Thank you for the advice and encouragement. To answer some of your questions, we have four children still at home. Their ages are 17, 8, 7, and 2. And then a 19yo in the Army. I homeschool the little ones so they are at home with me and our new puppy Bandit during the day.
I think I had this idea that a Hav was a perfect dog and would NEVER do something like this.
I think they ARE "perfect" dogs,
but they are STILL dogs, and do dog things. More to the point, at this age, they still do "puppy" things.
We did visit the breeder and all of her dogs for a couple hours when Bandit was 5 weeks old and have chatted both on the phone and through emails many times. I did address some of these concerns with her before settling on a puppy and before settling on a male puppy. I do not know what socialization the puppies had.
I definately notice that there are some triggers. The biggest one is when he is outside and the other is when he is in the midst of playing and has to be bothered he gets angry. He growled loudly and nipped me tonight when we had to come inside. What should I do in situations like that? I read about positive reinforcements and ignoring but in a situation like that neither of those two would work.
I would say OWWW!!! As loud as I could, in a high pitched voice, (whether it hurts or not) and then move my hand into a position where he can't nip it. If he stops right away, fine. If he doesn't then he needs to be placed in confinement (crate or expen) without any more words, for s couple f minutes when you get him inside to settle down.
It sounds to me like he might be getting over-wound. Are the kids playing with him when he's outside? At this point, until he learns better self control, play needs to be VERY quiet and gentle. Puppies can wind themselves up quite nicely without any external help!
I also have had my kids have treats in hand and letting him sniff the treat, then pick him up while feeding the treat. This works well as long as a treat is present and he is food motivated at the time.
Really, at this point, only your 17 year old should be picking him up. The others are too young to really read his signals in terms of whether he WANTS to be picked up, and they are also much too likely to drop him if he gets wiggly. Even little puppies can be surprisingly strong and VERY quick if they decide they want to get away, and a drop to the floor can be VERY dangerous!!! Your younger ones should sit on the floor, allow him to climb onto their laps and play with him there. One GREAT game is to have them sit as far apart as possible, and then one at a time call him over (saying JUST his name, clapping hands, patting the floor, NOT using the word "come") and give him a treat when he arrives. This is a great start toward a strong recall, and fun for everyone.
Also, we feed him all of his food from our hands. We work on clicker training and click and treat when he is in a calm state. I called his breeder yesterday and she advised me to give a sharp deep "no" when he growls like this and to not put him down until he settles. But this seems to go against the positive correction that I've read. She also tried assuring me that this is just a puppy phase.
I agree that it is just a puppy phase, but I DON'T agree with saying "no". Puppies hear that word ALL the time, and quickly tune it out. IT doesn't mean anything to them, because they don't know what they shouldn't be doing, and they they haven't got a CLUE what they should be doing instead. That's why a sharp "OWWW!" followed by a short "ignore" is a better response. It is ONLY for this behavior, and is what another puppy would do in the same circumstances. Puppies don't continue to play with other puppies that hurt them. If the puppy wants to play, he learns to play nice!
Also, it's a really bad idea to discourage growling. Dogs that are ingrained that it's not OK to growl are the ones who are MUCH more likely to bite "without warning", because they have been taught that the "warning" is not OK. At this age, I would totally ignore the growling when you NEED to do something with him... Just talk to him in a matter-of-fact tone, and keep on doing what needs to get done. But I would be teaching your KIDS that when he growls, it's his way of asking for space, and they need to give it to him. It could be that with all your kids, he's feeling kind of overwhelmed with all the love, well-intentioned as it is!
Anyways, I hope to go to the vet tomorrow and then we will be signing up for some training classes. Hopefully we can get this figured out. Thanks again and anymore advise would be great.
You will all get the hang of it, him included. He's very young, and it's a big adjustment going into any new home, especially an exciting one with so many young children. Remember, he is a VERY little baby right now, and they grow REALLY fast!!! Just give him AND your family time to get used to each other!