Poodle Forum banner

1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are at a complete loss as to what has trigger aggressive behavior in our tpoo in certain situations.

He's 26 months and very well behaved.

At around 2 years old, maybe 25 months, when a package arrives he would charge the door, go outside, and sometimes nip at the pants of the UPS guy. He never did that before. Then it was any delivery person. He previously stayed in the house and barked, but he never charged anyone. Previously if he would go out he would just sniff them.

For a while, when he grabbed something he shouldn't, he would warn-growl at either me or my husband, depending upon who was trying to get the item out of his mouth. It was usually a tissue or paper towel. We yelled at him, and sometimes grabbed him by the scruff of his neck when he did it. But it wasn't all the time.

Yesterday, he did it to both of us with a tissue. As soon as we got close, he started growling. My husband went to take the tissue out of his mouth and he bit him - well, I don't know if it was a real bite or if his tooth just caught his hand the wrong way. But he drew blood. My husband is his buddy and playmate, and no one was more shocked than he after it happened. I'm more of the discipline person, so it was no surprise if he growled at me.

What we don't know is how/why this started and how to get it to stop. These are the only instances where he shows aggression. We can take toys away, food out of his mouth, treat/bones out of his mouth and he lets us. It's just the tissues, and now the delivery person issue.

We have had 2 different trainers and he has done well with it. He knows his command and his recall is getting so much better. We started working with him to get him to sit when someone comes to the door.

We are at a complete loss and are hoping it's just a stage he's going through. He does seem to have become more "mature" over the last 3-6 months.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
24,103 Posts
Don't write this off as a phase. The more a dog gets to rehearse these sorts of bad acts them more fixed those behaviors become. I know this is upsetting, but don't yell at him when he has a tissue. Work on several things all at once: reinforce leave it so when you see him getting ready to take a tissue you can stop it; rework your drop it so that he will give it up without you having to try to take it by offering a wonderful treat of food; practice taking things away from him directly (I can put my hand in all of my dogs' mouths and retrieve things that are about to be swallowed). Those should deal with the tissues. Separately practice door manners by having someone who is willing to cooperate ring the bell and enter while one of you answers and the other one of you trains/reinforces stay on your place as the person at the door hands off some sort of package. If you haven't taught go to your place, the place can be a dog bed, a mat or a towel. You have the dog lie down on the place and feed a bunch of treats. Then toss one treat off the place and tell them to get it. Start putting treats on the place so the dog is eager to return to it. Repeat, repeat and repeat. Once the dog has figured out being and staying on the mat earns treats put an order to it (go place, go settle...) and start sending the dog to the place and feed when they run to get there and immediately settle on the place. Once the dog knows this behavior then you will send them to the place before you open the door. Remind them to remain settled before anything else happens (like answering the doorbell).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dechi and mary2e

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you. We have a pretty good leave it going finally. But drop it has never really taken hold, though I do know he understands it. Trading him for a high value treat also doesn't work very well. The tissue is a much higher value. We can take anything away from him - except a tissue or paper towel, and that includes sticking our fingers in his mouth. We will try teaching him place/settle as well as door manners.

Sometimes we think he's doing it for attention. He's a master manipulator and attention hog. My husband has been backing off the attention he was paying him (which was a lot) and I'm wondering if that wasn't the cause of all this. He's doing anything to get all that attention back. My husband never had a dog, and to have one so little, so adorable, and so loving was something that he never expected. They are buddies - sometimes to the exclusion of me.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
24,103 Posts
Lily adores tissues, napklns and paper towels. If they are used they are even more special. It took some work to get it but she now knows if I want to take it from her she has to surrender it. Changes in our patterns of behavior do sometimes result in our dogs trying new things. Maybe your husband can teach his little buddy some tricks, so their relationship isn't entirely based on being couch potatoes together.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mary2e

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you. We are suspected that when the attention became less, the aggression seemed to have started. They weren't couch potatoes... they actually played on the floor with toys/treats and did training. I also should ramp up my attention to him since he's the "fun" parent. I'm the food/discipline/brushing/cleaning person with some play thrown in. I will say that when my husband goes out, Gilligan sits on the back of the couch looking out the window waiting for him. I'm working on getting him off there and playing with me by giving him treats.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
9,003 Posts
There is nothing wrong with rewarding good behaviour with attention. But it sounds like Gilligan's unwanted behaviours are getting the biggest reaction from you these days.

I personally wouldn't panic over tissues. We give Peggy lots of items to shred, as this is a natural activity for dogs. We just make sure to only give them to her in her exercise pen so she doesn't make a big mess and knows that the only items she's allowed to destroy are the ones that are explicitly given to her.

Providing an outlet for her instincts is much more pleasant for everyone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,330 Posts
There is nothing wrong with rewarding good behaviour with attention. But it sounds like Gilligan's unwanted behaviours are getting the biggest reaction from you these days.

I personally wouldn't panic over tissues. We give Peggy lots of items to shred, as this is a natural activity for dogs. We just make sure to only give them to her in her exercise pen so she doesn't make a big mess and knows that the only items she's allowed to destroy are the ones that are explicitly given to her.

Providing an outlet for her instincts is much more pleasant for everyone.
With a Toy, imho there can be a bit of safety concern. I'm still having to get better at not leaving paper napkins and tissues where my inveterate tissue shredder/eater can get them.

They have to come out the other end at some point, and I've seen Oliver have some difficulty with that. So obstruction in a Toy seems a possible danger that would be less likely an issue with a Standard.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
9,003 Posts
With a Toy, imho there can be a bit of safety concern. I'm still having to get better at not leaving paper napkins and tissues where my inveterate tissue shredder/eater can get them.

They have to come out the other end at some point, and I've seen Oliver have some difficulty with that. So obstruction in a Toy seems a possible danger that would be less likely an issue with a Standard.
I don't mean swallowing. That's a whole other thing. If my little paper shredder was turning into a paper eater, I'd obviously make every effort to keep paper well out of reach. I must have missed that part. Sorry.

Ian Dunbar has this to say about tissues:

"Years ago, I consulted on a case of a one-year-old dog that stole used Kleenex tissues and irritated her owner by playing Catch-Me-if-You-Can. The dog ran under a bed, the owner poked her with a broomstick, and the dog bit her on the wrist. I have since dealt with many similar cases. For paper-tissue theft to escalate to the point of both owner and dog physically abusing each other is extremely silly. It is essential that you teach your young puppy to exchange rolled newspaper, toilet rolls, or individual paper tissues for food treats so that she does not becomes possessive and protective of paper products. On the other hand, if the dog finds paper tissues intriguing, use them as lures and rewards in training, or give the dog one a day as a toy. And if you don't want your dog to steal paper tissues, flush them down the toilet."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,330 Posts
Good point, PeggytheParti. The Tpoo may not be eating them, as Oliver intends to do. Ol's good about dropping them for me and he gets a little thank you treat for doing so. I can also take what he hasn't spit out. Didn't mean to imply he's aggressive about it.

The biggest part is me training myself to be careful! And I daresay the hardest...
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
9,003 Posts
Good point, PeggytheParti. The Tpoo may not be eating them, as Oliver intends to do. Ol's good about dropping them for me and he gets a little thank you treat for doing so. I can also take what he hasn't spit out. Didn't mean to imply he's aggressive about it.

The biggest part is me training myself to be careful! And I daresay the hardest...
Oh believe me - I know!! THREE TIMES, Peggy's swallowed a hair scrunchie. And two of those times it was the same one. Human fail :(

She can definitely tell when I really don't want her to have something, even if I believe I'm remaining completely calm. And that's when she holds on tight and will run away from me. One time she even growled at my husband. I knew we had to change our approach.

So I've got a strict trade-up protocol in place now, which my husband follows, too. It's so important that everyone in the household be on the same page, but also sometimes quite tricky, especially if you've got a novice dog handler in the home. They may not understand the seriousness of resource guarding. They may not want dog ownership to feel serious at all. But it's important they realize that "good dogs" are dogs that clearly understand what's expected of them, and it's an ongoing dialogue between beings that speak very different languages.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,083 Posts
I attack this problem differently. When I got my minipoo she was almost a year old and loved to shred paper towels and tissues. She also loved to pick up shoes and run with them. We also had a tpoo many years ago who also loved paper products and socks.

My dogs, when young are not allowed access to paper products. None at all. Kleenex boxes were moved out of range. Used paper products are put in a tall garbage can that they can’t get into. You can’t allow your dog to rehearse this bad behavior over and over again. You can’t allow it to be a game the dog enjoys and wins attention from. Take away all paper products and you remove the problem. We also removed shoes and socks and blocked cords. It’s hard work and everyone has to be on board. When we had out tpoo I had a toddler and a 5 year old so I also kept toys and other inappropriate objects away. It was a lot of diligent work.

My minipoo has not had access to paper products for about 3 years. DH had a miserable cold where he was leaving used Kleenex every where and my dog completely ignored it because it had no value anymore as a fun activity. She ignores paper towels too.

With both my tpoo and my minipoo I found removing certain items like paper, socks, shoes etc or spraying hot sauce on plants and covering wires during that critical puppy, young adult exploration play stage and not allowing them to rehearse unwant behavior means I can have an adult dog who will ignore these items because they were never play objects. Instead they are focused on their toys and chew treats which are appropriate for them to interact with.

I’m not sure my approach would work with your dog because he’s had two years of rehearsing bad behavior. It does sound like you have done some good work on training when he has objects of low value, you just need to up your game to find how to get him to trade for paper. But do keep all paper products away from him except when training. Train with paper products when you can set up trades so you end each session with success.

Because he’s a toy it shouldn’t be too hard. Get tall garbage cans and keep paper products on high countertops. Get everyone in the house on board.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you. A few additional notes... He gets plenty of attention, just a bit less from my husband, who was his playmate. My dad calls him "the king" :)

That being said, we had some furniture moved out of the house today and he went after a small piece of paper towel. I said "leave it" very firmly and he stepped back and sat down. Which is what he's done while we were training him.

We don't leave tissues around, but he got one at my inlaws house, and that's where he wouldn't give it up. But he did the same last week when he got another one in his paws :)

Funny thing.... we actually trained him with tissues to leave it. He does it exactly once. After that, if we drop the tissue he automatically sits down waiting for us to either pick it up or let him have it.

He doesn't eat the tissues - he shreds them, along with dried leaves we let him have in the fall, and any other shreddable object.

I'm going to take all the adivce given, along with potentially letting him just have it. We will have to work on drop it, but he has never really done it no matter how hard we have tried.

He also "clutches" on to his toys when resting/or sleeping. Sometimes he gnaws on them. He has done it since we brought him home.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
9,003 Posts
Here's the thing - While I appreciate your openness, you can't take all the advice, as some of if conflicts. And I think that's where some of us go wrong. We try a bit of everything and confuse the heck out of our dogs (and ourselves).

Choose one expert, follow their methods, and be consistent.

Gilligan has learned a series of behaviours to get what he wants. Now it's time to teach him a series of behaviours that will interrupt or altogether replace them, while still satisfying and respecting his doggy needs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you very, very much. I am going to try a few of the "matching" approaches. I do have to stress that this is a new (mis) behavior. We previously had been able to take anything from him, including tissues. Ditto with the front door. He would just bark. Rather than bark and then greet the person, he is nipping at their pants leg. It all started around the time my husband backed off on the attention.

I'm leaning toward either letting him have paper and ignoring him and/or putting a bit of hot sauce on tissues, letting it dry, and leaving them around the house. I know he accidentally got some hot pepper in his mouth when he was a puppy and was NOT happy about it.

He is overall a very good dog and has been since we brought him home. He never ate furniture or shoes, and even was very easy to potty train since he came from the breeder pad and outdoor trained. We even have him ringing bells when he needs to go out if we don't take him out first. We have a "bathroom" set up for him in the garage, and it was a breeze to teach him to use it. We've seen two trainers and they have all indicated he is very smart and learns quickly. We are just completely stumped as to why this behavior came on so suddenly, and can only think it's because daddy isn't paying as much attention to him and he doesn't understand why.

I've started giving him enrichment toys more frequently - he has a bunch of Nina Ottosson puzzles, a snuffle mat, we give him safe cardboard boxes, as well as stuff smaller toys inside of larger ones. He would get a puzzle after dinner and now I'm giving him at least one during the day as well. We just can't pay attention to him all day long as I'm sure none of you can.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
9,003 Posts
I'd be wary of attributing human motivations to your dog. What you perceive as "being an attention hog" sounds more to me like a dog who doesn't know how to entertain himself or settle on his own, and/or is a bit confused about an abrupt change in the behaviour of his closest human ally.

You also mention feeling excluded. Poodles are extremely sensitive. If there's tension, they sense that. If you're at odds with your husband over his interactions with the dog, Gilligan will sense that. He could be feeling unsure or insecure. I don't think confident, well-socialized dogs attack the pants legs of delivery people.

Does he get regular exercise? Mental and physical?
Do you go for walks together?
Do you consistently trade for higher value items when you want what he's got in his mouth? Or did you get complacent because he was letting you take them?
Do you shout at him and/or grab his neck for other misdeeds? Is this what you mean when you say that you're the disciplinarian?

Reading through your posts again, I think there's a lot going on here and Gilligan's defensive behaviours could easily escalate without some meaningful changes.

What behaviour and/or training guides do you use?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Also to add, as a veteran but not current cat owner, sudden behavior changes also warrant a thorough vet visit. Rule out dental, thyroid, and other potential issues ??.
He was just at the vet and got a clean bill of health. The vet said he's the picture of health.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I'd be wary of attributing human motivations to your dog. What you perceive as "being an attention hog" sounds more to me like a dog who doesn't know how to entertain himself or settle on his own, and/or is a bit confused about an abrupt change in the behaviour of his closest human ally.
I agree that he's confused that suddenly daddy isn't playing with him whenever he asks. He's told to wait and after a while, does get some play time. We have upped the play time but are doing it with training. We started with "place" yesterday and he learned it really quickly (as he does most other things). We have to keep doing it until it's reliable.

You also mention feeling excluded. Poodles are extremely sensitive. If there's tension, they sense that. If you're at odds with your husband over his interactions with the dog, Gilligan will sense that. He could be feeling unsure or insecure. I don't think confident, well-socialized dogs attack the pants legs of delivery people.
Oh, I know about sensitivity. We're not at odds at all. It's just that my husband has gone through some difficult times in 2019 and has "used" Gilligan to heap some love on - not that Gilligan isn't loveable most of the time anyway. I'm pretty much excluded because daddy is the one who plays with him all the time. Daddy has now stepped back and I'm doing more of the playing. I'm also walking around with high value treats in my pocket to reward good behavior. There is no question that as soon as daddy retired in the summer and has been home all day, Gilligan has become far more attached to him. As for the delivery people.... this is also a new behavior. He used to just bark at them, which is what I expect. I never expected him to nip pants legs.

Does he get regular exercise? Mental and physical?
We do walk him, but he doesn't want to stay out very long after he does his business. He does race up and down the stairs and does zoomies in carpeted areas. It doesn't take much to tire him out. We have plenty of toys, mental puzzles, and a snuffle mat. I've increased the use of them. We have a big, beautiful and secure backyard and we can't let him out. We also have a large hawk population and even if we go out with him, they circle above. Since the yard is big, he can be far enough that we can't run to him fast if a hawk is circling. I once had FOUR of them circling low over my head.
Do you go for walks together?
Yes.
Do you consistently trade for higher value items when you want what he's got in his mouth? Or did you get complacent because he was letting you take them?
We did do trading, and it did start to work, though not consistently. We got complacent because he was letting us take tissues/towels from him.
Do you shout at him and/or grab his neck for other misdeeds? Is this what you mean when you say that you're the disciplinarian?
Absolutely not. It was only for the tissue issue and we both did/do it. I have to say, there are no other misdeeds that would cause us to shout at him. He IS very well behaved and always has been. He never ate shoes, socks, or furniture. If I do have to discipline for a minor offense, it's a stern "no" and daddy does it too.

Reading through your posts again, I think there's a lot going on here and Gilligan's defensive behaviours could easily escalate without some meaningful changes.
What behaviour and/or training guides do you use?
I agree that it could get worse, which is why I asked here what we should be doing. We started and just finished with a second trainer to make sure we were doing things correctly. She has numerous certificates from classes, including behavioral, and has been around dogs her whole life. It was she who indicated that daddy should back off some and I should step up more, and that he would probably get worse before he got better at coming to both of us. Now that I think back, that is when his behavior started to change. We signed up for 5 weeks and had to reschedule 2 of them, so I can trace back to his behavior starting around the same time. He finished a few days before Chrismas and he bit my husband a few days after Christmas.

I don't have a training guide, but have read quite a bit online as well as facebook groups. I recently joined one called Canine Enrichment and have started putting those principles into place to keep him occupied. I also ordered 2 enrichment/training books.

We decided to do 2 things with the tissues - one is to ignore him when he gets one and the other is to put some hot sauce on a tissue (very, very little), let it dry, and then leave it somewhere he'll find it. He did last night, and after a few minutes of tearing at the tissue, he hit the hot sauce. He dropped it, went to his bed and started smacking his tongue. After a minute or two, I gave him a piece of bread. I certainly don't want him to suffer. He went back to it after about 30 minutes, hit the hot spot again, dropped it, and went to his bed.

I really can't thank you, and the others for all the helpful advice. This forum is an incredible resource and am so happy I found it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Another update on this....... I received my books and have made it through some of this one:


It's fascinating and we've both started using some of the techniques. We're still working on "place" and will start working on a "leave me alone" command. I'm quite surprised by the entire discussion of agency for dogs and am glad to know that we did some of the suggestions anyway.

I did remember something about when the front door aggression may have started.... We had several things delivered/installed in addition to packages in the fall. I seem to remember that one of the delivery people was so taken with Gilligan, he tried to pick him up and play with him while he was at the door with me. Until that time, Gilligan only barked at people at the door - now he lunges at them. We had some furniture moved out a few days ago and my husband held on to him and kept giving him treats while the movers were getting the furniture and he calmed down considerably.

So I probably was mistaken that it had to do with my husband paying less attention to him.

And another thing...... that tissue he grabbed that caused him to bite? I failed to mention my mother in law had a nose bleed and it also had a small amount of blood on it. I do know that if either of us cut ourselves, he comes running to lick the wound, as did my toy when I was growing up. It still needs to stop, but the blood on the tissue might have something to do with it.
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top