Is my puppy aggressive?

16 May 2013

I often get asked " Is my puppy aggressive?" This is usually accompanied by a level of anxiety as of course you do not want to think you have taken on an aggressive dog. In my experience with the right handling and training a lot of issues can be sorted very quickly and I have yet to meet a truely aggressive puppy in 15 years of training!

It is very easy for a young puppy who has lots of energy to get overstimulated and frustrated! They usually show this by lots of intense play biting which can lead to answering back if they are reprimanded. 

I find that if you treat them in the same way you might treat an out of control toddler you can easily pass through this stage. The mistake people often make is to become heavy handed and to shout in the mistaken belief that they have to show who is boss. Unfortunately this gives very mixed messages to your puppy who can then learn to growl or bite when they feel threatened.

I would suggest that if you lose your temper you are out of control and what is needed is firm, clear guidence from you to teach your puppy what is appropriate. The rule of thumb I give to new owners of a puppy is to be very calm and consistent.

Manage everyones expectations so no one plays too roughly with your puppy. Respond quickly if your puppy is getting overstimulted. Redirect them into a calm state by pretending to ignore unwanted behaviour,distracting and lots of management. In the meantime start teaching your puppy what to do. I like to teach puppies the 'watch me' exercise which is a great way of calming them down and refocusing them. 

Sometimes a time out works well!

It does take patience and perserverence but at the end of the day you end up with a dog that will listen to you and no longer acts like a frustrated toddler.

© Karen England2013

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