I think we're headed for dominance issues
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Thread: I think we're headed for dominance issues

  1. #1
    bex
    bex is offline Junior Member
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    DefaultI think we're headed for dominance issues

    Hello all. This is my first time posting in this forum. We bought a yellow lab, and named him Bean. We have had him 2 weeks and he is definitely full of beans. The first week we got through the new home adjustment, and worming. He had his first well baby visit and the vet noted that he would have some dominance issues. Week two, and when he doesn't want to be picked up, he growls. Last night we took him in the back yard for a romp and my partner went to pick him up. He turned around and growled and snapped at him, twice. Another issue that evening, he tried to face off with the adult rottweiler next door. His tail was straight out and fluffed.

    Bean is an only puppy. We are feeding him Purina as that is what the breeder fed him, and will start transitioning to a better brand for large breed puppies at the end of this week. Also, this is not my first dog. He is my fiance's first though. He is expected to sit when he is at the door, when he eats, when he is petted, and when he leaves his crate so that he can be leashed. He sits without being asked most of the time, and has begun entering his crate without being asked. He sits when told, most of the time. Since the growling and snapping he is on lead when out of the crate. We originally planning on the good citizen classes for him with the local kennel club, but after last night, we called the trainer that the vet recommended. She sounded very dismayed at all this and asked me to call the breeder. She would like to meet and assess Bean, before making a recommendation to train him or have the breeder re-home him.

    I have raised dogs before, and I haven't come across this. My dogs have always been well behaved. Both my partner and I work full time, and I am worried that by keeping him, we may be doing more harm than good. I worry that he is spending too much time in the crate and that he may need an owner who is able to be around quite a bit more. Meanwhile we have fallen in love with him. The problem is, if we can't give him what he needs, will this escalate. It is our responsibility to protect him from biting, and I am worried of failing in that responsibility. So far, two professionals in his life have voiced concerns.

    edit:
    This is my first lab. My last two were springer spaniels (bred for field not bench), and before that collies and golden retrievers. I feel that Bean has the potential to be a great dog, but the growling and snapping and posturing at the rotty, and the advice have me pretty freaked out.
    Last edited by bex; 02-07-2013 at 06:27 AM.

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  3. #2
    Tanya is offline Senior Member
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    hard to say based on just your description but that sounds normal. To actually see dominance in an 8-12 week old puppy is not impossible but VERY unlikely. I actually am dismayed that the vet was so pessimistic based on your description.

    are there puppy classes in yoru area? I Highly recommend them. they will help you socialise the puppy to people, other dogs of all kinds, and new places/smells/things

    have you talked to the breeder about the behaviour?
    Last edited by Tanya; 02-07-2013 at 06:50 AM.
    Charlie (foster) and Rocky

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    Samson is offline Senior Member
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    How old is your pup !

    If he is 10 weeks and he is pure bred then I have my doubts whether it is dominance or aggression of any kind.

    Just to say that other people have described puppy play/interaction as aggression ( I know that you didn't use that word ) when it's just a puppy finding his way in the world.

    I must say that I would correct any growling immediately if that is what it was !

    Sorry to be so doubting but it's difficult to imagine a Lab pup being this way without seeing him.

    If he is older than ten weeks then I would begin to wonder what sort of a start he had in life !

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  6. #4
    bex
    bex is offline Junior Member
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    Hiya. Thanks for the responses so soon. We're at 10 weeks. We are getting ready for the 2nd round of shots on Saturday. I had always waited until we got through shots to take my dogs out. I will ask the vet when he can begin visiting. I hadn't talked to the breeder yet. I was planning on making that call this evening. Aside from the growling, he is an extremely good pup. He will come up to me and sit at my feet and look up at me, like he's asking "What's next?" I think he is trying to please, because he will try to anticipate what is expected. Further, he has no issues with handling his body, other than being picked up when he doesn't want to stop doing something. He just got a tooth brushing. More like licking and trying to chew the toothpaste off the brush, but no problems being handled, other than the one. He also had a problem with the ear mites and after a little bit of problem, he will let me put the medicine in.

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    Tanya is offline Senior Member
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    Puppy classes are DESIGNED for puppies that haven<t had all their shots. they are a safe place to socialise. they help new puppy owners with the basic problems, give the puppies a chance to play and work on some basic training. Puppies can often start as young as 8 weeks. Plese google and ask around to see if there are these classes.

    Given your concerns I would definately have a trainer over to the house if you cannot find a good puppy class (or maybe both) just to double check if your puppy is really an "off" dog or if you just needs more tips on dealing with what is normal puppy behaviour.

    He may just not like being picked up - not all puppies want to be coddled.

    You need to socialise the puppy, this is prime time for them to soak it all up. You have to do so SAFELY. Have many people over, have many other dogs over, bring him to friend's houses, bring him to places not highly frequented by dogs. Unlses your live in a parvo hotbed you should be good for some safe outings. Socialise to people of all shapes, sizes, hats, bears, kids, cruthces, wheelchair, to sights and sounds and feels/textures.
    Charlie (foster) and Rocky

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    BigBrownDog is offline Senior Member
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    Truly dominant behavior is rarely seen in adult dogs - much less in a small puppy. I think you should expand your understanding of the concept of "dominance" which from a behavioral science point of view refers EXCLUSIVELY to command of resources (food, mating, territory).

    Since humans control all of these things in a dog's life, it is very difficult for a mere house pet to establish dominance and very few try. The whole "dominance" theory as it applies to dogs (and wolves) is a bit of a bankrupt concept since all of the science behind it relied on observation of a captive troupe of unrelated wolves - who do not behave in the same way as a normal family/related troupe in the wild. So - it's wrong because dogs are not wolves and it's wrong because normal wolves don't act the same as captive populations.

    If you have a vet who sees dominance in a puppy, I would find another vet (or if you think he is an excellent diagnostician, just ignore his behavioral advice - which is not exactly a strength for most vets anyway). I would also NOT see a trainer recommended by this vet. I would seek a trainer who believes in positive training techniques and possibly find a certified behaviorist to evaluate your puppy. My suspicion is that you have a very vocal, higher energy puppy who perhaps needs more play/exercise time and/or mental stimulation.

    The interaction between your puppy and your neighbor's adult dog is not a predictor of how he would act as an adult dog - puppies get a tremendous amount of latitude from adult dogs and often behave in ways that would be unacceptable if an adult did the same thing. They have not learned all of the "how to be a dog" stuff and having a lot of interactions with safe adult dogs helps them do so. I would not interpret your puppy's body language as one might an adult dog.

    And I would not correct any puppy or dog for growling. You don't want a dog who will not warn you before he bites.
    Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.

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    BauersMom is offline Senior Member
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    I also think this sounds like normal puppy behavior. Puppies from the same litter have different personalities, and the breeder should be able to give you some clues about your puppy's place in the litter. I would start with the breeder, and I agree that puppy classes are a necessity.

    Side note: Bauer was not our first puppy. He was our first lab puppy, but we both had labs growing up. My husband's parents even bred labs for a short period of time. When we brought him home, he was a perfect little angel for 2 weeks . . .when he was about 10-12 weeks old I was convinced that he was possessed, part badger, had a personality disorder, or was spawned by satan. It was at this time that I was looking at his pedigree and saw a great-grandfather who had "Satan" as part of his name . . . I was convinced that this was where my puppy's problems stemmed from. As a 10 week old puppy, Bauer would LAUNCH himself at me, grab onto my pants, and tear holes in them (this would happen without warning while walking him out to go potty). He would growl, snap, and nip. I knew from the breeder that he was the growly, rough puppy in the litter. In the beginning we did everything wrong. We tried a million different deterrents, but never stuck with one long enough for it to stick. After talking with the trainer in puppy class, we decided to stick with "yelping" (like a puppy) when his teeth touched our skin and then redirecting him to a toy. If that didn't work, we walked away (we had a gate up so he couldn't leave the family room and couldn't follow). He soon learned which behaviors sent us away and which didn't.

    Bauer is now 5, and is the best dog I've ever known. GOOD LUCK!
    Debi and Bauer
    Some people are like slinkies. Not really good for much, but bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.


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    bex
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    Thank you everyone, for your input. In the light of day, I see that we need a different trainer. My last trainer was overseas, and I took the recommendation and thought everything was ok. I will look into puppy classes, and we will begin visiting family after this next round of shots. They all have older dogs. Thank you for putting my mind at ease. We will also continue work on the good citizen certificate. One thing we will need to work on is the growling when picked up. I just can't let that happen. He only growls when we pick him up while he's doing something. I really thought that everything would go according to schedule as far as training. In fact I thought he was doing so much better than my last two, and they were great. He is veeerrry smart little guy. I didn't expect a curve ball, I guess. I should have been more skeptical of the vet.

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    Samson is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by bex View Post
    Thank you everyone, for your input. In the light of day, I see that we need a different trainer. My last trainer was overseas, and I took the recommendation and thought everything was ok. I will look into puppy classes, and we will begin visiting family after this next round of shots. They all have older dogs. Thank you for putting my mind at ease. We will also continue work on the good citizen certificate. One thing we will need to work on is the growling when picked up. I just can't let that happen. He only growls when we pick him up while he's doing something. I really thought that everything would go according to schedule as far as training. In fact I thought he was doing so much better than my last two, and they were great. He is veeerrry smart little guy. I didn't expect a curve ball, I guess. I should have been more skeptical of the vet.
    i suppose that it is vaguely possible that there is something wrong with his stomach, back or the like that makes him feel that you are hurting him when he is picked up ! Maybe check that out at his next visit to the vet ?

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    Tanya is offline Senior Member
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    See, maybe I'm an idiot for thinking this but - the puppy is busy doign something (fun I presume) and you pick him up and he doesn't like that - so growls his displeasure.

    Does he calm down after a second? Or does he keep growling and puttin up a fuss?

    Have you tried picking him up differently - meaning, have you tried getting his attention and having him interact with you THEN pick him up? If so, is he happier then or does he still growl?

    Does he KNOW you are about to pick him up or is he really enthrawled in what he is doing (on the times he growled).

    Does he allow you to touch/manipulate/"poke" his body (everywhere) otherwise when he is on the ground (have you practiced this?)
    Charlie (foster) and Rocky

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