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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. I am new to the forum. I have lurked for a while and decided to finally take the plunge and register - lo and behold here I am asking my first question, LOL.

I have owned or been owned by plenty of dogs in my life. We just recently lost our boxer Alex to cancer and have subsequently gotten a new boxer puppy Abby.

Frankly it has been many years since I had a puppy so memories tend to fade so I can't decide if we went through some of these issues with Alex or not. I wanted to get some advice so if anyone has any thoughts, opinions or help I would appreciate hearing it.

First we got Abby from a breeder. The lady had a kennel set up with concrete runs with doggy doors and an indoor area that is climate controlled. I don't think Abby was ever in the house except when she was cleaned up for when we came to look at her. She seemed timid when we met her but that is easily explained since everything was a new experience for her. I was a bit worried since we have 3 kids - but no worries now - she is definitely not a timid creature, LOL.

My main concern is that she basically totally ignores us when we talk to her. I mean we talk to her and she doesn't turn her head and look at us, she doesn't come when we call her, she doesn't even faze when we clap our hands at her (to try and correct her when she is being naughty). I know she can hear because she does respond to a whistle (occasionally) and the vet also did a little (nonscientific) testing and she definitely hears.

I understand she doesn't know her name yet - but I guess I would at least expect her to turn her head when I am standing right next to her talking to her in my "puppy" type of voice. I have also placed her in a spot and walked a few paces away and crouched down and called her to come - she totally acts like my cat - just stares at me like I am crazy.

Potty training is not my favorite thing, LOL. Again because it has been so long since Alex was a puppy I really can't remember how long it took us to potty train her. We have had Abby home now for a week and a half and she still basically goes wherever she likes without much notice. We take her out like clockwork and she does go potty outside. I praise the heck out of her (not that she shows any indications that I am saying jack to her) and I was hoping she might start getting the idea that outside is the place to go potty - but so far I don't really think she is "getting" it yet. She doesn't go to the same place at all, just wherever she is at the time. The same applies for the backyard. She has gone in our sandbox, on our patio, in our garden, by the fence, etc. I'm not correcting her outside though because frankly I am just glad she did her duty outside instead of on my carpet.

TIA for any thoughts, etc.
 

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I would take her to a specialist and have BAER testing done to find out how much she actually can hear. I'd start there...if she has any sort of hearing loss, you are looking at a whole 'nother ball game...
 

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It might be that she can only hear high doggy-whistle type frequencies, which would explain the whistle, but I don't know what kind of test your vet did. Purebred dogs are pretty susceptible to that sort of thing so it wouldn't be too surprising (hope it's not true though!)

Potty training can be complicated, but it sounds like you're doing the right stuff. I've had some success taking dogs out and waiting for them to go potty when I see them by the door. Eventually, they get the idea that, "Hey, if I go over here by the door I get to go outside and go potty."
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think she hears ok - I am seeing some improvement in her looking at me when I talk. Not always but if she doesn't see me I just think she assumes I'm not talking to her.

I have had a new development tonight though. She is starting to show some serious aggression with my dh and I as well as our older dog Indy. First we were trying to remove her collar when she started growling and trying to bite us - serious growling and biting but of course being 9.5 weeks old she is still too small to get us yet. She really went nuts with my dh as he was holding her - he then tried to hold her down on her back and tell her know and she just got worse so I told my husband to stop and leave her alone and she came over and laid down beside me like nothing happened. Then later she started playing with Indy and I noticed that the intensity of her play growling was getting louder and more agressive so I got up and told her no - mostly because I didn't want Indy to hurt her if a fight broke out - before Alex passed she and Indy had been known to really fight occassionally. Well after I clapped and told her no she moved away for a second and I bent to pick her up - I got her about halfway up and she started squirming, growling, biting at me. I got her all the way up and told her no again and she calmed down but then just a minute later as I was loving on her she started up again right in my face this time. I immediately put her in her kennel where she went to the back of and laid down and went to sleep.

I never never had these kind of aggression issues with Alex or Indy or any of my other dogs so I really don't know how to handle it. What should I do - Abby is only 9.5 weeks now but she will soon get big and I want to stop the aggression now before it can really become an issue.

It should also be noted that she is aggressive with the kids as well. They don't even want to touch her - they really don't understand because they used to practically ride Alex with how they played with her and this puppy looks so much like Alex but acts so different.

Thanks!
 

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The poor thing sounds very skittish. I suspect you're right in that everything is a new experience for her--including interaction with people. It sounds like she is very reactive when you and your family are reaching out physically to her.

Try letting her come to you at her own pace. It will be a slow process, but just be in the same room with her and drop treats on occasion to help her know that good things come from you.

Keep in mind that holding her on her back and aggressive play with the kids are not the right approach with this girl. She needs gentleness and patience as she comes to trust you.

Best wishes to all of you. I hope you'll update us and post pics.
 

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I think she hears ok - I am seeing some improvement in her looking at me when I talk. Not always but if she doesn't see me I just think she assumes I'm not talking to her.

I have had a new development tonight though. She is starting to show some serious aggression with my dh and I as well as our older dog Indy. First we were trying to remove her collar when she started growling and trying to bite us - serious growling and biting but of course being 9.5 weeks old she is still too small to get us yet. She really went nuts with my dh as he was holding her - he then tried to hold her down on her back and tell her know and she just got worse so I told my husband to stop and leave her alone and she came over and laid down beside me like nothing happened. Then later she started playing with Indy and I noticed that the intensity of her play growling was getting louder and more agressive so I got up and told her no - mostly because I didn't want Indy to hurt her if a fight broke out - before Alex passed she and Indy had been known to really fight occassionally. Well after I clapped and told her no she moved away for a second and I bent to pick her up - I got her about halfway up and she started squirming, growling, biting at me. I got her all the way up and told her no again and she calmed down but then just a minute later as I was loving on her she started up again right in my face this time. I immediately put her in her kennel where she went to the back of and laid down and went to sleep.

I never never had these kind of aggression issues with Alex or Indy or any of my other dogs so I really don't know how to handle it. What should I do - Abby is only 9.5 weeks now but she will soon get big and I want to stop the aggression now before it can really become an issue.

It should also be noted that she is aggressive with the kids as well. They don't even want to touch her - they really don't understand because they used to practically ride Alex with how they played with her and this puppy looks so much like Alex but acts so different.

Thanks!

Based on what you've written above, in addition to your initial post, my suggestion is to get professional help, and do some serious reading to help you understand dog behavior. There's nothing wrong with your puppy, and her behavior as described is perfectly normal, NOT aggressive. However, if you or your husband continue to do things like hold her down, you could end up with a dog who will bite someone's face off. Your children need to be taught how to appropriately interact with a dog as well. You mentioned above that they "used to practically ride Alex with how they played with her," which is not appropriate with any dog, regardless of size.

Since you bought her from a breeder who didn't hand raise the puppies in the house, but left them in outside runs and kennels, your puppy needs to get used to being handled, and this should be done gently, and with great patience.

Potty training is not my favorite thing, LOL. Again because it has been so long since Alex was a puppy I really can't remember how long it took us to potty train her. We have had Abby home now for a week and a half and she still basically goes wherever she likes without much notice.
Of course she goes wherever! She's a 9 wk old baby, and it's your job to train her. Puppies need to be contained whenever you are not supervising, and taken out at regular intervals, and after waking from a nap, after eating, and after playing.

We take her out like clockwork and she does go potty outside. I praise the heck out of her (not that she shows any indications that I am saying jack to her) and I was hoping she might start getting the idea that outside is the place to go potty - but so far I don't really think she is "getting" it yet.
This is good. Repetition, repetition, repetition is necessary before she can possibly "get it."


She doesn't go to the same place at all, just wherever she is at the time. The same applies for the backyard. She has gone in our sandbox, on our patio, in our garden, by the fence, etc. I'm not correcting her outside though because frankly I am just glad she did her duty outside instead of on my carpet.
If you want her to potty in just one area, then you need to take her to that one area each and every time you take her out to potty. I'm glad you're not correcting her! She's done nothing to be corrected for. She's a dog, and doesn't understand English, so show her where you want her to go by taking her there. Then reward/praise when she goes.
 

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From the sounds of it, you got your pup from a commercial breeder. Commercial breeders breed for the money, not for temperament or anything important really. Your pup sounds like she wasn't handled much as a small puppy, and reacts accordingly. Personally, I would bring the pup back to the breeder. When there are kids involved, it's better to as preventive as possible. You said that your kids don't even want to touch her. That's just not a good start, and even with super consistent training, she may just have a bad temperament due to her poor quality breeding.

I may be making A LOT of assumptions about her breeder, but a breeder that doesn't home raise their pups, is not a good breeder in my opinion.
 

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I don't think this situation is extreme enough to warrant returning the pup. If this were a shelter puppy who hadn't received any early socialisation or was born with a poor temperament, would you consider this a gone case? It's not the end of the world. It just means work is needed.

Nikki, I highly recommend you do some serious research about reading and projecting body language from and to your dog. Forcing a dog onto its side is extremely threatening and will no doubt elicit defensive and fearful behaviour from your pup. It sounds like she is not used to being physically handled by humans. Learn which gestures and actions are perceived as threatening or irritating by your dog -- reaching over her, touching her paws, holding the scruff of her neck, etc) and try to avoid those. I'm not saying you will never be able to do these things with your pup, but they are things that you need to work to, rather than be able to do straightaway. For now, physical contact with your dog should be as positive as possible, as it doesn't sound like she's had much good experience with hands.

As for the house-training, keep praising her when she goes outside. Treats will help as well. Inside, be sure to supervise her all the time, and make sure she is crated or confined when you can't supervise. Potty training can be a bit of protracted process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I was wrong in my wording about how my kids played with Alex. Please don't take me literally - they never did play rough with her. They are too small and she was way too big for that kind of play. What I meant was that they could crawl all over here when she was on the floor and she would never even bat an eye. She wouldn't ever ever growl at one of the kids or anything. Having a dog growl and nip at them is totally new to them and they don't understand why. They know not to play rough, we have taught them how to act around the dogs and they suffer consequences from us if they are inappropriate which hasn't happened in a long long time.
 

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What I meant was that they could crawl all over here when she was on the floor and she would never even bat an eye. She wouldn't ever ever growl at one of the kids or anything.
I understand what you're saying, however, children should not be allowed to crawl on a dog, no matter how tolerant the dog is. My dogs are very gentle and tolerant of children, however, I do not allow any child, my own grandchildren included, to interact with my dogs in this way. Young children are apt to pinch, squeeze, poke and grab, all of which are inappropriate (especially so with a young puppy).

Your puppy was inadequately socialized with humans, having been left in kennels instead of being raised inside the house, so, you will need to be very patient with her while teaching her to enjoy being handled, without giving her corrections for behavior you don't like (never correct or punish for growling - this teaches the dog to go immediately to the bite without first giving a warning, which is what a growl is). Young puppies do growl and mouth/nip in play, which is normal, and certainly not about aggression at that age.
 

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First she is 9 weeks, so ther may be some fear going on in this case.

Second, when dogs play, especially when they are p[ups they DO sound VERY aggressive, it's normal, just be SURE you don't do anything that could CAUSE fear (hitting, holding her down, excessive yelling ect). You want ALL her experiences to be POSITIVE right now, so she know everything is OK. She's at a disadvantage by being raised in a kennel and not in home where she could be socialized properly.



First order of business is the biting.

http://dogstardaily.com/training/teaching-bite-inhibition

Desensitizing her to handling
http://dogstardaily.com/training/handling-and-gentling

Socialization
http://dogstardaily.com/training/socialization-with-people

LIKING people
http://dogstardaily.com/training/teach-your-puppy-and-respect-people

Desensitizing to the collar
This is for head collars, but it can be used to get your pup used to ANY collar
http://www.canineconcepts.co.uk/ccp51/cc/dog-training/head-collar.shtml

How do I acclimatise my dog to the collar?


It will take a week or so to acclimatise your dog to a head collar. But these tips should help smooth the way:
  • Have some tasty treats at hand. Place the head collar over your hand such that it hangs around your wrist.
  • With the same hand, hold a treat with your fingers and offer it to your dog, but holding the treat such that they have to nibble at it. As your dog is nibbling the treat, simultaneously slide the collar over its face.
  • Now release the treat and while they are munching away, finish fitting the clasp. Give your dog another treat and praise them warmly.
  • At this point it is important to keep your dog distracted- either by you playing with him or letting your dog use its favourite toy. After 2-3 minutes remove the collar and play for a few more minutes.
  • Repeat this 3-4 times a day for the first week and only playing with your dog whilst they are wearing the head collar. As you progress, start to introduce a command word that your dog can start to associate with the collar being fitted. Don't use a lead until your have completed this stage.
  • Once your dog is able to wear the collar for 5 minutes without distraction (i.e. scratching or trying to remove it), attach his lead and continue playing with them for a few minutes. Repeat this until your dog is not distracted by the head collar or lead.
  • Once your dog is acclimatised, gradually build up the time your dog spends wearing the head collar and lead to the point you can take short walks.
IMPORTANT:
  • Remember, keep this a positive experience for your dog and don't try to achieve too much in one go.
  • Don't allow your dog to wear a head collar unsupervised. This will give them a chance to learn how to remove them.
  • Never tug your lead hard when your dog is wearing a head collar. This may cause them neck injuries.
  • For the same reason, never use retractable or very long leads as these may allow your dog pick up speed before the lead takes up.

Remember you always want to keep the training POSITIVE, it will be better for you and the pup.
 
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