Aggressive puppy

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by Janey, Oct 23, 2014.

  1. Janey

    Janey Registered Users

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    Hi everyone. I am completely new here and looking for some advice. I realise this forum is for lab owners but having followed Pippa's methods to the letter, I very much respect her methods and advice so hopefully a springer question is ok!
    I have an 11 week old springer puppy from working parents. Everything has gone really well - sleeping through the nights, housetrained, sit and recall coming on nicely, doing lots of socialising with people and my two older dogs.
    However I have one problem that I am really worried about. Last week at ten weeks old she suddenly started snarling, growling and snapping at me when I picked her up. Not puppy growling (I have enough experince of dogs to understand the ferocious puppy growl) This was a full on lips curled biting hands, lunging at face etc. This happened for four days. Usually in the evening. Whilst I did not particularly like this behaviour, I put it down to a tired, overwrought and over excited puppy. Each time it happened I crated her and she fell asleep.
    Today however things have got worse. This morning, a visitor was playing with the puppy (gently and appropriately) and she turned on him with the snarling and biting. I quickly removed her and managed to calm her - at this point I wouldn't say she was tired. Later in the morning we took her for her very first run on the beach where we met a couple with three dogs, an old lab, a young lab and a twelve week old springer. All the dogs started playing happily. My puppy was appropriately submissive to the other dogs - but not excessively so and was happy to have a rough and tumble with the two younger dogs. Suddenly however she turned on the dogs, biting snapping and growling - the springer pup was obviously quite taken aback and frightened and the owners not very happy. I intervened and picked her up and tried to calm her but she carried on biting and snarling at me until I eventually managed to calm her.
    Can anyone advise me on this? I think I know how to deal with it in terms of calming her, crating and time out etc. But my concerns are more long term. Could there be some kind of health issue? Does this indicate true aggression in the dog? I feel as though this does not bode well for the future and whilst I love my puppy dearly I cannot face the prospect of an aggressive dog. Help and thank you in advance!
     
  2. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    Hi Janey, springer questions are fine. :)

    A sudden change in behaviour like this definitely calls for a vet check. Such young puppies do not normally display aggressive behaviour unless extremely frightened or injured. The most likely reason a well-socialised pup would suddenly resist being picked up is that it hurts. So you do need to eliminate the possibility of a health problem or injury.

    Do let us know how you get on.

    Edited to add:

    I should also add, and I hope you'll find this reassuring, that in nearly every case where owners think a puppy is aggressive, the behaviour is actually 'play'. Usually when very over-excited. This can be mistaken for aggression even when the owner has previous experience of dogs. Some puppies are much more 'alarming' than others in the way that they interact with people and other dogs. Very calm handling and stopping all physical play is important with this kind of pup.
     
  3. Janey

    Janey Registered Users

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    Many thanks for your swift reply. I just need to clarify though - I really don't think it was about hurting as I picked her up. The first few times it happened were not as soon as I picked her up - more like "I don't want to stop what I'm doing and you picking me up is not what I want". The two incidents today started whilst she was on the floor, firstly being gently fussed then playing happily with other dogs. (They didn't do anything to hurt her, she just turned on them like flicking a switch! I picked her up to stop her hurting the other dog, she continued snarling and biting at me in my arms until i eventually calmed her. Again, many, many thanks for your help.
     
  4. Janey

    Janey Registered Users

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    So here we are later the same afternoon. I was playing with the puppy in my arms, stroking, snuggling, she was mouthing gently and being generally a lovely puppy - all good. Again without warning she started snarling aggressively- real curled back lips snarling and snapping at my hands. I quickly put her in her crate before any damage was done. So definitely not over excited. Not tired - she had been awake about 15 minutes from quite a long sleep. She'd just done a wee and poo so no discomfort there. I really don't understand this. And very worried.
     
  5. Naya

    Naya Registered Users

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    Hi and welcome to the forum.

    I would definitely get her checked over at the vets as it could be that you can't see an injury, but it might be hurting her somewhere as Puppa said.
     
  6. Penny+Me

    Penny+Me Registered Users

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    First stop for me would be the vet, just to rule anything out. Dogs are usually very good at hiding pain.

    If the vet gives the all clear then it's obviously behavioural. I fostered a jack russell pup once who used to behave exactly as you describe your pups behavior - it was like he would throw a tantrum when he didn't get his own way, or didn't get enough attention, and would turn into a real devil dog! It sounds like your pup is doing something similar - biting and snapping at you to gain your attention. It is extremely rare to see true aggression in a puppy that age, and it usually only comes with severe neglect or mistreatment. The next time you are interacting with your puppy and she starts to behave like this simply stop all interaction immediately. Just stand up and walk away; no eye contact, no physical contact, no speaking. Walk out of the room if you have to. If she follows you just keep ignoring her until she is displaying behaviour you want such as calm and friendly. The time out in the crate doesn't seem to be having an effect and you want to try and avoid your puppy associating the crate with a negative experience (such as a time out) as this could start to cause problems when you need to crate her.
    Does she get enough exercise? I understand she is only young but springer spaniels are very high energy and even at a young age need to be having physical exercise every day with off lead play. Mental stimulation is also very important - a ten minute training session is more tiring for a puppy than going for a walk and training will help to improve your relationship and reinforce boundaries and good behaviour. Puzzle toys, stuffed kongs and puppy chews are also great to give you a little bit of peace and quiet!!
     
  7. Janey

    Janey Registered Users

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    Thanks everyone for all your advice. I will take her to the vet and follow up on on the advice from Penny +Me. The exercise could be an issue - today was our first off lead exercise as she has only had her second vaccination last weekend (we took her to a very remote stretch of beach and let her have a run on the receding tide-line) so her only exercise has been running around the garden playing with us - which she has done a lot of! But we'll get her out to the "clean" beach every day now. I'll monitor things over the next few days and let you all know how it's going. Really grateful to you all.
     
  8. Sophie-Bum

    Sophie-Bum Registered Users

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    Hi,

    I just wanted to say I know exactly what you are going through. Our springer spaniel recently died. He was an awesome dog and made us want another doggy friend to complete our family. But I'm on a labrador forum! No chance I was having another springer pup, especially now I have my son. Honestly we thought we had a tazmanian devil or honey badger! He was a nightmare. Growling, snarling, biting (not normal puppy biting, but really meaning it) for no apparent reason. We'd read about springer rage and convinced ourselves he had that. One minute he'd be a normal happy playful pup, the next he'd be a demon dog. We had him checked at the vets and got a clean bill of health. We tried everything we could think of and all the advise given. I'd phone my husband at work in tears, I was devastated that somehow we'd made him hate us. One day I said to hubby I was seriously thinking of giving him up, thinking maybe because he was from working stock we just couldn't exercise and stimulate him enough. From that day onwards he was my best friend. I'm not daft enough to think it was anything other than coincidence but all my hard work suddenly paid off.

    Even with our new pup I miss him everyday. The first year was hard but he more than made up for it. I'm not saying all springers are like that but I do know how you feel. Like everyone else, I'd get a vet check first to rule out anything untoward. But if you can, stick with it. It sounds like you how to handle a pup, and in my (little) experience springers just make you work harder.

    Becky (and the everlasting, haunting memory of my devil dog springer pup) x
     
  9. Janey

    Janey Registered Users

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    Sophie - Bum, thank you so much for this post. This makes me feel so much better. I will of course get her checked by the vet but in my heart I kind of feel that there isn't anything wrong with her - she's a springer! And hopefully we'll turn a corner. How old was he when he started/stopped the aggressive stuff? The crazy, manic stuff I can deal with - it's the worry of the aggression that I'm finding hard to deal with.
     
  10. Sophie-Bum

    Sophie-Bum Registered Users

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    Hi Janey,

    I'd say looking back he was never quite normal! He certainly didn't we to snuggle as much as every other pup I've known. The worrying aggressive behaviour started at about 3 months. Fezzik was 5 months old and we had my brother-in-law to stay. It was then I realised it was going past naughty puppy into something that could be dangerous. I don't like rough training or manhandling dogs but Fezz just went crazy, nothing could stop his attacks. It took both of us to sit on him until he finally calmed down. I'd say the big change came at 8 months. It was like he just thought one day "hang on, these people are looking after me, and trying to love me". He let us in his mad head and we had a super friend for 9 more years.

    We lost him this year to glaucoma. He had an eye removed and 2 months later it happened to his other eye. Over night he was completely blind. He was terrified, couldn't even find his way around the house. He kept passing out and just gave up trying to navigate his new dark scary world, layed down and refused to move. Not a life for a springer. If it were just my husband and I I'd definitely have another, but we just can't risk the puppy-devil around my son. The crazy, manic typical springer lasted his life time, but the aggressive devil disappeared at about 8-9 months.

    luck, and I'm hoping there are no underlining health issues. Please do let me know how you get on x
     
  11. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    Hello Janey

    No experience of springers, or aggressive pups - but just wanted to say welcome.

    I hope things work out - and glad to see someone else has told you about a similar experience where they ended up with a wonderful dog.

    Best of luck with it, do let us know how you are getting on - spaniels are very welcome here.
     
  12. Sophie-Bum

    Sophie-Bum Registered Users

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  13. Dexter

    Dexter Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    Hi Becky,
    I can't help as I'm a lab owner and a first timer at that I just wanted to say hi and I'm glad you feel a bit better reading someone else's story....Oh Fezzik .....what a story :'( I can tell how much you loved him Sophie-Bum x
     
  14. Janey

    Janey Registered Users

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    Hello again everyone.

    Well no physical problems fortunately. So I guess its a case of how to deal with it. I think I am beginning to understand the pattern. I think this is happening when she is massively overexcited and/or wants to be doing something other than being held. (Again I know that this is normal puppy behaviour to some degree but I still maintain that the severity is extreme and downright dangerous -it is hard to see it as excitement and not aggression.No way could I let her be around children or anyone who wasn't pretty confident around dogs.)

    I "tested" this by picking her up in the middle of a crazy play session with a potato sack! She was ok for a few seconds then she let rip. This also fits with the incident playing with the other puppy. That had been her first real play session with another dog (my other two being very old and not up to playing) and she was demented! I hadn't tried to pick her up in that session though, but she was in a frenzy.

    So obviously I will deal with this in the ways that Pippa and others have suggested ie trying to restrict the crazy physical play and attempt to keep thing calm. But . . . "springer pup"and "calm" are not two words that you often see in the same sentence!

    I'm trying to work out if I should "test" her the way I did this morning or is that asking too much? Should I be able to go in and pick her up from an exciting game without being shredded? Or is it best not to put myself into that situation and just remove the thing that's winding her up and try and calm her using Pippa's methods?

    Also should I "insist" on holding her even when she clearly doesn't want to be? Or is that being unreasonable?

    Sorry for asking so many questions but I really want to get this right.

    Thanks everyone.
     
  15. heidrun

    heidrun Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    Hello and welcome to the crazy world of spaniels. ;D I have four spaniels, two of them springers. One of my girls was a very high octane puppy who would easily get over excited and snappy and snarly. I still vividly remember a time when I had to wear wellies in my kitchen where she lived because it was definitely open season on my feet and legs. :eek: I found that doing training sessions little and often through out the day calmed her much more than just running around free in the fields or on the beach. I channeled all her energy into retrieving games until she became totally hooked on it. She found it difficult to be picked up and just be held, so I would get a chew, like a rawhide bone and hold on to one end while she chewed on the other end, and with that she would settle in my arms quite happily.
    Have you posted a photo of your pup yet? Would love to see her. :)
     
  16. Boogie

    Boogie Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    My niece's Springer, Bryn, was the same. They also wore wellies indoors for weeks!

    He's two years old now and still high octane - constantly on the go, he never rests until bed time. But his energy is all into retrieving now, which he would do ALL day long. He is a gundog and pet. My niece had twins six months after she got Bryn - erk! - they have all survived and Bryn is great with the twins (Jack and Mary, 18 months old now) ;D

    We looked after Bryn for a week when the twins were born to give them a break. Tatze was just 10 weeks old. It was the craziest week I have ever, ever lived!!

    Here is a photo on a rare occasion they were still. You can see the mischief in both faces!

    :)

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Dexter

    Dexter Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    [quote author=Boogie link=topic=8435.msg119622#msg119622 date=1414234007]


    You can see the mischief in both their faces
    [/quote]

    You can!
     
  18. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    "What?! We didn't do nuffink!"

    ;D
     
  19. Janey

    Janey Registered Users

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    Aw, they look lovely!

    And Heidrun -that sounds just the same! I've got a lovely pic of my Hettie in angelic mode but I can't work out how to upload it! I'm not very techie. What do I do?
     
  20. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Re: Aggressive puppy

    Check out technical help. :)

    Basically, you have to upload your pic to a hosting site (I use Flickr) then link to it.

    It's a faff at first, but quick once you get used to it.

    Have a go - we love photos!
     

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