It is of the utmost importance that a puppy be properly socialized in the early weeks of life.
This means not only with the mother, but also with other humans and other situations. Any reputable breeder
worth their salt take the time and care to make sure that their puppies are properly socialized in those first 8 weeks so
that the puppy has the basic skills that are need to adjust to anything they encounter. This is why it is so important that
a puppy remain with their breeder until they are at least 8 weeks of age. It is easy to tell a puppy that has hardly been
touched and lived in a cage all of its life.
Now please realize that young puppies do go through several fear stages and this is totally normal. A poorly
socialized puppy lacks the skills needed to make it through these stages and will be more apt to react negatively to stressful
and frightening stimuli.
When dealing with behavioral issues it is SO IMPORTANT to NOT humanize your dog and his behavior. Your dog is
just that a dog. No matter how spoiled, loved, and human seeming, they are still a dog! All dogs come from wolves. If you
watch shows on wolf behavior you will learn a lot about your dog and why he acts the way he does.
I have studied dogs and their behavior for years and years and have learned a lot. I get a lot of questions
on dog behavior, so have decided to write up a page from the questions I get asked. I will probably add too it as time goes
on and something comes up. If you have a specific problem that has not been addressed here do not hesitate to email and ask
I come from the belief that there is NO such thing as a BAD dog. Many behavior issues are just a matter of understanding
and retraining. You simply have to tell yourself it may take time and patience and some hard work. Do not get discouraged
and throw the baby out with the bath water. Dogs are living creatures and should not be discarded. After all do you throw
away a child that is misbehaving or do you work to try and help them and correct the problem?
First off, dogs do not have hands. So their method of learning and exploring is to use their mouths. This is
normal DOG behavior. What we do not want to see is a dog that bites out of fear, or a puppy that gets too rough with their
play and hurts you.
For puppies------ Remember playing and play fighting are ways of learning. With this comes biting. Its simply
a matter of training a puppy to be gentle. A mother or alpha dog will put a puppy into their place when they bite too hard
or get carried away.
I have found that a sharp yip (just like a puppy would do when hurt) by you when a puppy bites too hard will
stop the behavior immediately. This is a language the puppy understands.
Should this not work for you then you must correct the puppy a little more strongly. Give the puppy a sharp
NO and turn away from the puppy and ignore them. This too is a language a puppy understands. The mother or alpha dog will
walk away and not play with the dog when they have gotten out of hand. This lets puppy know they have done something that
is not acceptable. If you need to be a little more hard core to stop the puppy's biting then give them a chuff or tap under
the chin (you do not want to hurt the puppy so you must be gentle but firm). A puppy's center of control is in their head.
By chuffing them under the chin you are taking that control away from them.
For fear bitters------- This issues is actually more of a behavioral issue than a puppy biting. This means that
the puppy is frightened and the only way he knows to respond is by biting. This is not to be mistaken for an act of aggression
as it is not. This issue is because of improper socialization during those all important first 8 weeks. This is a behavior
that will take longer to deal with and you must go slow as to not frighten the animal. Slowly get the dog or puppy used to
being with you. Give them treats. Bribery is great and does work! If there is a specific item that causes the fear biting
then you need to work with that item very slowly to get the dog use to it and unafraid. Say for instance your dog fear bites
when you go to pick them up. GO very slow in this case. Sit down on the floor on their level (this will cause a lot of the
fright to leave as you are not towering over them) and coax them to you. I would recommend putting a long training leash on
your dog or puppy so that you can have control should the need arise. This is for the safety of everyone involved also. Once
the dog takes a step toward you place a treat on the floor for them. Do not try to make them take it from your hand or toss
it at them as they will retreat most likely in fear. Get a treat that is really enticing such as a piece of hot dog or bacon
or liver. If they make another step toward you reward that and so on and so forth until they come up to you. If you can not
get them to do this on their own then resort to actually using the lead to get the dog to make the steps toward you. Once
the dog or puppy finds that you are not a threat to him you will find things much easier. You can take the same steps towards
working with dogs scared of cars, wheel-chairs, loud noises, crates, or even the lead itself. You can see that it will take
some work but it will be very rewarding in the end with a dog that loves and trusts you.
This once again is an issue of improper socialization. Dogs that are shy may or may not be fear biters. Many
will just tend to run away and hide or will shy away from the situation and sit back and watch. You will want to handle this
situation much as talked about above with the fear biter. Slow and consistent is the key. Your dog after some work may still
be shy of some situations of even of strangers but should be loving and trustful of you. Just saying this it may not be possible
to get your dog over every little thing they are afraid of. However, I would never quit trying. Even old dogs can learn new
This is a serious issue and is a little harder to deal with. You have to take a serious look at a dogs behavior
and what they are telling you. You need to figure out the cause of the aggressiveness. Once again this problem will stem back
to poor socialization as a puppy or could perhaps be due to improper handling or perhaps abuse by a previous owner or even
the breeder. Once again you will need to work slowly with the dog or puppy. You want to give the puppy lots of praise and
lots of treats for reacting properly. You need to get this dog or puppy to trust you that is the key. Once trust is established
then everything else will fall into place. For aggression I would highly recommend having help from a professional behaviorist
when working with the dog or puppy. Especially if the problem is a serious and complex one.
You will find that food aggression is a common problem that a lot of owners face. Usually in these cases the
dog will become aggressive with either owner or another pet when it comes to feeding time. Many of these animals come from
cases of neglect or abuse, where food was not in plentiful supply. This is a different matter than just plain aggression and
can usually be worked through successfully with a little work. You want the dog or puppy to know that they are not going to
have to fight for what little food they get. That you will supply them with food at any time and they can get their fill.
I guess you would say, once again, that its a matter of trust.
When working with this issue you may want to have hand protection so that if your dog or puppy does decide to
bite that you are protected. I have seen some behaviorists that use a fake hand on a stick to work through this issue. You
want to take the dog or puppy into an area where they are alone so you can work with them and they do not feel threatened
by any other pets. You want to get them used to you messing with their bowl while they are eating. They should not growl or
try to bite you when moving a food dish around or even putting one down. You want to avoid yelling at the dog or puppy or
getting frustrated as it may take a bit of time. If the dog or puppy growls at you when messing with the food dish, tell them
NO. At this point you do not want to move the dish just mess around with it a bit. Once the puppy or dog stops growling then
praise them and let them take a couple bites. Then I would resume messing with their dish again. If the puppy or dog starts
to growl or tries to bite again tell him NO. Once they stop be sure to praise them. So on and so forth. Once you successfully
mess with the dish and get no reaction from the puppy then I would move on to messing with the dish and moving it a couple
of inches across the floor. Once you can move the dish away from the dog without any reactions for a week or so then you pretty
much have the problem licked. However if you do have other pets in the house you will want to be very careful when going back
to a normal routine. The puppy or dog that now should not be food aggressive with you may still be with your other pets. In
this case I would suggest putting out separate bowls in separate areas so that you wont run into problems and always supervise
feeding times for the protection of the other pets. Once the dog or puppy realizes that you are not going to let the others
take their food you can gradually and slowly start moving the bowls closer together and see if you can work through the behavior
with the other pets. You will occasionally find that a dog or puppy will never be comfortable eating with another pet and
will still display food aggression behaviors. This is a problem that most people can deal with by just feeding the pets from
HUMPING AND MOUNTING BEHAVIORS
The number one mistake people make in this area is thinking that this behavior has to do with sex. Unless you
have a female in heat and a male that is truly sexually mature then this issue has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH SEX. This
once again comes from people trying to humanize dog behavior.
Humping behavior is all about DOMINACE! By get up on another dog, or cat, or a toy, or even you, and humping
a dog is telling you that he or she is the dominate member of the pack or is trying to become the dominate member of the pack.
This is a behavior that absolutely needs to be nipped in the bud RIGHT AWAY! YOU, not your dog, are the alpha or pack leader.
Your puppy or dog will need to learn this. Catch the dog or puppy in the act and tell him a strong NO. Then redirect his attention
to something else. Now remember that your puppy has a right to tell something that he or she is dominate. I prefer that something
to be a toy. So redirect his attention from those things that he or she can not hump to something that he likes such as a
favorite toy and let him have at it. If a simple no does not work then you need to establish YOUR alpha-ship with your dog
or puppy by what is called "staring him down". Make sure to make eye contact with the dog or puppy with a stern look (squinting
up your eyes is best) and make sure the puppy or dog looks away before you. This may take a minute or two as some dog or puppies
can be stubborn. Once again this is dog language that tell the animal that YOU are in charge. This behavior dates back to
wolves as does the act of humping and mounting to show dominance. Once you have established that he is not pack leader you
will see this behavior less and less until it eventually goes away. However, should you introduce a new pet into your home
or even a new baby you may see this crop up again as your dog or puppy will once again question his placement in the pack.