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Old 09-19-2010, 11:54 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Toy poodle is overly aggressive and growls a lot

Bubbles is a 3 year old female. She turns into a little monster if I happen to be holding her and someone comes close to me...this is adults, children and other dogs. She is this protective of my daughters and granddaughter. She barks, growls and tries to bite if they don't back off. If she is on the ground and on her lead, she is plumb happy to be petted and played with. It is only if we are holding her.

Also, when we are alone and she is sleeping on my lap, she will growl if I pet her.

She is a fun dog. Active, playful and full of personality.

Is there anyway I can stop this behavior? The only thing that seems to help is to put her in her carrier, but she can't be expected to spend that much time in a carrier either.

Thanks for any suggestions. :(
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Old 09-19-2010, 12:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi and welcome to the board!
It looks like you have a dog who is showing signs of "little dog sydrome".

You can google "How to stop little dog sydrome" and you will get a bunch of hits.

I would personally avoid crating because i like to teach my crew that crate is a fun/good place.

Hope this helps!
Best wishes!
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Old 09-19-2010, 12:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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When you're holding her and she does that, put her down, ignore her. Continuing to hold her rewards this behavior.

When she does it when YOU are petting her in YOUR lap, shove her off and stand up. That is YOUR lap, she does NOT own it, by allowing her to continue to stay in your lap, you reward the growling. Only hold her while she behaves, and only pet her in your lap while she behaves. When she starts showing aggression, time to push her out
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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A lot of trainers now seem to think that aggression is a response to fear. If she growls when you are holding her, but not when she's on the ground, perhaps she fears not being able to get away from unwanted attention?

As far as growling while on your lap, that sounds similar to something my miniature will do occasionally. If he doesn't want to be disturbed, and I try to move him, he'll sometimes give a little 'bugger off' growl. Circumstances dictate how I deal with it. If he's in his bed, and has just hiked 20 miles, I might let it slide. If he's on (my) sofa, I don't tolerate it. He loses couch privileges immediately.
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Old 09-20-2010, 02:23 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Have you picked her up to protect her from anything in the past? It does sound as if she is happy to accept attention when she chooses, but uncomfortable at being restrained as people approach. I would try a combined approach -

First, don't put her in the position of needing to growl, if you can possibly avoid it. If she want to get down when other people are around, and growling/snapping makes you put her down, then you are reinforcing her behaviour. I would simply avoid picking her up when people are around for the time being.

Then work on making the approach of people a signal for GTFP - Good Things For Poodles. Depending on how long she has been behaving like this, it may take a few days, or a few weeks, but a treat when someone enters the room, and BEFORE she gets growly, and very gradually holding on to the treat a little longer and a little longer, should help. Look up counter conditioning for more ideas.

Growling when being petted - I agree. Gently lifted off lap and onto floor!
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Old 09-20-2010, 07:28 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I think she is "resource guarding" you when you are holding her. I would look at some of the posts on this board about that subject. As far as growling at you on your lap? I would not let her be on the furniture or your lap. If she can't play nice, she has to stay on the floor. Get her a dog bed.
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Old 09-20-2010, 10:21 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Dakotagrams, you don't say whether this is recent behaviour, or a long-standing problem. If it has started quite recently it may be worth checking that there is no physical problem triggering it - discomfort if held in a certain way, for example.
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:23 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Overagressive toy poodle

thanks for the help, everyone. This is long standing behavior which has gotten worse. I have been trying the "poke with a finger and make her get off my lap" when she growls and it seems to be working.

She does not really like many treats so far. I am going to try to keep some cooked chicken on hand. Also, she LOVES her carrier. She will even get in it and close the door. Guess, she thinks she needs a time out. lol!

When she is on lead or in the yard and someone comes, she is friendly and wants to play. It is just if I am holding her in my arms or on my lap, therefore, worse when I am in the house.

She is really trying to figure out what is happening. When I force her to get off my lap for growling, she tucks her tail and walks into the other room, looking back at me several times and I ignore her. I do invite her up later and keep going through the process.

Again, thank you everyone.
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