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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Finn is 4.5 months old, very well loved, I am home all the time, and has a clean bill of health from the vet.

Last week when I as brushing Finn afte a bath, he lunged at me, but I was able to avoid his bite.

My husband was playing with my daughter loudly, and he growled at him (and showed his teeth.)

Now today, he let out a VERY nasty growl at my 3 year old (she isn't a bad child, she is 3, but she is pretty gentle, she was just in his space) and he bit her, didn't break the skin, but he left bite marks on her.

My only beef with him is he is a nervous or "shy" dog, he was when we got him. He's starting to show leg humping, and the vet swears it's nothing because he's not even 5 months old yet.

My husband says he needs obedience training, but my gut instinct... oh boy. This worries me a great deal. All his negative behavior is being corrected, and he is not pampered, he is treated like a dog and us the alpha. I need serious serious advice please.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Rather than aggressive biting, I feel that he is fear biting. Thanks for he link, I did read it over, but much of the advice is for alpha dogs. He doesn't play tug of war, he stops doing anything on command, sits on command, he does not need a leash and will go outside and stay by me, and he never walks ahead of us he always behind us. He has even peed on my husband out of fear. Even when going somewhere in the house, he stays behind us. He follows me everywhere. He is not an alpha dog, he is a scared dog. Very shy. This growling, lunging and biting is done out of fear.
 

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Without knowing the cir***stances of his growling eg. not having been there, I think you need to work out what he is fearful of and then if possible try and do some association training eg. if it's sudden movements then tone it down a bit and reward if he doesn't growl that type of thing. It is always difficult over the internet and perhaps you might consider getting a behaviourist in to watch him and help. I have never used one but I have read on a lot of forums that people have had great success with them.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
We were going to wait until after Christmas... we just finished his last round of shots and the next course is Jan 5th... From what I hear, she is a wonderful woman, she REALLY knows her stuff: http://www.jbdogschool.com/

Meanwhile, I want to call around, see if there is a vet that will fix him, our current vet REFUSES to fix him until he is 6 months, and we notice that much of this growling nonsense started with his ***ual behaviors. After lots of reading, even in fear aggressive dogs, fixing can help a great deal.

Just hoping to get some good advice from you guys that have been through this before.
 

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First, obedience training ASAP, and be careful about that alpha dog stuff. A lot I see that making a problem worse. Thats usualy when I get hold of the dog for training, after they have seen a problem, read a couple of books, and tried out the dog whisper crap on their dog. Then they call me up... why did my dog bite me..... Uhhhhh because you're an idiot. Not to say that I think that of YOU but it's how I feel about a lot of the goober people I get for training classes. I wonder what goes on in their head - we had one person who was pee'ing in the backyard to show her dog who is boss... ???? Weirdo LoL.
(FYI - I don't have an opinion on Mr. Ceasar, thats just the first thing that jumped to mind up there. So don't anyone get all dog whisperer defensive K )

Second, I know it sounds counter productive but don't seriously correct a behavior like that, If for instance I am afraid of you and I growl at you to go away and you don't and I resort to biting you and you freak and yell or grab me by the scruff or roll me over or hit me or do any kind of negative punishment - what did I learn? In the human mind, you think the dog learned not to do that again, and that behavior would not be allowed because that is what YOU would have learned as a person. Thats not how a dog thinks. In dog lang Finn just learned that he was afraid of you, or in this case your child, he tried to make her go away with a growl, she didn't, he resorting to trying to bite, and then he got corrected. Now he knows your daughter to be dangerous because bad things happened when he was near her. First he was stressed and expereinced fear, (assuming it is fear biting like you've stated), and then the correction. Another way to explain this concept is with potty training. If you catch your dog peeing on the rug what are you supposed to do? Try and stop them, obviously, and take them to where they are supposed to go potty. If you yell and jump around and make a big huge stink out of catching them in a mistake all the dog really learns is that it is "dangerous" or unpleasant to potty when you are watching. Thus you get a dog who won't go potty when mom or dad takes them out on a leash, and who runs and hids in another room or under the bed to potty. Make sense? It's hard for me to explain this stuff in writing, I'm a much better instructor in person... sorry.
Third - Neuter! Your dog is at the age where he is entering his "teenage" phase. What do teenagers do??? They test the boundries and push the limits right? Dogs aren't really much different. In fact you can work with a dog when it is very young and when they get to "that" age they will still push. Neutering will help, but not totaly fix the problem. Every vet is different, and your may have his/her reasons for not wanting to alter Finn before he is 6 months but if it were me, I would seek a second opinion if I could. Shelters alter pets at super young ages with no problems so I don't see why you should have to wait either. Some vet though have weight limits in the case of smaller dogs. They want them to achieve a certain weight or be a little older in theory so they can tolderate the proceedure better.
Do keep in mind that most behaviors do unfortunately become habits so sometime there is no quick fix. Not that it cannot be fixed, but it may take a little longer than a few weeks to really break the habit in the dog's mind. It only takes one success with a behavior to make it a habit and then the habit becomes stronger with every time it is repeated.
(Sorry for writing a book.... I don't know how to do short and sweet lol)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you for the post. Yes, alpha training isn't what he needs, he isn't an alpha, he is afraid. Anti-alpha behavior modification is the opposite of what a fearful dog needs (at least, that seems logical to me.)

The training classes do not start until Jan 5th, which is a ways away. The growling is really getting bad.

In terms of fixing, the vet refuses and I mean refuses to fix regardless of why because they state that it ruins bone growth, but he was fine (shy, but not aggressively shy) until he hit puberty.

Any solid pointers in terms of training we can do before he can attend classes?
 

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Why not start clicker training now? You don't need to have a clicker to do it. .....
Know what if you're interested why dont you just PM me and we can set up a time to just talk, it's much easier to explain things that way and I dont mind helping. I didn't go through all that certification stuff to just sit back and let little puppies get themselves into trouble with 3 year olds.

I can also send you some of my lesson plans for my basic class. It explains a lot. What we have here is a communication malfunction with little Finn. In my classes the whole base for the class is positive communication between dog and handler.
 

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Finn is 4.5 months old, very well loved, I am home all the time, and has a clean bill of health from the vet.

Last week when I as brushing Finn afte a bath, he lunged at me, but I was able to avoid his bite.

My husband was playing with my daughter loudly, and he growled at him (and showed his teeth.)

Now today, he let out a VERY nasty growl at my 3 year old (she isn't a bad child, she is 3, but she is pretty gentle, she was just in his space) and he bit her, didn't break the skin, but he left bite marks on her.

My only beef with him is he is a nervous or "shy" dog, he was when we got him. He's starting to show leg humping, and the vet swears it's nothing because he's not even 5 months old yet.

My husband says he needs obedience training, but my gut instinct... oh boy. This worries me a great deal. All his negative behavior is being corrected, and he is not pampered, he is treated like a dog and us the alpha. I need serious serious advice please.
I can relate totally to what you are going through. From the time we brougt Ginger home at six weeks she was like this. Very fearful - growl - snap etc. at about 5 months my vet said that I needed to get a personal trainer to come to the home. It cost me $500 but boy it sure helped.
The first visit Ginger behaved so well - she did everything he told her to do etc. but she didn't display the behavior I was afraid of. So I asked him what do I do when I am grooming her and she growls at me. He said do this and he put his closed hand on her muzzle and said "Out" WEll, she went after him and he said ok now I see and he went to the car and got his "sleeve" and gloves and came back and did it again and again and she bit and cried = it was awful but she finally gave in that he wasn't afraid of her bite and he was boss. After that we laughed and talked and when he was leaving he said goodbye to her and she did a low growl - lol - he immediately placed his hand at her muzzle - fist closed - and said "out" and she stopped. After that she had five more training sessions with him and turned out to be a great dog.
She still has the fear but you can't play into it - you can't say "its ok" etc because she will think you are weak and cannot protect her. If we don't take position as pack leader the dog will. So if Ginger growls at me now I do what Tony did - calm assertive - and sometimes I say "are you growling at me?" and she just looks at me with the fish eyes - I am not afraid and she knows it.

I wish you luck with your dog but I think he will be ok if proper training is appled. And I think he needs more than classes just like Ginger did.
 

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I can relate totally to what you are going through. From the time we brougt Ginger home at six weeks she was like this. Very fearful - growl - snap etc. at about 5 months my vet said that I needed to get a personal trainer to come to the home. It cost me $500 but boy it sure helped.
The first visit Ginger behaved so well - she did everything he told her to do etc. but she didn't display the behavior I was afraid of. So I asked him what do I do when I am grooming her and she growls at me. He said do this and he put his closed hand on her muzzle and said "Out" WEll, she went after him and he said ok now I see and he went to the car and got his "sleeve" and gloves and came back and did it again and again and she bit and cried = it was awful but she finally gave in that he wasn't afraid of her bite and he was boss. After that we laughed and talked and when he was leaving he said goodbye to her and she did a low growl - lol - he immediately placed his hand at her muzzle - fist closed - and said "out" and she stopped. After that she had five more training sessions with him and turned out to be a great dog.
She still has the fear but you can't play into it - you can't say "its ok" etc because she will think you are weak and cannot protect her. If we don't take position as pack leader the dog will. So if Ginger growls at me now I do what Tony did - calm assertive - and sometimes I say "are you growling at me?" and she just looks at me with the fish eyes - I am not afraid and she knows it.

I wish you luck with your dog but I think he will be ok if proper training is appled. And I think he needs more than classes just like Ginger did.
I have a PS - I do not trust Ginger around my daughters grandbaby - she is afraid of the baby even though she loves her and I don't think you can trust Finn near your daughter until she is older. Ginger is fine with the older kids. Its just that Kayla is 2 and she pulls the dogs hair so they are afraid of her.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wonder Pup - Oh man thanks SO much, pm incoming :love:

Pamela - Makes a lot of sense (calm assertion.) I don't want to be too hard on him and freak him out, but we definitely do not want to allow this behavior or let him think we are weak. In terms of Hannah, no, he will no longer be allowed to be alone with her until she is older. Makes me sad.
 

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Wonder Pup - Oh man thanks SO much, pm incoming :love:

Pamela - Makes a lot of sense (calm assertion.) I don't want to be too hard on him and freak him out, but we definitely do not want to allow this behavior or let him think we are weak. In terms of Hannah, no, he will no longer be allowed to be alone with her until she is older. Makes me sad.
Yes it is sad. Kayla loves the dogs but sometimes she pulls their hair. I can't trust any of them except Teddy - you could do anything to that dog and he just would look at you. He loves to chase her and she loves it. I see Ginger watching and wanting to play but she is afraid. boo hoo
 

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great thread.

Fixing early will interfere with proper growth of a dog. They NEED those hormones for balanced development!

Gidit, you have a good Vet. Congratulations.

My male is 2.5 years old. Kids can take a BONE out of his mouth without any complications :)
 

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I definitely believe that fear biting is the worst kind. I have a scar on my face from a toy poodle bite. I had warmed up to him and thought he was ok with me but got a little too close. 18 stitches! I convinced my in-laws to train him instead of putting him down. He never got any training and wound up biting one of the grandchildren. After that they had him euthanized. Probably could have been prevented.

I think a good trainer can do a lot of good.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Growth of my dog is fine and I agree health is very important, but this is serious, more serious than him getting larger, SPCA animals are fixed all the time, as early as 12 weeks. If it doesn't work out here because of biting, putting him into another home could be worse, in fact, he could end up being put to sleep. I love my dog and will take any measure necessary to make all of this stuff work out.

With that said, all the good trainers are booked up 1-2 months, the only thing available for NOW is PetSmart *sigh* so for now it's PetSmart until we can get him in to the other classes. Meanwhile, I found a vet willing to fix him on his 5 month birthday.

And yes, fear biting is the worst kind. I had several heart to hearts with a few vet offices and a trainer. Their outlook really had me even more upset, but his vet said not to fret, that it's not too late, he just needs to be given more confidence and less needy for me.

Wish us luck guys, and thanks for all the help and advice, I'd welcome anything that might help us work through this.
 

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out of curiousity(I have no advice) has he always seemed fearful or skiddish? Or is this something totally new and out of the blue? has something traumatic happened to him that you may have over looked? this has to be so hard on you!!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
He was always fearful and shy, however it's getting worse as he gets older. We are a laid back family, the kids are pretty quiet, I don't dig a lot of noise. Husband and I don't fight, things around our house hold are very low key.
 

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I hope this is not the case for you but some dogs just won't tolerate children. Even the best of them. It does sound like he is fearful either way but just something to consider later on.

I do think if you have a family and wanted a family dog, what is the point of having a dog that cannot be trusted arounds kids. I really think you should consider looking to re-home him with a adult (no children) after you feel he is stable enough to be placed. Thats a hard decision to make but it takes away from the children having that great family dog experience too.

Either way, its sad and not something anyone imagines happening after getting a sweet little puppy. Please don't take any offence to my opinion. I have kids too and couldn't imagine having to go through this.
 
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