foster aggressively protecting pups - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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foster aggressively protecting pups

We took in a pregnant beagle last week from the shelter. It was thought that her puppies would not arrive for at least a couple weeks, so we expected to have time to bond with her before. Surprise, the puppies were born on Saturday. She had been fairly sweet with us as long as we sat down and didn't come at her from above. She was tentative and shy though. Fast forward, now she has 4 day old puppies. When we open the door to the foster room, she charges us barking and snapping. She has bitten me twice on the legs, not deep bites, but enough to draw blood. The visual of this sounds funny, but I am now using a cookie sheet as a shield so as not to get bit. If I can get in there, she will let me sit by them and even pick up the puppies. However, the aggression is getting worse and I am having a tough time even getting her outside to go. Not sure how to handle this. I believe she is a sweet dog, that it is just fear for the puppies. What should I do? And what should my attitude with her be? The shelter is overrun with small, yappy dogs right now and it would not be a good place for her to rear her puppies. Help!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 04:36 PM
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What happens if you open the door to the whelping area, let her out, and close the door, take her to the kitchen and give her food or whatever, and then crate her while you clean the box, weight the puppies, etc.

All my bitches do not show any aggression with me around the puppies from newborn on up. But some of them show displeasure with other people coming around. They aren't aggressive, but you can see that some do not feel comfortable, and wish the people would leave -- this behavior is strong in the first couple of weeks. Approaching six or seven weeks it reduces dramatically. Like the bitch knows the pups do not need as much protection.

I am guessing we really don't know much about the beagle's past. Being raised as a single pet, or a pet in a family of one or two dogs, is a lot different than running with a pack of dogs in a near-feral situation -- 13 dogs in a back yard.

The pregnant bitch, and new dam that lives in this kind of situation, is going to, by necessity, become a bitch to the other dogs and any humans that come on the scene. She is near feral, and her maternal instincts are strong. She has been building up to ward off anything and anyone that might harm her puppies. You're it.

The thing is, at 4 days, it isn't an issue because the puppies do not become imprinted on their mother until they start noticing other puppies -- eyes open and able to focus, ears open, etc. 2 and more likely 3 weeks old. But at that time, witnessing their dam express aggression at normal situations can be very bad for the puppies. A bitch in a feral situation my have acquired a behavior that never would have been this bad if she was in a home and love by/bonded with her owner. I don't know that it is genetic. Nature vs. Nurture.

I would COMPLETELY remove any possibility of other dogs or children being anywhere near her and her puppies. Reduce the stress level for her ALL THE TIME. When you need to do something with the area and puppies, crate her if possible. She may be more stressed outside the room, than in the room. Or less. Talk to her. Tell her you will give them back in a few minutes, just changing the box.

At the same time, don't let her be a jerk to you. When she tries to drive you away with teeth, you tell her Eh! No!. Her old life is over, her new life has begun, and we can't let bad habits set in, even though she is a new mother. If at all possible avoid conflict by crating her, or taking her out of the area where you need to be with the puppies, avoiding the conflict prior to problems. Keep time away from the puppies to a minimum. ASAP, open the crate and tell her to go back to her puppies. Right now the puppies need a good mother more than they need you. If the aggression toward you does not reduce over the next 2 weeks, you might have to rethink how long you are going to keep the bitch with the puppies, and how you are going to separate her when you have strangers come over for socialization.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice. I guess I don't necessarily have to leash her to take her outside. But what I think will happen is that she will not go, will just keep charging me. She does not want to leave the puppies for ONE MINUTE. You have given me some good things to consider. I've been told the puppies need to be handled from day 1, but perhaps not in this case. Thing is she was better the first and second days than she is now, her aggression seems to be progressing. We hope to keep her until the puppies are weaned. She seems to be a bit afraid of my husband, so I may have to just let him deal with her right now. I hate to think that I can't handle a mad BEAGLE though!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 06:47 PM
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I just took a beagle in and it's a he(thank God) From everything I see and am learning, the breed in general is a happy breed that likes everything. Of course you don't know what prior life was and maternal instincts are strong. I would move forward not thinking what life was, but what it is from right now going forward. The above post is really good info. Hopefully she can move past this and learn to trust. I'm sure it's going to be a learning experirnce for all and I wish you lots of luck.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 11:55 PM
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You were bitten, probably, because you were too bold. She doesn't trust you and behaves as to a stranger. The way you look at her puppies she might interpret as predatory. It is the matter of time when she would allow you to touch them. I'd concentrate on her feeding. Enter the room with couple of irresistible treats in your hand, making only two steps towards pups, then turn back and lure her to the other room to feed her dinner. Feed out of hands only for the next 3-5 days, making distance between you and pups shorter each time. Make impression for her that you are not interested in pups, don't look in their direction, that you are there not to steal and eat her pups (she doesn't know what you are capable of!) but you came in to invite her into your kitchen to feed her. One day you will feed her in her room, and your goal - finally to feed her sitting on the floor next to her puppies. When you start to see that she is expecting food from you - only then you can allow yourself staring at them. Meeting her and puppies together with strangers is out of question, they will pick their mother's hostile behaviour and copy it, too bad for them. Though, with you - you better start interfering with them every time your dog is taken for a walk. Even now at this age - their senses towards your hands, your smell and your voice are sharp.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. Last night and this morning my husband and I worked together on getting her out and fed. It worked out better. He took her from the room. I got the food set and bedding changed, then went outside and spent some time with her. I believe it is getting a bit better.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 03:06 PM
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Beagles are often chow hounds. I wouldn't screw with feeding. She needs to eat a LOT to support puppies. And the first couple of days after the pups are born, it may be difficult to get her to eat much.

Put her food down, and no fan fare about it. Don't use it as a vessel to behavior modification at this time. Don't force her to take it from your hands.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 03:35 PM
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I agree with Selzer. When she goes outside are you able to handle the puppies? It will take time but she will learn to trust you. Are you fostering the mother or are you keeping her and fostering the puppies? Do you have other dogs in the house?
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-19-2016, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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We have three dogs of our own (one a failed foster) and two cats. We will not be keeping her or the puppies. I think she will return to the shelter when the puppies are eating on their own and she can be spayed. She is (was) a sweet little dog, so it shouldn't take long for her to get a good home. So I guess I am not as dismayed by her behavior problems with us as I would be if she was staying, so long as it appears it is just a puppy/hormone thing. We will keep the puppies until they are probably eight weeks old and then they will go in for their neuter and be put up for adoption.

I handle the puppies every day, either while she is outside, or on days she will let me, when she is in the box with them. Her biggest problem with us seems to be when we walk. I suppose it seems to her that we are towering over her.

We had a litter of seven puppies last fall, and we were lucky that the weather was great, so we and puppies were out in the yard every day, sometimes for hours. I hope we are that lucky this time around!
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