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Five old lab puppy growling and snapping at husband

This is a discussion on Five old lab puppy growling and snapping at husband within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Originally Posted by Rain Most, not all but most, aggression is rooted in fear, it has nothing to do with pack order, or the dog ...

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Old 07-26-2018, 06:27 AM
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Most, not all but most, aggression is rooted in fear, it has nothing to do with pack order, or the dog thinking he's alpha, all of that has been disproved. In fact if you watch street dogs from places like India, they do not even form packs like that, and neither do wolves.

You need to figure out why your boy is acting like he is. How are you training him, are you using techniques like alpha rolling him, hand biting him, being "aggressive" towards him, staring him down? All of that can cause a fearful dog to become defensive and decide that the best offense is a good defense.

My boy is fear aggressive, if someone he does not know and trust pushes past his warnings then he will snarl and snap at them. If I was to try to dominate him for doing so then he'd be even more fearful, and even more defensive. Instead I work to teach him that strange people cause good things to happen, and slowly he's made friends with people he formerly tried to scare off. People who've known him since I first got him are amazed at how much better he is. These are the ones who used to say that I was teaching him to bark at them by giving him the treats for seeing them LOL.

If the trainer that you get starts telling you that you have to put the dog in it's place, show him who's alpha, and do stuff like hand bites, or alpha rolls and hold him down till he submits, please run from that person. Such techniques have been proven to make a dog worse, not better. At best they shut down the behavior but in the meantime the dog is fearing the thing even more and can potentially bite without warning.

One of the sites that I've used to help me help my dog is Care for Reactive Dogs . Another resource I use is the facebook group "Reactive Dogs" . The FB group has some trainers and behaviorist that work with dogs that are fear aggressive.

Here's some sticky links from the Dog Forums Training and Behavior Stickies that will explain some of what I mentioned.
https://www.dogforum.com/training-be...-fallout-4776/
https://www.dogforum.com/training-be...nce-dogs-4076/
https://www.dogforum.com/training-be...-tools-160418/

This one may help with the resource guarding https://www.dogforum.com/training-be...fication-7511/
We're pretty sure he's not fear aggressive. My husband has never laid a hand on him. We think the snapping is rooted into the food aggression - but maybe he's fearful of not getting more food. Basically it seems like he thinks my husband is getting between him and his food. The two times he's snapped and bit were during a meal and right after one when he was still in dinner mode.

The random little growls are what we think might be an alpha dog thing/him trying out something on my husband.

Our new trainers are not recommending us be doniant. We are going to do a 19 week obedience class with ecollar training. That way we are the ones handling him and he's getting trained between classes in our house where the problem lies.
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Old 07-26-2018, 07:16 AM
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Hi @mgagnon!

Welcome to the Forum. I'm sorry you're having some issues with your puppy, it can be very confusing and hurtful when a puppy (who is supposed to love everyone!) is growling at you.

I want you to know that puppies (and dogs) can be afraid of lots of things that have never done anything to them. Based on the limited information the breeder you posted gave, I can pretty safety assume that with multiple litters on the ground you need to get through feeding the litters as quickly as you can.

This means they probably plopped down one large bowl for the whole litter. This is probably where the resource guarding started. Especially since I'm sure you know, Labs are voracious eaters and loooooove their food.

Confident dogs RG too, but they can stop an approaching dog with a look, or slight change in body language. Less confident/fearful/insecure dogs go over the top with their warnings because they don't have the confidence to back it up - instead they are afraid "Please don't take my stuff!".

I am pleading with you to not put an E-collar on this puppy. This will make things so much worse. He's already afraid (true, REAL offensive aggression is pretty rare) and causing him pain is not going to help. Labs are SO trainable, so smart, and so forgiving.

Please find a force-free/positive reinforcement trainer to help you with this. Or at least give it a chance before you resort to an E-collar which should be your VERY LAST resort.

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Old 07-26-2018, 08:56 AM
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Please do not use an ecollar on your dog. Any training that hurts your dog in any way is only guaranteed to make things worse, not better.
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Old 07-26-2018, 11:50 AM
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Hi @mgagnon!

Welcome to the Forum. I'm sorry you're having some issues with your puppy, it can be very confusing and hurtful when a puppy (who is supposed to love everyone!) is growling at you.

I want you to know that puppies (and dogs) can be afraid of lots of things that have never done anything to them. Based on the limited information the breeder you posted gave, I can pretty safety assume that with multiple litters on the ground you need to get through feeding the litters as quickly as you can.

This means they probably plopped down one large bowl for the whole litter. This is probably where the resource guarding started. Especially since I'm sure you know, Labs are voracious eaters and loooooove their food.

Confident dogs RG too, but they can stop an approaching dog with a look, or slight change in body language. Less confident/fearful/insecure dogs go over the top with their warnings because they don't have the confidence to back it up - instead they are afraid "Please don't take my stuff!".

I am pleading with you to not put an E-collar on this puppy. This will make things so much worse. He's already afraid (true, REAL offensive aggression is pretty rare) and causing him pain is not going to help. Labs are SO trainable, so smart, and so forgiving.

Please find a force-free/positive reinforcement trainer to help you with this. Or at least give it a chance before you resort to an E-collar which should be your VERY LAST resort.

Certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant Directory - CCPDT
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Please do not use an ecollar on your dog. Any training that hurts your dog in any way is only guaranteed to make things worse, not better.
The ecollar is not going to be used to cause Fred pain. Idea to use it as just a vibrtion to get his attention when training. Not a form of punishment like a zap to hurt him.
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Old 07-26-2018, 12:06 PM
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I don't think you understand how e collars work... Have you tried TRUE positive reinforcement? Most e collars have zap or sound. Which do you plan to use?
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Old 07-26-2018, 12:30 PM
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I don't think you understand how e collars work... Have you tried TRUE positive reinforcement? Most e collars have zap or sound. Which do you plan to use?
I know how they work. It's not really a zap. More of a vibration. It's not like an electric fence collar.

You don't "zap" him when he's doing something bad. You send him the signal, it gets his attention that it's time to listen, and give the command then you give positive reinforcement.

And yes we have. Nothing
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Old 07-26-2018, 01:14 PM
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@mgagnon - What have you tried to help with the resource guarding?

What was happening just before your husband was petting him on the patio? What does your husband do when he growls?
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Old 07-26-2018, 01:30 PM
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@mgagnon - What have you tried to help with the resource guarding?

What was happening just before your husband was petting him on the patio? What does your husband do when he growls?
Coming by his bowl and tossing him high value treats, actually dropping them right into his bowl, feeding them to him when he looks up. He doesn't really mind when we are bear him and can touch his bowl but he freaks out if he's touched.

Similar with like a peanut butter Kong or bully stick he will let you stand right next to him but if you were to touch him or reach towards it he'll growl, run away, maybe snap. We try to trade him with high value treats using leave-it.

For this food aggression and the growls we aren't planning to use the e collar to correct it so to speak. We are using the class for him to continue using good manners.

When my husband was letting him on the patio he had finished his meal probably a couple minutes before a d my husband called him outside to go do his business that was all. Which is why it's really weird. This is a new thing over the last couple days. He seems to be scared of him for some reason but he's never hit him or anything. Maybe he's raised his voice in alarm of a snap when he's been gaurding his food and now he's decided he's suspicious of him around feeding time.
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Old 07-27-2018, 03:30 AM
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The reality is that there are individual Labradors who are reactive and use aggressive behaviour at times. The reasons or motivations for their behaviour will vary, but one thing is true of all of them aggressive behaviour is totally normal.
All dogs can use aggression to a greater or lesser extent depending on their individual temperament and experiences. Just like every person can lose their temper or slam the occasional door in frustration.
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Old 07-29-2018, 12:20 PM
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When my last dog showed some food aggression towards a roommate and one of my cats at around age two after I'd had him for a year, I basically used nilif principles without knowing about it formally at the time.
He only got any food when I said so. He had to go to his room, sit, lie down, stay, wait, while I measured out his food and not make one single move until I said ok. I had to be able yo pet him while he ate, tell him to stop eating, add or take away food, stop eating and let me take away the whole bowl, and do whatever with not one sound or move.
When it came to treats, he had to wait quietly while I gave the cats little pieces of steak or their treats and not move or intimidate them at all. Then he'd get his treats. Any hint of pushiness or aggression and he'd have to go to his room and stay there and no treats that day. And yes I'd use very stern verbal reprimands.
He was very smart and learned very quickly and no more food guarding in very little time. He'd snapped at my roommate and one of my cats within a week or two, no injuries or marks but it worried me enough to get very firm with him. I will say I praised him a lot for good behavior and he never showed any food aggression or any aggression with me.

To be cautious I never let other people feed him or be around him during his mealtimes unless it was family he knew very well. My disabled mom never had any issues feeding him and she'd sometimes watch him when I was at work. Neither did a boyfriend that lived with us for many years.
He wasn't a lab though, he was an akita pit bull mix, both breeds known to have aggressive tendencies. So I wanted to stop that early. And I wanted to be sure he never was dangerous to anyone else. He could get pushy if people gave him extremely yummy treats and not take them gently.
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