why does my puppy growl and bite me
First of all, you mention a nice long time out. Times outs should be at max a minute long. I know you re getting frustrated, but leaving her alone for long periods of time is not going to help. Here s a good article on how to properly use time outs:
Secondly, I know you say you re doing everything, but she wouldn t keep doing what she s doing if she wasn t getting some sort of reinforcement from it. The trainers at my puppy class always say they pull, bite, or whatever because it works. Some things you didn t mention trying - whenever she bites you, you need to get up and walk away and ignore her for about a minute. Absolutely no attention (don t even look at her! ). Give her attention again after about a minute. You also don t mention redirecting her with toys, which should be done to teach her what is okay to chew on, especially since she is teething and needs something to chew on. When my husband comes home, she s a perfect little angel for him I wonder if he s doing something different with your puppy, such as stopping play when she bites him? Or giving her a toy to chew on instead? Watch how your husband interacts with her and take note. The A ntecedent. What happened right before the behavior occurred? Was she eating? Playing with a toy? Were you walking around and she nipped at your heals? Were you playing together? The B ehavior itself, the biting and growling. Most importantly, the C onsequences. What happened right after the behavior occurred? And I mean RIGHT after. Did you yell at her? Did you hit her? Did you give her any sort of attention in any way, shape, or form? Honestly hitting and spraying with a water bottle are poor techniques because most puppies interpret it as play and attention.
You need to remember that one, labs are a very mouthy breed in general and two she is probably teething and needs things to chew on to relieve the pain. Honestly the biting itself might be reinforcing and you need to be redirecting her to toys to chew on. What you re describing is very normal puppy behavior. I wouldn t necessarily interpret the growling as aggressive (sometimes they growl when they are playing) unless she is showing other. Worst case scenario (if it s truly aggression) I would suggest a one on one classes with a trainer. If your dog is growling when he is being picked up, you may be wondering what may be triggering this behavior. There are several possibilities, but before going into depth on them, let's first see what your dog is trying to communicate and let's debunk some common myths. Behavioral problems often stem from a lack of clear inter-species communication and all that is needed is to better understand what our dogs are trying to say. First and foremost, it's a common myth that dogs that growl when being picked up are trying to be dominant. This is far from true. Many people still believe that their puppy or small dog is growling to say something like: "I am trying to rule this house and exert my power over you, so get your hands off of me or I will bite you! " I have heard people make such claims even over a 12-week old puppy! To make things worse, vets, groomers or old-school trainers are often contributing to the problem, telling owners of these puppies to put the pup in its place and perform a scruff shake or an alpha roll!
The scruff shake consists of grabbing the pup by the loose skin of the neck (scruff) and giving a shake; whereas, the alpha roll, consists of an outdated technique where the puppy is pinned down until it "submits. " Both techniques are harmful and the end result is a puppy who is misunderstood and only learns to mistrust his owners! If you are seriously thinking you are dealing with a dominant puppy or dog, I ask you to re-think it over and look what important associations have to says. Reading the Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior is a good starting point. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers also offers a nice read and clearly claims: "Dogs that use aggression to "get what they want" are not displaying dominance, but rather anxiety-based behaviors, which will only increase if they are faced with verbal and/or physical threats from their human owners. " "Techniques like alpha rolls, scruff shakes and other violent maneuvers frighten many dogs and can trigger defensive aggression. These techniques arenвt just unpleasant for dogs and dangerous for pet parents to administer. Theyвre also irrelevant to most behavior problems, and they can erode the bond between dog and pet parent. " So, if the puppy or dog isn't growling and trying to bite out of dominance, then why is he growling and trying to bite in the first place? Let's look at an example. You are in middle school and a kid is teasing you. You tell the kid to stop it or you will tell the teacher about his behavior.
The kid stops teasing you. Next time, another kid tries to tease you, you use the same technique, only that this time it doesn't work. The kid blocks your pathway, so you cannot go tell the teacher, so you're forced to use plan B. In this case, you push him out of your way. This works to help you make a point and the kid leaves you alone for the rest of the day. Something similar happens to dogs. Your puppy lets you know he doesn't like it when you pick him up, so he may try at first to hide or squirm away when he sees you looming down to get him. When you get a hold of him, he'll emit a growl. If you respect the growl, you'll likely let him down the moment you hear him, but if the growl goes unheeded, he'll also have to resort to plan B, which is trying to bite. When this starts working, he'll use this strategy more and more as the growling is getting him out of a bad situation. It may be tempting to want to try punishing the dog for his growling or biting behavior but this worsens things even more. First off, growling should never be suppressed in dogs as this in the long term will result in a dog who may bite without warning. How would you feel if you are uncomfortable being at the dentist, and the dentist would you strap you up, force you to endure the procedure and even slap you in the face for not staying still? Most likely you would lose trust in the dentist and never want to go there again. Dogs who growl and bite when being picked up are trying to communicate something, are we listening? In the next paragraphs, we will see some common causes for a puppy or small dog to resent being picked up.
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