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Old 01-22-2014, 07:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 1+ Year Old Toy Poodle Snapped out of the blue! WHY?!

My female toy poodle, Teddy, got me and my friend in shock when she just snapped and bit my friend very badly. Here is the back story: My friend is fostering Teddy for me for about three weeks. A week before the fostering started, I brought Teddy over to my friend's place to get her used to the new environment. Teddy was very relaxed and played happily with my friends and their two toddlers. I pretended to leave for 5 minutes just to see how Teddy reacted to my absence. She was unsure at first but did not bark or misbehave. After seeing that Teddy was at ease at this new place and establishing the toilet routine, I moved her stuffs like pen, bed and toys over to help her to settle down.

The first two-days while I was away, Teddy was noted to be slightly upset and "emo-ing" lying on the floor with her head down. When my friend tried to comfort Teddy by petting her head, she started to growl at my friend. Same thing happened when my friend tried to brush Teddy or just wanted to cuddle her. When my friend touched Teddy's bowl after feeding, she growled again. However, when I popped by over the weekend just to check on Teddy, she seemed fine and was relaxed when my friend stroke her.

Then the shocking thing happened during the third week. My friend was sitting on the floor feeding the two toddlers, Teddy came pestering and tried to get food from my friend. At this time, Teddy had already been fed. Despite giving her the "NO" command, Teddy did not stop pestering and started growling. So my friend pinned Teddy down to the floor and then she just snapped and bit my friend multiple times on both hands that drew blood and punctured the skin. It was really bad and my friend had to go to the emergency to get tetanus shot. I went to visit my friend after work when I heard about the biting incident. My friend said that Teddy seemed guilty after that and hid in one corner until I came to visit. However after I left, Teddy bit my friend's husband again when he tried to hold her.

Visits to the vet did not find any injury on Teddy that might cause her pain or discomfort. My suspicion is that Teddy has separation anxiety issue which escalates her food aggression. The odd thing is, my friend noticed that Teddy sometimes likes to be petted and sometimes does not and she shows her dislike by growling. This erratic behaviour seems a bit bizarre.

Does anybody know what is causing this unstable demeanor in Teddy and what can I do to tone down her erratic aggression? The frequency of growling is getting on a weekly basis and it will be very difficult to get foster for her next time if she does not mellow out.
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Old 01-22-2014, 08:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Ok, first, tell your friend to never, ever pin her to the floor again. That is an old and dangerous wives' tale. It causes nothing but more fear and aggression issues.

Second, it sounds like she is maybe a little unsure of your friend and therefore nervous. Her growling is a polite (in doggie terms) way of asking for more space, usually because of nervousness - even food guarding is caused by a fear of loosing her food. In her mind, someone is trying to take it away.

What I would suggest is, when she growls, back up, try to sort out what triggered the growl. Then, figure out a way for your friend to avoid situations that cause the growl. You can work on desensitizing her later when you have her full time again.

I am also going to strongly suggest that Teddy be crated or otherwise separated from the toddlers as they will have no clue what she's saying with her body language and/or growling. There is no reason to risk injury to them or Teddy.

Never, ever correct her for growling or you will loose the warning and she will have no choice but to go straight to a bite.

Remember, she is an animal, an intelligent animal, she has feelings and fears, wants/needs, likes and dislikes - just like every other living animal (including humans). We need to respect her as a living, thinking, feeling being not treat her like an animated toy to tolerate whatever we dish out. (boy, I sound downright animal rightist here - urg!)

I hope your friend will recover quickly with no hard feelings toward Teddy or you. I hope you get to take Teddy home with you soon, I'll guess it's really hard on both of you to be apart.

Take care!
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Old 01-22-2014, 08:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Oh man. There's so much going on I don't even know where to start. Sorry about this unfortunate situation, for everyone, there's other members that'll chime in for sure to explain better than me about more in the why this happened.
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Old 01-22-2014, 09:08 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BorderKelpie View Post
Ok, first, tell your friend to never, ever pin her to the floor again. That is an old and dangerous wives' tale. It causes nothing but more fear and aggression issues.
My friend was emulating cesar milan's way which she acknowledged later that she shouldn't have tried that. Is there anyway to get Teddy stop pestering my friend when she is feeding the toddler? Teddy usually responds to my "NO" command and will just drop it but when it comes to my friend on top of the temptation of food, she becomes fixated and command does not work anymore.

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Originally Posted by BorderKelpie View Post
What I would suggest is, when she growls, back up, try to sort out what triggered the growl. Then, figure out a way for your friend to avoid situations that cause the growl. You can work on desensitizing her later when you have her full time again.
My friends and I tried to find out what trigger the growling. Physical injuries and discomfort have been ruled out. I understand the food/bowl guarding part and this, I believe, can be worked on. But what really baffles me is that she growls at my friends even when they pet her gently and show her affection. Sometimes she likes it and will lick my friends, sometimes she just growls. Don't you think this is very odd and inconsistent response to affection? Should my friends just stop showing her affection at all.

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Never, ever correct her for growling or you will loose the warning and she will have no choice but to go straight to a bite.
What should be the proper response to growling? My friend's husband tried to dominate her by cornering her and said "NO" sternly until she surrendered and laid down. I saw the trainer did that as well. They explained to me that this is the way to exert dominance. Both of them got bitten. Was it wrong to do that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BorderKelpie View Post
Remember, she is an animal, an intelligent animal, she has feelings and fears, wants/needs, likes and dislikes - just like every other living animal (including humans). We need to respect her as a living, thinking, feeling being not treat her like an animated toy to tolerate whatever we dish out. (boy, I sound downright animal rightist here - urg!)
I agree with you. I do feel that Teddy is actually a very bright dog with a very gentle soul and shouldn't be treated like a toy.

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I hope your friend will recover quickly with no hard feelings toward Teddy or you. I hope you get to take Teddy home with you soon, I'll guess it's really hard on both of you to be apart.
My friend was cool with it but I felt so bad that she got injured. She still adores Teddy but is understandably wary of Teddy now. When I visited my friend the evening after she got bitten, Teddy was relaxing on my lap almost falling asleep and my friend couldn't help but pet her because she looked so adorable. And Teddy was fine with that.

I really want the best for Teddy without putting my friends and family in danger of getting bitten or growled at. What should I do?

Last edited by Leo's Teddy; 01-22-2014 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 01-22-2014, 09:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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To stop her from pestering, put her inside a crate. She clearly needs her own space. Poor Teddy! I hope your friend is getting better soon.
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Old 01-22-2014, 09:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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When she growl, she needs her space so quietly escort her to her crate. Thats it. Very easy. Dont correct a growl, you would just aggravate her for no reason. After a couple minutes inside her crate, she will settle down then let her out of her crate. Repeat on the next growl.
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Old 01-22-2014, 09:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Im not a trainer, but it sounds to me like your friend and her husband are trying to use methods they don't have near enough knowledge to use. They have scared the crud out of your poodle and your poodle is reacting out of fear. Honestly if it were me, I would get my dog and bring her home and then contact a behaviorist to try to reverse any psychological damage that has been done.
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Old 01-22-2014, 10:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I'd be careful trying to escort her to her crate once she is growling. Trying to pick her up or herd her to her crate may cause her to bite as well.

Definitely agree with BorderKelpie's advice. At the very least keep Teddy separated from the toddlers - especially when they or Teddy are eating.

Hopefully you can get things sorted out for Teddy and your friends!
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Old 01-22-2014, 10:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thank you guys. I have been quite stressed and distracted at work over this issue with Teddy. You guys and your suggestions really make me feel better. Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joelly View Post
To stop her from pestering, put her inside a crate. She clearly needs her own space. Poor Teddy! I hope your friend is getting better soon.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joelly View Post
When she growl, she needs her space so quietly escort her to her crate. Thats it. Very easy. Dont correct a growl, you would just aggravate her for no reason. After a couple minutes inside her crate, she will settle down then let her out of her crate. Repeat on the next growl.
Are there any ways to get her back to the crate obediently? I am not exactly sure how to escort when she is in the growling mood or fixated with food. Appreciate some explicit instructions so that I can convey them to my friend who is still fostering Teddy at the moment. When we crate Teddy she will whine until we let her out...
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Old 01-22-2014, 10:15 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Why is she at your friends house? Toys can become very attached to their owners, and to place one with a family of toddlers.... :( The dog should be removed and brought home. Feed her in her crate, teach her that is a good place. The dog has already bitten two people more than once and you leave her there with toddlers? Just asking for a disaster.

Personally, I would not live with a dog that bites. Nope, too many nice dogs out there.
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