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Re: 11 month old "Jack" shows "split personality"

Posted by:  Marie Evans
Posted on:  November 12, 2002 at 15:38:36

In Reply to: 11 month old "Jack" shows "split personality"
Category:   Aggression
Posted by:  Nicole Justice
Posted on:  November 12, 2002 at 01:52:18

Question:

: Jack has been a dream puppy... Up until he started to snarl at us when we'd gently take things away from him that he wasn't supposed to have; i.e. Halloween candy, and when he suddenly (overnight) started to growl and snarl and snap at us while sleeping (like, if we accidently budged him while he was asleep)...This has worried us for approx. 3 weeks now. We've tried to kick him out of the bed for the night as punishment, but he yelps and cries until we're sure the whole neighborhood is awake and honestly, we just love him too much to hear him cry. I know that we have probably spoiled him a bit- but, when he caught that Grunion in the ocean the other day on our walk I found myself too scared to try to take it away from him by myself. He strutted it home in his mouth to show my boyfriend how proud he was...and then he played w/ it.. but, if we came near-he'd growl and protect it. Thank goodness the sdg&e guy came and distracted Jack otherwise, he may still have been protecting that fish! SO- here's the last straw. Lance, our oldest son returned from Az today and left a bag of peanuts from the flight where Jack could find them and he did. I told both boys (ages 8 & 10) to please stop chasing Jack and that I will try to get the peanuts away from Jack- (they do know better) and even after I had almost forgotten about those peanuts I asked Jack if he was ready for a walk?? I bent over to put on his collar and saw the peanuts- reached for them, and he snapped at me. I said loudly, "JACK, NO!!" and held on to the back of his neck and tried to pry the bag out. Once I scooted the thing out of his teeth, he immediatly bit my hand and clamped down. Then i stood up and he bit the tip of my middle finger and i walked away. I felt my finger throbbing and i looked down at it and to my suprise i was gushing blood. He actually broke thru my nail to the other side. I looked at him, my little angel, and felt his sorrow in those sweet eyes. I know i need to get him some help a.s.a.p. but I need to know how this happened to us and I need to know that even after he is trained that he will never bite anyone again.
: Devastated,
: Jack's Mom


Response:

Hi Nicole,

Well it sounds to me like Jack is in his horrible "terrible teen" stage. It's around this age that the sweet little malleable puppy you once knew is suddenly not there any more.

This is a natural stage they all go through when they really start to test their boundaries, much like human children do.

Has Jack been through obedience school? Puppy kindergarten or play group is not going to be enough. Those are fine for socializing. This is the time that Jack needs a basic obedience course and the sooner the better. If Jack has already been through basic obedience, well, just like some children he needs to go back.

Has Jack been neutered? If not schedule an appointment and get him done ASAP. An intact male's hormones start to rage at this age and if left intact can lead to much territorial aggression and behaviors if not trained properly.

Your dog is food/object guarding among other things. He is starting to display dominant behaviors. You were on the right track to kick him out of your bed at night, he also needs to not get on the furniture. He needs to start working for everything, that includes meals, treats, even going for a walk. This is when basic obedience really pays off. If your dog can do commands like "SIT" or "DOWN" then you have something to use to make him work.

You put him in one of the commands before he eats, gets a treat, gets a toy, gets his leash put on, etc.

You caved when you didn't let him whine and cry in his crate. This teaches him that if he cries loud enough or long enough, he is going to get out of there. Then that makes him feel more dominant and is easier for him to work his way up the pack.

Jack needs to understand the meaning of "LEAVE IT" and "DROP IT" you can't blame Jack if he has never learned those commands. Right now he is doing what every red-blooded, feeling his oats, I am king of the world young dog would do.

So I am going to ask you to to several things: 1) Get him neutered if he isn't, 2) get him enrolled in obedience classes, 3) avoid confrontations with him at this point until you learn how to handle them, 4) start making Jack work, 5) keep him off your bed and furniture, 6) use our Go-to-Ground search.

I have posted other answers about these commands (leave it and drop it) and have explained how to teach them. It would be too lengthy for me to go into again. The information is there if you search for it. It should be in a pretty recent post.

Spoil your dog by making sure he is well fed and well sheltered. The best way to love your dog is to make sure he understands his place in your family. Most dogs love to give up the leader position so they don't have to worry about things, that way they can just be dogs. By showing him his place as family dog, that is the best way to spoil him.

Regards,
Marie

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