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Old 02-08-2014, 09:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Concerns with 9 week old puppy's behaviors

Our 9 week old puppy Emery has fit in pretty well and we all love her. She is playful and tolerant with the kids, smart and seems to want to please and is already very alert and watchful. She is also making good strides on simple commands and knows the word 'no' already.

There are some expected problems like mouthing, jumping and potty training and we are working on those. BUT, I am seeing some concerns as well. She cannot start training until 10 weeks and the puppy training classes we want to go to open up new classes next month but I wanted to get some help/ideas that I can work on until then.

First, even at her very young age I am seeing some protective tendencies when she eats. She didn't do this at first, but in -- the last week I would say -- she has started growling at everyone when they get near her bowl. And, I need to stress, this is NOT a play growl. I try to give her privacy when eating but sometimes people are going to have to walk by her bowl.

Before you think I am crazy, I KNOW she is a baby, but I also know unaddressed 'baby' issues can become 'big dog' issues. So, I am trying to get to the root of this now so she does not feel she has to protect her food. I am feeding part of her meal by hand, dropping extra yummies in her bowl and having my 5 year old daughter do the same. This may have to do with her past as we rescued her at 5 weeks from a neglectful home. They had both her and her sister outside by themselves and just dropped food in a bowl for them to fight over. Any other ideas???

The other thing is that she has also recently developed a fear of strangers and has started barking at them, especially men. Again, it is different from her 'I want to play' bark. She tucks her tail and seems nervous. This seems extremely early and unusual for her to be showing behavior like this to me. She is just a little over 2 months old... Is something wrong? Is this normal and I am overreacting? I have tried to distract her and walk the other way, but she turns around and keeps barking until they are out of sight. I have socialized her as much as possible and she has been to petco, vet's offices, parks, to meet my daughter's preschool class, we go on daily walks, etc.

Anything else I can be doing to help her feel as though she is safe and not be so apprehensive around strangers?

Thank you for any helpful advice and ideas.
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Old 02-08-2014, 09:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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First, Hi! Thanks for rescuing that baby girl! She was in need of a good home..

Now down to business. I have not dealt with the food problem before so I'm gonna let other chime in on that. For your puppy's fear of strangers.. I wouldn't QUITE worry worry because she is so little, but there are things you can do to prevent her from getting that way in the future. One is no coddling. When she tail tucks and barks, ignore her. Don't try to reassure her or anything. I would also have the person give her treats when they meet her. Keep in mind too that puppies go through a number of fear phases.. this may be the case and should pass.

Also, while it's great you are trying to socialize be VERY VERY careful this is the age before all her shots and she is susceptible to quite a lot right now.. one recently one here I have been seeing a bunch is Parvo. I would advise you not taking her to public places until she has all her shots. It could honestly save her life.
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Old 02-08-2014, 09:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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taking the dog at 5 weeks is risky . You need to realize the dog needs lots of peace and quiet .

this "I have socialized her as much as possible and she has been to petco, vet's offices, parks, to meet my daughter's preschool class, we go on daily walks, etc." is FAR TOO MUCH -- over whelming , over stimulating , more than the pup can process.

go see rethinking "popular" early socialization

on this "I would also have the person give her treats when they meet her." I would not . Meeting a person is merely being in the presence of that other person. Brief , not close and cloying --

recommend this book again , Fired UP , Frantic and Freaked Out
Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training the Crazy Dog from Over the Top to Under Control: Laura VanArendonk Baugh: 9780985934927: Amazon.com: Books Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out: Training the Crazy Dog from Over the Top to Under Control: Laura VanArendonk Baugh: 9780985934927: Amazon.com: Books
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Old 02-08-2014, 10:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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My siberian husky was food aggressive at 7 weeks when I rescued him. He came from a large litter where there was a lot of competition for kibble, so he would defend his bowl at all cost. I began to hand feed him, praise him and reassure him. I built trust slowly with him and with in a few days he tolerated myself and other dogs to reach into his food bowl. He is now almost one years old and has never had a hint of food aggression.
Training will also help to reassure your puppy as the puppy will learn all good things come from you, such as play, treats and praise...
Good luck!
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Old 02-08-2014, 10:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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wyoung2153 - Thanks for your advice/ideas. She has had two sets of shots thus far (the vet started her out at 6 weeks.) and one on the way in a couple more weeks. I have avoided other dogs and places they go, as much as possible. And we are waiting on socializing her with other pups until her 3rd round of shots.

carmspack - Thanks for your reply. I appreciate your viewpoint and concern for my pup. However, I didn't get a 5 week old on purpose. If my mom and I did not take Emery and her sister, I do not know what would have happened to them. If she is more work, that is fine with me.

I have made sure she gets plenty of 'peace and quiet' away from the kids, lol. Also, I never meant I was rushing her to places all day long, she has been to those places in the 4 weeks we have had her. And the vet's office was to get her shots, petco was to get supplies for her, etc.

Athena's Mom - I am glad I am not alone then. She was originally from a litterof 9, I was told. So that makes perfect sense. I am glad your doggie is doing so well. That gives me a lot of hope that with time Emery can learn no one is going to take her food away.
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Old 02-08-2014, 11:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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IMO you are doing the right thing with hand feeding her and allowing other family members to give her food as well. Not sure exactly how you are doing it, but try with holding her bowl and hand feed her then place her bowl on the ground, put your hand in the bowl and hand feed her again - get her used to this and persevere as you are totally correct in saying you don't want this puppy behaviour to continue and turn into adult food aggression. Also, I think you should encourage family members to walk past her as she is eating - she has to learn it is ok and they will not take her food and she does not need to fight to get fed. So, get different family members to hold the bowl, hand feed, put hand in bowl and hand feed, walk past, pick up bowl again and hand feed then put bowl back down - desensitize her and with consistency she will eventually learn to trust everyone.

With the fearfulness with strange men, again keep doing what you are doing and aim for building trust here as well. Allow her the opportunity to see strangers, perhaps at a comfortable distance, keep preserving and she will eventually begin to realise that the strange men she sees when with you are OK and that you have everything in control and she can trust you, keep an eye on the distance between her and the stranger, she doesn't have to be close to them immediately, she may need a few minutes of distance before she is comfortable with putting her nose to them.

With little ones that have had a bad start, it just takes a little longer to help them learn to trust. All puppies have to learn this, its really sad that some will have more difficulty through no fault of theirs.

Anyway to me, you sound very confident and know what you are doing - so just keep doing, don't give up.
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:20 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Harry and Lola - Thanks. That is usually how I try to feed her and I also drop items like small pieces of chicken or cheese in there so she gets the idea that my hands (or my daughter's hands) bring her good things.

Thank you again for your supportive answer. I am trying my best to provide a good home for Emery.
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Old 02-09-2014, 02:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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it is not about the number of places the young pup has been to , it is about the very very young age -- the dog can't process that much at that age -- don't over whelm
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:24 PM   #9 (permalink)
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As an update things had been going really well and I had been feeding by hand and sticking my hand in the bowl feeding her, etc. No growling for over a week. Then tonight she growled once and then snarled and bit my hand, hard as I had it in the bowl. I am sure it was not an accident.

I said no firmly and put her in her crate. I didn't really know what else to do at the moment. In a few minutes I will take her outside and she will be back in her crate for the night (sans potty time, of course.)

At a loss. Do I continue working with her this way? It seems to be getting worse and she is only 10 weeks now. Am I doing something wrong? Feeling so discouraged!
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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get rid of the bowl. Feed her from your hand only and ask for some commands(simple sits, downs) Keep it happy and upbeat. Eventually ask for more, paw shake, circles, turns
When you give the dog their meal after they've earned it, there should be no reason to mess with them while they enjoy the meal.
Resource guarding is different and if the dog(pup) is growling because of something high value, the high value is removed. They didn't earn it. Practice NILIF if necessary.
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