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Hi all,
I'm new to this forum and hoping you can help. We recently adopted an 8 week old "mutt" (more on that later). He is our 6th dog in the last 21 years. All of our dogs have been different breeds & ages when we got them as they were all rescues - as is this new guy. Currently, I also have an 8 y/o female ShihTzu and 5 y/o male Boxer (both are purebreds and best friends). A friend of mine was fostering my new guy along with his 4 siblings and their mother. We were able to "foster" him at 6 weeks until we were able to formally adopt him last Friday (not an ideal situation, but the circumstances were unavoidable). During those 2 weeks, he was a "normal, playful puppy", however he was absolutely TERRORIZING my ShihTzu. From their first visit (we gradually introduced all three over several visits) she was drooling & shaking. Even my Boxer was slobbering at the sight of the puppy. In the last 2 weeks, things have gotten somewhat better, but my ShihTzu's entire demeanor has changed. She used to be a cuddly lap dog, now she only stays on a chair where she knows the puppy can't reach her. Her appetite is diminished and she won't eat special treats (bully sticks, antlers, etc....formally her favorites). The Boxer plays with the puppy, but you can tell he's a bit stressed out. This puppy just seems too hyper and is now somewhat aggressive. In the 2 weeks that we had him, prior to adoption, we had a DNA test done on him. His father was pure Rott, his mother was 50% Pit, 25% Beagle and 25% ShihTzu. I'm not blaming his breed on his aggression, but I've never dealt with a dog this aggressive. Yesterday he bit my husband (broke the skin on his finger) when we tried to take a NylaBone from him. He was thrashing, tugging, screaming and had the "lock" of a Pit. It was scary for a few seconds. He's only 8 weeks old and 16lbs. Makes me terrified for what will happen when he's older & bigger (DNA test estimates he'll be 75lb-100lb). The other dogs have been training him and "putting him in his place", but the puppy does NOT back down. He seems hellbent on being the pack leader. It's obvious that my other two are NOT themselves. I don't think it's fair to them to keep putting them thru all this stress. They don't feel like it's "their" home anymore. Additionally, this puppy is ALWAYS crying for food. At 7 weeks, he was eating almost 2.5 cups/day!!!! He's not the least bit overweight (maybe underweight if anything, but just about right) and I think that's mostly b/c he's SO hyper. We had a trainer come to the house for an evaluation before the adoption was finalized and he seems to think he'll eventually be a good dog with A LOT of training. We don't have time for A LOT of training. My husband and I both work, but I'm home every day at lunch to let them all out. In all my years of dog ownership, I've never seen this kind of dynamic (all of our dogs have always gotten along very well) and I don't know what to do. They all had histories of abuse, neglect, etc. yet eventually all fell into a very comfortable routine and all were best friends. I've NEVER seen a puppy (with no history) be so demanding, stubborn and aggressive. I'm thinking we should relinquish him to the rescue where we got him, but I hate to give up too soon. It's just obvious that what's going on is not fair to my other dogs. Any advice/suggestions are very welcome! Thanks!
 

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I think it's a bit too soon to say this puppy is aggressive or wants to be the leader.
You should consider that, if I understood correctly, he missed 2 important weeks with his mother (you said you have him since he was 6 weeks)... that he finds it hards to communicate with the dogs and that he does not know how to control the bite is normal.
It's also normal behavour that he trashed and locked and screamed with the bone: many dogs play that way (though I understand it can be scary if you've never seen it before)... you also have to consider that he may have been possessive of the bone: why were you trying to take it?
I'd suggest teaching him to "drop" (or whatever word you use), and most important teach him that he has no reason to fear you'll take away his things, that if you take something it's because you're giving something better back (with time he'll learn to trust you and will listen to you, but if he thinks you want to steal what's his he'll find it hard to trust you)
(don't worry too much about the bite: first of all, he has no idea that human skin is not as strong as dog skin, so he does not know, can't possibly know, that he was hurting you, secondly, puppy teeth can cut you even if there's no biting involved, they are that sharp... he may have tried to protect the bone, so see above about the exchange, but he did not mean to hurt anyone)

What does he do during the day? How much time do you spend with him, what do you do together, how much time do you spend walking him?
I'd suggest finding time to separate the dogs, perhaps taking walks with the older two dogs while the puppy plays with your husband (or the other way around), this way giving the dogs time to calm down, relax, and spend time with you.
(the best would be one of you takes the older dogs, so they relax, and the other takes the puppy for a different walk, so he has a chance to explore alone, without the shadow of the older dogs)
Increase the time you spend tiring the puppy, perhaps change activity, and use also games where he has the chance to, using your words, "lock like a pit".
Start teaching him some kind of restraint, but most important, give him a way to tire himself.
Crate-train him, so maybe he'll be able to stay in the crate half of the day (like mornings) and your other dogs we'll have more time to relax.

More important: you did not describe an aggressive puppy, only a tipical bully puppy that could not spend enough time with the mother.
It's also tipical of a bully puppy not showing much "backing down" when an adult scolds them: many of them just shake it off and keep going.
 

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Thank you for your response. The "aggressiveness" I'm referring to is his thrashing when being picked up (doesn't always do it, but when he does, it's pretty rough), his "attacking" the other dogs (more than playful puppy antics) and not even responding when being corrected be either me or my other dogs. He is extremely smart, dominant and is starting to get very strong. We have been working with a trainer to try to get him under control, but his personality is SO dominant that it doesn't seem to be working. Yesterday, he terrified my ShihTzu so badly, she ran and hid behind the toilet and wouldn't come out until I picked her up and put her on a bed. She has NEVER behaved this way, and she has been around MANY dogs over the years. The puppy pins her into corners, forces her under furniture, etc. At first she was "fighting back" and "putting him in his place", but it's like now she has given up and just prefers not to deal with him - although he still antagonizes (and bites at) her. The Boxer has slightly more patience, but it's obvious that he too, is now fed up. BTW...the reason we took the bone away was that he dragged it to a place my husband had recently put down grass seed. The seed was getting on the bone and I didn't want the puppy to ingest it. We were just trying to move him to a patio area.

We have not been able to walk the puppy as he was not fully vaccinated until just last Friday. He gets plenty of exercise in the house and the yard. We do walk our other dogs, so they do have "alone time" with us while the puppy stays home. Last night at his fist vet visit, the vet told us he could tell immediately the puppy is HIGHLY intelligent, extremely stubborn and may be hard to train. He said he's a good dog, but may do better in a home with no other dogs. My husband and I have agreed to work with him for a month and come to a decision by June 1. Hopefully things will have settled down and we will be able to keep him. If not, he will be going back to the rescue group to find a more appropriate home. I've never had to relinquish a dog in my life (never even considered it), so this situation is heartbreaking and very stressful for me. :(
 

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Medical problems such as hyperthyroidism can cause unexplained aggression, maybe get a full check up done before giving up on the pup.
 

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I've been having issues like this with Echo since about 9 weeks, she is incredibly intelligent but had a rough start in life. She is anxious about other dogs and people and even being handled by us. Her way of coping was to be over the top appeasing to dogs and people but when she lost some timidity she's started to play too rough especially with dogs her own size or smaller. We stop play before it escalates. I think she could easily have escalated to fear aggression if we had another dog. With new people she will run up and be all over them but we realized it was coming from anxiety when given a safe place nearby she would go there and watch instead of greeting. With us she was a terror, at first she would lie in our laps and was incredibly sweet then snap at us and attack us, picking her up or restraining her with more than a hand on the chest causes her to go mad! Seriously I need to upload some pics of the results, we are just marking a week from the last time she made us bleed.

Despite how nuts this sounds, it's not dominance. Our trainer witnessed the worst of it and it is in the upper extreme of normal mouthing.

Our solution has been to
- make a large enclosure for her so we can remove ourselves if she gets rough.
- puppy class with a positive trainer so that her play with other dogs is monitored/we learn when to step in and when to leave it.
- lots of controlled play, tug, chases, fetch. All with distinct cues for leaving things alone and when play starts and stops, once again we leave as soon as she gets rough.
- lots of focus on learning cues like leave it, go away, calm on the mat.
- constant reinforcement of calm behavior, I have a treat bag constantly on me.

She is starting to show signs of becoming the well balanced canine we were hoping for.

If I were in you situation I would:
- get a positive based trainer to do an in home assessment.
- create a space that is only the puppies'.
- only allow brief play times with other dogs.
- constantly reward calm behavior and play.
- look into resource guarding and how to prevent it.

This seems like a lot of work, time and money but your puppy sounds a lot like Echo was.
 

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Thank you for your response. The "aggressiveness" I'm referring to is his thrashing when being picked up (doesn't always do it, but when he does, it's pretty rough), his "attacking" the other dogs (more than playful puppy antics) and not even responding when being corrected be either me or my other dogs. He is extremely smart, dominant and is starting to get very strong. We have been working with a trainer to try to get him under control, but his personality is SO dominant that it doesn't seem to be working. Yesterday, he terrified my ShihTzu so badly, she ran and hid behind the toilet and wouldn't come out until I picked her up and put her on a bed. She has NEVER behaved this way, and she has been around MANY dogs over the years. The puppy pins her into corners, forces her under furniture, etc. At first she was "fighting back" and "putting him in his place", but it's like now she has given up and just prefers not to deal with him - although he still antagonizes (and bites at) her. The Boxer has slightly more patience, but it's obvious that he too, is now fed up. BTW...the reason we took the bone away was that he dragged it to a place my husband had recently put down grass seed. The seed was getting on the bone and I didn't want the puppy to ingest it. We were just trying to move him to a patio area.

We have not been able to walk the puppy as he was not fully vaccinated until just last Friday. He gets plenty of exercise in the house and the yard. We do walk our other dogs, so they do have "alone time" with us while the puppy stays home. Last night at his fist vet visit, the vet told us he could tell immediately the puppy is HIGHLY intelligent, extremely stubborn and may be hard to train. He said he's a good dog, but may do better in a home with no other dogs. My husband and I have agreed to work with him for a month and come to a decision by June 1. Hopefully things will have settled down and we will be able to keep him. If not, he will be going back to the rescue group to find a more appropriate home. I've never had to relinquish a dog in my life (never even considered it), so this situation is heartbreaking and very stressful for me. :(
When I say this is pretty normal for some bully puppy, it's because you're describing exatly a couple of amstaff/pitbull I know pretty well...
They were all hyper puppies, they all rebelled when picked up (BTW, my hovawart did this too at the beginning), none of them responded to other dogs and when they played it was really harsh... and they all became wonderful dogs, extremely well behaved, 3 of them are also used as pet therapy dogs and work with both old people and mentally ill people (some also sometimes violent)
The thing with these kind of dogs (really smart dogs... I love them :)) is, you have to find the way to comunicate. Behaving like you did with your other dogs may not work... but if you can find the right way you've done half of the work. If what you're doing with the trainer does not work at all, change method.
One of the amstaff I was talking about was described as an aggressive 3 months old pup, the trainer they were seeing was saying that she could in the future hurt the owner children... they changed trainer, and in a couple of days they could see some improvement. Now she's a pet therapy dog.
You really only have to find the right way to comunicate...
That said, obviously I understand that it's a difficult situation, and you have the other two dogs to think of, they can't possibly keep going on this way.
I think trying it for a month is the best solution, I don't doubt you would prefer to keep the puppy, and I have no doubt, should you have to relinquish him, you would not do so with a light heart and no care at all.
I can only hope this month will help settle things
 

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You may want to take a look at this link, http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/dominance-dogs-4076/.

There is no 'alpha' in dogs, that link has the info you may find helpful. I'm afraid that with this type of personality using that kind of thinking/training may make him aggressive. The thrashing around, not all dogs like being picked up. It isn't aggression, it's fear. It's not a natural thing for them. It's also not uncommon for a puppy to break skin, they need to learn what is acceptable and what isn't. Resource guarding suck, but it's workable. Now your other dogs, with time they may all get along. So puppies are just hyper jerks. They are like kids with ADD. It could be medical or it could just be him. Try teaching him to focus. He may be too much dog for you, and that is ok. Not every dog is a good fit with every family. If he needs lots of training and is hyper and you don't have the time to put into him it's better to know now then in a year. It would be easier on everyone.
http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/dominance-dogs-4076/
 
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