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Thread: Very confused and upset

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Very confused and upset

    A few minutes ago Luke and I were playing ball in the house as we normally do during the day. Sometimes he gets a little excited with the ball while playing with it and growls at it while tumbling around on the floor with the ball. It's no big deal, I just stand back and let him play. But this time as I was turning to walk away, he barked at me. I turned back around and he was crouched down low in a lunging position, growling at me! I knew no good could come from that posturing so I turned back around and walked away slowly. He then raced past me and swung around in front of me and crouched down again and growled. This time he didn't give me a chance to turn away before he lunged at me and snapped at me. Then he ran away again at top speed, swung around behind me jumped up and bit me again. I screeched "ouch!" and stood still with my arms folded, turned away from him again and he ran back up to me, growling and bit me on my knee! He kept hopping up and biting me no matter how many times I "yelped" until I finally had enough.

    Whenever he does this to the kids, i put him on a leash so that I can control his movements and access to the kids. It seems to calm him down. So I put him on a leash. He went to sleep immediately. He has never done this to me when the kids weren't around. I don't understand what happened. He was fine and then all of a sudden he went nuts!

    Can anyone shed some light on what might have happened and I how I can prevent something like this from happening again?

    Thanks!
    scm

  2. #2
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    The crouching position is a play bow -- he thinks he is simply playing with you. As you are guessing, he is nipping because he is playing with you as he'd play with other dogs. As he has not fully learned to inhibit his bite, something you or other dogs need to teach him, he is nipping you too hard.

    I think I gave you the link to Dr Ian Dunbar's book download 'After You Get Your Puppy' which gives lots of advice on this type of training. Please do wdownload it and read it as it will have answers to so many of your questions It takes time and effort to train though, as puppies/dogs do not learn straight away. It would likely help too if he was getting lots of play exposure to other pups and adult dogs -- they will tend to let a pup know when it is hurting and crossing boundaries. A young pup needs LOTS of exposure to other dogs at this age as if they are not well socialised, they then have problems around other dogs because they never learn polite behaviour. So this would likely help him too.

    These are normal issues with puppies -- and it's why I generally recommend young families get an adult dog rather than a puppy as pups are very hard work for the first 12 months of their lives, and this is generally unexpected and can be overwhelming for people who haven;t had a dog before (as an adult! Often our childhood experience of owning dogs is all the fun and none of the work and training that was done by our parents!). But people like to get puppies. And they generally don't believe how challenging a puppy is until they are in the middle of that challenge and often, having a hard time of it.

    I'd get him to a training course, rewards-based, immediately too. This age would be a good time and it would help manage his behaviours and increse his socialisation and intersction with other dogs.

    But basically, there is no need to think you have a problem doog -- you have a normal, (sometimes over)excited puppy who just wants to play.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

  3. #3
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    I was just about to post that it sounds like he was just trying to get you to play! But Karlin gave so great advice, so good luck with the reading and puppy classes

  4. #4
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    PS one thing you can do when he gets this overexcited is just quietly lead him (on his lead if you want, or gently by his collar) to a puppy xpen or say the kitchen and put him on his own to chill out for 5 minutes then let him out again, no comments, no scolding, nothing. If you don;t own an xpen I'd recommend one: they are like a playpen and making managing a dog so much easier, especially excited puppies! I think they are an essential tool too when there are kids about -- as sometimes the pup needs to be safe from the kids and vive versa. I'd get one that has three foot high panels. I use mine all the time -- these days usually two segments together as an impromptu gate. I keep the two panels assembled all the time, slid into a space in the kitchen for storage and handy access.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

  5. #5
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    X-pens are great also because they can hook onto a crate to make the space bigger, although I wouldn't suggest using it that way until Luke is older. I hooked mine onto The crate for Riley after she had SM decompression surgery last year. When she was able to move around more, but I still needed to separate her from the other dogs and to keep her from jumping, I used carrabiners to hook it onto the crate to give her a little more space to walk around in. I put a bed on the floor outside the crate so she had two options for resting and relaxing. I agree with Karlin on this one, that x-pens are great. I also use one to block off acess to two different rooms - since Oz just turned 2 last week I still don't let him have full run of the house when I'm not home (actually even when I'm home also).
    Bev
    Oliver (blenheim, born 3/2001), Riley (black & tan, born 8/2002,), Madison (ruby, born 9/2003), and Oz (tri-color, born 7/2007)

  6. #6
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    Also: if you are working on training your pup, you also can easily give him an alternative behaviour to do that stops the unwanted behavior. For example: a sitting dog isn;t a nipping dog, a lunging dog, or a jumping-up dog. But you have to have worked to cheerfully train Luke to sit reliably before you can expect him to do so when asked, in situations where he has to go from an overexcited activity to the self-control of a sit. And that of course is why a dog that has some training also has better self-control and the more training and interaction you do with your dog (eg the 'no free lunch' approach) the more self control your dog will have.

    But puppies go thru puppyhood and some behaviours are normal just as you found in raising your children. Two year olds throw tantrums. Three-four year olds are iffy on using the toilet. Small kids cry until they get what they want or in hopes of getting what they want. You must expect 'baby' behaviour from a puppies too and not blame the puppy or feel it is a problem. The Dunbar book will help you understand what is going on and how to shape your puppy in critical ways right now, while he is young and trainable. If not shaped now, it is 500% harder with an adult who has acquired unwanted behaviours.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

  7. #7
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    Max still does this to Mindy A LOT and he's nine months old. She generally doesn't want to play (and since to him playing means dragging her around by her ears who can blame her?). He has figured out that her bark is worse than her bite and he is bigger than her now. He is fairly easily distracted and something my agility trainer told me that I have used when I have my hands full is saying "OH SO NO". As she says, you really can't say it in a crabby voice and she saves it for when her dogs are doing something quite bad (such as Max jumping up on me and trying to eat my pant leg while waiting for our turn).

    I found it's also good to watch for signs that they might be getting overexcited and change the play to something calmer before things start to get out of hand. Max still gets incredibly excited to go for walks (even though he gets two a day). Since I know that I make him sit to get his harness on and then "down" while I do Mindy's. That gives him something to focus on rather than how excited he is. I'm not saying that getting his harness on isn't still a struggle sometimes but he rarely moves while I'm getting Mindy ready. One step at a time.

  8. #8
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    Red face

    Geez, I feel so silly. Especially since this isn't my first puppy. I think the growling is what's throwing me off. When I take him on his walks, there is a large lab he plays with that lets him know boundaries. But finding a class would be a better option since there aren't many other dogs for him to interact with.

    I've been trying to download the book but my computer isn't downloading it properly so that's part of my continuing confusion. I am going to try to stop freaking out until after I read the book!

    I don't think I have a problem dog. I think my dog has a problem owner! But my one redeeming quality is that I can be taught!

    Thanks for your patience!
    scm

  9. #9
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    Don't feel silly -- these are hard signs to read sometimes!

    I can send it as an attachment to your email if you'd like.

    Some dogs just like to growl when playing. Jaspar is a growler and makes a huge amount of noise. It's all in play though and makes me laugh sometimes.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

  10. #10
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    Ollie, my youngest, will be 2 years next month and he is and has always been a major "talker" (as I call it). He growls when he is excited and plays and uses his mouth a lot. He knows bite inhibition, however, so it doesn't hurt. I think some dogs are just more verbal (with their voices & mouths) than others.
    Trisha in Southwest Florida
    Cavaliers: Casey, Ollie, & Winston and usually a foster or two! Cats: Pebbles & Benson

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