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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 03:11 PM Thread Starter
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Agressive Behavior towards Wife

All,

We recently became proud parents of a Havenese puppy a few weekends ago. She was 9 weeks old when we wound up picking her up from the breeder. Since we've already gained so much knowledge from these forums I was hoping someone could help us out.

Up until the past few days our little pup has been behaving quite well with both myself and my wife. We knew when we looked in to this breed that they were well known for doing well with all people.

However, just recently our puppy has been displaying extremely aggressive / scary behaviors towards my wife. My wife is a teacher so she has had the pleasure of being able to stay home all day with the puppy since she has the summer off. We initially thought she would grow very close with my wife due to the amount of time she'd have with her over myself. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be quite the opposite. Anytime my wife tries to take the pup out for her 'potty time' she winds up attacking her feet / ankles. When she tries to get her to stop with a very firm 'NO' the dog will literally sit down, growl intensely, and bark at her in a very aggressive demeanor. Any attempt from my wife to pick the pup up to take back in is met with even more growling. This just recently started happening and didn't exist a few days ago. Occasionally she'll display this same behavior towards my wife while inside the house.

It's as if something switched on in the pups heads which makes her feel she can act this way towards my wife. It's truly testing our patience and we will attempt some personal training to see if it gets better but we are both close to our breaking point and considering returning her to the breeder.

Has anyone else experienced this? Is there something we can do? Any attempt at "NO" or "BAD GIRL", holding her mouth, etc. fails. She simply will continue to do it.

Please, any help will be greatly appreciated!
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 03:27 PM
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Telling a puppy "no", "bad girl", or worse, holding her mouth shut are all doomed to failure. She has NO idea what "no" or "bad girl" mean, and holding her mouth shut or talking in a gruff tone of voice is simply scary for her. Think about it... would you do these things to an infant? Because that's what she is right now.

You need to find a POSITIVE trainer to come in, look at the dynamics of what is going on, and help you and especially your wife develop a better relationship with this little girl. It is NOT the puppy's fault at this age. If you feel that you need to send her back to the breeder, so be it, but if so, PLEASE do not get another puppy, because you don't yet have the skill set to raise one properly.

Yes, Havanese, in general have wonderful dispositions. There are exceptions, but if you got this puppy from a good breeder, and especially at the young age you got her, she should be abundantly trainable. But they ARE "soft" dogs, who can be easily intimidated by rough treatment. (even if it is verbal, not physical) Spend some money on working with a good trainer now, and you'll see the pay off in many years of life with a delightful companion!

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Originally Posted by jimithing2777 View Post
All,

We recently became proud parents of a Havenese puppy a few weekends ago. She was 9 weeks old when we wound up picking her up from the breeder. Since we've already gained so much knowledge from these forums I was hoping someone could help us out.

Up until the past few days our little pup has been behaving quite well with both myself and my wife. We knew when we looked in to this breed that they were well known for doing well with all people.

However, just recently our puppy has been displaying extremely aggressive / scary behaviors towards my wife. My wife is a teacher so she has had the pleasure of being able to stay home all day with the puppy since she has the summer off. We initially thought she would grow very close with my wife due to the amount of time she'd have with her over myself. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be quite the opposite. Anytime my wife tries to take the pup out for her 'potty time' she winds up attacking her feet / ankles. When she tries to get her to stop with a very firm 'NO' the dog will literally sit down, growl intensely, and bark at her in a very aggressive demeanor. Any attempt from my wife to pick the pup up to take back in is met with even more growling. This just recently started happening and didn't exist a few days ago. Occasionally she'll display this same behavior towards my wife while inside the house.

It's as if something switched on in the pups heads which makes her feel she can act this way towards my wife. It's truly testing our patience and we will attempt some personal training to see if it gets better but we are both close to our breaking point and considering returning her to the breeder.

Has anyone else experienced this? Is there something we can do? Any attempt at "NO" or "BAD GIRL", holding her mouth, etc. fails. She simply will continue to do it.

Please, any help will be greatly appreciated!


Karen, Kodi, Pixel and Panda
(ARCHMX Starborn Kodak Moment CGC, NTD, BN, PCD, NA, NAJ, CDX-CCH, RE, RLV, RL1X3, RL2X4, RL3X3...
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 04:18 PM Thread Starter
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While I appreciate your response, I do not appreciate the unsolicited generalization that we are incapable of raising a puppy. I'm not quite sure how one could make such a baseless opinion without getting to know someone at a personal level, yet alone see them interacting with their pets.

Considering we were told by our veterinarian, breeder, and several other owners (some of which own their own Havanese) of these techniques I'm not sure what to tell you. We had not been performing any of these verbal commands *before* this behavior started.

I came here looking for help, which apparently is difficult to come by. We are looking for information as to 'why' she's acting like this suddenly (before saying "NO", etc.) and how to correct it outside of a personal trainer.
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 04:41 PM
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You are the one who said you were considering returning her to the breeder. I didn't suggest it. But what makes you think you would be any more successful with another puppy, if you can't figure out what is causing THIS puppy so much distress? Small puppies do NOT "just start" attacking people. I am also absolutely CERTAIN that you and your wife had no intention of precipitating this behavior, but you need some serious help, NOW, to figure out the cause and a good solution.

Almost ALL aggression is based on either fear or resource guarding. SOME of what you describe COULD also be instinctive herding behavior, and some of it could simply be rougher than normal, but still "puppy play". That doesn't mean you don't want to stop it, but the approach would be different in EACH of these cases. But there is NO way of knowing what is going on without a knowledgeable, positive based trainer watching to see what is going on when these incidents occur.

You have already said that holding her mouth, and saying "bad girl" or "no" isn't working. There is a really good reason for that, DESPITE what you have been told by well-meaning but poorly informed people. I've explained why they don't work. All I am suggesting is that you get the professional help you need NOW, BEFORE you seriously ingrain behavior patterns you don't want.


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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 04:46 PM
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When Emmie is doing something I don't want her to do I say "Ah-Ah" and then redirect her to something else, such as one of her favorite toys or a bully stick.

Another strategy a trainer recommended was to act like a tree. For example, when she used to be nippy, I'd say "Eeekk" then step away from her or take my hand out of her mouth, go really still, and not look at her or make any noise. When I did this she would settle down quickly and then I would follow up with a treat. My puppy is food motivated so I always carry training treats in my pocket to reward good behavior right when it happens.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 05:12 PM
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It's hard to tell if what you are describing is aggressive behaviour or just puppy play.

When Brody was small he'd drive me nuts with attacking my feet and legs and the cuffs of my pants. And he bit hard! He also play growled and barked - he can be somewhat verbal. I'd either try to redirect him to something more appropriate like playing fetch and trying to tire him out or if he was really just not going to stop, I'd put him in his crate for a short cool-off period.

At the time, it didn't really seem like it was doing much. But, since he doesn't do these things anymore...I guess it, and time helped.

Basically he did these things when he was really hyper and tiring him out was my best bet.

Tracy and Brody


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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 05:51 PM
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I am surprised to hear that you brought your Havanese puppy home at 9 weeks. I have eight Havanese Puppies right now that are 9 weeks old. I have told any interested buyers that I will not let them go till at least 11 to 12 weeks. I feel that the mom of the pups should have as much interaction with them as possible to teach them manners. Yes, my pups will bite at my ankles or anything they can get their little teeth on. They are teething plus that is how litter mates play! They will bite me because it is playing to them. If they hurt I will say a loud ouch! That will startled the pups. I then encourage kisses and say that word kisses over and over. They will learn I enjoy kisses alot more than biting. Occasionally I will get a growl and I will immediatly say no very sternly. They are testing their limits. You do have to show them who is boss. I would never hold a puppies mouth closed, they have no idea why you are doing that action. The puppy is not a bad puppy. The puppy needs stern but loving guidence
I have also introduced as many people as possibe to them to help socialize them.
Be patient your puppy.
Your puppy is still young and can be molded into a wonderful companion. Consult a trainer that is known to only take a positive approch.

I hope you have success,

Pam Sowa

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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 06:08 PM Thread Starter
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@Marina: We've actually been doing the 'tree' method as well with her. For the most part, it has worked for us. However, sometimes it will send her in to a bit of a 'fit' and cause her to get a bit rambunctious. Great advice though, so thank you!

@misstray: Thanks so much for sharing this. This actually sounds very close to what is occurring for us. I have hope that she simply is just going thru her typical 'puppy phase' and with time we can work on getting her thru these moments.

@pswow: We were a bit concerned as well upon getting her so young, so I guess we do need to take a step back and realize we shouldn't be so surprised by her behaviors. We've definitely been doing the loud 'OUCH!' when she bites and it has been working wonders for us. Her biting has been very good since doing this. We've tried the 'mouth holding' probably no more than 2-3 times. After feedback from yourself and others we have definitely stopped this method.

We have her signed up for her first class tomorrow, so we'll see if that hopefully can resolve some of our 'growling' issues. Thank you to everyone for the feedback..it is a bit comforting to hear others have gone through this.
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 06:56 PM
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I remember when my dog was little, he was much more aggressive, mouthy and naughty when he was overtired (just like a small child). Sometimes, when that happened, I would just capture him and hold him in my arms until he settled down and eventually he'd fall asleep for a little nap. When he woke up, he'd be his nice self again. And he was almost 12 weeks when I brought him home from the breeders. I think yours is just going through a puppy phase and treating you as she treated her siblings and is surprised that you don't react the same way. lol
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 07:03 PM
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Hi Jim. What Karen stated was exactly correct. I don't like commenting on it totally without seeing what's going on. The advice you rec'd from your breeder is dangerous. Quite possibly your pup is seeking attention and this is how they get it. Everything you do when you react to this is reinforcing the puppy . That is, it is likely to increase the behavior. Your best bet being you are at a boiling point , is to definitely get a trainer. Yes puppy classes can help ,but I might be inclined to seek some one on one with a trainer in your home. This is quite typical puppy behavior , but can border on leading to real aggression., especially if you use aversive methods such as you described. Here' s a good article on this, and I hope the trainer can help you out. If you need help finding a good trainer, let me know. http://www.clickertraining.com/node/3249

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Last edited by davetgabby; 06-25-2012 at 07:25 PM.
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