Dog Forum banner

1 - 20 of 35 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
We have a male American black lab named Fred that's almost five months. We love him. He does have awfulfood agression and we've already met with a trainer they is going to take him for a boot camp. However, we're now worried he may not have just food agression but be aggressive in general.

Since Monday morning he has started growling at my husband when he approaches him to pat him. Tuesdays night when I wasn't home and he let him out of his crate he was growling. After he Fred him his dinner and he was in the kitchen with him he snapped and really bit him good. Then this morning again when he was taking him outside to pee and he was patting him on our patio steps he was growling again.

When we are altogether he doesn't seem to do it as much.

Any ideas? We can't figure out what triggered it or how to fix it. Thinking boot camp won't be able to solve this since it's something to do with my husband.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
556 Posts
Only 5 months and starting with the aggression. Ugh. I have some experience with labs. As a very broad generalization- theres some very poor breeding going on with black labs. The aggression in the breed is a pretty big issue with them ( poorly bred ones at least ). It shouldn't be there but its an inborn temperament fault in a huge number of them. I work jobs where I'm in and out of different homes on a daily basis.....labs, the black ones in particular, have definately got some aggression issues going on. And I'm not bashing them, we currently have an 8 year female black lab from field lines. I dont know where my wife got her, and she's a great dog, but yeah she has aggression issues too. I'd get a trainer or behaviorist to come evaluate him and come up with a plan of action. Five months is kinda early for what you're talking about youre gonna want to get a handle on it now or its only going to get worse......
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Five month old lab puppy growling and snapping at husband

Only 5 months and starting with the aggression. Ugh. I have some experience with labs. As a very broad generalization- theres some very poor breeding going on with black labs. The aggression in the breed is a pretty big issue with them ( poorly bred ones at least ). It shouldn't be there but its an inborn temperament fault in a huge number of them. I work jobs where I'm in and out of different homes on a daily basis.....labs, the black ones in particular, have definately got some aggression issues going on. And I'm not bashing them, we currently have an 8 year female black lab from field lines. I dont know where my wife got her, and she's a great dog, but yeah she has aggression issues too. I'd get a trainer or behaviorist to come evaluate him and come up with a plan of action. Five months is kinda early for what you're talking about youre gonna want to get a handle on it now or its only going to get worse......
I know it's very upsetting because he's so good around all other people and dogs when he's out and about. After I made this post my husband talked to an animal control officer we know...

He told us it sounds like Fred thinks he's higher up in the pack than he really is. It makes sense. I am home with him all day because I work from home. My husband has a regular 9-5 so he's not with him nearly as much. So I am the alpha and Fred thinks he's #2.

Basically he said my husband should spend a ton more time with him and feed him all his meals when he's home, walk him alone, take him to the park alone etc. So we're going to start there an hopefully he'll stop this growling thing.

That's really not a good sign... where did you get him from?
Breeder near Rochester NY called Labs of Love. I called and left them a voicemail to see if they've heard of any of their puppies acting like this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
522 Posts
4 litters just in the Summer... yikes. No mention of any testing on the parents... definitely wouldn't buy a dog from them, but what's done is done.


I'd definitely look for a trainer to work on the issue.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
4 litters just in the Summer... yikes. No mention of any testing on the parents... definitely wouldn't buy a dog from them, but what's done is done.


I'd definitely look for a trainer to work on the issue.
I've spent all morning/afternoon researching and talked to one I think we are going to work with. 3 week private and 16 week group. Trainer has worked with dogs like Fred before. Currently has an 8 month old golden doing the same thing. So we are hopeful.

Can't start until 8/18 though.

Any recommendations in what to do before we start?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
556 Posts
NILIF. Google the term. Acronym for " nothing in life is free"
Basically the dog has to do something FOR you before it gets anything FROM you. Reinforces in the dogs mind who controls the good stuff and runs the show. It might sound harsh but it's really not. Some dogs thrive on it. I've raised several dogs this way and its been great.
If the animal control guy is right and this is a rank issue in the dogs mind then NILIF will almost surely help. Also, just for kicks and your own knowledge base ( and the info you might find researching the topic could be of benefit ) you may want to do some light research on the types of black labs- field lines, pet bred lines ( which is what the dogs your breeder produces look like to me ) and showlines ( what are often referred to as english black labs ). Might give you some insight as to what you have to work with compared to the others.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,882 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
NILIF. Google the term. Acronym for " nothing in life is free"
Basically the dog has to do something FOR you before it gets anything FROM you. Reinforces in the dogs mind who controls the good stuff and runs the show. It might sound harsh but it's really not. Some dogs thrive on it. I've raised several dogs this way and its been great.
If the animal control guy is right and this is a rank issue in the dogs mind then NILIF will almost surely help. Also, just for kicks and your own knowledge base ( and the info you might find researching the topic could be of benefit ) you may want to do some light research on the types of black labs- field lines, pet bred lines ( which is what the dogs your breeder produces look like to me ) and showlines ( what are often referred to as english black labs ). Might give you some insight as to what you have to work with compared to the others.
Thanks for the recommendation! I'll look into it!


Just my two cents, but I don't trust board and train facilities. You aren't there to see what they are doing to your dog, and if you're not there you're also not able to learn anything about handling techniques.

The OP on this reddit has a good layout of why board and trains are often sketchy
https://www.reddit.com/r/Dogtraining/comments/91mf98/for_safety_with_trainers_get_details_on_methods/
Yes we came to the conclusion that that isn't going to be good for him. We need to be the ones to really train him so he'll learn to respect us. We found a 4 month program we're going to go through with him.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,721 Posts
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-behavior-stickies/suppression-modification-shutdown-fallout-4776/
https://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/dominance-dogs-4076/
https://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/zak-george-dominance-aversive-training-tools-160418/

This one may help with the resource guarding https://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/resource-guarding-causes-prevention-modification-7511/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
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-behavior-stickies/suppression-modification-shutdown-fallout-4776/
https://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/dominance-dogs-4076/
https://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/zak-george-dominance-aversive-training-tools-160418/

This one may help with the resource guarding https://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/resource-guarding-causes-prevention-modification-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.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,614 Posts
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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
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
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.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
9,240 Posts
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?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
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
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,614 Posts
@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?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
@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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
125 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,279 Posts
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.
 
1 - 20 of 35 Posts
Top