from Nipping When Excited.
Best of luck!

Reply
Jill Costley

I have an 11 week old mixed breed that I adopted from a shelter when she was only 5 1/2 weeks. I was told she is a lab mix with possible pit bull. She is very sweet in the morning and loves to go on walks and meet other dogs and people. In the afternoons, usually starting around 4pm she flips a switch and becomes extremely aggressive and bites and lunges at everyone. She snaps when scolded and even when you hold her she still try’s to wiggle out and bite. We are very concerned because we have 3 grandchildren age 6 mo to 3 years. We don’t want to give up on her but also don’t want to risk anyone getting hurt. We live in miami Florida and would love your advice.

Reply
Madiosn Nelson

My 9 week old English cream golden retriever is very very calm i feel for his age, we have had him 4 days, we went and bought some bones for him and tonight he growled and drew blood from my hand when i went over and grabbed the bone to move it out of my way. He doesn’t do this around food, but he’s done this with my car keys, his bone, and his leash, it’s a very aggressive growl and a very aggressive bite.

Reply
Caelin S

Hi, I have a 12 week old mini Aussie doodle and I’ve been getting more concerned w her behaviors. At home she’s normally fine, only really growls at me if I’m withholding treats or human food from her and will nip, but is not doing that as much. My main concern is that she has resource guarding that is making her more aggressive. So far any time she’s actually tried to bite or growl intensely is when I have to take a toy away from her or she has a bone and is around other dogs and sometimes will growl and snap at me if I touch her or it. It escalated last night to the point where she went under a table and cornered herself and she was snarling and biting to harm while standing over a bone she had found. We were at a friends house who has a dog of her own that may have triggered it, but we had to use a oven mitt to pry the bone away from her, and even then she acted like she was trying to find something else to be possessive of. As soon as we got her out from the table and held her she was completely fine though, being her sweet sassy self. I’m not sure how to curb this intense resource guarding or who to contact? Any pointers?

Reply
Tia Lawrence

While I’m flattered Our 12 week old German shepherd has already chosen me to be her person/alpha dog, I’m still extremely concerned that she might not be the best fit. She’s clearly an Alpha female, mom Is an alpha female from Germany and dad is an alpha male from Czech). She’s showing major signs of aggression. In two short weeks, She’s ran off 2 female trainers and after guests have been in our home for 4 plus hours, she’ll Just start Barking, growling and lunging excessively for no apparent reason. My mom was over tonight, (certainly not an alpha female), and my puppy would just start randomly barking like crazy at her… to the point that I had to keep her outside for 15 min or so. She’s done this with every other dog we’ve come in contact with, including my neighbor’s submissive giant Irish wolfhound. My tiny puppy lunges at her, barks and snaps at her constantly…. even when the giant dog is trying to get away and avoid the confrontation. My puppy is also showing signs of aggression with children, my 8 year old son, who chose her, is now afraid of her, more often than not! She corners him and barks aggressively for no reason…. she’s even lunged and bit him as he sat on the couch in a tv trance!!! This is extremely concerning and while I don’t want to feel like I’m giving up or failing…. this does not seem normal and I’d rather be safe than sorry! She might be better off on the amazing farm with the beautiful pack of shepherds, awesome kids and loving Responsible parents!! The breeder is amazing and last week offered to help… so I’m confident we’ll have no issues on that note.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Tia.
That sounds very concerning, and we’d recommend working with a certified trainer, like Kayla Fratt ASAP.
Do note that most of the “alpha dog/pack theory” was based on poor science and has been debunked.
Best of luck!

Reply
Brenda

Hi I have a 6 my hold staffed cross patterdake she is fine with other dogs and goes walking and is fine but when someone comes to door and I answer it she. Has her back up and growls and jumps up is this normal x

Reply
Samantha Nubani

Hi I have a 3 month old female lab puppy who is really aggressive when playing she bites so had that she has drew blood a few times on my husband an I. It’s worst in the morning an the evening. Saying no an ignoring her doesn’t seem to work. Is there anything that we can do to get her to ease up or stop??

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Samantha. That certainly sounds frustrating (and painful).
Check out our guide to dog mouthing affection. There are some helpful tips and tricks there, which may prove helpful.
You may also want to give our article about puppy nipping a read.
Best of luck!

Reply
Mae

We have had our 11 month old female shih tzu for 3 weeks and she is growling when picked up when she doesn’t want to be picked up, snapping when growling doesn’t work, growling and snapping while being groomed or putting on collar or leash. These behaviors happen about 50% of the time. There has been a few times of actual growl, snarl and snap. Mostly these behaviors are towards me because I am trying to control where she goes, what she does, put her on leash, groom her, etc. She will also get angry and bite the leash if I don’t let her go where she wants to go. She was very scared when we first got her and these naughty behaviors did not surface until she got comfortable with the house and us, which was the 2nd week of having her. She was nipping and biting feet as well as growling but has reduced doing this to only a few times a day rather than everytime she sees us. My kids are scared of her when she is excited because she will go after their feet. Now at 10 weeks whenever she sees someone outside while we are on a walk she will stop and stare and growl. I just try to distract her by saying “it’s ok” and walk away. I hope this is not true aggression.

Reply
Meg Marrs

Hey Mae – I’d definitely suggest reaching out to a trainer or behaviorist who can help you continue to work through these behaviors. These problems aren’t unheard of, but you’ll want to work on them ASAP before they get worse. In the short term, I wonder if you could try to avoid picking her up? Some dogs really hate that! Also remember not to punish your dog for growling, as the growl is a warning that she’s scared or not happy with the situation. If you punish the growl, she might go straight to biting next. Best of luck, I know these kinds of problems are stressful, but a behaviorist will definitely be able to help.

Reply
Mae

Thank you so much for your advice. I will stop picking her unless I really have to. If she growls, should I just stop whatever we are doing to make her growl? Ex: Put her down, grooming, leash. Thank you so much again for your help.

Reply
Meg Marrs

Hey Mae! I’d try to see if you can assess what is causing her to growl. Is she frightened? Frustrated? Maybe she has created some negative associations with the leash. Or she could be growing to protect her resources, if she has decided the leash is a coveted resource. A reputable trainer or behaviorist can help you asses her body language to get a better sense of what is upsetting her. Avoiding growl-causing occasions is definitely a good first step. If she is afraid of the leash, you could start by just placing the leash on the floor and rewarding her with treats for sniffing around the leash (creating new positive associations with the leash). From there, once you’ve just rewarded her for being near the leash for a few days, you could try clipping the leash to her just for a few seconds, giving her treats, and unclipping. It’s all about building up slowly! Hope that helps. But like I said, working with a pro is probably your best bet. You could try reaching out to Kayla Fratt at Journey Dog Training – she’s a great trainer and has worked with us in the past. You can also get 10% off her training consultations if you use our code (K9ofMine) at checkout. Her rates are great for a behaviorist, since she offers consultations online, she’s much cheaper than in-person folks. Good luck!

Reply
Mae

Thank you so much! I will definitely try to get her to like the leash with treats. Thank you also for the referral. I will look up her website.

Jess

We have a 6 mo old great Pyrenees Boxer mix. Last month we adopted a great Pyrenees great Dane mix. Our 6o old was socializd and loves other dogs – recently he had started attacking our other puppy when food (human or puppy) is present. We started feeding them in separate rooms and taking dishes away when done and before allowing them back together- this evening I brought the puppy in from going the bathroom and the older pup was waiting and latched onto him. This behavior is getting worse and less predictable- my bf thinks it’s jealousy – what do we do?

Reply
Amy

Hi!

I have a 4 1/2 month old puppy. Most of the time he is just overly energetic and will just “bite” to pay attention. So no real issue here as it’s clearly just to get my attention, and extremely light. However, he is possessive of toys and food (he was raised for 3 months in a home with 10 dogs and was free fed etc). On occasion if playing he will get more aggressive with the playing and biting. He will jump up, actively start to bite a bit harder. And a few times he will bite the hem of a shirt etc to the point that it rips because I can’t be still enough as the tension he is pulling doesn’t allow me to. Any thoughts? Some of this is clearly normal some of this may not be. He is actively teething right now and won’t be neutered for 3 more weeks. He will listen almost always for food but I’d like to not always have to give a treat to get him to stop being so aggressive in his play.

Reply
lisa

I have a new golden retriever puppy. She is 10 weeks old. We bought her from a good breeder. She is a sweet puppy most of the time. But she has this just very random times that she literally lunges at me and bites me. She growls and turns into another kind of dog. She only does this to me. I am the primary care giver. I feed her, take care of her all day long, she sleeps in a crate next to me at night. I never leave her in her crate and never use it for punishment. My vet saw just a little of it at her last visit. She says I should return the dog to the breeder. She says it is very abnormal for a puppy this age and extremely abnormal for a full bred golden retriever. please help!!! thank you. lisa

Reply
Meg Marrs

Hi Lisa – I’d suggest starting with the advice we detail in the article – video tape the incidents, document when they happen, and try to identify any potential patterns. Hire a behaviorist for help creating a game plan, and show the videos to the behaviorist for help deciding what the course of action should be.

Reply
Mary

Hi, found this thread while researching our golden retrievers behaviour – how is your dog doing now?

Reply
Joanna Hughes

I have an 11 month old Husky/German Shepard/Lab mix. He’s a very playful boy that loves to wrestle, play chase and keep away. The other day at the dog park he broke into a fight with a bloodhound when a squeak ball he was playing with was tossed and they both went after it. He’s played several times before with other dogs and balls as well as with squeak balls without incident. I’m assuming the “squeak” triggered his prey drive and he became possessive. I had to keep him on the ground because he kept trying to go after the blood hound even though it had moved past the fight and was relaxed and calm. Once he calmed down and the hound moved away I put him on leash and made sure he was in a fully relaxed state before continuing play with other dogs. Since I wasn’t sure if he was reacting to the hounds behavior or was the instigator I decided to try and mimic the events in a controlled environment at home. I tossed tennis balls in the middle of my dogs (I have 3 total). Nothing. I used a squeak toy we have and did the same thing, nothing. I then went to the store and bought some squeak balls. I tossed them out in the yard in the middle of the dogs, nothing. Moved them inside to smaller spaces and tried for over half an hour and had no issue. Just as I was telling my husband he must’ve just had an overreaction to the hound instigating he tried fighting with my other two dogs. I immediately yelled “No!” and he took off running with the squeak ball in his mouth. I wasn’t about to let him have the reward of keeping the ball after that behavior so I chased him down. When I told him to “drop it” he turned his head and went to run off again. I grabbed his collar and my alpha female grabbed his back leg (she sometimes thinks she needs to assist me but is never aggressive). He turned and tried to fight with her again. She backed up, I put him on his side and took the ball from him. Once he stopped snarling I let him up and gave him the down command. He complied but started showing his teeth to my alpha female. I told him no and he stopped but then he’d start again. After several times of verbally scolding him as my alpha just sat there next to me he finally stopped. I then gave my girl the ball to show that any dog is allowed to have the ball if they behave correctly. He tried going after her again. He was placed in a down again and scolded for his behavior. After about 15 minutes of correcting and bringing my girl closer as well as the ball I was finally able to have them nose to nose with the ball right next to them with no reaction. I then put the ball away and they played like the best of buds with no issue. I brought the ball out again later in the evening and he didn’t try to fight but he did start showing his teeth again. I went through the same procedure of down, correcting for showing his teeth, bringing the other dogs in closer with each successful halting of showing his teeth until everybody was nose to nose with no aversive behavior. My bulldog that didn’t react at all was then given the ball and verbal praise given to my 11 month old for tolerating other dogs being close to the ball and him and not reacting. Anyway, my question is this; is this just adolescent behavior that with consistency he will move past and be the sweet boy he was that is incredibly tolerant of other dogs or is this truly aggressive guarding behavior that I may have to always monitor for the rest of his life?

Reply
Jané

Hi there, I trust you can help me! We just got our 8 week old malinois puppy from a registered breeder here in South Africa. We’ve had her for 3 days now and the 4 year old twins love her. She is a very strong pup so my daughter will rather stay out of her way as Lexi can play quite rough. (like puppies do! ) But this morning I noticed something very strange… She was transfixed on one of the children’s toys. When my husband went to take it from her in a playful manner, she flattened her ears, got down low onto her belly, gave him a fixed gaze, and with a deep warning growl lashed out to his hand and drew blood. I justified it to her not wanting to give up the toy, but it continued till I said to throw it away as my children might want to play with her and their toy…. The one that she obviously doesn’t want to share! Then again tonight, I gave her a hide “bone” as a treat and wanted to use it as a training tool, well she did the same to me as she didn’t want to give it back after we practiced to “sit” and “lay down”. She got down to her belly, shielding the “bone” from me, drew her ears back, gave a deep growl and lashed out to my hand while giving an attacking growl/bark/snap. I truly don’t know what to do. At this point I am fearful for my children wanting to run and play with her, if things get a bit rough or too exciting, she starts barking, bearing her teeth and has a fixed gaze while doing it… I admit to being uncomfortable an intimidated by this puppy. The breeder told us they wanted to keep her to breed with, but decided to rather keep one from the next litter… Suddenly I’m not sure anymore… Please help me.

Warm regards
Jané Swart

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Jane. I removed your phone number just to protect your privacy.
Thanks for reading!

Reply
Meg Marrs

Hi Jane – sounds like your pup is resource guarding – we have an article all about resource guarding here. That does sound like a pretty dangerous environment for your kids. I’d suggest keeping your pup and kids safely separated and hiring a dog trainer or – even better – a behavior consultant to help develop a gameplan moving forward and work on exercises to desensitize your dog. Sorry, that certainly sounds like a stressful situation!

Reply
Megan

Hello, I have a six month old mix that has recently (within the last few weeks) become aggressive with my older dog. It first started over my fiancé trying to teach my puppy to sit for a treat, our puppy started looking around for our old dog and just attacked, teeth showing, fully barking everything. 99% of the time they are kissing playing running and are completely fine, but lately random things set him off like the treat situation, or even the past few days my older dog walked into the bedroom, my puppy started to growl and then came running and charging at my older dog and they got into a fight where we had to separate them out.. I’m not sure what to do or how to help the puppy as this is a new thing he just started and I am worried On how to resolve it.

Reply
Meg Marrs

Hey Megan – it sounds like your pup might be resource guarding, but hard to say for sure. We have some techniques for working to reduce resource guarding here, but I think the safest course of action is probably to work with a trainer or behavior consultant.

Reply
Alex Gillespie

Hi! My almost 9 week old Brittany puppy Riley worries me with his interactions with my 2 1/2 year old mixed breed, Carter. It’s rare they have a normal play session. It’s usually Riley jumping and growling at Carter, biting, humping. Carter doesn’t correct him enough and sometimes Riley will stop but sometimes he keeps going back and Carter will have to retreat to the couch where Riley can’t reach yet. The most concerning incident happened this morning. Riley was at eye level with Carter while Carter was laying on the couch, and Riley got a hold of his lip while they were playing. Carter started screaming, and Riley kept holding on. I had to intervene. He’s still very young and has yet to go to doggie daycare to hopefully learn more social skills, but I’m very nervous! Please help. Thank you.

Reply
Katrina Hannan

Hi, I’ve got an 8 week old puppy that growls and snaps when you try to move her when she is starting to get sleepy. We have only had her for 4 days and this has happened 3 times already and i’ve noticed a pattern – she was sleeping with my daughter and wouldn’t move over and the other two times I had to leave the house and wanted to put her somewhere safe and she wanted to go to sleep I guess and didn’t want to be moved?

Reply
Lisa

I have a female Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy who is just shy of 4 months old. Since the day I picked her up from the breeder at 9 weeks she has not stopped mouthing everything. While I feel the degree of mouthing is unusual what concerns me more is her short fuse. During play she can start out fine and very quickly escalate to lunging and biting with growls. On a few occasions she has growled when being moved (such as in the morning before i have to leave for work i take her out for a potty break and if she isn’t quite ready to get up she growls…. or if she is nestled on my lap and i get up sometimes she growls). This has improved since i know how to avoid these triggers. For example in the morning I pet her and talk to her and walk away for a few minutes to let her wake up slowly and get her bearings. She has also growled and lunged at my mom – quickly going from play to a change in demeanor and intense behavior. I have 7 and 9 year old daughters and can’t risk a full grown Ridgeback lunging at them. Is there anything else I should be watching out for with this puppy? I am awaiting an appoint with an animal behaviorist from a Ridgeback rescue organization.

Reply
Kayla Fratt

Hi Lisa. Ridgebacks can be intense dogs, and I’m glad you’re getting professional help right away. Does the behaviorist have any credentials with the IAABC or a similar organization that focuses on LIMA-centered aggression training?

Reply
Kate

My 12 week old puppy is a golden retriever. He does normal puppy biting when he is playing. But when you go to pick him up while he is doing something he shouldn’t be or to bring him inside and he’s not ready he will growl. If you dont put him back down or give in he will try to bite. He doesn’t do it everytime he is picked up. Only when he is doing something and seems like he doesn’t want to be bothered. Does this seem like aggressive behavior? I’m afraid he could be aggressive and I dont know what to do. We dont have anything in our area that helps with behavior problems for dogs. I asked my vet and they weren’t much help either. Thanks!

Reply
Kayla Fratt

Hi Kate! I’d be happy to help you out remotely (over the phone or video chat) if you need extra help with your pup. Is there any chance that your puppy is biting defensively because he’s getting scared or scolded when he does something wrong?

Reply
Kate

Hey, what would I need to do to chat over phone? I dont think it’s from fear because he doesn’t do it all the time. We can pick him up other times and he is fine with it. It only seems to be when he is outside and doesn’t want to come in or when I’m trying to pick him up away from something he shouldn’t be doing. Like he was chewing on paper and I got the paper and went to pick him up and he growled. He does it when i pick him up from outside to bring in. It’s like only when I am picking him up to stop something bad or he feels its preventing from doing what he wants. If it’s to pick him up to put him on the bed, he is fine. If you dont put him down when he starts growling he will snarl and eventually bite. Other than that he is the happiest puppy and friendly with everyone. That’s why I’m confused if it’s normal or not. I dont know how to handle the situation.

Reply
Kayla Fratt

Hi Kate! You can book a call at JourneyDogTraining.com/shop

Reply
Dina A Caron

Hello Kayla,

Will try! Thanks for the advice.

Take Care,
Dina

Reply
Dina A Caron

Hello Kayla,

Will try! Thanks for the advice.

Take Care,
Dina

Reply
Dina A Caron

We adopted our Maltipoo puppy, Teddy, when he was 12 weeks old. Although heavily infested with worms, he was otherwise very happy and healthy. After taken to the vet with several deworming treatments and vaccines, Teddy was an ideal picture of health. When he was 4 and one half months old, we took him to the same groomer for his 2nd appointment. She had been informed that he should never be crated longer than 10 minutes as he is a very sensitive puppy. She happily agreed. Come to find out, she crated him for over 30 minutes when she went to lunch. When we picked him up, he was trembling so bad he had to be carried out. I contacted the company and spoke to the store manager to tell him what happened to my puppy because when he was brought home, he acted traumatized and the problem with nighttime aggression began, and his training regressed back 2 weeks. He is incredibly smart and talented, being easily trained at everything we tried, and I mean everything. We had his biting completely under control and he always kept a soft mouth while being fed. It was then that the manager viewed the footage and told us about him being in there for over 30 minutes and that the blow dryer was very loud for him, yet when we picked him up done of this was divulged to us. I am handling that issue separately. Now, my puppy is having a massively hard time with nighttime aggression and not listening to anything we say or do. We follow Victoria Stillwell’s training to a “T.!” There are no punishments, abusive handling, yelling, etc. of any kind. We treat him like one of our children and would never treat him with any kind of disrespect or use of violence. We are at our wits end. He refuses to acknowledge any of his training at all. He doesn’t acknowledge the high pitch yelp, his time outs, his toy distractions, nothing. Ever since his grooming appointment, he has become a completely different puppy at night. During the day he’s normal, sweet, playful, happy, etc. Can you offer us any advice please? Thank you!

Reply
Kayla Fratt

Hi Diane, what do you mean by nighttime aggression? What behaviors are you actually seeing, and what sets them off?

Reply
Dina

At about 6:30 every evening, my puppy gets very nippy and starts biting my hands/fingers, grabs my right arm and tries to bite the tricep and inner part of my elbow. This behavior is primarily done to me only (98% of the time). This happens every night without fail. All his training is positive reinforcement as encouraged by Victoria Stillwell’s books. He is never hit, punished, abandoned, neglected, NOTHING ABUSIVE!! I’d rather kill myself before ever hurting an animal. I use an ‘eh or uh oh’ response to his biting, removing myself from the situation. I will turn my back and ignore him until he moves on to something else, of which case he begins jumping and biting my legs, clothing or feet. He gets 1 to 3 minute time-outs in his playpen. In order for him to leave, he is put into the watch me command, then sit and then wait, which he happily does everytime. Within seconds to minutes, he’s back at it again. I will repeat this approximately 5 to 6 times until I have to redirect him entirely to try to get something to work. His bedtime is between 8:30 and 9:00, depending on how long his last nap was. He has a very strict routine to help establish daily structure that makes him have successful results. We want him to be happy and help him be a great family pet. There is literally no trigger to set this off, just around 6:30 every evening this begins. I want to make it perfectly clear, he NEVER bit or nipped anyone other than innocent puppy mouthing that never hurt prior to his visit to his groomer. We found out, after her being told that he cannot be crated longer than 5 to 10 minutes, that she booked him before taking her lunch where he was left for over 30 minutes in a dark, loud crate. I have talked to the grooming company and they disciplined her, but it does absolutely nothing for my sweet, confident puppy. We ordered a thundershirt to help with his anxiety and use lavender essential oil in a diffuser every evening to try anything we can. I want my sweet, loving puppy back. I will and have done everything as suggested by reputable dog trainers. I will try anything humane at this point. Please help me!! I want to point out too, he was being trained to be my service dog for my multiple disabilities. I appreciate anything you can do for me!!

Thanks,
Dina Caron

Reply
Kayla Fratt

Hi Diane! It sounds like you’ve got quite a bit going on. Here’s what I’d try: take him for a preemptive walk around 6pm, then put him in a crate/exercise pen/resting place with a chewie toy until 7:30pm or so, then do another potty break, then IF he’s calm, he can hang out with you until bedtime.

Reply
Fiona

Hi a friend and I got a puppy each from the same litter. They are 8 weeks old, both male. They happily snuggle up together, but when feeding and playing become hugely competetive. They were fed from one bowl in the litter (of 8) and it seems that it was a highly competetive environment. My concern is that when they play, it frequently and very quickly escalates to a full fight, deliberately hurting each other. One seems less dominant, but quicker to turn nasty. Is this cause for concern? I have been separating them when it seems too much, but also not sure if it is better to let them sort out dominance issues. They spend nights apart but days together. I’ve never seen such young pups reach such a level of aggression. They bite each others necks, scruffs, muzzles, ears etc and shake, or refuse to let go when the other yelps etc. Their play always escalates to this level, ending up with yelping, snarling and growling.

Reply
Kayla Fratt

Hi Fiona – it sounds like your pups were inadvertently taught that fighting over food is the ONLY way to get fed (a common problem when breeders just dump a bunch of food in the center of a litter). I’d feed them separately and work on normal resource guarding protocols (https://www.k9ofmine.com/stop-dog-resource-guarding/). You can also read about puppies that play too rough and how to fix that here.

Reply
Amy

My 10 week old cocker spaniel puppy has snarled and growled at my partner. This has worried me as we have two young children and I can not tolerate aggression. Please can you give advice on why she my have done it and what I should do about it going forward?
Thanks

Reply
Kayla Fratt

Hi Amy. Aside from the suggestions already outlined above, the biggest thing I’ll urge you to do is to see a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant right away. You can find one near you on the IAABC website (iaabc.org/consultants). Otherwise, I have a self-study course that’s all about Keeping Kids Safe and Dogs Happy that’s exactly what you need – you can sign up for that course here.

Reply
Sonya

Hello, I have a Bully pup that is 9 weeks today. We’ve had him since he was 3 weeks, which I think was too young! Canon’s mom died giving birth to her puppies. He is a very smart pup and is Kennel/Crate trained. He listens when I tell him No most of the time. He has recently been showing signs of aggressiveness. He loves socks and feet, always biting when people are walking by. He has started growling and trying to pull at everything. Canon has a lot of moments of being calm, but then that others side seems to come out and it’s happening more often! He has started snapping at me as well when I try to redirect him. He hasn’t been around other dogs or been outside much because he hasn’t gotten all of his shots yet. He gets frightened of a lot of things including certain loud sounds and will run into his crate for comfort or under the couch. I have started turning on different videos of dogs barking to get him use to the sounds. Sometimes he gets scared and runs away and then sometimes he will snap at my phone when he sees the dogs barking. I’ve read about different dog issues when they are taken from their siblings too soon or haven’t been able to be around their mom during their early stages. I’m getting concerned because I do not want Canon to be aggressive! Any suggestions would be helpful, thanks!

Reply
Kayla Fratt

Hi Sonya, I’m so glad you wrote in! Canon has definitely had a rough start of it. He does sound abnormal, and I really think getting help right away from a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant or Veterinary Behaviorist is a must-do next step for you. The faster you get him help, the more likely it is that he’ll “turn out” well. I’m concerned based on what you wrote, and there’s no time to waste.

Reply
Molly

Hello!
Is it normal for a 13 week old English Springer Spaniel to occasionally try to bite/snap at my hands/arms when i’m holding her and she wants to get down? (i notice this when she is riled up.) its always hard to tell if this is an aggressive bite or a “hey mom!!! please! let me down!” type of bite.

She used to always bite our pant legs as we would walk around, but that has pretty much stopped all together (unless she needs to go potty, she will try biting our legs to get our attention).

Thanks!

Reply
Kayla Fratt

Hi Molly! Great question, I’m glad you asked. That doesn’t sound abnormal to me. It does sound like she doesn’t know a “polite” way to “ask” to be put down, but that’s not a huge cause for concern at her age.

Reply
Kaylie

I have a 9 week old rotting pit mix and a few days after got him he started snapping at my children with no provocation they just walk up to pet their pup and he sometimes growls and has snapped at their faces other times hes okay with being pet they arent loud or anything when they are petting him and he doesnt want to play with them like pups normally do. He just wants to be with me and not roam and play I’m not sure what to do

Reply
Sherrie Semmens

Hi.. we have a around 12 week old puppy.. she is border collie and kelpie cross.. my niece bought her for her son, who was having some girlfriend problems at the time.. she wanted to take his mind off being sad.. anyway, she was almost 7 weeks old when we got her.. she’s always been nippy and mouths you.. she loves to chew, and doesn’t realise I think how hard she chews sometimes.. when we first got her, she liked to chew at my hands, and grab at my clothes.. it was a little easier to get free from her then. But she’s still doing it to me.. she nips at the others here and there maybe.. but she always does it to me.. she gets excited when she sees me.. I pick her up, and she snuggles up around my chin and that.. but she also starts chewing on my hands.. I know she’s teething and it would be painful for her, poor girl.. but she’s getting to the point with me now, she’ll want to bite and tug at my clothes quite often.. when I try to stop her, she gets more snappy at me.. I will admit, and I feel horrible.. but I have tapped her a couple of times as a smack.. I know I shouldn’t.. but I’m not the best with my balance and stability most of the time, so when she starts latching on, I get a little worried.. I’ve actually got some teeth scratches and marks on my hands, arms and a couple on my legs.. they’re only small, as she only has baby teeth.. today I didn’t have a bra on, and leant down to try and stop her biting at me, and she bit my breast.. that was a bit of a shock.. I know she doesn’t understand any of what she’s doing, as in, grabbing at my clothes and that there’s flesh under those clothes.. that’s how I feel anyway.. so I don’t know why she gets so full on with me.. she’s not as aggressive with anyone else, as she is with me.. I see it as it must be my fault, I’ve done something to upset her maybe.. or does she want to play, I don’t know.. I rub her belly for her, and she tries to grab at my thum or fingers.. she starts off playing, then just gets a bit full on.. what am I doing wrong? Am I annoying her, irritating her or upsetting her, without realising? Maybe I shouldn’t rub her belly.. I don’t know.. any suggestions would be good, if possible please.. sorry for the long comment..

Reply
Kayla Fratt

Hi Sherrie. I agree with you – if you’re doing something that causes her to bite (even if it’s playful), I’d stop doing that thing. I’d try to get help from a savvy trainer – many herding dogs are very mouthy and can be tough to live with when they’re puppies. Does she have any tasty chewies (like these: https://www.k9ofmine.com/best-dog-chews/) to give her something else to chomp on? A flirt pole (check on Amazon) might also help get her energy and desire to bite out in an appropriate way. It sounds like she’s easily overwhelmed with petting and attention, and doesn’t know how to respond except in the puppiest way – biting!

Reply
Amy Bower

Hello, I have a ten week old German Shepard and collie mix and we have had him (Banjo) for two weeks. The second day after his noon feeding, I heard him growl at my 5 yr old GSD when she came close to her bowl (passing by actually). I thought I must have been imagining it so I came to the bowl and just moved it slightly and sure enough he growled and ‘blocked’ my hand. I was in shock actually as he was only 7 weeks old. I’ve conditioned him enough where this is no longer an issue but he is a biter. Has been since we got him. Seemed playful at first so I didn’t think much of it. But he will bite clothing or shoes we are wearing (I have two older teens at home and me), and he won’t let go. He seems to respond to verbal ‘uh uh!s’ but I rear he’s now desensitized to our commands already. Well today I attempted to remove his collar to lengthen it as he is growing, and he spun around and started snarling and biting with teeth baring and biting as if I was going to hurt him. When I put it back on he did the same. This now makes me seriously worried (and confirms?) that he is very aggressive. I will say that I am positive the breeder withheld food and water and they (litter of 10) we’re forced to fight it out. He drinks all his water regardless of how much or little and also his food. And he knows the smell of people food. He sniffed it out and was climbing over us at only 7 weeks. I’ve had many dogs over the yrs and have never seen that ever. Ugh. Help! Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.

Reply
Kayla Fratt

Hi Amy. I agree that what you’re describing is unusual. I’d strongly recommend finding a behavior consultant (IAABC.org/consultants) for help ASAP – these problems often get worse, not better, with age. Start out with the suggestions in the article and read up on resource guarding here: https://www.k9ofmine.com/stop-dog-resource-guarding/. If there are no behavior consultants in your area, reach out to me on JourneyDogTraining.com.

Reply
Bob

I have a 7 week old puppy that seems to me to be showong aggression. At times its out of the blue just because we are holding her and she wants doen, and others it might be in training. At least 3 times she has gone full snarl, growl, and bite mode at us trying to bite us in anger and the longer we try to hold her away so she cant reach us to bite the angrier ahe seems to get to the point we just have to let her go and jump back, then shes fine. She also plays with our youngest cat but doesn’t seem to know when to stop or when shes to rough and hes crying in pain. She’ll stand over him and just continually grab his scruff and its hard for me to get her to stop and distracted with anything else for him to run along, though he does instigate the play as well at times im just worried if her ignoring his pain cries could potentially be a danger to him as she grows. Is this nornal puppy frustration and play, or is this seemingly aggression?

Reply
Kayla Fratt

Hi Bob, that does sound unusual. I’d reach out to a puppy socialization trainer in your area to start getting help with your puppy right away.

Reply
Jay

Hello,

I have a 9 week Rhodesian ridgeback puppy. I’ve had her for about 2 weeks. She’s super cuddly and sweet but anytime I make her wait for her food or make her sit and wait in general. She starts to grow and snip at my hands. If i don’t give her attention she will also growl at me. She can be very sweet but then it seems an aggression comes over her (most the time when I try to make her be obedient or submissive). She doesn’t like her belly rubbed. I’ve heard rhodesians are tough puppies… my good friend has her half brother. But he just didn’t growl like that as a puppy. And is the biggest goofball. I’ve already started socializing her around dogs I know and she seems to do well. Not sure what is going on!

Reply
Emily Woolley

Hi! I came across your article as I am concerned about a friend’s puppy. I have a 13 week english cocker spaniel who was bred in a home with irish wolfhounds. He has been socialised very well both before we got him and since. He sometimes plays quite rough however it seems normal puppy play and there are no signs of aggression when he’s doing it. My friend recently got a puppy (cockapoo)who is now 9.5 weeks old. He’s quite a bit smaller than our dog and so we try to restrict rough play as we dont want him getting hurt. Despite this our friends dog has acted quite aggressively towards ours (not all the time). Theyll be playing nicely and sniffing around eachother one minute and the next the cockapoos heckles are up,hes snarling and licking his lips and then lunging and sometimes fully biting our dog. He has made him cry out a few times and unless we separate them he doesnt seem to stop on his own. I went to grab my dog to get him out of the way and the cockapoo bit me on a finger, drawing blood on both sides so hes obviously biting quite hard. I’m very worried about them spending a lot of time together, I dont want our dog thinking that this is normal behaviour for a puppy (!),is it possible for something like this to rub off onto another pup?and do you have any suggestions as to what to do when it isn’t our dog and the owners seem not to care too much? It’s quite awkward as they are very close friends (we’re also british so not very good at awkward conversations ). Thank you so much in advance for any help xx

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Emily.
Not sure if Kayla will have a chance to respond, but it’s probably a good idea to talk to your friend about his or her dog’s behavior.
Regardless of whether or not the behavior may “rub off” on your pooch, the rough play could lead to injuries. And vet bills would be even more awkward to deal with than having a conversation before something bad happens.
Until the cockapoo’s behavior has been addressed, it’s probably wise to put play time to an end.
Best of luck!

Reply
Jackie

We have a working line German Shepherd puppy, now 10 months old. At 9 weeks, he was lying in his “place” and when I approached, he growled at me. I was taken aback as I had never had a puppy growl at me like that. He then began mild resource guarding of his crate, his food, and a stuffed bed that he later used to drag around and hump. We began to desensitize him at the food bowl, around his crate and removed the physical bed that he had also begun to tear apart. Not sure what reactivated things, but I started to get “whale eye”, stiff body and stare, then finally a growl and a slight lunge at me when I approached while eating. He looks at me like he doesn’t know me. We have a Pug also that is middle aged that he loves to play with and has never bitten, but doesn’t know when to stop. He chases the cats, but also tolerates them and slowly developing a relationship where he kisses them. He got really rough with me about 5-6 months old when he was at the tail end of teething and loved to try to bully me into playing….obsessed with chasing the ball and a VERY strong prey drive! He would sometimes look at me intensely, then walk up and “nose punch” me in a private area. We got past that, too. We are getting him neutered next week and last night while I was preparing food, an alpha display. He pinned our Pug on his back to the floor and didn’t bite, just held him. We corrected. Not long ago, he was still hyper from a play session and was drinking his water, something he never guarded, but when I came up to tell him he was a good boy and pat his side, he growled at me. Another day, I was preparing food and he looked up at me and gave me the nicest kiss….always has to sit and wait. A few seconds later, I looked back at him and we “met glances”. His pupils got immediately big and black and he let out the nastiest growl at me! I simply told him to “stop that” and kept preparing his food. Aside from this, he is quite sweet, loving, will kiss your face off! He is also the smartest dog I’ve ever owned in my life. He is otherwise becoming well trained and learns things after being shown just once or twice! He does suffer from growing pains also (pano) and wonder if this factors into things. I would hate to think our boy is a truly aggressive boy and hoping neutering, more training/conditioning can solve this, but I won’t lie….I am a bit worried about it.

Reply
Kayla Fratt

Hi Jackie, I would also be extremely worried. The behavior you’re describing is very abnormal for a puppy and is all the more concerning. I’d suggest calling your breeder right away to ask what is going on with the siblings and if the parents have any behavior problems. It’s also time to get a trainer. These problems are likely to get worse, not better, with age. It’s really concerning to see this behavior so severe in a puppy so young.

Reply
Mickayla

My 9 week old puppy chases and bites my young kids and doesn’t stop when they’re crying or when I tell her to sit or down. She also will grow sometimes if you touch her while eating. Is this normal and how can I stop her chasing and biting my children? They’re now petrified of her and will only want to be carried aroud the house

Reply
Kayla Fratt

That’s relatively normal for the age – but if your kids are scared of your puppy, it’s important to get help from a trainer right away. Your puppy will only get bigger, and trying to wait for her to grow it out won’t help!

Reply
April L Marron

my puppy is 9 weeks and growls and bites when picked up, he also growls at anyone new, he has bit me as well

Reply

Also Worth Your Time