Aggression-Prevention

Have you ever met a dog who got snarly over food, snappy when woken from sleep, or snarky over high value toys and chews?

This is sadly very common AND normal.

Dogs are animals and animals are programmed to guard what is valuable – food, water, mates, offspring, sleeping quarters, resources. If they did not guard these things, they would lose them and in turn, die, in many cases.

Despite the many thousands of years of domestication, we are not able to breed the quality out of dogs, so get comfortable with it!

Realistically – YOU guard things too. You lock your dogs, you have an alarm on your car, you have a passcode on your phone, you password protect your online banking, you don’t let strangers snatch up your children…the list goes on. The difference is that your puppy’s teeth are more believable.

Now, I don’t want to scare you, but this could easily be your dog. You just don’t know it yet.

Right now you have a pliable, sweet, floofy, easy-going puppy. You touch their paws and they don’t care. You pick them up and they snuggle into your neck. You watched them tolerate their first and second vet visits with wiggles and treats.

Don’t be fooled. This is all typical puppy behaviour and while it’s adorable,

it’s temporary.

Once your puppy has the experience a few times, they catch on and they lose their tolerance. This typically happens around 6 months of age when they’re naturally going to be a little more independent. They’re entering adolescence and have a mind of their own.

So before the teenage phase hits, we need a game plan. Lucky for you, that’s my job!I’m going to give you a list of tips here, and I hope you’ll integrate them into your daily (yes, DAILY) life until your pup is about 6 months. Now, when they hit 6 months, you can do these randomly rather than daily, and keep a close eye on any behavioural changes in this department.

Mealtime – approach your puppy while they’re eating their food

  • Drop a couple pieces of delicious treats or food into the bowl and walk away
  • Touch your puppy gently on the shoulder and then drop a couple pieces of shredded cheese into the bowl and walk away
  • Pick up the food bowl, add some chopped boiled chicken breast into the bowl, return it to your puppy and walk away

Playtime – approach your puppy while they’re playing with a favourite toy

  • Drop a couple pieces of delicious treats or food beside the toy and walk away
  • Touch your puppy gently on the shoulder and then drop a couple pieces of shredded cheese beside the toy and walk away
  • Pick up the toy and immediately give your puppy a piece of boiled chicken breast, then return the toy to your puppy and walk away

Chew-session – approach your puppy while they’re chewing on a favourite chew

  • Drop a couple pieces of delicious treats or food beside the chew and walk away
  • Touch your puppy gently on the shoulder and then drop a couple pieces of shredded cheese beside the chew and walk away
  • Pick up the chew and immediately give your puppy a piece of boiled chicken breast, then return the chew to your puppy and walk away

Resting in the crate – approach your puppy while they’re inside their crate

  • Drop a couple pieces of delicious treats or food into the crate and walk away
  • Reach into the open crate and give your puppy a chin-scritch, then drop a couplepieces of shredded cheese into the crate and walk away
  • Open the crate and then drop a couple pieces of shredded cheese into the crate, close the door and walk away

Lying on the couch – approach your puppy while they’re on the couch or their bed

  • Drop a couple pieces of delicious treats or food between their two front paws and walk away
  • Touch your puppy gently on the shoulder and then drop a couple pieces of shredded cheese beside them and walk away
  • Sit on the couch beside them and then drop a couple pieces of shredded cheese beside them, get up and walk away

Lap-dogging – approach your puppy while they’re in the lap of a special person

  • Feed a couple pieces of delicious treats or food and walk away
  • Touch your puppy gently on the shoulder and then feed a couple pieces of shreddedcheese beside them and walk away
  • Place your hand gently on the shoulder of the person and then feed your puppy acouple pieces of shredded cheese and walk away

Signs that your dog is uncomfortable:

  • Freezing
  • Stiffening up
  • Eating faster
  • Side-eye
  • Hovering / guarding
  • Snarling
  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Air-snapping

If your dog shows these signs, please get in touch with us to help. Do not try to modify this on your own.

Some additional tips:

Punishment

Never respond to growling or snarling with punishment or corrections – we want our puppies tobe able to communicate effectively, and that means the growl is a gift. The growl tells you “I’m uncomfortable and I need you to stop doing that and give me space.”

Wouldn’t you much rather your dog warns you (or others) before they bite?

Punishing the growl will cause your dog to stop growling, but then they’ll skip right to the bite without warning. Not ideal. Heed the warning and make it easier for them. 

Children

Children under 6 years of age should be closely monitored with a puppy or a dog. Never leave dogs and children alone together. Even for a second. Dog and baby on the scene? Human adult is in between. Say it with me! A great resource is www.familypaws.comChildren 6 years and up should be taught not to approach a dog of any age when they’re resting, sleeping, playing, chewing, or eating. There is a reason we say “let sleeping dogs lie.” – Do not take chances with this.

Safe havens

Dogs should have a safe haven for resting, eating, chewing – this can be a crate or a LTCA (long-term confinement area) like a gated room or exercise pen. While we are helping them to tolerateand happily anticipate us approaching them in these scenarios, they absolutely need their space and time too. No one likes to be touched when eating or resting, so let’s give our dogs the same courtesy and prevent bites in the future.