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View Full Version : 12 week old female Cavalier, showing a few signs of aggression



LanaChelesMaybelle
6th January 2010, 02:26 PM
Hi everyone. This is my first time posting. I got my first Cavalier puppy back in November. She's 3 months now and is really such a sweet dog. I have two bigger dogs as well, one which she just adores and play with and sleeps with. She has always been quite the cuddler. When I get home in the afternoon and let her out of her crate, she will whine for at least 15 minutes and want me to hold her the whole time before she'll even go potty (although I do try to put her down and ignore her until she does go.) She hasn't been very aggressive except for when she plays or is jumping on the other dogs, but it's always in a playful manner with her tail wagging. Lately, she's been barking a lot at and jumping on my 50lb Brittany Spaniel when I first let him inside. I'll correct her behavior b/c I don't want her thinking she runs the house. Some times I can't tell if she just wants to play or if she's really trying to show her dominance to the larger dogs. She always been a very vocal dog too since the beginning, even growling/whining sometimes when she's laying on her back letting you pet her. She'll growl one second and immediately start licking you.

The past 2 weeks, I've noticed some more aggressive behaviors towards me and my boyfriend, especially when she's sleepy. At night, if she's asleep on the bed, and I pick her up to move her, she'll do this low growl at first and then it'll turn into a nasty snarl where her face wrinkles up. I tell her no and give her a little pop on the nose, but she will not stop. I've tried putting her out as well for a little while (which helps at first) and even tried rewarding her when she stops the growling but nothing is helping so far. Does anyone have any suggestions for me? The only think I can think is that she is trying to be more aggressive since she's much smaller than everyone else in the house. So far, outside of the house, she's been great with kids, other people and other dogs. She's actually more scared of other dogs at first.

What training can I do to help curb this newly aggressive behavior?

Thanks,

Lana

SamT
6th January 2010, 05:40 PM
We have two dogs and one is allot smaller than the other (Charlie) but it was Sam who as a puppy used to growl when you picked him up in the morning to put him outside. You just have to say no and just pick him up, dont hesitate. Eventually he learned that no matter how much he growled etc he wouldnt win. He hasnt done it for a long time. It was not aggression, he just likes his comfort and sleep and does not like to be disturbed.

Charlie does boss Sam around but its because he has a stronger personality then Sam, Sam is a big baby!!

WoodHaven
6th January 2010, 06:05 PM
The pup is 12 weeks old NOW-- then you got her when she was very young in November.
Pups aren't born knowing how to interact with other dogs or people. Please don't use hitting and punishment on any dog, but especially not a 12 week old pup.
There are a few excellent books/authors out there--
http://www.mysmartpuppy.com/

MARK MARSHALL
6th January 2010, 07:16 PM
Could you please state the 'exact age' of your puppy when taken from Mother and the process used by the breeder to wean the puppy ?

It would seem clear that perhaps the desire to pass the said puppy onto you, has had a very detrimental effect on the pup which has not been socialised correctly ?

And what about feeding etc - what was your puppy given on arrival at your home considering it's tender age ?

Did you ask for the puppy soonest or was it offered to you ?

Regards Mark.

Marjorie
6th January 2010, 07:29 PM
Yes. kindness and patience. You need to determine just what her issue is.

Yorkysue
6th January 2010, 08:46 PM
You say she wants to be cuddled for about 15 mins when you get home in the afternoon. How long has she been left alone in her crate? If is it a few hours, then she is going to be very lonely for such a young baby, and will want some physical contact to compensate for being left, possibly for too long? Your other dogs sound as if they are outside dogs? so she only has contact with them when you are around. She probably does feel a bit threatened by them, and therefore feels she has to assert herself. (Please Please Please do not put her outside with them though!! Cavaliers are not outside dogs)

I would prevent her sleeping on the bed (which she thinks is her territory; take her away from any situation where she thinks she can 'throw a strop' and get nasty. Whenever she even begins to growl, immediately just say 'No' firmly, then divert her attention with a toy or something, so she forgets what she was growling at and concentrates on something else that is positive.

Karlin
6th January 2010, 08:47 PM
JasperActually her behavior with your older dogs is exactly how puppies play and does not sound aggressive at all, which I hope is reassuring -- dog play can look very rough but this sounds absolutely, 100&% normal puppy behaviour 9also, it would be very unlikely to ever see a 12 week old pup that is actually aggressive!). In about another month however, the older dogs will become far less tolerant and will (properly) start to correct her -- leave that to happen and do not intervene unless she is a constant pest to them or they are actually inflicting bites (the way dogs 'correct' is a growl warning then a snap that does not actually hurt or touch the puppy). It is good for her to have the guidance of an older dog anyway and the older adults will help shape her behaviour so she learns the ropes of how dogs should behave. Especially if a pup was homed at a very early age -- they really must be at least 8 weeks old and often do much better if they are 10-12 weeks.

Please try to forget the idea that a dog is secretly plotting to 'dominate' or run the house. They simply are not. :) This is long since discredited as a theory of dog behaviour. Sadly a lot of the well known TV trainers -- who have no background at all in animal behaviour -- continue to spread this myth and train dogs in depressing, old style ways that involve punishment techniques based on these discredited dominance theories.

Very few trainers these days (any that do positive methods training, clicker training etc) would ask people to punish a dog for growling. Some vocal dogs regularly growl in play and believe me, you quickly learn a play growl from a real growl. :) I have two of my group that growl in play all the time and make all sorts of silly noises while playing, and others who do not It is just noise, not an issue. But you also do not in my view ever want to scold a dog for growling anyway. A growl is a dogs polite way of indicating displeasure. Teach him or her not to growl and you are basically telling the dog never to give a warning -- just go straight to biting. Rather than scold a growl, determine why it is happening. If because she is guarding (an object, the bed etc) then address that issue as noted below -- but don't punish the growl. People who punish growls can typically end up with an even more difficult dog that never learns what desired behaviour is and only learns to bite rather than growl.

What she is doing is some resource guarding -- she wants to be on the sofa or in whatever place she is on, and growls to warn you to leave her alone.

The way to address this is never, ever ever to hit, slap or pop on the nose -- this only reinforces her concern that you are trying to displace her or take whatever it is she has and this actually makes the behaviur far worse, slowly becoming more aggressively defensive.

The most rewarding way for her and for you to approach this is by positive method training -- defusing the whole situation by making her absolutely confident that you are not about to take something valued, and over time to be willing to very happily and trustingly do as asked (by taking the time to train her to commands like 'off' when you want her to get down, or to send her to 'bed', or to say 'give' and have her happily surrender an item to you, or to be able to pick up a late of her food, etc).

How do you do this? Start by downloading this free book (http://www.dogstardaily.com/files/AFTER%20You%20Get%20Your%20Puppy.pdfIs it is) on caring for and training your new puppy by one of the world's foremost trainers, Dr Ian Dunbar. Read his explanation of lure training/positive training. And you will see one of the earliest things he discusses is teaching a dog to happily give up items and to accept being moved, handled, etc. :) It is really important and handy to have such a book to hand as it will answer so many of the questions you have, with great advice you can rely on. :)

Here are a couple of articles that will help you right away, adapted from the longer book:

http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/handling-and-gentling

http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/guarding-valued-objects

And this is invaluable:

http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/teach-your-puppy-and-respect-people

Using this:

http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/lurereward-training

You can use the lure technique to lead her right off the bed or sofa and then reward when she gets down. Link her getting off to an 'off' command or similar ('down' is not a good choice as we generally use this to mean 'lie down' and you do not want two actions linked to one command -- how will she know which to do/).

keep in mind that though puppies LOVE to learn and are very trainable, they need short training sessions (10-15 minutes max but you can do this a couple of times a day) and also, like small kids, cannot be expected to be perfect in their response every time. But you can easily start to shape her in a loving, positive way into the adult dog you wish her to be. Remember, a dog cannot figure out what you want her to be -- she needs you to show her and then reinforce with fun training each day.:)

LanaChelesMaybelle
6th January 2010, 09:28 PM
Thank you for all of the responses. They were very helpful. Thank you Karlin for all of the great resources too. I would think after raising two dogs by now that I'd have a better idea about training them, but every dog is so different and has different behaviors that need to corrected. Here's a few answers to some of your post.

Maybelle, my puppy, was a little over 8 weeks when we brought her home. Thanksgiving weekend to be exact. We actually did not get her from a breeder. We lucked upon her. Just for background info, some friends of ours went to the pound in Atlanta to adopt a dog one day, and someone had just brought in three purebred Cavaliers, one boy and two girls. I can't imagine why anyone would take them to the pound. But luckily, all three were adopted immediately, our friends adopting two of them. Well, it turns out right after bringing them home, our friends discovered the girl was pregnant with 6 little Cavaliers. So they just GAVE us one. We felt truly blessed!

Maybelle was weaned by the time we went to pick her up. The puppies were eating Pedigree puppy food and that's what we've kept her on since being home.

She is crate trained during the day but the other dogs are actually inside a lot of the time with her. So even though she is in her crate, she has their company and does get a lot of playtime with them once we get home. Unfortunately, with my commute, I am not able to make it home over lunch to let her out, so she is in her crate for a long time. That is partly why I've been so hesitant to put her back in the crate at night. I guess you could say I'm a sucker. But I definitely want to try whatever to nip this in the butt now. And I definitely plan on downloading that book! So far, she has been as fast learner. She sits on command and her house training is coming along nicely!

As far as being well socialized, she's great with other people and the other dogs that she has been around. We do have an alpha dog in our house that she knows to stay away from. He has definitely put her in her place and few times. She's not scared of him by any means, but the moment he gives her a growl, she turns the other way.

I hope I answered every question. I will try to reinforce her good behavior instead of punishing her growling. I do realize that growling is a good thing. Our oldest dog who is a pit bull/american bulldog mix had a problem with snapping at people when he was younger and we were soooo relieved when he finally learned to growl if he was uncomfortable. He has gotten better with age and constant training, so hopefully, little Miss Maybelle will get out of this phase soon too.

Thanks everyone for your advice!

Alana

WoodHaven
6th January 2010, 10:26 PM
Thank you for all of the responses. They were very helpful. Thank you Karlin for all of the great resources too. I would think after raising two dogs by now that I'd have a better idea about training them, but every dog is so different and has different behaviors that need to corrected. Here's a few answers to some of your post.

Maybelle, my puppy, was a little over 8 weeks when we brought her home. Thanksgiving weekend to be exact. We actually did not get her from a breeder. We lucked upon her. Just for background info, some friends of ours went to the pound in Atlanta to adopt a dog one day, and someone had just brought in three purebred Cavaliers, one boy and two girls. I can't imagine why anyone would take them to the pound. But luckily, all three were adopted immediately, our friends adopting two of them. Well, it turns out right after bringing them home, our friends discovered the girl was pregnant with 6 little Cavaliers. So they just GAVE us one. We felt truly blessed!

Maybelle was weaned by the time we went to pick her up. The puppies were eating Pedigree puppy food and that's what we've kept her on since being home.

She is crate trained during the day but the other dogs are actually inside a lot of the time with her. So even though she is in her crate, she has their company and does get a lot of playtime with them once we get home. Unfortunately, with my commute, I am not able to make it home over lunch to let her out, so she is in her crate for a long time. That is partly why I've been so hesitant to put her back in the crate at night. I guess you could say I'm a sucker. But I definitely want to try whatever to nip this in the butt now. And I definitely plan on downloading that book! So far, she has been as fast learner. She sits on command and her house training is coming along nicely!

As far as being well socialized, she's great with other people and the other dogs that she has been around. We do have an alpha dog in our house that she knows to stay away from. He has definitely put her in her place and few times. She's not scared of him by any means, but the moment he gives her a growl, she turns the other way.

I hope I answered every question. I will try to reinforce her good behavior instead of punishing her growling. I do realize that growling is a good thing. Our oldest dog who is a pit bull/american bulldog mix had a problem with snapping at people when he was younger and we were soooo relieved when he finally learned to growl if he was uncomfortable. He has gotten better with age and constant training, so hopefully, little Miss Maybelle will get out of this phase soon too.

Thanks everyone for your advice!

Alana

I REALLY (like you said) wonder why anyone would place 3 cavaliers in a shelter. There are numerous cavalier rescues in the Atlanta area.
CKCSCR
ACKCSC rescue trust
Lucky Star Cavalier Rescue and even the Greater Atlanta AKC club would have rescue contacts.

Karlin
6th January 2010, 10:29 PM
Thanks for the update and further information. :) That's really interesting about your pitbull cross, that he was able to relearn the idea of growling. That's a really big shift for a dog to make who has lost the ability to warn before reacting. I did a weekend aggressive dog seminar a while back which was fascinating and what the experts said was that the dogs that most of the time cannot be rehabilitated are those that attack without warning because they've eliminated that intermediary warning. So a growl is often very good. what owners want is not to eliminate the growl per se, they want to eliminate the fact that certain situations or behaviors cause the dog to growl inappropriately. At 12 weeks, your puppy is the perfect age to learn!

One thing I would strongly recommend would be to get a puppy playpen which is sometimes called an X pen. you could attach this to her crate so that she has the crates to retreat to and rest inside but can use a puppy pad outside the crate as a toileting area and also has room to play outside the crate. A small puppy is going to need to toilet inside the crate -- which you really do not want as it negates the whole point of crate training! -- but if she is not doing that now at her young age and such a tiny bladder, she must be in great discomfort by the time someone lets her out. In general, puppies can hold themselves for one hour for each month of age so really she needs to be let out every three hours. Crating her all day is like making a child sit all day in school without a toilet break. Even for an adult lasting a full work day would be extremely uncomfortable. If you read the Ian Dunbar book you will note he gives a suggestion for setting up a crate and puppy pen area for keeping a puppy happy and safe during the day. You might also consider trying to get the puppy into a dog daycare situation at least a couple of days a week or see if somebody in the neighborhood could come in midday to walk her or let her out into a garden to relieve herself. There is a great link to a video about crate training in the training section here, I'll go see if I can find it.

Karlin
6th January 2010, 10:38 PM
Here we go. This is in general a great website and this page lists a whole bunch of basic things for working with your new puppy.

http://www.dogspelledforward.com/dog-training-tutorials/

He has great videos too!

The one on crate training is here:

http://www.dogspelledforward.com/crate-training

*Pauline*
6th January 2010, 11:06 PM
How long is Maybelle alone for?

How big is the crate? Can you buy an exercise pen?

Long periods of solitary confinement is not healthy physically or mentally.

Could you ask someone to look after her during the day or pop in at lunch time?

How does she toilet? How do the other dogs toilet?

"Lately, she's been barking a lot at and jumping on my 50lb Brittany Spaniel when I first let him inside."

Pardon me if I've misunderstood but is the Spaniel left outside during the day?

I'm sure your intentions were good but this doesn't sound like much of a life for Maybelle.

LanaChelesMaybelle
7th January 2010, 08:13 PM
Karlin,

I actually had her crate set up int he guest bath/laundry area at first with a baby gate int eh door way. she had a training pad to use the bathroom on and she had plenty of area to move around. Unfortunately, she learned how to crawl over the baby gate! I don't know because it's pretty tall, but my Brittany learned to do this when he was a puppy too. But as I was reading you post, I thought that I might be able to put the crate in the doorway of the guess bath. I think it would block the doorway off from the rest of the house and she'd still have the whole bathroom to play in. I will try to do that when I get home tonight and see if the crate is tall enough and wide enough to close off the entrance to that room!

Oh, by the way, the link for that book your provided me with is no longer a working one...??

Pauline,

I can't help but be offended by saying it's not much of a life for Maybelle, as you're making that assumption on just a few details I've provided. I actually do bring Maybelle to work with me on occasion, but when I can't, I leave one of the other dogs inside with her when I crate her. My Brittany is an indoor dog, but he does spend some days outside. If you read what I wrote to Karlin above, I just started crating her without an exercise area due to the baby gate fiasco, but I might have a solution for that. Up until last week however, she was kept int he guest bath with her crate. The bottom line is though that she is not in solitary confinement all day and she does get a lot of play time with the other dogs too when she's not being crated. She has had a few accidents in the house and very few in her crate. The other dogs have been house broken since they were young. One is almost 2 and the other is 4 now. Unfortunately, I am not able to commute the 45 minutes to and from work during my lunch hour to let her out and I don't feel comfortable having one of my neighbors do it. I hope getting her the exercise area back can resolve that issue.


Thank you for the responses again!

Holly
22nd June 2010, 03:50 AM
Hi there- I just read this post as I was searching for information about Resource guarding. I'm in Atlanta, as well, and I have a fabulous dog-walker if you need him. Also, I am the Rescue rep for Cavaliers of Greater Atlanta should you ever come across a Cavalier in need.

Thanks,
Holly :)