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I posted earlier and received some great feedback regarding my fearful/reactive std.puppy. He is now almost 6 months old and has made some great progress.

I am however still concerned because he acts aggressively to strangers. He will bark, lunge, growl, and occasionally air snap. He reacts this way on walks and when visitors come into the house. I do have children, and he is wonderful with them, but very threatening to their friends.

But as I said before, he has made so much progress since I got him. He is no longer afraid of things in the environment. He used to hide under the chair at puppy class, but now loves dog play. And after he has met someone a couple of times, he is friendly to them.

I have a great breeder, who has been very supportive and concerned. She is willing to take him back and give me a refund. I am also considering giving him to my mom because he will be in a calmer environment with her. I love this dog and it is breaking my heart. I see potential in him. He is very smart and I have put so much time and money (trainers, classes, ect) into helping him.

Any advice as to what you would do, or if anyone has dealt with a dog like this before? Please help!
 

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i hate to see a beloved pet given up. but your concerns must be quite strong or you wouldn't be talking about returning him to the breeder. what does your gut say? it may be telling you that you are not in a place right now where you can give all the needed attention to the issues that concern you and choices have to be made - for the good of the dog as well as your family.
 

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What kind of training and classes have you done with him? My approach would be to do a lot of counter-conditioning work, and basically try and turn what seems like a fear-based response to strangers into a positive one. My reason for assuming that is that you mention that he is ok around people when he has met them before.

There are some great books and resources available to explain this, and I suggest getting your hands on a copy of Patricia McConnell's booklet "The Cautious Canine", available here. It is short, concise, and gives you a practical approach to working with your dog to show him that strangers aren't something to fear. Basically it is about working out exactly what your dog's triggers are, and then carefully changing his response to them, by getting him to associate them with something positive.

There is also another booklet that particularly addresses leash-based reactivity, available here, called Fiesty Fido.


It may be that his reactions aren't fear-based, and nobody can really diagnose that over the internet properly. But I am just interested in the kind of training advice you have been given, because all too often the wrong approach can be counter productive.

This is an example of why it's really important to be very careful in how you approach working with fearful dogs. "A Cautionary Letter" - it's a terribly sad story, but really important to understand, in my opinion.

Basically, nobody can tell you whether or not you should return him to the breeder - but don't despair yet, I'm sure there are avenues that you could go down.
 

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My gut tells me I'm in over my head. I have only owned one dog before, a small mixed breed, that needed little training. I think my dog, Charlie, might function better in a household without young children, or in a home with an older, confident dog.

He is a great dog inside the home and without visitors. My mom is willing to keep him. She lives in a retirement community and has much less activity at her house. But I also don't want to pass on a dog with behavior problems to her.
 

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Personally I think sending him back to the breeder would be a better option then sending him with your mom at this point in time. Your mom may not be able to keep up on handling the behavior problems, or may not read things correctly. Your breeder should know dogs, and have training resources to try to help mend the situation. Sorry you are going through this, it cannot be easy...
 

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Personally I think sending him back to the breeder would be a better option then sending him with your mom at this point in time. Your mom may not be able to keep up on handling the behavior problems, or may not read things correctly. Your breeder should know dogs, and have training resources to try to help mend the situation. Sorry you are going through this, it cannot be easy...
I agree - with something like reactivity and potentially aggression, I believe you have a duty toward both your dog and anyone else who comes in contact with him to ensure that you are there to look after the situation. These issues aren't just going to go away if the dog is moved to a quieter area, and unless you can guarantee that your mum is both able and willing to put in the time and energy (and potentially financial resources) to get on top of them, it may end very badly. At least the breeder will have a vested interest in working with the dog. Unfortunately it will require more than good intentions and hope.
 

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I think you should return him to his breeder. You have obviously worked hard with him, and done everything right, but it sounds as if he is simply not the right dog for a house where children are visiting. Sooner or later he will get pushed over threshold, and the risk of a child being hurt is just too great. And while I understand your wish to keep him in the family, I'd worry about the risks, unless your mother is very experienced and very capable around difficult dogs.
 

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This is so sad. I have to agree, you need to listen to your gut and return the dog . Stella was like that with her first owner, she was even afraid of her when she took her on walks, she would lung at other dogs, children ect. She was going to be a "return to the breeder", but the breeder contacted me and I agreed to give her a try first. I did see this reaction from her, I called it the, "red zone". She was a hard one to deal with, but in the right home, she has come out of it. She is perfect on walks now with most dogs... and ALL PEOPLE! She is so happy in my home, with lots of exercise, another spoo to play with ect. Keep us updated, again, so sorry.
 

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I think you should return him to the breeder. I think you have worked hard but as you said, you are in over your head. It may be that this dog is wired wrong. It is best for both you and the dog. Hopefully the dog will be placed with someone experienced with difficult dogs.
 

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I agree with the others, I think you should return him to the breeder as well. He's so young, for these kinds of traits to already be evident, it doesn't sound good for how he will deal with people and other dogs when he's older and more confident. The right home is out there for him, it may just take the breeder to find it (and as a breeder, she will have many, many dog contacts and resources that you don't have). And in the mean time, don't feel guilty, because you did what you could with the trainers and classes. Not all dogs are suited for every home, they are all individuals. My two dogs LOVE kids and people, but Indy who is like the perfect dog in every other way, does not like other dogs. She's polite about it, but at her first opportunity she will come over to where she thinks she belongs (with the people, lol). So they all have their own personalities, which we can shape, but they will always be who they are.
 

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Since you children are young (as I recall) and their safety and that of their friends has to be your highest priority it sounds like this puppy is not going to be the right fit for your family. You have tried very hard to work through these issues, but since he is only going to get bigger and perhaps more reactive about the things that set him off I agree he should go back to the breeder.

It will be a very generous act on your part to return him. The breeder obviously cares about what is happening. She can keep him and work with him to understand what will be the best type of home for him. I know you want what is best since you asked for advice here and sought help from a trainer. Sometimes what is best is also hardest. To send a 6 month old pup away will be very difficult, but probably for the best for all concerned.
 

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I agree with what everyone has said, and would also like to point out that he is still young enough for the breeder to work with him on his issues and place him in an appropriate home - the longer you wait, the bleaker his prospects for a happy future will become.
 
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