Please help! 3 month pup showing signs of aggression, seriously! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 46 (permalink) Old 02-07-2013, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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Please help! 3 month pup showing signs of aggression, seriously!

This is my husband's and my first dog. Our puppy is 3 months old, and we love him very much. However, I am concerned about his behavior and how we have been handling it. It started with the mouthing, we didn't know the best way to handle it (because what we were doing wasn't working) so we called a trainer who came and gave us a consultation. I think this consultation confused us more than ever.

We had been doing a lot of research and tried training him with the 'off' command, and if he didn't stop getting up and moving away until he was calm. This didn't work. He learned 'off' but only with treats. And he cried and cried when we left him alone, so we though it was effective. It didn't stop the nipping completely, but it was aversive, he hated us leaving. But the trainer told us not to isolate ourselves from the puppy because the puppy needs to be constantly supervised in case he decided to start chewing on other things. Instead the trainer told us to hold his muzzle down into his chest until he submits and calms, then release, repeat if necessary. She also told us to keep him on a leash constantly, and have the puppy with us everywhere in the house we are, and if he's not with us, then put him in the crate. He hates the crate, during the day he objects a lot. But, he has a couple designated crate times throughout the day in hopes he gets used to it.

But the main problem is that he chews on his leash, and many other things, which we have heard is normal for mouthing pups. Her advise was to get a chain leash, but he still chews on it. We taught him 'leave it' but he leaves it for a second, then goes back to it, and he won't leave it unless he knows we have a treat.

He has plenty of chew things, I mean the people at Petsmart think I have more than one dog. I have tried to re-direct, I have tried to block, but this all leads to nipping and biting. Then once he bites, we do the whole muzzle thing. Now, at 3 months, he is snarling and really biting. It gets bad, he really throws a temper tantrum. I have to do the muzzle thing over and over and over. I think it's causing more aggression, and he's going through way more than he should at this age. But I don't know what else to do, if I get up and yelp, 'ouch!' while he's biting his leash, he gets away with chewing on his leash, it's like he doesn't even care that I just yelped, he just keeps chewing. If I re-direct to a new toy, he'll fight to get to his leash, and nip at my hand.

I take him for a 1-2 hr hike/walk in the morning, and a 30 min walk at night, before his 'rowdy' time, and throughout the day we are training and playing, but still we go through these episodes. Then after one of these episodes, he becomes exhausted and relaxes which I wait for 5-10 mins and then pet him and tell him he's a good boy.

I do obedience training with him every day, he knows sit, down, stay, come, role-over, and up. He does not eat or drink until I say 'eat'. He does not come inside or outside until I'm out or through the door and I say, 'outside' or 'inside'. He is not allowed on the furniture unless we invite him, which is becoming less and less. I give him lots of praise when he's good. I pet him with calm hands and a soft voice, he has not shown signs that he's scared of my hands. When I say come, he bounds up to me with his tongue hanging out and runs into my arms. We play games like, where's your toy?? and some tug-of-war. Fetch is a little difficult. The trainer said the tugging game could be what's the problem.

His pedigree isn't smashing, but I have heard time and time again, it's not all nature, nurture plays a huge part. I really need help with the nurture side. I feel like I'm making my puppy more aggressive. Tell me what you think. Is this normal? Am I messing my dog up terribly? Is what the trainer said the right thing to do? I'm a fan of Cesar Milan (lol) and I agree with discipline, but what is necessary for a 3 month pup?
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post #2 of 46 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 12:02 AM
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Get a new trainer.

I can't picture this muzzle thing your are doing. I have never done that with puppy-biting, and I agree that it is probably escalating the mouthing, biting, etc. What I do for mouthing/biting, is that the moment they get rough, I remove my hands and if necessary, myself from the situation. Game Over. The dog will be put in its play area. I will stand up straight and now allow him to eat my hands or anything else. If he nips at fingers, put your hand into a fist. Fists are harder to bite, it is just not comfortable to get the mouth around a balled up hand.

Also teach GENTLE. I do this with treats. I offer a treat in the palm of my hand and say GENTLE. When the dog is good at that, I will make it tougher and hold the piece of goodie and remind him to take it gently. Pretty soon that will take it gentle from my thumb and fore-finger. At this point when the dog is good at this, use the Gentle command for things like, Gentle with my fingers, Gentle with the baby, etc.

Again, as soon as things get too rough, game over.

Have you tried bitter apple on a nylon leash? Some people have tried that. I would not use a chain leash. Mine don't usually chew the leash while I am walking them. I do not leave a leash or tab on them when I am in the house. So I don't have many suggestions for the leash biting.

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post #3 of 46 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 12:11 AM
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the trainer told us to hold his muzzle down into his chest until he submits and calms, then release, repeat if necessary.
So sad. People throw out this fodder and make others pay for it!

Your puppy is very frustrated and this is making things worse
Selzer has good advice, also go through the Bite Inhibition thread.
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post #4 of 46 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 08:02 AM
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Send me a pm.
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post #5 of 46 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 10:37 AM
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Get rid of the trainer. I can't imagine that method working with any GSD. Scruffing and a firm tone might work, but what really worked for us was time.
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post #6 of 46 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 11:02 AM
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Please fire your trainer. Today. The things that you're doing with his muzzle is causing frustration and IS making him aggressive. Oh, and listen to whatever Cliff tells you. Follow his directions TO THE LETTER.

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post #7 of 46 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 11:09 AM
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It's awesome you sought out help since this is your first puppy, good on ya! I don't think you found the right one for you but, you ARE taking the right steps. All puppies mouth things and chew on their leashes, your puppy knows leave it, also great. It's annoying but, constancy is key. I use half praise and half treats for training so she doesn't purposely do bad things until she gets a treat for stopping. If you have to tell him leave it a thousand times in five minutes, so be it. He is listening to the command. Even at three months puppies are so smart. He knows what you're asking and, what you'll give him if he keeps it up. It's pretty basic puppy stuff. At four months Vandy still chews at her leash on walks now and then but, I'm consistent. I never let skip a beat telling her to leave it and giving it a jerk. It takes time but happens less and less everyday.
I really don't agree with what this trainer told you. I've come to find German shepherds are stubborn in behavior and, temperament. Your puppy is getting aggressive over the same thing over and over (from what I gathered in your post) it seems he's seeing the muzzle and, pinning as as aggressive behavior not, punishment. The "ouch!" and, stop playing thing, never worked for my puppy either. What did work was gently holding her mouth closed for five to ten seconds and, I say "easy" or "too much!" If it was a really bad bite. I only apply enough pressure to keep her mouth closed. She waves her head around and, I just ignore it. It's something she doesn't like but, not something she's afraid of.
Also if it helps, I rearranged my living room so my puppy could roam free and, rarely be out of sight. Keeping her on a leash all the time drove me nuts. Rearranging the house, Not convenient. However she gets to learn the rules of the house without putting herself in danger. You can read tons of stuff online to get your puppy to like his crate. A mix between treats and praise had our puppy loving her kennel within a few days. (I got my boyfriend "crate training" by Teotri Anderson since this was his first dog. Helped us so much!)
Everything you're doing sounds right! Reading, trainers a million toys etc. you just have to find the training style that's right for you and your dog. Just remember it takes time and patience. They have such sort attention spans that yes, you'll say each command over and, over and, oh yeah, over again! But every time he listens even for two seconds it's a win! It's another step in the right direction!
Sorry for such a long reply haha! Hope it helps a little
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post #8 of 46 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 03:18 PM
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She also told us to keep him on a leash constantly, and have the puppy with us everywhere in the house we are, and if he's not with us, then put him in the crate.
This is good advise.

Try putting a blanket completely over the crate when he is in there see if that calms him better.

Your title says aggression? I can't see what in your post is aggression and it all sounds normal and familiar to me, I think your pup is doing better than average. All the snarling and snapping is more than likely playful - rough play but play. I think the whole muzzle things sounds like it's not working though.

Last edited by OffgridAlex; 02-08-2013 at 03:20 PM.
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post #9 of 46 (permalink) Old 02-08-2013, 03:51 PM
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Our GSD is 9 months old (today) and he is our first GSD so i am really not very experienced and you shouldn't give my comments as much weight as the others on this board. Still i remember that Ranger went through a stage when he would growl and nip at us. A very short stage, but it scared me a little. All i can say is that we did what they are described to do on this board and the whole behavior corrected in a very quick time frame and we have never seen him growl again, even in play. I would think that your pup is interpreting the "hold the muzzle down" thing as rough play and he is responding as he sees appropriate. You really don't want to encourage rough play. Otherwise it sounds like you and your little guy are doing great!

I did have one question though. You said that his "pedigree isn't smashing". What did you mean by that? Is there an agressive dog in his family tree? That would make you a little concerned. Or did you just mean that he isn't from a line of show dogs? Or something else?

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post #10 of 46 (permalink) Old 02-09-2013, 01:47 AM
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I am no expert by a long shot but I want to say that I understand so much what you are going through. We adopted an older puppy, 15 months, who nipped constantly from the day we brought her home. My legs and arms were covered with bruises (fading but I am getting less and less new ones after 2 months). I spent many a night crying that I had made a mistake, that I wasn't going to be able to do right by this dog because all I could think of was how much it hurt, this nipping. Even though I knew she was playing and wanting attention, it hurt! I couldn't go outside with her to potty train without wondering what part of my body was going to get it next. I learned to stay near the patio door and slip back inside real fast.

But it IS getting better with teaching her to redirect to a toy and using a time out. I couldn't turn my back on her because then she got my back, my hip, my hair. At 65 pounds, she is strong. I keep a tab on her and in the house she goes right to the bathroom for a time out. I don't say a word. If we are outside, I go inside, leave her outside. Slowly, progress is being made.

As for the crate, I wanted to give a shout out for the Crate Games DVD by Susan Garrett which has helped me a lot. It's a fun bonding game and now Zoey is fine with going into the crate whenever I need her to. You can see someone utilizing the Crate Games with a young dog, here:

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