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Old 12-16-2012, 03:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Is this normal?

Hello, there are a few things my puppy does that cause me a bit of concern. I am a first time dog/GSD owner so I am not sure if this is normal or if I have a problem.

I would be grateful if some experienced people could cast an eye over this list and tell me either - it's normal behaviour OR you need to address this urgently.

Don't get me wrong, I love this dog to bits, I am willing to work with him on anything he needs and to live with any of these behaviours that can't be corrected, but I need to know if he needs or not. He is in no danger of going back to the shelter.

All of the things he does are linked to aggression (or appear so to me) but this is just the worst of him, most of the time he is a lovely, gentle, friendly puppy.

A bit of background - he didn't have a great start to life, him, his mum and his littermates were rescued from a gypsy camp. I met his mum and she was a nice friendly girl, we are not talking extreme abuse but not the care a dog should get. When he was driven away from the camp he vomited a chip (fry) so I think we might have a root for food issues.

He is somewhere between 10-14 weeks.

1) Food Aggression
I was watching a Leerburg video and saw how much he petted his puppy while it was eating, great I thought, I will give that a go. So with his breakfast today I started stroking his ears, he was fine for a minute or two then started getting upset. Tensing up, growling, giving me looks, I stuck with it trying to reassure him by being gentle and nice voice. Eventually he snapped at me. He did not bite but he whipped round and touched my arm with his teeth - the warning was clear. - Normal? or Problem?

2) Meeting new people
When we are out an about and see new people he barks at them and pulls towards them on the lead. This isn't a very fierce type of barking but is barking all the same, some people get worried by it. Those that ignore it and come to stroke him he is lovely with, he starts whining and licking and snuggling into his arms - no aggression or fear that I can see at all. Normal or Problem?

3) Meeting new dogs
When a dog comes over to us he has two reactions. If the dog if little, like a jack russell he cowers, rolls on his back and whimpers, very very submissive. If a big dog comes over he acts fierce. He barks and pulls on the lead towards the dog. If the dog comes over he is gentle and touches noses with the dog and settles down. Normal or Problem

4) Landshark
He is a big biter of our hands, feet clothes, the kids etc - I am sure all of this is normal, we can;t find any counter bite technique that doesn't excite him more so far so often when he is too fierce it leads to a timeout in his crate - this is when he gets a bit more serious, while he is being carried or lead there he will snarl and lunge and bite with a bit more conviction. Normal or Problem

That is all I can think of for now, please don't get the impression he is a devil dog, he isn't he is lovely, these incidents only happen a very small amount of the time.

We have him booked on British Kennel Club puppy socialization starting on 12th January and plan to follow through with good citizen and the bronze, silver, gold awards and onto agility if we can.

My Uncle was also a Royal Air Force, Military Police, dog handler (guard dogs, personal protection dogs and search dogs) for 10 years so hopefully I have plenty of expert support to fall on but I will not be seeing him until the New Year, so any advise now would be very gratefully recieved

Last edited by OffgridAlex; 12-16-2012 at 03:38 AM.
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Old 12-16-2012, 08:11 AM   #2 (permalink)
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congrats on your new puppy, and CUTE CUTE!!

I'll address your concerns and I'm sure others will chime in as well.

1. From the sounds of it, he most likely had to 'fight' for food in his previous location.
I just don't mess with a puppie/dog food, I figure they dont' mess with mine I don't mess with theirs..However, you don't want a terribly food aggressive dog either..I would start HAND feeding him his meals,,a little at a time,,not only helps with bond building, but may also help him to realize, good things come from you, and he doesn't need to be so "defensive" over his food.

2. probably normal, he's excited, unsure, so he's going to bark, I think it's GREAT that he is great with people, and tho he's making alot of noise, I would say to people, he's just a bigmouth, would you mind petting my puppy??? Always carry treats on you so people can 'feed' him...

3.small dogs, he probably is more comfortable with because he is small, big dogs can be scarey for puppies that again, are unsure, lack confidence..If you KNOW the big dog is fine with puppies, by all means let them meet..Just be careful that your puppy has GOOD experiences with other dogs at this point, vs negative ones.

4. normal, puppies can be big biters,,work on redirecting,,have a toy? a tug, handy, and get them off your leg and start swinging a toy around))

Sounds like your doing good with him, and exposing him to as many situations as you can right now, will help him gain confidence and hopefully, losing that "barking" as he gains confidence with those new situations and experiences..
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Old 12-16-2012, 08:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OffgridAlex View Post
A bit of background - he didn't have a great start to life, him, his mum and his littermates were rescued from a gypsy camp. I met his mum and she was a nice friendly girl, we are not talking extreme abuse but not the care a dog should get. When he was driven away from the camp he vomited a chip (fry) so I think we might have a root for food issues.

He is somewhere between 10-14 weeks.

1) Food Aggression
I was watching a Leerburg video and saw how much he petted his puppy while it was eating, great I thought, I will give that a go. So with his breakfast today I started stroking his ears, he was fine for a minute or two then started getting upset. Tensing up, growling, giving me looks, I stuck with it trying to reassure him by being gentle and nice voice. Eventually he snapped at me. He did not bite but he whipped round and touched my arm with his teeth - the warning was clear. - Normal? or Problem?

just changing colors to make it easier to read. for this one. How long have you had him? I'm assuming not long? You do know however that there is a good chance that food was hard to come by before he was rescued. He also probably doesn't know you well.
So you come over and start petting him while he was eating. Look at it from his perspective. You are at a restaurant and some weightlifter 3 times your size starts messing with you while you're eating. How long before you say "DUDE!!! back off!" ? Yet when you tell him that he just says "ah good boy!!" and goes back to messing with you?

Instead, teach him that you being around his food is a GOOD thing. Just drop a special treat in his bowl when you're near it - a little chunk of cheese is good. Or a small bite of meat.

He's already off to a GREAT start. And, face it, some dogs just aren't going to want to be bothered while they are eating. He doesn't seem to mind as long as your aren't excessive with it. So unless you have unsupervised toddlers who might just come up and hug the dog while he has his breakfast, I wouldn't worry about it. Just let him get used to full service meals and get to know you.

2) Meeting new people
When we are out an about and see new people he barks at them and pulls towards them on the lead. This isn't a very fierce type of barking but is barking all the same, some people get worried by it. Those that ignore it and come to stroke him he is lovely with, he starts whining and licking and snuggling into his arms - no aggression or fear that I can see at all. Normal or Problem?

normal but bad manners. He's a baby though and he is excited to meet new people. Lots of socialization and basic obedience will take care of this. Start teaching him to sit when he greets people, for example. No petting and attention until he calms down and is quiet. If you expect him to behave at home, he'll learn to behave in public too

3) Meeting new dogs
When a dog comes over to us he has two reactions. If the dog if little, like a jack russell he cowers, rolls on his back and whimpers, very very submissive. If a big dog comes over he acts fierce. He barks and pulls on the lead towards the dog. If the dog comes over he is gentle and touches noses with the dog and settles down. Normal or Problem

normal. he's a baby and when he acts submissive he is saying "Hi I'm a baby. I'm not a threat" With the bigger dogs, he is just plain scared and putting on a big show. Again, especially if you haven't had him long, he doesn't know that he is safe with you so he's looking out for himself. Lots of socialization will take care of this in most cases.

4) Landshark
He is a big biter of our hands, feet clothes, the kids etc - I am sure all of this is normal, we can;t find any counter bite technique that doesn't excite him more so far so often when he is too fierce it leads to a timeout in his crate - this is when he gets a bit more serious, while he is being carried or lead there he will snarl and lunge and bite with a bit more conviction. Normal or Problem

do a search for "bite inhibition" on this site. 100% normal


and he is a total cutie!!
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Old 12-16-2012, 08:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'd ditto the 2 previous posters! Sounds like time, training and super socialization should work out the bulk of the problems.
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Old 12-20-2012, 11:59 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I agree with the posts above 100%. The only other thing to bear in mind is that genetics play a big part in the overall temperament of your dog. Training and especially positive socialisation are really important to your pup right now, and it is incredibly important to make sure that all his encounters with people, kids, other dogs etc are all good ones. It is excellent that his mother was a friendly dog, with no aggression issues, but it sounds as though his father may have had aggressive tendencies if he was kept as a guard dog (??). Therefore the positive socialisation you are currently doing, and starting training classes will start you well on the road to having a sociable, well behaved dog.
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Old 12-20-2012, 02:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Sounds like a normal pup to me. I would hand feed him food for a while. I still do this with my 18 month old. For me it is a great way to bond while teaching that my hand doesn't take food, it gives food. And socialization is key as long as they are positive experiences. As many as possible. And the land shark phase doesn't last forever......
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