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Hi there - I'm new to the forum, primarily because I need some advice. I became aware of a mini. poodle near my home who is being rehomed. I have always wanted one, so I went today with my 5 year old GBGV to meet this 18 month old little boy. He does have some behavior problems which were a little bit perplexing to me and, before committing to him for 15 years, thought I should find some knowledgeable people to help me figure out what behaviors are common to the breed and how others have managed them.

From what I can tell from visiting this dog in his home with his Mom alone, also outdoors on a walk, then finally with the two dogs off leash in his yard. To begin with, I rang the doorbell and waited to hear the sort of crazy barking that usually follows ringing a door bell. After several seconds I heard him bark, but only briefly and it was clearly an "alert" bark which only lasted briefly. I rang the bell again, hoping to provoke a different response and the very same thing happened. Then the owner opened the door and then the dog went nuts barking. He was barking at me, but not advancing on me at all. His owner put him on a leash, which I'd asked her not to do because I wanted to evaluate the worst of him to know if it was something I could manage, but she didn't want him to jump up, so I just followed them into the kitchen. He continue to bark, with no escalation and no indication that he'd stop, until his owner took out food and distracted him. Eventually he settled enough so we could talk and she'd had a trainer in to help with his barking and he'd prescribed what seemed to be an excessively painstaking remedy. He was very interested in watching me, until I moved an arm, or turned to look at him. Then he'd begin to bark again, looking back toward his Mommy periodically. There was no aggression in his bark. I began tossing food to him and little by little he came closer, then took food from my hand, but immediately backed away and started barking again. It was odd, almost like he was being protective of his owner and himself at the same time, but different in that he'd stop so easily. It only took me 10-15 minutes with the food before he was willing to walk away.

We took a walk, with my dog and I walking first, at her suggestion. I looked back and noticed that he did not pee where my dog peed, but that he was mimicking my dog's oddly circuitous route. We passed 4 dogs on the way (owner had said he was "reactive" to dogs and people). I stopped to talk to each of the dogs we passed and the poodle only barked at one of them. The owner said that he lunged, but I didn't see that. We went back and let the dogs out in the yard - they loved each other! Running, running, running, then rough housing, which was seriously rough for the poodle. He was all teeth, grabbing my dog's houndy ears, biting at his butt because he could run faster. My dog is very patient, especially with puppies. He didn't seem to mind, as long as he got to run, too, but we fostered an Australian Shepherd who did the same thing and my dog got tired of that after a while.

I'm sorry this is so long.

His behavior was reminiscent of all the toy poodles old lady's used to own when I was young, except that it changed completely when we left the house. I insisted on taking him out of the yard to see how he'd respond to me alone. He was reluctant to leave his owner, but I just kept walking, holding food, so he came along, then we turned the corner and it was like he completely forgot he had an owner.

The barking is the biggest problem I can see, and I don't know how to stop that kind of thing, especially where I'm not entirely sure what he was barking about. Clearly he was uncomfortable with my being in his house, but he didn't mind when I was in his yard. (We did not have a chance to go back inside to see how he'd behave with the two of us.) The owner said that he does not bark at any children, either her own daughter or friends that come home with her.

Any thoughts? This is an 18 month old Miniature Poodle. I imagine he was not well socialized, and I don't think the owner has been given good advice about addressing the issue. His play behavior was excessively mouthy - like a younger puppy. Is this common for poodles?

Thanks for any help you can give me as I try to decide whether to take a risk on this dog.
 

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Interesting - not an expert, but sounds to me like the dog has learned to bark at people so it gets a treat to be quiet. As for poodle play, in my experience poodles and poodle crosses can be maybe a little mouthier than some dogs? But usually the preferred poodle play style I have seen is a lot of high speed running, play bows, and wrestling with their feet. i wonder if it's more of a "poorly socialized and was never told off by an older dog" issue?
 

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I'm not a trainer. Some on this forum are. But this is my impression.

To me it sounds like this is an insecure and anxious dog. It is not at all a normal temperament for a well bred, well socialized mini poodle, but it seems unlikely that this dog had a good puppyhood. It's wonderful of you to consider taking this dog on, but I would not do so without knowing what you're committing to. The barking at strangers is because he's a very fearful dog and he is nervous and uncomfortable with the situation. It may take a lot of work to help him get over this. It is impossible to know how much remedial socialization will help him to overcome this, because you don't know how much is nature vs nurture. The leash reactivity is also a fear response. He has no confidence.

It sounds like he has more confidence with other dogs than with people, but lacks dog-dog socialization and has no idea what is appropriate play. This may improve as he learns how to take corrections from older dogs, but how fast or to what degree is hard to say. I would not bring in a new dog that you think may be too much for your current dog unless you have good ways to separate them to give your current dog time alone.

You may be able to arrange to have a respected trainer evaluate the dog to help you make a decision.
 

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Well I'm not a trainer but I have had my share of dogs that I trained. My standard poodle is mouthy in play with other dogs, our boxer in't keen with it but he is ok and will say when enough is enough and I do supervise their play. After they are out playing for 15-20 minutes all is fine. The barking in the house at you, well you are a stranger and he is probably somewhat fearful. That would likely be different in your home with you but when someone new does in its likely to happen. Perhaps the current owner would allow you to take him home for two -four weeks with the option of returning him if it doesn't work out for you. I would also look into finding a trainer to work with you, not the one who is working with her as I feel giving a dog treats when it clearly isn't behaving only encourages that behavior. I do think the dog would be work to re socialize but it can take time and perhaps he will not change from what you see. I had to google GBGV I presume Grand Bassett Griffon Veneeen. This is one bred I am totally not familiar with.
 

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I am intrigued that he behaved as if concerned while you were with his owner, but walked away with you reasonably happily. I wonder if he is picking up on his owner's anxieties, or perhaps, as others have said, she has inadvertently turned barking at visitors into a treat dispensing game. I would ask to speak to the trainer she consulted and get their take on the situation. Poodles do tend to be mouthy, but are usually soft mouthed if well socialised - which this pup may not have been, by the sound of it. If you really like the dog apart from the barking I think the trial stay is a good idea, and would give you an opportunity to get him checked by your vet (essential before taking him on permanently) and by a trainer or behaviourist you trust. You don't say whether the owner is asking you to pay for him or not - given the amount of work and training he may need that is also something to consider.
 
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