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5 month old puppy growling and snapping at husband

Discussion in 'Labrador behaviour' started by Malgagnon, Jul 25, 2018.

  1. Malgagnon

    Malgagnon Registered Users

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    We have a male American black lab named Fred that's almost five months. We love him. He does have awfulfood agression and we've already met with a trainer they is going to take him for a boot camp. However, we're now worried he may not have just food agression but be aggressive in general.

    Since Monday morning he has started growling at my husband when he approaches him to pat him. Tuesdays night when I wasn't home and he let him out of his crate he was growling. After he Fred him his dinner and he was in the kitchen with him he snapped and really bit him good. Then this morning again when he was taking him outside to pee and he was patting him on our patio steps he was growling again.

    When we are altogether he doesn't seem to do it as much.

    Any ideas? We can't figure out what triggered it or how to fix it. Thinking boot camp won't be able to solve this since it's something to do with my husband.
     
  2. Stacia

    Stacia Registered Users

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    Boot camp will probably make it worse. Aggression is usually triggered by fear, has your husband unintentionally scared him, or trying to cure the food aggression your dog now perceives your husband as a threat to his food? You would be better to have a behaviourist who believes in positive training methods and finding out WHY your dog is aggressive to your husband and then finding ways to address this problem.
     
  3. QuinnM15

    QuinnM15 Registered Users

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    Agree with @Stacia, I think you would be better to get a behaviourist in to observe interactions with your puppy and family and help you learn how to train/manage the puppy in a positive way.
     
  4. lucy@labforumHQ

    lucy@labforumHQ Administrator Forum Supporter

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    The advice to see a positive reinforcement behaviourist is exactly what I would do too, but in the meantime you might find this helpful: How To Stop Your Puppy Growling Over Food. Best of luck, and do let us know how you get along!
     
  5. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    I agree that the best way forward is to fond a behaviourist who uses force-free methods.
    If that is not possible, the book "Mine' by Jean Donalson could help you. It isn't just theory but a complete step by step training plan to overcome resource guarding aggression. It gives very detailed instructions for different scenarios and lists what signs to look for in your dog.
    In the meantime I'd suggest moving right away from your dog's bowl before you send him to eat and leave him completely alone to finish it.
    I wonder where on his body our husband is patting him? Many dogs don't like being patted on the head for example. Of course in time you can condition a dog to acept being touched all over, by starting with the briefest touch paired with food. At the moment it would probably be best if your huband throws your pup treats from a distance - not dependent on what the puppy is doing, simply pairing his presence with food.

    Are you sure what you are seeing is aggression? Puppies do bite - even enough to draw blood - as part of play or as a way of getting attenion.

    I think the idea of 'boot camp' alarms many of us as it sounds as if it means training by punishment. If you do decide to let a trainer take your pup, do question them in detail about their methods first. Training a puppy kindly means you end up with a well-mannered dog who is secure and confident.
     
  6. Malgagnon

    Malgagnon Registered Users

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    Thanks for all the input everyone.

    After more thought and talking to some friends, an animal control officer we know, and other trainers we decided boot camp isn't going to be good for Fred.

    For what it's worth, boot camp, isn't really training by punishment it was just board and train. Which is why we decided against it. The trouble seems to be our house and how he sees himself fitting in here. There is never any problems outside our house.

    We think maybe my husband has unintentionally scared Fred a couple times so he's suspicious of him when there's food around. He just does not want to be touched if he's just finished a meal or is about to eat.

    Our plan of action is for my husband to spend more 1 on 1 time with him, walks, dog park, feeding more meals, and letting Fred come to him for attention instead of my husband going up to him just to be safe though 95% of the time Fred has no issues with my husband.

    We are also going to enroll Fred in a 19 week obedience class so we are handling him and he learns to follow our commands.
     
    Diane Hess, Aisling Labs and QuinnM15 like this.
  7. Malgagnon

    Malgagnon Registered Users

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    Hi everyone.... Fred is 6 months today and had an aggressive outburst out of the blue or so it seems.

    We have been hand feeding him his meals to help with his food guarding issues over the past month. His general attitude has definitely improved. He doesn't guard his bully sticks or peanut butter kongs like he used to. He stops what's he's doing and looks up to see if we're going to give him a treat and allows me to take whatever it is he's working on.

    Anyway...

    Today when my hand was feeding him his breakfast he just up and bit his hand while he was eating. Didn't break skin thankfully. It waswas chic since he had been having diarrhea but he's been having chicken and rice over the last few days and has been normal. He seemed to be over the diarrhea and we were starting to mix in his normal food today. Well when I heard the commotion I came downstairs. Fred ran over to the gate wagging his tail jumping a little excited like he always is to see me. But then when I got over the gate and went to pet him he attacked me. Growling showing teeth, had my whole hand in his mouth chomping down tho not breaking skin. Then he just didn't want to be touched at all even when he would come up to us. If a hand was near him, growl. It was very weird. He was like that for about 20 minutes. But now seems over it. Acting normal. Letting me touch him and playing. I'm taking him to the vet but I don't know if anything medically really is wrong.
     
    Diane Hess likes this.
  8. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

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    Malgagnon, you need to work closely with a vet and then with a behaviourist to figure out a way forwards. The vet should give him a thorough check over and perhaps you can discuss with them whether you can try a course of pain meds. If the problem seems better, it could be that he has some low grade pain which is affecting his behaviour. Often dogs don't show pain on exam, but they are just being stoic or they are subdued by fear of being at the vets. That's why trialling pain meds can help sometimes.

    You could also try to get some more information from your breeder about how the litter was raised: Were there ever squabbles between the puppies over food or resources? How were the litter fed, were they free fed a whole load of food to help themselves to? Were they fed from a communal bowl, from individual bowls? Were they given high value items like Kongs or bones?

    All this info will be useful when you see a behaviourist. Please make sure your behaviourist is force-free or they will make matters worse if they use punishment. He is conflicted enough as it is, from your account.

    I would suggest, instead of hand-feeding meals into bowls, that you just get rid of bowls altogether - they can become such issues... dogs should really be training with all their meals anyway, there is so much to teach them and feeding them free food is just wasting food you could use for training behaviours. My dogs train for all meals until they are at least 3 years old(!) and never even see or touch a bowl in all that time.

    Take a look at https://academyfordogtrainers.com/find-a-trainer and see if someone is near you.
     
    Diane Hess likes this.
  9. Malgagnon

    Malgagnon Registered Users

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    Thanks Jo, so when we went to the vet he did think he noticed Fred might have had some discomfort when he put pressure on an area of his tummy and hips. So there could still be something going on in his GI track. He's going to be on antibiotics for the next 5 days. And they are testing a fecal sample to see if there are any parasites.

    If he still is acting out then I'll bring him back for an x-ray.

    Also, that's interesting about to bowl at all. We don't hand feed into the bowl, just use the bowl to hold is food and we make him work for the food and give it to him by hand. That's why yesterday was so weird. We had been doing the same thing for a month and it had been great but then he made the aggressive chomp out of nowhere acting like he's never eaten before and never would again. He was sort of like that this morning as well.
     
    Diane Hess likes this.
  10. Aisling Labs

    Aisling Labs Registered Users

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    Don't have anything to add except to say that I hope that you and the Vet can find out what is going on as quickly as possible. Hugs.
     
    Diane Hess likes this.
  11. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

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    It does sound quite strange. Have you had his thyroid tested fully as per Jean Dodd's recommendations? Weird aggressive behaviours like this should always see the thyroid getting a proper check...

    Can you describe what happened in more detail? Who was holding the bowl, how far from the dog was the bowl, how low down, was the hand that was bitten actually in the bowl at the time.... and so on...
     
  12. Anne123

    Anne123 Registered Users

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    Let your vet do a thorough examination. It does remind me of a young dog of my sister. Not a lab but a Dobermann. He got a bit of aggression when petted o the back. She went to see the vet. X-rays were made and it happened to be Wobbler Syndrom....He was in pain when someone touched his back!
     

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