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My 3 and a half month old lab/cocker mix has been showing signs of aggression lately. When I was at the vet we were trying to clean out his ear (he had an ear infection) and he whined like crazy, growled, and snapped at me. He has bitten us before (not as aggressive as this time) but not as bad as this time. Everytime he bites at home we say no bite or do the yelping method but nothing seems to help.

The vet said to try and put him in time out when he does something like this and it is absolutely not ok for him to snap or growl at me. How can I teach him not to be like this? It happens when we try to clip his nails and clean his ears. Is he just scared or what is happening here?

Where should we do the time out? in his crate or playpen? I am at a loss because my pup never acted like that at home.
 

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My dog screams and bites when I cut her nails or at the vet but is fine any other time. It's not AGGRESSION, it's FEAR! And you should never ever punish a dog for growling, because then they'll learn to skip the growl and go straight for the bite. This is how dogs that bite without warning are created.
 

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My dog screams and bites when I cut her nails or at the vet but is fine any other time. It's not AGGRESSION, it's FEAR! And you should never ever punish a dog for growling, because then they'll learn to skip the growl and go straight for the bite. This is how dogs that bite without warning are created.
That is what I thought too that he was just afraid. I think he fears the vet because he spent 3 days there alone (he had parvo) but the doc told me that him growling and snapping at me while trying to hold him during his ear cleaning is aggression and I should not let him get away with it, because he thinks he is in control.
 

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An ear infection hurts. While it cleaning his ears is needed, he can't understand why you are doing something scary (if he hasn't been trained to accept ear cleanings) and painful (since he has an infection). Think of it like a toddler that screams when they get a vaccination or when momma cleans up a scraped knee. He is trying to say "GET AWAY, OUCH!" in dog language.

You need to build up a positive association with nail trimming and work slowly. You can "target" the nail trimmers and reward when the dog noses them. Then you can touch the clippers to his feet and give a reward. Then you pick up a foot and give a reward. Then you touch the trimmer to the foot and give a reward. Then you trim 1 nail, give a treat and stop. You can have someone hold a peanut butter filled Kong in front of his face while you trim a few nails. Each step should only be progressed to when the dog is comfortable (calm, no snapping or growling, no trying to yank his paw away) with the current step.

Kayota is right that you never punish a growl-- a growl is a form of communication and you want to listen to what the dog is trying to tell you. Work towards preventing the NEED to growl (meaning, fix the issue at the root cause whether its fear or pain etc).

That is what I thought too that he was just afraid. I think he fears the vet because he spent 3 days there alone (he had parvo) but the doc told me that him growling and snapping at me while trying to hold him during his ear cleaning is aggression and I should not let him get away with it, because he thinks he is in control.
If a 1 yr old child screamed and slapped at mom's hand when mom cleaned up a cut, would you say the child thinks he is "in control"? I doubt it, your dog is a baby still and has no ability for speech to communicate.
"Aggression" a broad term- a dog can do an aggressive act (snapping) without being aggressive, or it can be a fear-aggressive reaction where if you fix the fear problem, no more aggressive actions and "aggression" can be other situational types of acts (as opposed to personality traits)
 

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Yeah in most cases your vet isn't really a great source for training or behavior advice. Some do know what they are talking about but a surprising number don't have a clue. Your puppy isn't being aggressive he is scared. You need to work on counter conditioning to slowly get your puppy used to ear cleanings and nail trimming and any other grooming/handling procedure you'll need to do in the future. Take slow baby steps towards these things rewarding for calm behavior along the way, if he starts reacting badly you are going to fast and take a step back.

A forum search will bring up many threads with more details on desensitizing your dog to nail trimming and ear cleaning.

Edit: Shell got in before me with some nice examples for desensitizing.
 

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I agree with all of you. My vet was suprised and shocked that my pup tried to nip and me and snarled, but i thought he was just stressed and scared. He said I need to get this under control now other wise my pup will be aggressive. I know puppies bite but is it normal for him to always want to bite me? My vet tells me one thing and everyone else tells me something else.

I really don't want him to become aggressive but now I can't really tell what is aggressive behavior and whats not, so snarling and nipping at me isn't aggressive?
 

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Also he said not to let him sleep with me at night because then he thinks he is in charge, is that true?
It sounds like your vet subscribes to some more "old school" training methods which are basically outdated. If you train your dog and show your dog what behavior you want and reward for good behavior while preventing bad behavior (or redirecting from it), your dog will be a working partner to you and a friend. He knows you are a human and he is a dog, it is not about being "in charge"

My suggestion is to crate train until the dog is 6-8 months at least before allowing him to sleep in your bed, mainly for potty training purposes. It also helps to make sure the dog is comfortable sleeping alone in a crate or playpen so that in the future, if you board him or he stays with someone else for a night or has to be at the vet's overnight, he won't freak out trying to sleep alone. After that, it is your decision. You can give him the choice where to sleep, you can train him to wait for permission to get on the bed (so he's not too pushy or needy), you can let him lounge on the bed with you in the evenings but sleep elsewhere etc-- whatever you chose to train him to do.
He may decide he prefers a dog bed or the couch or even his crate if given the choice once he is older.

I give my dog free roam of the house and he can sleep on the bed if he wants. He rarely does, he mostly chooses a dog bed on the floor of my room. He knows the commands "OFF" (get off the couch or bed) and "OUT" (leave the room) which are two very useful commands to train.
 

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That is what I thought too that he was just afraid. I think he fears the vet because he spent 3 days there alone (he had parvo) but the doc told me that him growling and snapping at me while trying to hold him during his ear cleaning is aggression and I should not let him get away with it, because he thinks he is in control.
He had an ear infection right? Probably hurt like heck, and no way for him to understand that the procedure was necessary to help him. With a few exceptions, vets aren't behavior experts. I would counter condition him to be okay with being restrained, having his ears/mouth/feet, etc messed with by starting small in areas he's not so protective of - handle gently, give a treat, gradually as he becomes more relaxed with the contact progress to scarier areas. Try to always end on a good note before he becomes worried or feels like he needs to struggle.
 

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Thank you everyone for the advice. The vet made me feel terrible about my pup doing that and I thought I was being a bad mom and not training him right. He almost made me cry. I really appreciate the info.
 

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DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP!!!

just remember you wouldn't take child rearing advice from your pediatrician. likewise take your vet's training advice with a grain of salt.

When I rescued batman from the shelter he was listed as didn't tolerate rough handling and really doesn't like his feet being touched. that was a week ago.
at first i would just run my hands down his legs to his knees, then a little further, then a quick touch on the paw, now he lets me rub his paws and while he doesn't like it yet, he doesn't resist at all. I also did a similar progression with lifting his lips to look at his teeth, looking in his ears, lifting his tail etc. after each "handle" I would give him a treat (very small piece) and give him lots of praise when he was calm.

take your time and you can have a calm dog that will take almost any handling.

One of the few things I like that I learned from Ceasar Millan is to live in the now. Don't worry about what your dog did last time. It only matters about right now and taking your dog to where you want it one step at a time.

with some patience and consistency I know you can do it!!!
 

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Hello Everyone,

I also have the same situation with @silentgirl490. I have a 12 weeks old pitbull border collie mix. The first time he had his shots was fine although he was trembling at the weighing table. So we just assume that he was scared. The 2nd time was a bit stressful. It wasn't because my pup was growling and trying to bite but of what my vet told me. She told me that its abnormal for a pup to growl and tries to bite at that age, so she advices me to see a behaviorist ASAP. I know she's concerned and all but the way she said it to me its like my pup is ssssooooo bad and we might realize in the end he is not meant for us. Say what?
So I was disturbed. She didn't even ask about how he is at home. Anyways whats crazy was since she wants me to see a behaviorist, i asked her the number of that person. She was like mmm I cant find the number so I will call you for that info. Ive waited the whole day for her to call with the behaviorist number but she never did so I called before they closes and I got the same answer: that she will call me later about it. It has been 6 days and I have not received any call from my vet. What do you guys think of my vet? do I need to change?
 

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I think you should start a separate thread as this original one is over 4 years old.
 
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