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Aggressive puppy

1116 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Quinsation
I have a 8 1/2 months old mixed breed puppy, he was neutered at 6 months. We got him at 9 weeks old and he has been well socialized, he goes to work with me every day, he's been to agility trials with my older dog. He's started agility foundation classes.
The last few weeks, he has become very aggressive towards people he doesn't really know.
The first time, a gal came to my car to meet him, and he barked and snapped at her. I thought he was being protective of the car, so we moved away, and he was better, until she spoke. Then he did the same thing.
We have construction going on at work, and when I have him out on breaks, some of the construction guys want to meet him. Some of the guys he's fine with, others he will bark, lunge and snap.
This is not normal puppy play, this is full on bark, growl, lunge, & snap. He gets plenty of exercise, training and free play.

He is not our first dog, we currently have 4, including a 16 year old Pit Bull that was my first agility dog. I grew up with dogs and showed horses for 30+ years, so working with animals is not new to me.

Do some puppies go thru aggressive stages? I know some go thru fear stages. Never had one be so aggressive.

I'll be taking him to an agility trial this weekend and having people give him treats when he behaves correctly.
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If you take him to a trial this weekend do NOT have anyone give him treats or feed him or come up to him. Fact is, if you take him I would let him observe from a distance in a plastic crate and FORBID people from approaching him. If you take him out of the crate it will be to potty and just be with YOU. No one is to touch, feed or handle that puppy.

Stop having him meet people. That is not socialization. That is taking a baby out who needs support and letting others touch, approach and handle him. Your puppy is afraid and this is what he thinks he must do to make people leave him alone when he is afraid because you are not helping him.

This behavior in a 9 week old puppy is common when the puppy has no support system.

Stop having anyone come up to him. If they kneel down and look away from the puppy and the puppy chooses to approach, fine. They are not to reach toward, pick up or lean over the puppy. If the puppy starts to act worried back up and walk away. He does not need to meet everyone out there. Fact is, he doesn't need to be petted or handled by anyone out there. They want to pet the puppy they can get their own puppy.

If you had a baby I bet you wouldn't let anyone come up and hold the baby or touch the baby or kiss the baby. Same with a puppy.
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He is not 9 weeks old. He is almost 9 months old. We got him when he was 9 weeks old.
He has been to several agility trials and has handled everything just fine.Very confident, approaching people on his own, offering to play (with appropriate dogs)
I prefer agility people around my dogs rather than the general public as most of them understand appropriate behavior and will reward that when I explain the situation. This will mostly be people he has met in the past, but hasn't seen in a month or so, since our last trial.

His aggression is a new behavior, just started in the past couple weeks.
Hence, my question, asking if some (adolescent) puppies go thru an aggressive stage, like some go thru a fear stage.
He's right in the age range for a second fear period, which are often more intense and could absolutely be causing a fear-aggressive response. I'm actually going to back 3GSD up on this and say I'd be careful about pushing him with socialization right now, and focus on him experiencing things from a distance and avoiding situations where he feels he has to put on a reactive display. No pressure for him to meet people or take treats from someone he's triggered by, removing him from situations setting him off (at least to a distance where he can observe more calmly), etc. Too much pressure to socialize right now can actually backfire and make strangers and situations more stressful for him for the coming years.

And, of course, if it seems especially extreme or there's other behavior or health changes, a vet visit might be in order.
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I did take him to the agility trial (can't leave him home that long, so he had to come with me)
He willingly/happily met several people that he has met before. He re-met a few puppies and played nicely.
We introduced him to the measuring table and he handled it like a pro.
He did sort of grumble at one person, who he has met before, but she was sitting on a step. Once she spoke to him, he remembered her and happily approached.
He still wants to grumble at the construction guys at work, but when I see them walking our direction, I distract him, then reward him if he's quiet when they walk by. He is improving, so it does appear this was just a little phase.
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