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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is only the second puppy I have ever had so I don't know if this is normal or not. My generally well behaved, smart, somewhat shy 9 week old puppy will often growl and snap when she gets pet or picked up. I know sometimes this is play, but sometimes we are not playing at all and she will go bezerk if she is touched... she even did this when she was lying down napping and I went to pick her up. I have little ones so I NEED her to be gentle. She was the smallest of a large litter so could this be runt rage? Will she grow out of it? Is this a normal puppy behavior? She is a Red F1B Mini Goldendoodle girl (her mother was a standard Goldendoodle and the father a 9lb Red Poodle so she is 3/4 poodle.)
 

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If she is only 9 weeks old she cannot have been with you long, and must still be adjusting to her new life. Do you know how much she was handled as a puppy? The combination you describe (standard size mother, toy size father) is somewhat unusual, and raises some questions in my mind about the breeder's practices.

If you have any concerns I would look for a fully qualified and experienced behaviourist who can do a video consultation with you. It may well be normal puppy behaviour - pups often object to being suddenly woken up and dislike being picked up and held - but if she is not a good fit for your family it is better to find that out now than in a few months time when you are all even more attached to her.
 

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If you have any concerns I would look for a fully qualified and experienced behaviourist who can do a video consultation with you. It may well be normal puppy behaviour - pups often object to being suddenly woken up and dislike being picked up and held - but if she is not a good fit for your family it is better to find that out now than in a few months time when you are all even more attached to her.
I totally agree with fjm. Puppies this age aren’t aggressive (yet), but some might express what they want or don’t want in a direct manner that’s not appropriate to us, humans. They need to be handled in a certain way and most of all, taught how to behave. Dealing with such a dog requires a lot more knowledge about canine language and finesse in handling than a typical, more laid back puppy would. In an environment with children, and more or less skilled dog owners, it will be an even bigger challenge and yes, it could present risks for children.

As jfm said, consult a behaviorist if you want to dedicate time and effort to learning how to deal with this type of personality. Or simply rehome. There is no shame in that. Your children safety are most important. This puppy will do great in the right environment.

If you decide on a new dog eventually, I suggest to avoid doodles (many of them are hyper dogs, harder to control) and go with a good, ethical breeder of the breed you want who will have the experience and knowledge to pair your family with a suited dog. The person you bought this dog from clearly has no idea what they’re doing.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the reply. The breeder had two large litters of mini-goldendoodles and I really don't know that much about her breeding practices. The problem was the more reputable breeders I found all had mile long wait lists and I had the puppy-bug so badly. I found this puppy in the classified ads in Idaho. She is incredibly cute and sweet when she is feeling snuggly, but I'm worried about underlying aggression that some shy runt or badly bred puppies may be more prone to. At what point do puppies who go through a phase where they growl a lot and don't like getting picked up grow out of it? Where do I find a good behaviorist?
 

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Has she been vet checked? One concern to me may be an issue with her joints. A toy sized and standard sized pairing sounds like it may have the potential for some weird proportions and potential orthopedic issues. Alternatively, if it's a sudden change its possible she somehow injured herself. If you put her on a table and run your hands over her, is there any particular place she dislikes being touched?

Were you able to meet the parents? Temperament is highly genetic and also can be strongly linked to the dam's personality. Growling is not normal for a young puppy.

There's a post on here somewhere about how to find a good trainer or behaviourist. I'll try and find it.

Edit - Pandemic Puppy Primer

You may also want a veterinary behaviourist - your vet may able to refer you to one.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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This brings me back to my early days with Peggy. You absolutely need a certified trainer or behaviourist who can assess your puppy and get you on track with some positive training and handling protocols. Here’s a good place to start:


How to Choose a Trainer
Dog training is an unregulated industry, which means that anyone can call themself a dog trainer despite little or no experience or success. To combat this, well respected trainers have created their own certifications to set a floor for competency standards. Here’s a brief introduction to some of the acronyms you may see while searching for a trainer:
  • CPDT-KA, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA - This is the preferred accreditation of many PF members. All of these titles are associated with the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, which has handily published a Directory of Trainers to assist you in connecting with a skilled and experienced trainer.
  • KPA - The Karen Pryor Academy is a leader in modern, science-based positive reinforcement methods, and the KPA certification reflects an intensive education in dog training. Karen Pryor’s model utilizes clicker training.

From Pandemic Puppy Primer
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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P.S. In the meantime, don’t ever wake a sleeping puppy and make sure she has a quiet, undisturbed place to get 18-20 hours of sleep per day. This is very important to normal puppy development, and will keep her cortisol levels from going through the roof and making her extra edgy.
 

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I would most definitely reach out to a good trainer/behaviorist. Your description of shyness concerns me. A shy dog is easier to push over the threshold into snapping and biting out of fear. That's not a good situation when children are involved. A good behaviorist will help evaluate what this dogs limits are and what you need to do to help her be a steady solid citizen.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the replies. The only other dog I helped raise was a Standard Poodle with such a different personality - she never showed any hint of aggression, her tail wagged fiercely non-stop almost all the time, and she was very submissive (not shy though) - our only hurdle with her was submissive/ excited urination. The puppy I have now never has potty accidents like that but growls a whole lot more and approaches new people and animals with shyness, her tail only slightly wagging if at all, so thia is very different than what I was expecting. I will ask the vet about a behaviorist they recommend.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Keep in mind she’s brand new to your world and probably very overwhelmed. Read up on “trigger stacking” if this isn’t something you’re familiar with.

Peggy went from a wiggly happy puppy when we picked her up to a very anxious girl her first few days with us. And yes, she growled. This triggered a whole domino effect of panic, as I compared her to my last puppies and (some) people told me how abnormal her behaviour was. It was actually a member here who pulled me up and out of that darkness. (Thank you forever, @Poodlebeguiled.) She came to meet Peggy who, by that time, was on a better food, which she was digesting well. And she was quickly putting on puppy weight. This obviously was making her feel much better.

PB saw a very normal puppy when she walked through our front door. And it was through her eyes that I, too, came to appreciate Peggy for who she was, realizing I should’ve given her a little more grace as she settled in.

Consulting with a certified trainer was my next step, and she, too, saw a puppy who was sensitive and intelligent, for sure, and who definitely needed to be handled carefully—nothing but positive reinforcement to start!—but who was not outside the realm of “normal.”

She then set up an introductory session with two well-matched puppies, so she could observe Peggy further before deeming her perfectly ready for puppy classes. And it was those puppy classes that really got us on track.

Of course, genetics are important, as are early experiences. I don’t know where your puppy is coming from in those regards. And maybe she wasn’t the perfect pick for your household. Had she even been exposed to children before yours? But puppies are resilient, and change is generally very much still possible during that early socialization window. Dr. Ian Dunbar discuses this in-depth in Before and After Getting Your Puppy, which I highly recommend.

If you don’t feel up to this particular challenge, I suggest doing what I did, which is seriously considering bringing her back to the breeder. Then commit to working with a good breeder who will, yes, likely require a waitlist, but who will help choose the right poodle puppy or golden retriever puppy for your lifestyle, and who will ensure they’ve gotten the very best possible start to life.

I spent many agonizing nights working through that decision. Ugh. Hurts to even recall those days. We went as far as bundling Peggy up in the car to start the long drive back to her breeder’s home! We got about ten minutes into the drive before turning back. I should have known, as I typed up pages of notes on her progress for the breeder, that she was already my dog. ;)
 

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@PeggyTheParti I’m amazed at what you did for Peggy ! I hadn’t realized how much it took in the beginning.

In this story, since the OP has children, the difference is in the time factor. With vulnerable little human beings in the house, you can’t afford to let a potentially dangerous situation linger.

Once I made a bad decision about getting a dog. I was offered my dream dog from a show breeder who needed a home for a future champion. Someone who would let them bring the dog to its championship. It was a beautiful 5 months old doberman puppy. The most beautiful dog I had ever seen. His only fault : he had been kept in a crate all his life and was lacking common dog skills and knowledge. But I wanted him so bad and even though I was in the middle of a separation, I was determined to make it work.

And it did work. Until it didn’t. One day me and my son took the dog to play at a park. My son started running, expecting the dog to run along with him. But this puppy had the « circling » syndrome from being crated almost 24/7 and couldn’t walk or run in a straight line. At 5 months old, he was bigger than a standard poodle and about 50 pounds. He went running after my 7 year old son, started running diagonally and cut directly in front of him. My son looked like he was hit by a truck, flew in the air and fell on his arm. I grabbed the dog and immediately took my son to the ER. We were lucky, it wasn’t broken. But from then on I knew I couldn’t trust this dog with my children. I had a busy life and a very demanding job and couldn’t imagine worrying everyday that when I wasn’t there to control this puppy, my kids would be in danger of being hurt.

I did what I had to do : I brought the puppy back to the breeder.

To the OP, it’s a totally different story than yours, but I just wanted to point out that these things happen. You, as the parent, are the best person to know what will or won’t work in your family.

I wish you the best, whatever decision you make.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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In this story, since the OP has children, the difference is in the time factor. With vulnerable little human beings in the house, you can’t afford to let a potentially dangerous situation linger.
I agree 100%. Our home situations are vastly different. We were in a perfect position to put in the work with Peggy....safely. And to give her the time and space to blossom. That absolutely factored into our decision to keep her.

Peggy’s breeder was so supportive and accommodating. She talked through our options with me and promised that, should we return her, Peggy would be matched with a home that was best for her particular needs. And that’s when I realized I couldn’t actually picture a better home for her than ours.

All that said, you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re rehabilitating a puppy you’ve purchased from a breeder. And that’s very much what it felt like for us at the start. If you’re up for rehabilitating a puppy or dog, I say get him or her from a shelter or rescue group. I’ve learned a lot in the past year and a half, and I firmly believe we should only be supporting the breeders that are putting in the work to produce physically and mentally sound puppies, and carefully matching them to appropriate households.

Of course, now you’d never know Peggy had such a rocky start. She’s a dream dog in almost every way. I know people who’d take her in a second! But she does very occasionally resource guard, which would be a real dealbreaker with kids in the home. I recently learned that early touch sensitivity can be a warning sign of future resource guarding, and Peggy was absolutely touch sensitive. Like the OP’s puppy, she would startle badly if we accidentally bumped her while she was sleeping. She also was very sensitive to having her back touched. We patiently worked through all that, with no real trouble. But the sporadic resource guarding remains.
 

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I would second the idea that there may be orthopedic problems. With small dogs, they often suffer from luxating patella and other joint issues. This is much more common in backyard bred dogs because there is no health testing. A toy poodle of poor health background bred to a large dog could easily cause major orthopedic mismatch that could exacerbate problems. Many small dogs are snappy because they are in pain.

I would also ask if the children are picking her up. Many dogs do not like to be handled by children because kids are not the best at respecting boundaries and reading body language. If she has developed negative feelings about the children it will take work to help her feel comfortable with them. I would definitely have the children stop forcing any interaction with her. If she goes to them, let her initiate the contact. Let her be in control so she can feel safe.

If this dog is a poor match for your family, it is ok to admit it. Many people go through similar experiences and you should do what you feel is best for your family and the dog. I understand puppy fever and sometimes it takes a hard lesson to learn why it can be worth the wait for a well bred dog. Many doodles have major health and temperament issues because they are mass bred for quick sale. It is something I see a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for all the replies. I really appreciate each one. It helps me put things into perspective. I loved hearing about Peggy and how you were able to work through many of her sensitivities. My puppy, Sophie, is very sensitive too. Today Sophie went berserk when my husband picked her up - barking and lunging wildly. She resource guards too, which makes me nervous when my toddler will want to take away a toy the puppy has.

@Dechi, that must have been so tough seeing your son get hurt like that. Even hearing my puppy growl or bark and lunge at my kids, breaks my heart a little.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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If she’s resource guarding at that age, with a toddler in the home, you really do need help right now. Peggy was well into adolescence when hers began and ours is a childless household.

Please don’t hesitate to send me a message if you’re struggling to find a certified pro close to you. Remote consultation is also an option right now, thanks to covid. Please don’t wait.

Have you been in touch with the breeder?
 

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A puppy that young really should not exhibit those reactions. I would definitely have her checked over by a vet as I too would be concerned about her skeletal wellness. Goldens have a heavy bone structure and toy poodles a delicate) this concerns me some. I also think that this young pup may not have been handled much and perhaps that can be causing some of her reactions. You have received good advise from others on the behaviorist. I would definitely talk to the breeder about your concerns. Resource guarding at 9 weeks is a large concern for me when one has a toddler. As PTP has mentioned she and her husband have the time to work with their dog and have had a good outcome, so it can be done, but your also dealing with a mix breed so you don't have the genetic history of all the parents I would think and probably not the most ethical of breeders. That being said there are ethical ones out there and hopefully yours is. Talk with the breeder. I had to take a pup back once when I bred schnauzers as it was not a good fit for the buyer. Back about 4 generations there was one dog in the lineage that had a quirky temperament,( he was a very alpha pup) we thought that had been bred out of the line but it popped out in this particular pup. The pup eventually did well however when we heard of the behaviors we knew where they were coming from and that this was just not the right home. I hope things work out well as I bet she is a cutie. Puppies are candy to me, lol but you must think of your overall family . Puppies must fit their household as they will be a part of your family for a long time.
 
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