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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, we got our toy poodle puppy, Maple, 7 days ago. She is 11 weeks old.
for the first couple days she was very happy and loved praises. She slept in her crate fine and didn’t even have an accident in the house. We noticed a change a couple days ago. She started growling and being a little aggressive when being picked up or sometimes during play time (not play growling) around the same time she stopped caring about praising. At first her tail would wag and she would lick and jump when being praised. But it’s as if she is completely indifferent to it suddenly. and seemed to come at the same time as the growling started.
we just want a sweet, happy, well behaved dog. I don’t know what hapened but it feels like she just decided that she was incharge and we aren’t. I’m assuming we did something wrong with rules or training or giving in?🤷‍♀️
please any advice wold be appreciated. How do we get our praise-happy sweet puppy back??
 

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Puppies that young aren't normally aggressive with humans. Therefore, whatever is going on is probably either rooted in physical issues (pain or neurologic trouble) or rooted in fear. First, if you are using any kind of dominance alpha role based training, just throw that book away. Punishing a hurting dog won't make the hurt go away, and punishing a fearful dog won't make the fear go away. So all you do is traumatize the dog without actually fixing the issue.

The first thing I'd do is have the vet do a physical evaluation. The little guys are so fragile and can hurt themselves bouncing around so easily. Once you've had her checked out start playing fun training games with her. I really like clicker training as a way to change the tone of conversation. I used clicker training to deal with my puppy Galen running away when I went to carry him up the stairs.

I was already using clicker training to teach Galen things like sit and touch. I won't go into that here; Google searches will get you that information.

What I did when he was running away was simply to touch his shoulder. As soon as I made contact - click. He got a treat immediately, before he had a chance to jump back from my touch. It became a game of me choosing different places on his back, shoulders, and sides to touch as he watched my hand approach. Once he became comfortable with the hand approaching, I added a half second delay before clicking. Same game as before. Approach, touch, click, treat. I gradually built up duration as he became less concerned about my hand lingering on him. This took several days of short sessions several times a day.

Once he was completely comfortable with being touched I shifted to putting under his chest as though I was going to lift him. Again, touch, click, treat. I repeated many times, gradually building duration. Once he was comfortable standing there while I held my hand under his chest, I added a very slight upward pressure, lifting his front paws very slightly off the ground and putting him back down immediately. Again, click, treat. I made this a game by positioning my hand, cheerfully calling "Upsie" to warn him, and then clicking and treating after the lift.

When he remained comfortable with his front paws being lifted, I then started lifting all four paws off the ground with the same cheerful warning "Upsie" followed by a click and treat when I put him back down. I gradually increased the duration until I was able to carry him up the stairs and click when I put him down again at the top.
 

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Is she your first dog ? It’s possible she has been giving you signs of being uncomfortable when you do certain things but you have « ignored » them because you didn’t know what they meant. The next step for a dog is to start growling. Then, if ignored again, to bite.

Your dog is still a puppy, so this can be fixed if addressed quickly. Find a reputable dog behaviorist that will show you how to understand dog body language and how to train your little one.

Some dogs are easier, but probably yours has a strong personality, best suited for an experienced home. Getting help is the best solution.
 

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How much downtime, rest is your pup getting? I found my toys did better with some rest as they were growing, not enough rest can make them over stimulated, bitey and growly, just like tots pups need naps and time outs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
How much downtime, rest is your pup getting? I found my toys did better with some rest as they were growing, not enough rest can make them over stimulated, bitey and growly, just like tots pups need naps and time outs.
She sleeps quite a lot but yes, I will make sure she get enough with all th action around here! Thank you!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Is she your first dog ? It’s possible she has been giving you signs of being uncomfortable when you do certain things but you have « ignored » them because you didn’t know what they meant. The next step for a dog is to start growling. Then, if ignored again, to bite.

Your dog is still a puppy, so this can be fixed if addressed quickly. Find a reputable dog behaviorist that will show you how to understand dog body language and how to train your little one.

Some dogs are easier, but probably yours has a strong personality, best suited for an experienced home. Getting help is the best solution.
Yes she is our first dog! We are in puppy training with an excellent trainer but I have not talked to her about this issue yet. And yes, it’s totally possible that we didn’t know those warning signs…the first time it was to my 8 year old daughter who was playing with her. But since then she even growled at me just for picking her up.
thanks for your tips! I will ask our trainer!
 

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What a poppet!

It certainly sounds as if Maple is trying to tell you she is uncomfortable about things in her life - as has been said that might be because of physical pain, fear of what is happening, or simply annoyance at being swept up and away from an interesting game. Whatever the cause you need to address it quickly before it becomes an engrained habit - if it has only just started it should not take long to get her back to the happy puppy you brought home. Lots of good advice already, especially about vet check, not getting drawn in by the "dominance" theory and learning to read her body language, but there are a couple more things to think about with very small pups.

Many puppies don't much like being picked up, and many small puppies absolutely hate it, especially when swooped upon and lifted against their will. I teach a cue as soon as possible to let mine know I want to lift them, and as far as possible let them choose whether to comply. This is particularly important if you have children - even the most careful child needs to learn to sit down and let the pup come to them. Your daughter is at the perfect age to learn about dog language - this may be a good place to start:
And I love this article on looking at the world from your puppy's point of view: Kidnapped From Planet Dog - Whole Dog Journal

As I am sure you know tiny pups are prone to hypoglycaemia, and even before there are serious symptoms hungry pups can be as grouchy as hungry toddlers. Feed little and often. And Maple is still a baby, so needs plenty of sleep and downtime.

I would not worry too much about her getting bored with praise - there is a whole big, exciting world out there, full of things to sniff and to chew and to explore and she probably doesn't have much time to listen to humans jabbering on, no matter how sweetly!
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Puppies that young aren't normally aggressive with humans. Therefore, whatever is going on is probably either rooted in physical issues (pain or neurologic trouble) or rooted in fear. First, if you are using any kind of dominance alpha role based training, just throw that book away. Punishing a hurting dog won't make the hurt go away, and punishing a fearful dog won't make the fear go away. So all you do is traumatize the dog without actually fixing the issue.

The first thing I'd do is have the vet do a physical evaluation. The little guys are so fragile and can hurt themselves bouncing around so easily. Once you've had her checked out start playing fun training games with her. I really like clicker training as a way to change the tone of conversation. I used clicker training to deal with my puppy Galen running away when I went to carry him up the stairs.

I was already using clicker training to teach Galen things like sit and touch. I won't go into that here; Google searches will get you that information.

What I did when he was running away was simply to touch his shoulder. As soon as I made contact - click. He got a treat immediately, before he had a chance to jump back from my touch. It became a game of me choosing different places on his back, shoulders, and sides to touch as he watched my hand approach. Once he became comfortable with the hand approaching, I added a half second delay before clicking. Same game as before. Approach, touch, click, treat. I gradually built up duration as he became less concerned about my hand lingering on him. This took several days of short sessions several times a day.

Once he was completely comfortable with being touched I shifted to putting under his chest as though I was going to lift him. Again, touch, click, treat. I repeated many times, gradually building duration. Once he was comfortable standing there while I held my hand under his chest, I added a very slight upward pressure, lifting his front paws very slightly off the ground and putting him back down immediately. Again, click, treat. I made this a game by positioning my hand, cheerfully calling "Upsie" to warn him, and then clicking and treating after the lift.

When he remained comfortable with his front paws being lifted, I then started lifting all four paws off the ground with the same cheerful warning "Upsie" followed by a click and treat when I put him back down. I gradually increased the duration until I was able to carry him up the stairs and click when I put him down again at the top.
Ok, that’s impressive. I will work on that. Maple likes being pick up for the most part. But teaching her anything seems to be harder the last couple days. She doesn’t care for praise and doesn’t seem overly motivated for food. I will have to try a different treat and see if that makes a difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
What a poppet!

It certainly sounds as if Maple is trying to tell you she is uncomfortable about things in her life - as has been said that might be because of physical pain, fear of what is happening, or simply annoyance at being swept up and away from an interesting game. Whatever the cause you need to address it quickly before it becomes an engrained habit - if it has only just started it should not take long to get her back to the happy puppy you brought home. Lots of good advice already, especially about vet check, not getting drawn in by the "dominance" theory and learning to read her body language, but there are a couple more things to think about with very small pups.

Many puppies don't much like being picked up, and many small puppies absolutely hate it, especially when swooped upon and lifted against their will. I teach a cue as soon as possible to let mine know I want to lift them, and as far as possible let them choose whether to comply. This is particularly important if you have children - even the most careful child needs to learn to sit down and let the pup come to them. Your daughter is at the perfect age to learn about dog language - this may be a good place to start:
And I love this article on looking at the world from your puppy's point of view: Kidnapped From Planet Dog - Whole Dog Journal

As I am sure you know tiny pups are prone to hypoglycaemia, and even before there are serious symptoms hungry pups can be as grouchy as hungry toddlers. Feed little and often. And Maple is still a baby, so needs plenty of sleep and downtime.

I would not worry too much about her getting bored with praise - there is a whole big, exciting world out there, full of things to sniff and to chew and to explore and she probably doesn't have much time to listen to humans jabbering on, no matter how sweetly!
If I were to guess, it would be fear. I think being in a new home after a big day of travel and then all the people have increased her anxiety. I am just not sure how to address it. I think I will call a trainer and see if she can do an in home visit and assess what we are doing wrong. And what can be done to help it. Thank you for your positive reply. I feel a little overwhelmed❤
 

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I really like this video for teaching people the subtle signs that a dog wants petting (or really anything at all).


One thing I find really helpful with puppies is to work on having them do things willingly. For example, I give the command 'ready up!' and my dog moves to let me pick her up. I use this every time I pick her up, and if she moves away, I respect it, and don't pick her up. I teach dogs to jump into things on cue, so I don't have to lift them, etc. The more words you use and cues you use, the more clear it is about what is going on.

The other helpful thing is hearing my dad in my head 'Put that dog down, she has 4 legs!' Annoying, but he is right - dogs gain confidence from being able to explore at their own pace and come to you, not being held in your arms.

My suggestion would be to spend a lot of time as a family on the floor, sitting still with quiet voices, not looming over the tiny puppy, letting the puppy come to you.

Sitting, down, etc, all can wait - work on comfort and condidence first.

Here's a good resource for working on confidence in the first month home:

And here's a fantastic list compiled by a member of other resources. I know the free Dr. Ian Dunbar puppy books are highly regarded by many members.


Good luck - she sure is a cutie!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I really like this video for teaching people the subtle signs that a dog wants petting (or really anything at all).


One thing I find really helpful with puppies is to work on having them do things willingly. For example, I give the command 'ready up!' and my dog moves to let me pick her up. I use this every time I pick her up, and if she moves away, I respect it, and don't pick her up. I teach dogs to jump into things on cue, so I don't have to lift them, etc. The more words you use and cues you use, the more clear it is about what is going on.

The other helpful thing is hearing my dad in my head 'Put that dog down, she has 4 legs!' Annoying, but he is right - dogs gain confidence from being able to explore at their own pace and come to you, not being held in your arms.

My suggestion would be to spend a lot of time as a family on the floor, sitting still with quiet voices, not looming over the tiny puppy, letting the puppy come to you.

Sitting, down, etc, all can wait - work on comfort and condidence first.

Here's a good resource for working on confidence in the first month home:

And here's a fantastic list compiled by a member of other resources. I know the free Dr. Ian Dunbar puppy books are highly regarded by many members.


Good luck - she sure is a cutie!
That was a super helpful video, thank you! Yes, we probably need to listen to her more! We are trying to ease her into things to help her feel more confident. She has some anxiety that I think this is all stemming from. I’m hoping a couple better treats like some natural hotdogs or something may be helpful as she is a hard sell on treats as soon as she is nervous.
thanks for your encouragement! It means a lot!
 

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That was a super helpful video, thank you! Yes, we probably need to listen to her more! We are trying to ease her into things to help her feel more confident. She has some anxiety that I think this is all stemming from. I’m hoping a couple better treats like some natural hotdogs or something may be helpful as she is a hard sell on treats as soon as she is nervous.
thanks for your encouragement! It means a lot!
When you're giving her treats, remember that our poodles think "5 pennies are better then 1 nickle". So, if you can give treats back to back to back when you're very enthusaistic, then the dots will connect quicker.

Also, poodles are people pleasers and feed on your level of enthusiasm. Don't worry about what other people think when you're in public... be as excited as when your child scored their first goal in soccer or learned to ride a bike. That level of enthusiasm. You will see their happyness level feed on your level of praise.
 

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Im not going to lie, if I was on my first week with a new puppy and they were showing aggression towards me, it would be back to the breeder they go. Timidness is one thing and something I could confidently work with but aggression, I would think there was a hitch in the puppy’s socialization and/or breeding, and while it may be correctable it wouldn’t be a project I would want to take on with a brand new purpose-bred and purchased puppy. You could involve a behaviorist and pay $1000’s for something that may or may not work especially if it’s a neurological problem or you could find a puppy with a more even disposition. This is just me though but I think aggression is such a heart breaking, deep set, difficult issue to overcome especially in such a young dog that should be thrilled with humans and ideally trusting as well.
 

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When lifting puppy, be sure to support her backside. Don't lift just from the stomach. After letting her know what you need to do. My guy knows the word up and positions himself to help. Also, vet check asap and ask them to be sure there's no hernia as part of the exam. Read the Dunbar and Culture Clash books this weekend 😊.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Im not going to lie, if I was on my first week with a new puppy and they were showing aggression towards me, it would be back to the breeder they go. Timidness is one thing and something I could confidently work with but aggression, I would think there was a hitch in the puppy’s socialization and/or breeding, and while it may be correctable it wouldn’t be a project I would want to take on with a brand new purpose-bred and purchased puppy. You could involve a behaviorist and pay $1000’s for something that may or may not work especially if it’s a neurological problem or you could find a puppy with a more even disposition. This is just me though but I think aggression is such a heart breaking, deep set, difficult issue to overcome especially in such a young dog that should be thrilled with humans and ideally trusting as well.
She has only shown it towards me when she had something in her mouth that she shouldnt have and I grabbed her while running…so probably understandable. And even when she growls at my 8 year old daughter (about 3 times now), I think the posters above have it right by saying we need to learn dog language. We have been talking lots about it.
she also has just had so much change this week. I am pretty sure it is stemming from a little anxiety.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
When lifting puppy, be sure to support her backside. Don't lift just from the stomach. After letting her know what you need to do. My guy knows the word up and positions himself to help. Also, vet check asap and ask them to be sure there's no hernia as part of the exam. Read the Dunbar and Culture Clash books this weekend 😊.
I will read those, thanks!!
 
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