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Discussion Starter #1
I have an 18 week old puppy who I've had since he was 8 weeks. The first week we had him was the honeymoon phase, after that we started to see humping and snarling temper tantrums complete with biting. The first time it happened I was frankly scared, even though he weighed about 6 lbs. My previous cockapoo was totally non-aggressive and I never worried about his temperament ever, he was a love. I've consulted two vets and two trainers and the consensus is that his biting is not normal puppy behavior, it's bad. You cannot look him in the eye for more than a couple seconds before he goes in for a bite. This has really affected my bond with him, I don't really have one and I feel like I should. The trainer I'm working with now thinks that neutering him may help but that is not for another two months. I have some questions for everyone:
1-have you had a puppy like this and did it get better or was it a lifelong struggle to maintain control? Did you ever really trust the dog?
2-how long is a fair amount of time to work with this before it becomes obvious that it's a temperament issue and not something that can be trained away?
3-if I haven't bonded with the puppy after ten weeks, is it too late?

I find this whole thing extremely distressing and I do not want to give up and give him back to the breeder but I also do not want to live with a dog for 12-15 years who I do not trust and sometimes don't even like. I know that many people feel that once you've adopted a puppy, that's it, you take the whole package, but I specifically chose a puppy from a reputable breeder in order to get a good temperament.

If anyone has had a difficult puppy who turned into a super dog, I'd love to hear about it. Thanks.
 

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With all due respect I find it hard to believe that 4-5 month old puppy is being aggressive but it's also equally hard to tell what's actually going on without actually seeing the puppy. I understand your concern I can imagine it would be very difficult to live with a dog when no trust is given and it's great to hear that you don't want to give up. I think it's possible to bond with dogs at any age. Some of the strongest bonds come from rescue dogs that were adopted at an old age. If I may ask what was the advice that was given by the trainers on how to deal with the behavior?
 

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As cfriend mentions, an 18 week old puppy will absolutely not be aggressive. This is all down to training, and YOU. How you manage the puppy.

In some very rare circumstances, it could be that he has no bite inhibition, for example, if he was removed from the mother & litter far too early and therefore wasn't given the opportunity as a young puppy to learn. However this is something YOU can teach him, if this is the case.

You mention "humping and snarling temper tantrums complete with biting" - this sounds like a VERY bored puppy. Humping is a sign of over-excitement. I'm fairly certain the 'snarling' you are describing will be him desperately wanting to play, especially if there's some barking involved. Biting, again, is a sign of over-excitement, or frustration as he wants to play!

How long do you walk him for each day? (Road walks, on-lead)
How long do you play with him outside each day? (Fetch, free-running in the garden)
How long do you spend doing training sessions each day?
Do you give him things to occupy himself with while you cannot be entertaining him? (E.g Puzzle toys, Kongs, Snufflemats, edible chews)

How do you manage him when he does bite? What do you do to 'correct' this behaviour or stop it from happening? It's VERY common for puppies to bite at a young age - it needs to be managed well on YOUR PART, to ensure it doesn't continue into adult life.

I strongly recommend you work with a positive reward based trainer, who can assist you with applying R+ & Extinction techniques to work with your puppy.

I'm more than happy to supply some advice on how you can better handle the biting / humping / snarling etc, but would like to know the answers to the above questions before I can help :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I agree that it is hard to believe that a small puppy could be aggressive and I have spent two months not wanting to believe it but 2 vets and 2 trainers and now the breeder who I spoke to yesterday agree that this is not normal puppy stuff. I desperately wish that it were. I am working with a positive reward trainer and have been using her distraction, reward, and ignoring techniques and it's not getting better. We walk twice a day, he plays with other puppies on a regular basis, has tons of toys, and a large yard to play in. He is in every other respect a great puppy. But he growls and air bites and occasionally lands a non-puncture bite for basically no reason at all and I have finally come to agree with the four professionals who've told me it's not regular puppy behavior. So my questions were not really "what should I do about it?" they were more about other people's experiences of having difficult puppies and if it worked out in the end. I'm not going to explain every technique that my trainer recommends or justify myself, it's a difficult situation that I never thought I'd encounter and I don't need to be told that it's my fault when four professionals who have examined and worked with the puppy have told me that it's not.
 

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It's honestly hard to comment, because I really don't think there is such a thing as a 'difficult puppy' - it's mostly down to how we, as owners, relate to them, hold expectations & manage their behaviour.

When Dexter, my 7 month old, was that age, when he wanted to play, he would growl, bark & lunge, snapping at the air. This is really just simply how dogs play!

When he's behaving like this, do you have any large soft tug toys, you can play with him with? What happens if you re-direct the air-snapping to the end of a tug toy - does he show interest in the toy, & play / tug with it - or does he show no interest at all & continue to try and bite you?? (I would find the latter VERY surprising).

What are you usually doing with him when the air-snapping and growling occurs? Are you mid-play, or are you sat watching the TV minding your own business?

As I've said, this is probably a difficult question to offer advice on, as a 'difficult puppy' will range from person to person. At the end of the day, it's how we manage their behaviour and train them accordingly to re-direct unwanted behaviours, eventually making them an 'easy puppy'.
 

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cockapoo temperament reply

I have a had my puppy since 8 weeks old he is now 10 months old, he had very bad temperament just after the honeymoon stage when we got him and it got that bad i was going to send him back to the breeder. I took him to puppy training and had advice from the vet but everything i did that they told me to do didn't work and he was getting out of control and i new his aggressiveness was not normal puppy behavior. It was until i talked to an old farmer and he said stop mammy pammying the puppy he said to wrap a piece of paper up and smack him hard on the nose with it not on the back end as dog's are used to things dropping on the back end of them. So when i got home and he tried his usual aggressive stuff i got that piece of paper and smacked him and I tell you what it worked straight away and it pulled him into line from then on wards, i couldn't believe it and now i have this little rat bag of a puppy that's a barrel of fun now and I won't be without him.
I hope this helps you out with your little puppy and good luck :)
 

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Sorry Uniquelady - that is awful advice whether hitting on the back end or the dogs nose. Sure old school harsh methods can stop behaviour by scaring the dog but far better to use positive methods which will not damage your relationship.
 

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Mmmmmm......

I had terrible problems with my cockerpoo when she was growing up! I found out in the end that she is made hyper and aggressive when she eats too much protein. I have had to give her low protein food and know when she gets too much, as it all kicks off, even now. I don’t know if this is an idea to try. Puppy food has far too much protein for a small dog and there is another post with someone saying their dog won’t settle at night....maybe time to swap to adult food? I don’t know but it helped with mine. She is such a lovely 7 year old now, but it took a lot of experimenting to find out the cause of her aggressiveness. She never bit me, although she was inclined to inhibit-bite my husband on the heal if he stood too close to her when eating 🙄 she hasn’t done that for years!

I don’t think it is helpful to blame you, that doesn’t do anything! I really feel for you and had to post this as some kind of support for you not being able to bond with your puppy 😳 all the best.
 
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I don't think any specific blame was given here it's just that dogs simply aren't born into this world understanding human rules and it is up to us to show them how we expect them to behave. Many people who get the puppy are overwhelmed with normal puppy behavior like biting and being overly crazy and play growling etc and confuse this we aggressive behavior (I am not saying this is the case here but it does happen very often) when in fact its just a puppy that explores the world and plays with its mouth because unlike us it doesn't have hands. So behavioral problems especially at a very young age (unless there is a specific medical condition) shouldn't be blamed on the puppy it's probably a miscommunication between two very different species and again it's up to use to communicate to the puppy what we expect of him. Now this communication shouldn't be done by smacking the puppy. Like 2ndHand said this does in some cases potentially solve the problem initially but does like 2ndHand said damage the relationship between owner and dog, and can in many cases make the problem worse or cause many different behavioral problems to occur.
 

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It sounds like you are really struggling! My Riley is not quite 4 months old now. She has had periods of time when it feels like she is out of control. She would get so over-excited that she would growl and bite at us - including at our face. She'd even bitten my husband's earlobe a few times and it was not a pleasant experience.

I'm not an expert, but here is what we did that worked - maybe it would be worth trying? It takes a LOT of work, patience, and consistency, but if you can get this to work I think it will give you a clue as to whether or not this is truly a temperament problem or just an overly excited puppy:

Every time Riley bit more than just a gentle "mouthing" we would let out a high pitched "yip", say "no biting", turn around, cross our arms over our chests, and ignore her. Depending on what we were doing, sometimes we had to just walk away or go into an area where she couldn't get to us (typically, the bathroom). We would ignore her for a minute or two and then re-engage in playing. We NEVER played any tugging or aggressive games with her during these times as those would quickly escalate.

I know that with some dogs, the "yip" just causes more excitement - if that's the case with your dog, just say "no biting", stop play, cross arms, and turn/walk away. The idea is that you never reward them (even negative attention can be a reward to an overexcited puppy) by engaging with them when they are misbehaving.

After just a short while of doing this consistently we got to the point where any time Riley's play even started getting too aggressive we would just say "no biting" and she would immediately back off and play nice.

I also frequently hold and touch Riley everywhere - even putting her on her back and rubbing her belly when she was somewhat sleepy just to get her used to it. I think that a lot of contact like that also helps the puppy understand who is dominant but by doing it when they are sleepy it minimizes the aggression. It might also help you to bond.

I honestly think that your puppy will outgrow this phase - so hang in there!
 
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