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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I just recently got this puppy, four day ago, she's made it very clear you has her favorites and most of the time she's really good. House training going well, sits, stays, lays down, shakes, doesn't (usually) jump on us. I have two young children (2 and 6) and she's good with them. She didnt meet my son until a few days after we had gotten her (he was with his dad) and she's a little sketchy with him and will growl at him and bark at him and she isn't wagging her tail so it's not to play. Also she met my mom in a new place not our home and my mom had already held her and then when the pup was laying on the floor my mom went to pet her and she growled at my mom, my mom pulled back and then approached her again and she was fine but following day same thing and then she tried to bite my mom. There's been a few times where she will growl at people who are over and at my kids but she has not tried biting them. She seems to want to hide behind me from unfamiliar people and it makes me nervous because I don't want her to bite them. People keeps saying "it's because she is a Chow!" But she's so young I figured I could easily train her to be loving to all people but she's already so sketchy.. I don't want to chance her biting someone, especially my kids. I'm not sure if I should respect her boundaries or what to do. She doesn't care if a stranger is holding a treat or anything she's very skiddish and will growl whether we are home or not and at random people but then sometimes at my kids. They are never unsupervised around her and are good and respectful or her and very gentle but I just want to know if I'm SOL because she's chow so she's going to be aggressive, I don't want a guard dog, I want a goofy dog that loves everyone and wouldn't hurt a fly.. An I in over my head?
 

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First off, this is my take on your situation. You can give it a whirl, or wait until someone with more experience shows up.

Secondly, I believe blaming things (like being aggressive) on the breed is just rubbish. Its like saying ALL asians are bookworm brainiacs, when its simply not true. Some are, some aren't, it just depends on the person and how they were raised. It bugs the heck out of me when people say pitbull mixes are evil, mean dogs. Some can be, but others are sooo sweet!

Anyway, moving on. How old exactly is your puppy? It sounds like she hasn't been socialized very well in that prime time of 12-17 weeks (I believe it was, or something around that time period). Also keep in mind pups are small and we're huge to them, I'm guessing your mom probably approached and leaned over her which could explain why she growled (she's afraid and simply warned off your mom before resorting to a bite). I always have to remind my cousin to squat down, no direct eye contact, stick out a hand palm down, and let the dog approach. For now, until you are sure she won't bite, I would say keep the kids away and warn the adults first. As to the treats, perhaps she's more of a toy motivated dog. Find her favorite toy and make it a pleasurable experience when strangers, even your own family is around. Have them participate in playing with her, so its like 'oh this stranger is here, but YAY my favorite toy!' Eventually she'll see strangers/family as a good thing.

This socialization problem isn't an instant fix type of thing. If you have the time and follow through, reinforce it once she catches on (and it might take quite a while to catch on), I'm pretty sure it won't be too much for you to handle.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
She is almost 9 weeks, she's in the middle of prime socialization and that's what I've been trying to work with with her but I feel like I'm putting her outside her comfort if I take her anywhere because she's growling at people instead of being friendly and excited about new experiences. In other senses she's doing great. Starting to enjoy car rides and sleeps great in her crate but in the morning my kids wake up and she sees them in the hallway and growls at them. They are about 8 feet away and scared to approach her because she is growling and I don't want my kids scared around their own dog. I will try the toy approach with her and new comers and see if that helps.
And also I agree with the characteristic traits of certain breeds otherwise I wouldn't have considered a chow mix or cocker either because they are also said to be territorial and hyper paranoid. And even though I don't feel it's true, she is showing these traits of both breeds, which I am willing to get her to stop, I just don't really know how.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
To be honest I'm not really sure.. I have been with her almost 24/7. I work nights so when I'm not here she's asleep. But if you're thinking that she's being protective over me, I don't think that's the case, there's been times when she hides behind me and there's been a few times that she has growled at me too.. Only person she has snapped at was my mom but I just don't know how to get her to stop. When she growled at me I said "what.. What's the matter" in a calm voice and she stopped after that.. So.. I don't know the proper way to teach her otherwise and to get her to stop growling in her crate at the kids in the morning, I don't know how to handle that. I was thinking maybe letting the kids feed her so she associates morning time with them and think "food!"
 

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I think the growling is due to being fearful, as opposed to aggressive. I'd set up a routine and stick with it to let her learn what to expect. I'd limit interaction with the kids to them just sitting on the floor and offering a treat for now. I would avoid going to her, and instead, encourage her to come to people. Having someone walk up to you and tower over you and then reach for you when you are little can be scary. Give her some time to adjust. I have owned 2 chow mixes, one currently. They were/are wonderful dogs, but you need to gain their trust. Most dogs need a period of time to adjust. Since you just got her, she is stressed, and being young fearful.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So should I not take her places with me and the kids to help her become socialized since its obviously scary for her? She's starting to not come when called if she doesn't want to.. So I am wondering if I need a different type of treat that is maybe more appealing? She wants to play with the kids and does great but it's just random occasion that she will growl. When she in growling from her crate in the morning. What should I do or my kids do in response?
 

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I know she is very young (dont know what age you can enroll them as I am still newbie dog owner) but puppy class helped beyond belief with my dog. Helped build a bond between us, built up his conifidence, got him out around people and other dogs, along with a new environment thats safe for him. Also the trainer was able to give me advice and show me the correct way to do everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I will look into puppy classes.. I wonder if maybe I could even find one that my kids can attend with me? I just want her to love everyone. I don't want a guard dog, just the happy go lucky pup that enjoys everyone. I hope she comes around, I'm afraid it will get worse if I don't make a proper move now with her. And I'm afraid she will snap at my kids and don't want them traumatized from it. She plays so well with them and if she growls I tell her no right away. Seems she really doesn't like my mom, but hoping to get her to like everyone
 

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Your first post said you've had her for 4 days. That is not nearly enough time for a puppy to get completely settled in. She's in a new home with new sights, sounds, smells, and people, and she's lost everything she knew at her old home. Also, every pup is different, some take extra time to settle in and feel completely at ease.

Growling is not a bad thing. It has such a bad rap, but it is not bad, it doesn't indicate aggression or a bad dog. It is simply the only way a dog has to communicate with us. So, many dogs will growl to let us know they are uncomfortable, be it physically or emotionally. If a dog is scared, nervous, upset, or if they are not feeling well, injured or ill, they will often growl to say "I don't feel comfortable, please give me some space." If you don't respect that, sometimes they will develop the need to protect themselves and will bite.

Puppies can be afraid of people bending over, or even kneeling down to pet them. They don't know what our intentions are. And, not all dogs like to be petted the same way. A direct, in front of, petting on the head often seems intimidating to dogs. They usually prefer from the side, on the neck or shoulders. Further, most dogs do not like to be hugged. Some will tolerate it, but they don't usually like it. And, many puppies do not like being picked up or held. When they are being held the person is in control, not the puppy, and they are usually higer up off the ground, so it can be scary.

As for your kids, anytime they pass by the puppy, or go by the room the puppy is in, or are in any way near the puppy, have them toss treats in her direction. Do not have them offer them by hand, but rather just toss in her direction, so she can get them herself. She may start to associate kids with good stuff. And, kids can be scary to puppies, because they are often loud, have higher pitched voices, move quickly and without warning. So, it can spook a puppy.

If your kids are old enough, explain to them that she is not quite feeling at home, and likely needs some time to settle in. It's nothing personal, but, when she growls, she is just asking for some space and alone time.

Have you taken her to the vet since you've gotten her? You just want to make sure that she doesn't have some infection or illness that is making her less tolerant and more irritable.

Good luck!
 

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Your first post said you've had her for 4 days. That is not nearly enough time for a puppy to get completely settled in. She's in a new home with new sights, sounds, smells, and people, and she's lost everything she knew at her old home. Also, every pup is different, some take extra time to settle in and feel completely at ease.

Growling is not a bad thing. It has such a bad rap, but it is not bad, it doesn't indicate aggression or a bad dog. It is simply the only way a dog has to communicate with us. So, many dogs will growl to let us know they are uncomfortable, be it physically or emotionally. If a dog is scared, nervous, upset, or if they are not feeling well, injured or ill, they will often growl to say "I don't feel comfortable, please give me some space." If you don't respect that, sometimes they will develop the need to protect themselves and will bite.

Puppies can be afraid of people bending over, or even kneeling down to pet them. They don't know what our intentions are. And, not all dogs like to be petted the same way. A direct, in front of, petting on the head often seems intimidating to dogs. They usually prefer from the side, on the neck or shoulders. Further, most dogs do not like to be hugged. Some will tolerate it, but they don't usually like it. And, many puppies do not like being picked up or held. When they are being held the person is in control, not the puppy, and they are usually higer up off the ground, so it can be scary.

As for your kids, anytime they pass by the puppy, or go by the room the puppy is in, or are in any way near the puppy, have them toss treats in her direction. Do not have them offer them by hand, but rather just toss in her direction, so she can get them herself. She may start to associate kids with good stuff. And, kids can be scary to puppies, because they are often loud, have higher pitched voices, move quickly and without warning. So, it can spook a puppy.

If your kids are old enough, explain to them that she is not quite feeling at home, and likely needs some time to settle in. It's nothing personal, but, when she growls, she is just asking for some space and alone time.

Have you taken her to the vet since you've gotten her? You just want to make sure that she doesn't have some infection or illness that is making her less tolerant and more irritable.

Good luck!

^^THIS^^ I would definitely get her in for a check up if not already done so and, at least for now, I would not exactly limit exposure to others just keep it more controlled and low key don't expect her
to automatically be comfortable with people, let her come to you and reward (tasty treat) when she
does. Also, I would definitely. Look into puppy classes once she is vaccinated.
 

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If you don't seen an improvement in this behavior in just a few days, I would call in a behaviorist. You have young kids in the house so it is important to make sure your dog has the right temperament. Better to find out now rather than a month or two down the road after everybody is attached, or worse yet after one of your kids has been severely bitten.

I agree with you that no puppy is born "bad" or "good." However, they are born with certain personality traits. Parents will tell you that babies are born different from each other. I'm sure you could list the ways your own babies were similar and different. Some inherited traits include reactivity, how much they feel fear, activity level, are they inhibited or likely to act out, etc etc etc. Some of these traits make a dog a good kids dog, some of them make a dog better suited to an older couple with a quiet home environment. Reactivity means reacting quickly to stimuli. A hair trigger. Very good in a dog like a border collie. Bad in a guard dog like a mastiff type. A reactive dog, pushed into certain situations, can have a bite first - ask later reaction. Tolerance in a dog is key to making them good with kids. If a dog is naturally fearful, that also makes them a bad bet for a kids dog. The children may not understand signals that the dog is feeling stressed, and put the dog into situations where fear makes it feel it has no option but to bite.

Virtually any dog can be a good dog if we provide them with the proper environment. If the household is made up of understanding adults, we can give the dog the home it needs. But you have young kids. Makes it a whole new ball game. You need a dog that fits into your household, not the other way around. Traits I would look for in kid safe dog: Not fearful, most dog bites come from fear. Tolerance, a go with the flow kind of dog. Not highly reactive. Happy and affectionate and playful are great to have too.
 

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Yes, call in a behaviorist, there's definitely no harm in that. But, I have to disagree slightly with samshine. You have a 9 week old puppy that has been in the home less than a full week. I would definitely not expect the full personality of the puppy to come out yet, not because the personality isn't developed yet, but because the puppy is scared and in a new home, for less than a full week.

So, I would not put a time limit of "just a few days". Likely, it will be at least 2 weeks before this pup settles.

I do agree that not all dogs are a good fit for every home. However, I think there are often ways to work with puppies. Keep in mind, we are not talking about a 6 month old pup, but rather a 9 week old pup. Also, as far as I understand, he tried to bite the OP's mom, and that was when he had growled and asked to be left alone, but the OP's mom approached again. She has just been growling at the kids, not lunging or anything. If this is fear, and the puppy just needs to settle in, everything COULD work out. I just don't want the OP to be overly scared.

STILL, in the meantime, take ALL PRECAUTIONS to keep puppy and kids separated, teach the kids good puppy behavior, and always supervise.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you for all of your responses. I am not necessarily fearful for my kids but I guess her not being the easy going pup is making me wonder if her growling will get worse and turn into fighting. She's very playful and loving and will not growl at my husband and yesterday and today it's only when she is in her crate. The kids know to back off if she does that. I will have to find her treat she likes more than the ones I have for her but I think maybe the kids giving her treats all the time may be a good idea. I know she's still only been with us a few days but I'm just wondering what more experienced dog owners think of her being so young and growling like that and snapping at someone and hoping to figure out something that can get her to stop before its a set habit that will be harder to work with
 

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Growling is not a bad thing. Growling is a good thing. Growling is how a dog tells you that they are frightened or in pain or getting upset and need you to back off. You want that. Growling is also play, keep in mind. When my dog and I play tug, we both growl at each other.

You ever hear people say, "The dog bit me out of nowhere!"? Well, that's because people regard growling as a bad thing that needs to be stopped, train the dog not to growl and then the dog has no choice but to go straight for the bite. You definitely don't want that.

You need to rethink how you view growling. Say the dog gets a chicken bone and you go to grab it and the dog growls at you. The problem in that situation isn't the growling. The problem is the dog resource guarding the bone. Resource guarding is very treatable, but not by removing the growling. You remove the resource guarding and the dog doesn't need to growl anymore.

I highly recommend you learn about dogs. Read Ian Dunbar, he's great. The Other End of the Leash is a great book, too.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I'm aware of why dogs bark and whine and growl and I'm not trying to teach her to stop growling I'm trying to find out how to get her to not want to growl and realize she doesn't need to growl. I'm not sure how to help her understand that people aren't a threat. The actual act of growling isn't my concern, I mean I want her to not feel she needs to.
 

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The way you will get her to understand that people aren't a threat, and that she doesn't NEED to growl, is by letting her settle in, and helping her associate people with good things, as with the use of treats.

You can use tiny bits of cheese, and tiny bits of hot dogs, if she doesn't like normal treats. Just the size of your pinky fingernail is enough.

I honestly think she's just still nervous and not quite convinced that she is safe.
 

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Well, I'm going to disagree with everybody else who said that it is probably just a matter of time. That could be very true if this was an older dog or puppy. They are not as adaptable and can take longer. But at 8-9 weeks of age, a normal puppy settles into a new house very quickly. They don't know how everything works, but they no longer feel stress or fear within just a day or two.

The temperament of this puppy is not going to change. Growling etc may diminish as the puppy feels safer, but any new situation and/or people is going to put it right back into a fear response. Would not be my choice of a puppy for an active family with kids. For that you want adaptability.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Thank you for your response everyone. Samshine, I do realize that given the characteristics of both breeds she is not Aprils candidate for our family but she kind of fell into our care and I'm trying to figure out if she can become a member or if maybe I should find her a more suitable home. I'm thinking socialization and puppy classes and the use of treats by everyone she encounters. Worth a shot right? My kids are used to the morning growl from the crate and have learned to give her space and when she is up for it they play together wonderfully. I'm hoping she comes around but if not then I'm also aware that maybe another home for her would be best if she continues to be high strung in daily life.

An ideal canidate** not Aprils.. Dang auto correct
 

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Well, I'm going to disagree with everybody else who said that it is probably just a matter of time. That could be very true if this was an older dog or puppy. They are not as adaptable and can take longer. But at 8-9 weeks of age, a normal puppy settles into a new house very quickly. They don't know how everything works, but they no longer feel stress or fear within just a day or two.

The temperament of this puppy is not going to change. Growling etc may diminish as the puppy feels safer, but any new situation and/or people is going to put it right back into a fear response. Would not be my choice of a puppy for an active family with kids. For that you want adaptability.
And, I am going to disagree with you, samshine, respectfully. My first dog was purchased from a breeder, he was fine, settled in pretty quickly, but, his personality is laid back, anyway.
Our second dog was adopted. She was 8 weeks old. She was skittish for a good two weeks. She was nervous, she was anxious, she shook and shivered A LOT. She was afraid to be touched, was very easily spooked, and usually ran or hid when she was approached by anyone except me, including my husband. She growled very softly, almost "under her breath".

After about two weeks, she settled in a bit. But, it was an ongoing process. She is still a bit skittish, but warms up quickly once she sees that she is safe. She never growls now, except when she's playing with the other dogs. She loves, loves, loves my younger niece, and wants to be in whichever lap is available.

Our third dog was fostered (turned into a permanent adoption by us) at 9 weeks. He growled and backed up when my dad would come to our home and visit. He did the same thing with my two nieces. He was attached to me, and loved my husband, but, was fearful of other people. It took at least 2-3 weeks before he felt at ease with people coming into our home, regular visitors like my parents and my nieces, and our friends. He would growl, and didn't want any contact, and would continue to back away.

He is a big softie now. Loves attention, loves to be cuddled, loves to give kisses, especially to my oldest niece who is 11. She is his special friend and he loves when she comes to stay with us.

I do not think you can say, in a blanket statement, that a normal puppy settles into a house in a day or two. I mean, for heaven's sakes, how many hundreds of threads do we see here with people saying they just got a puppy, and he/she has whined every night for a week, or more? It happens all the time. We also see tons of threads about how the new puppy seems quiet and doesn't want to eat, and is having an upset stomach, after being in the home for a week or so.

When people create threads like this, what kind of advice do they get? "The puppy needs to settle in"; "the puppy is nervous in the new home"; "the puppy is not settled in yet." and on and on. Why? Because not all puppies are alike, and some have a more nervous temperament then others, and need longer to adjust.

Now, I realize that my examples of whining and having a nervous stomach are not the same as the OP's problem. But, my point is, there are tons of examples of how "normal" puppies do NOT settle in in a day or so. Not all puppies are the same, not all adapt in days. This puppy may very well settle in, and love this family and their children, and not every have another issue.
For pete's sake, I remember how upset I was when my puppy bit me. The one and only time he has EVER bitten anyone, and it was after he returned from the vet, was upset, and nervous, and didn't behave as he normally would have. Should I have PTS, or rehomed, because he was a biter now, and wasn't going to change? No, things affect puppies, and every puppy is different.
 
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