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Old 12-08-2013, 02:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Manners when meeting new dogs/people

My 4 month old puppy was fine on walks until about 3 weeks ago when she started barking and growling at people as we walked by them. Then one day she actually snapped at a little old lady... Thank goodness she missed, and the lady was very understanding. Since then we don't really know how to manage that behaviour and we didn't want to risk her biting someone, so we haven't been taking her on walks (have been taking her to the park instead to get exercise).

We have her in puppy classes right now and she has never shown aggression to any of the people there, never shown aggression to the vets, to visitors in our home, my family, etc. She does however bark at dogs when on leash in puppy class. During "play time" in puppy class she is generally well behaved except for playing a bit rough and sometimes escalating to the point where myself or the dog trainer has to step in (but this has happened with all the puppies in the class).

One behaviour I noticed when we were taking her on walks is that when she would see another dog approaching, she lays down. It's kind of like she is in "prey-stalking mode". She sometimes won't budge, or sometimes will lay down, then stalk closer to the dog low to the ground, lay down, stalk, etc.

Basically, my question is... How do I teach her proper manners for meeting new dogs and people? I know she is just a puppy but I want to make sure she doesn't show aggression to people or dogs. I haven't really been socializing her as much as I should because I don't want to put other people/dogs at risk since she almost bit the elderly lady. It seems so hit and miss with her... I took her to PetSmart last week and she was perfect, even when a little dog was barking and lunging at her. And then other times she will growl and lunge when not provoked (like when an innocent elderly lady is walking by).
Thanks for any help! I know this was long! Everyone has been so helpful with my other questions.

Last edited by macy; 12-08-2013 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 12-08-2013, 03:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Did she go after the lady in an aggressive manner or was it air snapping due to excitement?
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Old 12-08-2013, 03:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Did she go after the lady in an aggressive manner or was it air snapping due to excitement?
An aggressive manner unfortunately. It's odd because the only time she shows aggression to people is when we are walking by them on our walks... And even then, it's not to everyone. But we have stopped the walks for now until we can figure out how to manage it.
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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What about it makes you think it's aggressive? Can you explain it?
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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What about it makes you think it's aggressive? Can you explain it?
Well, when she first started acting out on our walks she was lunging, barking and growling. I thought it was aggressive but my boyfriend thought I was over-reacting or reading her wrong... He thought I also might have been subconsciously acting different since she growled the first time (maybe more tense/nervous when approaching people as I didn't want her to lunge and growl at them), and that was making it worse.

Then my boyfriend and I took her on a walk together - I had him walk her as he would be much more confident... She started growling, lunged, and snapped at the elderly lady. The lady was very nice and understanding, so we tried to calm Macy down and let the lady pet her (in hindsight I am thinking this was probably not the best thing to do) but Macy bared her teeth and tried to snap again. Myself, my boyfriend and my mom were all there when she snapped at the elderly lady and we all thought it was aggressive.

But I will admit I don't think I'm the best at reading dog behaviour... I find it hard to tell when she is play fighting with other puppies and when it's going too far. So maybe we read it wrong and she was just excited... It all happened very fast. I just want to be sure I'm doing what's best to ensure she won't be aggressive, and will have good manners in approaching new people and dogs. People aren't too intimidated when she growls and lunges now as she's just a pup (although after Macy snapped at the lady a second time she was a little frightened), but as she gets bigger and older I don't want her to be scaring innocent walkers.

Last edited by macy; 12-08-2013 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Socialization issues like this it is good to watch the three lecture videos.




You are going to want to resist the urge to shelter the dog for the safety of others. This is generally a sign the dog needs more socialization and that it should be made a training priority over everything else. At her age it is easier to socialize than it will be later.

When a dog reacts like this assuming it isn't in a playful way (we'd have to see the dog to know for sure) it is fear based. There might have been signs of subtle avoidance behaviors before but now that the pup is a little bit older and the hormones are starting to rage he gets a little more confidence and decides to pick fight over flight or avoidance. You really want to start socializing a ton now especially because you have one that is leaning towards the fight side of things. There is strong potential for her to become a fear biter.

The dog is hit or miss because there is some socialization to certain types of people, but people that fall out of the age group she is socialized to or who are wearing unusual things shes not used to like big hats or ski masks or carrying an umbrella still cause a fear response.

Last edited by Baillif; 12-08-2013 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You want to start actively socializing. So what I mean by that is don't just expose her to new people places and things. You need to do it at distances she is comfortable at and then use food to actively make the experience positive. Don't just leave it up to chance as to whether or not she sees it as a positive experience.

I would stop feeding her from a bowl. Use all her food daily for socialization. You would be the one feeding her don't make her take food from strangers as will be explained in the video. Don't force her to go up to people that bother her or take her too close to people to the point she starts refusing to take food. If she is hungry and stops taking food from you she is too close. The only feeding during socialization is good for a few reasons. It forces you to socialize or the dog doesn't eat. It also helps her associate going out to places that are a bit outside her comfort zone as more positive because if that isn't happening she doesn't eat.

Last edited by Baillif; 12-08-2013 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:30 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Baillif View Post
Socialization issues like this it is good to watch the three lecture videos.

Fear Period in Young Dogs - YouTube

Fear Period in Young Dogs - Part 2 - YouTube

Fear Period in Young Dogs - Part 3 - YouTube

You are going to want to resist the urge to shelter the dog for the safety of others. This is generally a sign the dog needs more socialization and that it should be made a training priority over everything else. At her age it is easier to socialize than it will be later.

When a dog reacts like this assuming it isn't in a playful way (we'd have to see the dog to know for sure) it is fear based. There might have been signs of subtle avoidance behaviors before but now that the pup is a little bit older and the hormones are starting to rage he gets a little more confidence and decides to pick fight over flight or avoidance. You really want to start socializing a ton now especially because you have one that is leaning towards the fight side of things. There is strong potential for her to become a fear biter.

The dog is hit or miss because there is some socialization to certain types of people, but people that fall out of the age group she is socialized to or who are wearing unusual things shes not used to like big hats or ski masks or carrying an umbrella still cause a fear response.
Thank you! I was torn on socializing more (because I think she needs it) and cutting it down (because I didn't want to put others at risk). So I will start socializing her more again.
I just need to gain confidence in how I react when she starts acting aggressive. When we were going on walks and she would lunge and growl I basically didn't know what to do... I just pulled her back to me and kept walking. Not sure if that was right or not? I'm sure it doesn't help that I'm now a bit nervous when meeting strangers with her.

Will definitely give those videos a watch.
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:33 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Baillif View Post
You want to start actively socializing. So what I mean by that is don't just expose her to new people places and things. You need to do it at distances she is comfortable at and then use food to actively make the experience positive. Don't just leave it up to chance as to whether or not she sees it as a positive experience.

I would stop feeding her from a bowl. Use all her food daily for socialization. You would be the one feeding her don't make her take food from strangers as will be explained in the video. Don't force her to go up to people that bother her or take her too close to people to the point she starts refusing to take food. If she is hungry and stops taking food from you she is too close. The only feeding during socialization is good for a few reasons. It forces you to socialize or the dog doesn't eat. It also helps her associate going out to places that are a bit outside her comfort zone as more positive because if that isn't happening she doesn't eat.
Great advice. That way she can move at a speed she is comfortable with and I am not making her even more scared. I would have to agree that it is most likely coming out of fear.
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
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If you have any questions after,or need clarification don't hesitate to ask. She is still just a pup so it is actually good she is doing this while still in a good socialization window. You can get ahead of it before shes big and scary.

It is definitely fear. I don't really think aggression is possible without an element of fear in there somewhere. The difference between aggression and fear IMO is just how they respond to it. The only other possibility is frustration and wanting to play, but if it was that the body language would be pretty unmistakable once the old lady got close.

Last edited by Baillif; 12-08-2013 at 04:37 PM.
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