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Hi. Will our poodle ever win over my husband, who has decided he doesn’t want her? He wanted a puppy, and we got a puppy, at ten weeks of age. Five days later, he told me he wanted to bring her back, having changed his mind. He said I could keep her, but had to raise her by myself, he wouldn’t take part in it. He wanted a poodle, but now has decided he doesn’t like poodles. He would be happy to be dog-free and poodle-free.
I discovered our spoo made me laugh and was so interesting and fun, that I was smitten and worked hard at the training. We went to a trainer once because she was jumping on me while walking, and had begun circling and bumping and mouthing me mid- jump when off leash. But, then Covid hit and everything shut down. I still enjoyed our pup, walked her and played ball with her, scenting games, and lots of attention. But, she needed more, and I didn’t know that. Structure. Firmness. I became playmate, not leader.
And now, we are in trouble. She has done the circling/jumping and now growling thing with my husband. More than once, but he is losing patience. She was mouthy at the groomers, so someone had to hold her for the groomer to clip her. That person kindly told me I was not alpha, and has helped me get started on a better training regime, and put me in touch with a clicker trainer. And, I have scheduled spaying her, but have to wait a month.
It’s been two days since I started the re-training and now she has taken to circling/jumping/mouthing me instead on day one. Today is day two, and she got annoyed at me calling her over to go inside, and she would have done her circling trick if she hadn’t been on leash. Now she is always on leash. I am guessing, with the training, that I am a threat to her middle position.
I will now admit something I hate to. And, that is that after her aggressive behavior to me, I have gone from crazy for her to just tolerating her. And, I hate that I have seemingly lost my love, but now I can understand what my husband is feeling. It is hurtful getting mauled by your pet, who shares your home, and whom you want to have a warm and trusting relationship.
That is our sad story. I recognize that it is probably hormones talking in part. She is 8 months and not spayed. And, that I wasn’t leader and let her fill that position.
But, now I am full of doubt. Can I keep this up by myself, thinking I will have in the end such a great dog that my husband will love her, too. I didn’t know that poodles were so complex, and the “end” of their maturing and the challenges involved would be so far in the future. The grooming friend told me 6 more months to hope to see a change. It has been five months since we got her. So I am not even half way. Is that how long it will be before she gives up challenging for position?
The trainer is coming in three days. I almost canceled him tonight, because I hate to waste the money if we are a lost cause. I know I still love her, but just am put off by her treating me badly...like a dog...lol. My husband is the unknown. If she ended up being well behaved in every way then he would like her. She definitely likes him. Right now, though, I asked him to not get involved, because I was working on getting leader position. He has no idea that she has been aggressive to me the last couple of days. I think if he did then that would end it, but I know it will pass once I have secured leader position. Then I hope she will be her sweet self again. I miss her sweet self.
So, bottom line. Do I have too many cons and not enough pros going for me? Am I set up to fail even worse than I have already? I don’t want to mess up the poor dog irreparably. I want her, but when I am walking in the yard and hear her racing toward me from behind, and am wondering if she is going to race past or sideswipe me with open mouth, I wonder when and if I can trust her again not to get aggressive if she doesn’t get her way.
I would appreciate constructive thoughts and honest opinions. I know it may break my heart, but I can rehome her if it is best for her to leave us. I had wondered if being playmate for five months was too long for her to readjust to my taking over as leader. I don’t want to be challenged once a week...too ugly and hurtful.
Thank you.
 

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Is she your first dog ? First puppy ? First of all let me say that spaying will have absolutelyno effect on her behavior. None (except for the will to mate of course). Spaying is for health reasons, not for behavior. There are advantages to waiting after the first heat, maybe you should look into that.

Second, I don’t have a standard but I have read many members stories who say their dogs quiet down around the age of three. So you’re far from done.

I doubt your dog is being aggressive, she sounds to me like she’s just a rambunctious puppy who needs more discipline and maybe exercise.

I can’t tell you what to do, but be aware that everything that is happening was foreseeable and will most likely happen with any other puppy. Some are a little more mellow, some are more active, but they all go through the same phases and have basically the same need for discipline, routine, a firm hand and love.

Now you need to decide if you want to out the time and effort into your dog so she can become a good companion for your family.
 

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I feel your pain, and I'm sorry you're struggling. There's a lot going on here, so I'll start with this:

Unfortunately, you've been led sorely astray by some well-meaning folks. Your puppy isn't challenging your position in the house. She's probably looking for consistency and clearly defined boundaries and expectations, but that's not the same thing. "Alpha" training has been thoroughly debunked. It's outdated and potentially dangerous. At the very least, it's damaging your relationship with your dog.

Your puppy is probably extremely confused about your sudden change in demeanour.

If you want to keep your puppy, you need to find a well-respected positive reinforcement trainer, and you need to do it right now. If not, your puppy should be going straight back to the breeder for rehoming. Time is of the essence.

As for your husband's role in this, puppy blues is a very real thing. I empathize. But his decision to check out at such a pivotal moment in your pup's life was not fair to your dog or to you. I would have a hard time letting go of my feelings about that.
 

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And no - as Dechi said, you're not even close to the end of your puppy's adolescence. It's just beginning!

But for all its challenges, adolescence brings big leaps in maturity and really begins solidifying your bond. It's an exhausting, rewarding time, and a big part of what you signed up for when you chose to get a dog.

For perspective, I started this thread 6 months ago, and life with my teenage poodle is no easier:


But it's more fun!
 

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I agree with the previous responses. Your puppy is only 8 months old, actually a bit early to spay, and I would wait until 12 months or later if she were my dog. Think of her as a thirteen year old child. Her body and brain are changing, and she's full of new feelings. She's pushing boundaries and trying to find out if she can get her way, and she needs you to be both her friend and her parent right now. Poodles are very smart dogs, and very sensitive. They thrive on routine, structure, and firm boundaries. But a system of harsh punishments can make a sensitive dog shut down. This is a time when she absolutely needs somebody to be there for her, and to be on her side to guide her. If you don't want to be that person, it is truly in her best interests to return her to her breeder to find a home that is better suited.

It's hard to tell if she is truly being aggressive. My own dog is very strong-willed and hard-headed and was eager to gleefully attack anybody playfully. It didn't really stop until around 9 months. He would sometimes do the leaping, lunging, and circling behavior, but all in play. He is also a play growler. So I could easily see what you describe simply being a playful behavior. Poodles are clowns and they are very manipulative. If they find an opportunity for a game, they will take it.

Maturity won't come for another couple years, so it's a long road. If I was to speak about your husband's actions it wouldn't be with kind words. Raising a puppy by yourself is really hard work and it's a shame the two of you can't be working together. Dogs can be amazing companions but they take a lot of work to raise properly and if you can't give this puppy what she needs it's okay to admit it and make sure she goes somewhere that will be what she needs. If you do want to put in the work, I agree that a good experienced trainer will be very important. When possible, you may also benefit from group classes with other dog owners. It can be helpful to see others going through the same challenges that you are experiencing. Good luck, it is a hard decision to make.
 

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I agree with Peggy- have you consulted with your breeder? A good breeder will want the dog to come back to them. Plus they have lots of experience raising dogs.

I also agree that the whole alpha leader thing is not going to take you anywhere you want to go. You have a poodle, not a werewolf. She didn't read Machiavelli.

Your husband's unhappiness with the situation is probably contributing to the problems. Being a young creature, she wants attention. If she can't get good attention, she will settle for bad. She will keep trying to push his buttons until he reacts.

Games are a really good way to channel bad behavior into good behavior. Here's an example. Earlier this week my husband asked me how to stop out puppy from biting him. The little twerp had lunged, caught my husband with a sharp little puppy tooth, and drawn blood. When I went outside I found the puppy acting like a complete maniac. He tried to hump my leg. He jumped and tried to bite my hands. It was pretty obvious how he has slipped and nipped my husband. He was just wired.

The first thing I did was to shift my leg so he bounced off my knee, hard. That ended the humping attempt. Next I put my hands in my pockets. That ended the hand biting game. Then, since he clearly wanted to play hard, I did some challenging off leash heeling with him. I walked and ran all over our yard. I jumped up on benches and rocks. I climbed stairs. I changed directions abruptly. Every time I did something that require him to think and adjust, I looked down to my left. If I saw a puppy looking back up at me I would click and give him a treat.

The first couple times my hand came out of my pocket he tried to nip. Then he soon figured out there was no reward in nipping. The reward only came when he put himself at my left heel. He started working really hard to follow along as I moved around the yard. To me, this was training. To him, this was a game of chase in which he got treats when he caught me the right way. After 15 minutes of this work my very bad puppy was acting like a very good puppy.No anger, no punishment, just play.
 

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My current spoo is 13 months old. He's a pretty laid back guy and has been quite easy to raise (he's also spoo #4 and dog #many), but the week that he turned 8 months was the week that he completely forgot how to walk on a loose leash. We had to go back to square one and retrain him like he had never been trained before. It's just an adolescence thing. My husband was upset by it because the last spoo walked like she was invisibly attached to your left knee -- or at least she walked that way in her later years and my husband had forgotten about her puppy hijinks.

The alpha dog, "be a leader" thing is bogus. I doubt she's being aggressive, more likely just a silly teenager. Don't lose patience with her, she's only got a brain the size of a lemon. Just stay calm. If you don't like what she's doing to get your attention, then don't give her attention. Let her calm down and then reward her. Use lots of training treats. You have to figure out how to explain to her what you want her to do. There are lots of youtube videos to help with training.

Contacting her breeder is a good idea, he or she should be able to help. You probably signed a contract that said that you would return her if you couldn't keep her.
 

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Hi and Welcome!

You do have a challenge on your hands and It's not just the poodle :). If your husband isn't willing to help, will he at least not hinder? I've been there myself. If you believe that he'll either come around or at least not be negative toward the pup then it could work. It's hard for a poodle to not be liked or loved by their whole family. Will your husband be ok with the idea that the pup may continue to try to initiate a relationship?

What's a typical day like for you and Poodle, from wake up to go to sleep?

The Alpha concept came from one researcher in the 1930's who studied captive wolves. Someone finally got the idea to study wolves in the wild more recently and it turns out that they're a family pack structure.

Even feral dogs follow not the strongest but the friendliest of the group, and "dominance" is a very fluid concept depending on a lot of things. It varies.

Positive reinforcement training is called for. Poodles are smart and sensitive so here's a bunch of training resources for you:

Ian Dunbar
A lot of free info

Susan Garrett
A lot of free info
Periodically offers free online video course
"It's Yer Choice" impulse control
Crate games
Look At That

Kikopup YouTube Training videos

Or search YouTube for Kikopup + training topic

Zak George YouTube Training videos

Karen Pryor Clicker Training

AKC training - get certified or just good things to know and train
AKC Canine Good Citizen - mix or pure breed

AKC Trick Dog - mix or pure breed - get certified or just fun things to learn


Please make sure that any trainer you bring in is using Positive training practices. These are based on
Operant conditioning (OC)search for term

The process of changing an animal’s response to a certain stimulus by manipulating the consequences that immediately follow the response. The five principles of operant conditioning were developed by B.F. Skinner. Clicker training is a subset of operant conditioning, using only positive reinforcement, extinction, and, to a lesser extent, negative punishment.


Stay in touch please! Hoping for a happy outcome for all of you. 🤞
 

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I would call the breeder and give them the option of taking her back to rehome. Since your husband clearly doesn't want her and it appears it really is too much for you I personally think its best. I don't know where you are located but you could also contact Creole Poodle Rescue , [email protected]. If not near they can recommend a contact for you. I trust them and my next poodle will more than likely be a rescue from them.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you all for responding and giving me your thoughts. Your input has been very helpful. I followed the link to the adolescent poodle discussion. That was a true eye opener!

Dechi: This our first poodle. We raised a collie/lab mix and a chocolate lab from puppies. So very different! Their puppyhood was non eventful compared to this poodle puppyhood. Really basic and easy after housebreaking. But, I can recognize a challenge from her vs playfulness.
Peggy, Raindrops and Jbean: Good to know it is a long haul through adolescence with these pups. I like to deal with reality, not wishful thinking. And, I am glad all that alpha stuff is a crock. I didn’t like it. It gives the relationship a bad twist and I think it unhealthy. Being the leader because I am friendly and a friend to her is something I can deal with. Today I have returned to my usual demeanor...what a relief!
cowpony: I do not have the option to return her to the breeder. Whether it is true or not, I have heard a bad ending comes to her older pups that do not sell. When I had trouble with car sickness, I emailed her about Dramamine and she never responded. I think she is just in the business of selling right now. Thanks for the heel game suggestion. She loves games and so do I. Can’t find enough for us!
Rose: thank you for all the links. I will keep educating myself.
Mufar: I don’t blame you for giving up on me. I have been going day to day. Today has been very good so far. Of course, it is just beginning. I am not giving up on my husband either.
All: I might be feeling very differently right now if you guys had not written, though. And, after reading some posts in the adolescent poodle discussion, I feel in many ways I have got it lucky. She is really a dear thing. This all started so abruptly after a difficult grooming and because the lady said I could ruin her if I didn’t do better by her or give her away. I never imagined ruining her. I had only imagined that it might harm her little soul if I DID give her away. Funny. I will see how the trainer goes on Monday. That is my short term plan right now...make it to Monday. But, she is being a sweet pup today so far, not a crazy adolescent, so I have hope. Thank you for that!
 

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Hope with two feet planted in reality is wonderful! Poodles are sensitive and when they feel accepted and loved, they give their all. Not perfectly lol, but all.
Look into Versatility In Poodles website
for some different types of activities that you might get involved in. A different approach might give your husband some new ideas of ways to engage with your poodle.
Btw, what's her name, and, pictures please?
 

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That sounds great! I was glad to read your reply. Puppy raising can be tough. Most dogs want to communicate with us, but we have to figure out how to communicate with each one differently. Training treats and happy, squeaky voices are almost universally successful though.

Finding a good groomer can be difficult too. Some groomers don't like to clip wiggly adolescents and some won't clip spoos. Your groomer may also just have been having a bad day, but since her training recommendation was not so good, I think that finding a replacement groomer would be a good idea.

The McCann Dog Training videos on youtube are my favorites.
 

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Gladsome I'm happy to hear you're feeling better about things! I want to agree with Jbean that I think that groomer should not be working with your puppy. It is possible that your puppy is particularly badly behaved on the grooming table, but a good groomer will take things slowly and try to work with you on how to teach her good grooming behavior at home. There are some groomers that try to dominate dogs and force them into submission, and it sounds like that may have been what happened. It's much better for the dog to take breaks and not have too much forced on them at once. Frequent brushing at home and desensitization exercises will probably be very helpful to create a good grooming experience for her.

About returning dogs to breeders... are these rumors something you've heard about your particular breeder? All responsible and reputable breeders have a clause in their puppy contract that requires that the puppy not be sold or rehomed without their approval. This is because they love each of the puppies they produce and want to make sure they never end up in a shelter, breeding mill, or a home that is a poor fit. I know my own dog's breeder said she once drove across the country to reclaim a dog whose owner had passed away so that the dog wouldn't be rehomed with somebody she considered inappropriate. A puppy mill or backyard breeder would not be trustworthy though, and I could understand not returning a dog if that is the case.
 

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cowpony: I do not have the option to return her to the breeder. Whether it is true or not, I have heard a bad ending comes to her older pups that do not sell. When I had trouble with car sickness, I emailed her about Dramamine and she never responded. I think she is just in the business of selling right now. Thanks for the heel game suggestion. She loves games and so do I. Can’t find enough for us!

.....

And, after reading some posts in the adolescent poodle discussion, I feel in many ways I have got it lucky. She is really a dear thing. This all started so abruptly after a difficult grooming and because the lady said I could ruin her if I didn’t do better by her or give her away. I never imagined ruining her. I had only imagined that it might harm her little soul if I DID give her away. Funny. I will see how the trainer goes on Monday. That is my short term plan right now...make it to Monday. But, she is being a sweet pup today so far, not a crazy adolescent, so I have hope. Thank you for that!
Ewww, it's too bad the breeder is less than stellar. If she regards the puppies as only a cash stream, she probably didn't bother doing any of the early handling that would make grooming much easier now. That's not fair to you or the pup. I'm glad you are getting a trainer involved.

As you are playing games, remember that puppies go through moods throughout the day, as their energy wanes and gets replenished by naps. Between 6 and 8 PM I really can't do much of anything that requires my boy Galen to have self control. He's tired and cranky and hyper. We call it the witching hour. I play games like fetch and the heeling game, as they let him burn off energy while still giving him a bit of strucure. Once he wears out he goes into his crate for the night with a snack.

In your case it sounds like you have a special challenge around handling, grooming, and possibly interactions with strangers. Getting held down at the groomers might have been a setback. That's a problem. Poodles need a lot of grooming, and you don't want this escalating to the point where you need to sedate the dog to give her necessary care. I would use clicker training to reinforce that handling is a Good Thing.

During a mellow time of day (not the witching hour) take 20 treats and practice touching her. Start by calmly touching her shoulder. Before she has time to react, click, take your hand away, and give her a treat. Repeat. Touch her other shoulder. Click, treat. Slowly switch towards more controversial body parts. Do not click and treat if she mouths you or shifts away. Start over with the shoulders. Withers, click, treat. Head, click, treat. Ears, click, treat. Neck, click, treat. Point of hips, click, treat. Work your way towards touching her most ticklish and sensitive spots: her muzzle, her chin, between her toes, the insides of her hind legs.

Once she tolerates you touching her all over, increase the duration. Rest your hand on her shoulder for a full second before clicking. Then two seconds. Then five. Again, no click and treat if she mouths you or shifts away. Switch back to a short touch. Work your way towards being able to wrap your hand around her muzzle and to spreading her toes apart without her pulling away.

Add grooming tool sounds and feels as she gets used to you. Turn a hair dryer on and off. Click, treat. Turn a shaver on and off. Click, treat. Leave the devices on for a full second, then two. Point the hairdryer at her shoulder for an instant. Click, treat. Touch her paw with the vibrating shaver. Click, treat. Return to a less intrusive activity if she pulls away. The idea here is to build trust and confidence. She should feel like she has the choice to permit handling, or not, and that allowing handling is always more rewarding.

Finally, once she is good with you, have your husband (if he will agree) and/or a cooperative friend start the same process. Start from the very beginning, with your helper priming the dog with the clicker. Remember, just because the dog agreed to be handled by you doesn't mean she agrees to be handled by anyone else. Do you let strange people put their hand on your butt? Work her up from the basics.
 

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Puppies are like children, husbands, and careers - there are a lot of uninformed and sometimes self-serving people willing to offer advice.

I've gotten a lot of sound advice here. Reading old threads can be a big help.

As far as your husband and the pup go, everyone I know is more stressed than normal with a virus-economy double whammy. He may need your patience too. (I'm sure my husband is having to give his patience a workout these days!)
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Rose, I couldn’t get myself to share her name before this...her name is Maisie. Sometime a picture... Thank you for the Versatility link. It looks wonderful. I will look for something similar here where I live. She and I would just love it.

Jbean, yes, I will use my squeaky voice...and check out the McMann YouTube videos.

Raindrops, it was the groomer/ shelter owner who told me about the breeder. The breeder is AKC certified and has been in the business for over 20 years. She is in her mid-late 80’s now. When she didn’t respond to me, I was hoping she was well, to tell you the truth. I didn’t think anything negative about it. She really seemed to care deeply about her dogs. But, we didn’t sign anything about returning dogs to her that needed rehoming. At least it wasn’t discussed.

Cowpony, thank you for the detailed grooming desensitization method. She doesn’t mind petting and hugging and combing. Since the grooming, she hasn’t wanted me to look into her ear canal, although it was itching her. I used to be able to trim the ear hair. And, she is sensitive about her paws and toes. Just since the start of re-training, though, she has begun to let me wipe her feet when she comes in without too much mouthing. That is a great sign of progress! I used to have to have her chew on a stick or something for the wipe. Now I have her “stand” for the rear legs, and “sit” for the fore legs, and she is OK because she is following a command and knows a treat is coming.

I hardly believe I have already seen progress! She got feisty when I told her it was time to go in this morning and wanted to lead her back in by the leash. She grabbed the short leash and started tug of war. I leaned against the house and waited her out. At last she sat (after 2-3 tries) and let me lead her in without further complaint. Yay!

I wrote in despair last night, and am stunned that she seems to have been ready, and perhaps waiting, for me to get my act together and help us through this together. I just wanted some good moments again with her, so I could start believing again. I am not afraid of working hard at it, but needed to have faith in the process. I have so much more to learn!

And, you have not only helped me, but also my sister indirectly, who acquired a poodle about the time that I did. They are just four days apart in age. My sister has had a death in her husband’s family this week, but I will share with her what you have all been so kind as to share with me very soon.

God bless you for being so generous and caring to spend your time and energies via this website to help others!

G
 

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You can master this situation. There is a lot of good advise in this thread but there are also some sticky threads with good info on training too. I think as you are able to get some of the puppy nonsense under control things should get better with your husband too.

I wish you success!
 

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I advise everyone with a Spoo to get a flirt pole. Helps drain off some energy and can be used for training. Especially, impulse control because it’s such a fun.

My husband was not wild about Buck and there were plenty of days that I intentionally mispronounced his name. Instead of blaming him, I blamed myself for not having better training chops. I studied every resource mentioned in this thread, got a positive reinforcement trainer, and soldiered on. Now DH cooks for Buck and I don’t mispronounce his name quite as often. I wish I had started with poodles, instead of adorable, dim Scottish Terriers!
 
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