How to stop puppy that growls constantly?
She is 3 1/2 months old. Every time we pick her up to redirect her she growls. If she is chewing something she shouldn't and we take it she growls. She has bitten my husband once already and if we don't break these habits (natural instincts, but still not good) she will have to go. We've tried squirting her with water and positive reinforcement,, but she just keeps growling. She is not going to be a small dog so I am nervous about this with 3 children. How to stop it?
Establish yourself and other family members as the leaders in the family. Don't allow your dog on the furniture unless you invite him up, and make him sit or lie down before handing him his food dish. When he goes outside, make him come to you and sit so you can connect the leash, then walk out the door together, don't let him rush past you.
Control situations that trigger bad behavior. If your dog typically guards his food, growling and snapping at anyone who comes near while he is eating, feed him in an empty room, such as the laundry room. Take him and his food into the room and shut him inside. After 30 minutes, let him out and pick his food dish up so there is nothing to guard. If he growls when he's moved around, such as crating him or getting off the furniture, leave a leash attached to his collar to make it easier to maneuver him.
The leash is a good idea! All the rest we have been doing but she still growls, even just picking her up to pet. The kids want to hold her but when they go to pick her up she growls. She does this to everyone except me.
How old are your children peeples? They may be too rough with her?
I watch them constantly with her. The youngest is 3 and she is monitored closely the 10 and 8 year old are too. No one is rough with her, they just want to carry her around because she's a cute little puppy.
Since you already know a lot about dogs (based on your previous answers) I am not going to give you a standard answer about training and dealing with a dominant dog. It sounds like you already have her under control, but you do need to realize that not all dogs are appropriate for all households.
For instance, even though the Maltese is one of the best dog breeds for first time owners, they are often not good with kids. I did not get one until my youngest was already five and unlikely to step on and anger the dog. Three was much too early.
I would not have my Pitbull around a little kid, although she is incredibly gentle. She gets very excited and is so solid that she would knock a kid over. The same holds true with Newfoundlands, which are one of the best dogs with kids--just not 3 year olds. Think about getting a dog that will be less than 20 kg as an adult.
If you really want to keep her, despite what may happen down the road, my best advice would be for all members of the household to obedience train her. Yes, I am including your youngest. Even a 3 year old can take a puppy through "sit", "stay", etc. Dogs are more likely to respond to everyone when trained by everyone.
I do hope your puppy is obedience trained by now. If she is not, look up an article on training a puppy early. At that age almost all puppies are food motivated and learn quickly. Work with her at least twice a day.
I have a hub on chewy, nippy, puppies, but the advice Jeff gives below, and what you already know, are obviously enough. I hope things work out for you all.
Not all dogs like to be picked up. It might be her growling is directed towards you just because she doesn't like to be picked up and/or has associated it with negative outcomes. You may have accidentally hurt her or grabbed her roughly or she's just uncomfortable being raised upwards. If this happens every time you pick her up, her growling is simply her way to say "please don't do that". If you also scold her or apply punishment-based techniques, this may have frightened her and she reacts defensively as she is trying to protect herself from perceived harm. If every time she growls, you move away or not pick her up, her growling is being reinforced so she'll engage in this behavior more and more and may even escalate to biting if you ignore her warnings. You need to go to the root of the problem. I would look for an experienced force-free behavior consultant that can help you out. Instead of picking her up to interrupt an unwanted behavior, set her up for success and train her a "positive interruptor." Look up positive interruptor video by kikopup on youtube. A tab attached to the collar is a better option than picking her up or grabbing the collar. Also, you shouldn't be taking objects away, you should be trading them for something else. I don't see these behaviors as necessarily natural instincts, growling can be instinctive, yes, but it can also soon become a learned behavior that occurs with frequency if it's practiced and reinforced on a frequent basis. Your dog is communicating with you through growling; it's a dog's way of using his words. Since you have kids, I highly recommend a behavior consultant. He/she should be able to tell if this dog is a good match for your family and what approaches you should take. At 3 and a half months, your pup is very young and has the ability to learn new, more appropriate behaviors if you intervene quickly. I have rehabilitated many biters at this age, but if your children are very young or interact with her inappropriately, there are chances this pup may not be a good match for your family.
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