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Hello This is my first post and first poodle. My girl is 7 months old we have have 3 young kids As well that are constantly running around and being noisy. My biggest worries are if she jumps on the couch and anyone comes near her or tries to get her down she nips. She uses her mouth and teeth a lot to tell us she doesn’t want something and never bites down hard but I know it’s not ok..should be done with puppy nipping completely by 7 months? Also have any of you noticed a temperament change after spaying?
Thank you
 

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What sorts of training have you done with her so far? Without knowing more about the situation, my instinct is to change the conversation. Poodles thrive on positive attention and are less receptive to the alpha dog stuff folks like Cesar Milan were advocating 20 years ago. Instead of "Dog, get off the couch so I can sit where you are sitting" make it "Dog, let's you and me go play in the yard with your flirt pole" or "Dog, let's go in the kitchen and play that game where you give me your paw and I give you treats." The prospect of doing something fun with 1:1 attention from a human is a lot more appealing than giving up a comfortable napping spot. After 10 minutes of playing with the flirt pole or practicing tricks you can come back in, give her a treat on her dog bed, and go sit on the couch yourself. She will probably have forgotten she was sitting there.

However, this sounds like a situation where you might want a consultation with a trainer with a background in behavior. There is certainly context and doggy signaling that won't come across the internet. Is she resource guarding the sofa? Is she stressed from the commotion and trying to use the sofa as a refuge? Is she just wrestling? Very different root causes, and they need to be handled differently, especially since you have kids to protect.
 

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Totally agree with cowpony.
Especially with a 'mouthy' breed like a poodle, this puppy nipping won't just go away if you haven't encouraged an alternative.
And no, spaying is not going to change this at all, since it's not connected with hormonal fluctuations but happens all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
What sorts of training have you done with her so far? Without knowing more about the situation, my instinct is to change the conversation. Poodles thrive on positive attention and are less receptive to the alpha dog stuff folks like Cesar Milan were advocating 20 years ago. Instead of "Dog, get off the couch so I can sit where you are sitting" make it "Dog, let's you and me go play in the yard with your flirt pole" or "Dog, let's go in the kitchen and play that game where you give me your paw and I give you treats." The prospect of doing something fun with 1:1 attention from a human is a lot more appealing than giving up a comfortable napping spot. After 10 minutes of playing with the flirt pole or practicing tricks you can come back in, give her a treat on her dog bed, and go sit on the couch yourself. She will probably have forgotten she was sitting there.

However, this sounds like a situation where you might want a consultation with a trainer with a background in behavior. There is certainly context and doggy signaling that won't come across the internet. Is she resource guarding the sofa? Is she stressed from the commotion and trying to use the sofa as a refuge? Is she just wrestling? Very different root causes, and they need to be handled differently, especially since you have kids to protect.
This is great advice thank you, your right I have to figure out what exactly she’s upset about or trying to tell me. When I called the breeder I got her from I was really upset to hear her tell me to put a leash around her neck and yank it every time she does bad behavior. these puppies were also living outside in a crate away from there mom at 6 weeks in March in the cold and looked terrible when I got her so I do think those first weeks of life are so important and im wondering if this caused something?
 

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Cowpony has given you good advice with regards to behavior modification, and it's likely others will give you more. Even within a breed every dog is a little different and working with a trainer can help you to tailor your approach to your specific dog and situation.

To address your question about spaying, it wouldn't help with this situation and can cause other problems. Sometimes altering a dog in this way can increase fear aggression, and the younger the spay/neuter often the worse the negative long term health of effects. Altering dogs is proving to be less cut and dry than previously believed and it's a cost benefit analysis.

Separation at 6 weeks is too early and prevents them from learning some manners from mom that are very necessary. Leaving mom is a traumatic event for a puppy, and the earlier it happens the worse the damage. Not sure if your issues are related, but I wouldn't be surprised. I would have low confidence in advice given by a breeder who acts as you've described.
 

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I can't see what's going on so take my advice with a large handful of salt.

I think it sounds like you need both better management (avoiding situations where you or your kids could be nipped) and better training (getting buy-in from your dog and clear communication set up with the dog).

If it's aggression - ignore me and find a well qualified, certified trainer or behaviourist. There are a few threads here on what to look for in a trainer, and I know people have helped in the past with locating one. Even if not aggression, a good trainer could definitely help. It's about a 1 month wait for private sessions where I am, so here's a few ideas.

If it's puppy frustration, my default would be no more dog allowed on couch, but make sure the dog has an excellent alternative place to go where kids arent allowed to bug her. A crate and a dog bed, probably. If I bugged our dog in the crate as a kid, I was in trouble. Even if she had decided to growl at me or nip me (I don't remember her ever doing this), I would have been in trouble for bugging the dog in her safe space. By respecting her space, I prevented her from ever feeling the need to nip or growl.

How are you getting the dog off the couch? I am no where near close enough to get nipped when I tell my dog off. It's a command I taught from early on.

Lure up on the couch with a treat, lure off of the couch with a treat. Do this a few times until the dog starts to understand the pattern, then add the command up and off. When you can use those words without having to lure, start heavily rewarding off (2-3 treats spaced out before asking for on again) and stop rewarding on. When this command is known, it's no longer 'human is forcing me off and I don't like it', it's 'i am choosing to get off - I will get a treat! You can teach 'go to your bed' or 'go to your crate' as a good alternative. Since you have had issues - keep rewarding off, and keep rewarding when you see your dog choosing to go on her bed or in her crate.

Also make sure your pup is getting enough sleep. 70% of issues with my dog prior to a year were at least partially caused by her having no off switch and needing to be put in her crate for a nap. Tired puppies are like tired toddlers. Cranky, miserable, irrational, and unable to control themselves.
Another 15% of issues was probably from inadequate exercise or boredom, and the remaining 15% was just her :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I can't see what's going on so take my advice with a large handful of salt.

I think it sounds like you need both better management (avoiding situations where you or your kids could be nipped) and better training (getting buy-in from your dog and clear communication set up with the dog).

If it's aggression - ignore me and find a well qualified, certified trainer or behaviourist. There are a few threads here on what to look for in a trainer, and I know people have helped in the past with locating one. Even if not aggression, a good trainer could definitely help. It's about a 1 month wait for private sessions where I am, so here's a few ideas.

If it's puppy frustration, my default would be no more dog allowed on couch, but make sure the dog has an excellent alternative place to go where kids arent allowed to bug her. A crate and a dog bed, probably. If I bugged our dog in the crate as a kid, I was in trouble. Even if she had decided to growl at me or nip me (I don't remember her ever doing this), I would have been in trouble for bugging the dog in her safe space. By respecting her space, I prevented her from ever feeling the need to nip or growl.

How are you getting the dog off the couch? I am no where near close enough to get nipped when I tell my dog off. It's a command I taught from early on.

Lure up on the couch with a treat, lure off of the couch with a treat. Do this a few times until the dog starts to understand the pattern, then add the command up and off. When you can use those words without having to lure, start heavily rewarding off (2-3 treats spaced out before asking for on again) and stop rewarding on. When this command is known, it's no longer 'human is forcing me off and I don't like it', it's 'i am choosing to get off - I will get a treat! You can teach 'go to your bed' or 'go to your crate' as a good alternative. Since you have had issues - keep rewarding off, and keep rewarding when you see your dog choosing to go on her bed or in her crate.

Also make sure your pup is getting enough sleep. 70% of issues with my dog prior to a year were at least partially caused by her having no off switch and needing to be put in her crate for a nap. Tired puppies are like tired toddlers. Cranky, miserable, irrational, and unable to control themselves.
Another 15% of issues was probably from inadequate exercise or boredom, and the remaining 15% was just her :)
Really good advice, I was actually wondering About her being over tired. It seems to happen more when she’s hot and panting from running around. She doesn’t seem to know how to go and take a rest herself yet. I don’t know if that’s a thing will poodles over doing it sometimes when young I will definitely start rewarding her when she gets off the couch and see if that helps. I’m realizing the issue might be she’s annoyed with the kids and needs her own space . Thanks for the reply!!
 

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these puppies were also living outside in a crate away from there mom at 6 weeks in March in the cold and looked terrible when I got her so I do think those first weeks of life are so important and im wondering if this caused something?
Well, I'm guessing this breeder isn't focused on either socialization or breeding for temperament if that's how she weans. Certainly yanking on the leash is antiquated discipline, and it also has the potential to injure the dog. However, you don't have a time machine to go back and change things that happened in March, and plenty of puppies with a rough start turn out fine. Concentrate on the things you can change now.

Poodles are definitely very mouthy. As retrievers, they are wired to want to hold things and carry things. Poodles are also very very smart, and many have a lot of drive & energy. The best way to have a well behaved poodle is to challenge them with lots of appropriate mental exercise. The kinds of skills a working retriever would need to have - sitting, waiting, fetching, looking for things, chasing things - tend to be meaningful to poodles.

A lot of bad behavior can be headed off by asking the dog to do something that's incompatible with the bad behavior. A dog can't resource guard the couch if the dog is playing fetch in the yard. A dog can't bite a kid if the dog is practicing down stays in the kitchen and the kid is doing homework on the living room coffee table.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, I'm guessing this breeder isn't focused on either socialization or breeding for temperament if that's how she weans. Certainly yanking on the leash is antiquated discipline, and it also has the potential to injure the dog. However, you don't have a time machine to go back and change things that happened in March, and plenty of puppies with a rough start turn out fine. Concentrate on the things you can change now.

Poodles are definitely very mouthy. As retrievers, they are wired to want to hold things and carry things. Poodles are also very very smart, and many have a lot of drive & energy. The best way to have a well behaved poodle is to challenge them with lots of appropriate mental exercise. The kinds of skills a working retriever would need to have - sitting, waiting, fetching, looking for things, chasing things - tend to be meaningful to poodles.

A lot of bad behavior can be headed off by asking the dog to do something that's incompatible with the bad behavior. A dog can't resource guard the couch if the dog is playing fetch in the yard. A dog can't bite a kid if the dog is practicing down stays in the kitchen and the kid is doing homework on the living room coffee table.
Thank you! I actually did not know they were a mouthy breed. I’m going to start these things today
 

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Oh dear it sounds like this pup got off to a rough start. Because of that and since there are behaviors happening that both you I would find a trainer to help you get things in order. I think there are a couple of things that a good trainer can help you get sorted asap. First you do need to build a better bond with you pup so that you don't end up at odds over who the couch belongs to. You also need a trainer to teach you and your kids how to teach the pup appropriate rather than bitey mouthy responses to being over excited and such. See if you can find a CPDT-KA certified trainer in your area at ccpdt.org or a KPA clicker certified trainer. Both will be positive methods oriented trainers.
 

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I haven’t seen if your poodle is a toy, mini or standard. Supposing it’s a toy, or smaller mini, they can be somewhat fragile and they know it. You say your kids are running around and making noise, which might be making her anxious. Little kids have a very different energy than adults and to some dogs, it’s threatening.

Have you taught your kids how to behave around her ? No jumping too close, no screaming next to her, no fast approaching and abrupt petting, etc. All these normal kid’s behavior can be terrifying for a small dog and when it happens, they show their discomfort and if not heard, they might come to their last option : bite.

I don’t know your situation but this might be something to consider.
 

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I see a lot of behaviors described as aggression, especially by new-to-dogs/poodle owners, when they may not be, yet.

Along with all the above, what's the pup's body language when this happens? This is a quick read from the AKC on this topic.
Reactive Dog vs. Aggressive Dog (akc.org)

Catherine, with your expertise, please weigh in on whether this article is relevant to the OP's issue.
 
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RnP that article has a lot of good info. Some that applies to this situation and everything there can apply at any time to any dogs and their peeps. I think it is super important for people to really learn how to read body language in their dogs and how they can constructively respond. As an example this morning we were loafing around while BF got organized to leave for a fencing tournament this afternoon. A lot of stuff was getting moved around and he was going in and out of the house a lot. This had both dogs a little wound up so I gave them each a buffalo ear to chew on as distraction. Well Lily just wouldn't settle and she ended up taking Javelin's ear from him which of course got him a little more wound up. He took to the sofa as a place to safely hang onto his ear. She stood and watched him while she barked. He growled a bit. She left and went back to her ear. It was important for me to watch and be ready to get them to knock everything off if it escalated, but by watching and listening to body language and vocal interactions I was able to let them resolve it all for themselves. Of course there can be situations in a single dog home where these kinds of things arise between the dog and a person. This is where a trainer or behaviorist can come in handy. By being an observant bystander the trainer can help the person learn to handle the dog effectively (which is the gist of the article).
 
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