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Old 04-23-2004, 09:11 AM
mug mug is offline
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Unhappy aggressive puppy!

hi iím new to this forum and i was hoping to get some guidance about my new puppy. he is a 4.5 month old black labrador / border collie cross. he has alot of energy and seems to be a quick learner, but i have noticed some very dominant and sometimes aggressive behavior.

when i first got him he would bite me almost non-stop. i know puppies normally bite, but he would seriously have his mouth open all the time and bite anything that came into contact with his mouth, sometimes really hard. to try and wean him out of biting I had to try several different methods -- first by ignoring him for a few minutes after he bit, then i tried putting my hand further in to discourage the action instead of him thinking i was playing, but the only one that worked was by sitting over him (not on him just kinda above him) while he is belly up and saying "no biting!" firmly while staring into his eyes. he seems to mostly outgrown the constant nipping, but he still bites when i play with him, and won't stop unless i sit over him and stare at him.

when he is on the leash he pulls all the time, and bites the leash. i had to get a chain because he chewed through the nylon ones in like 5 seconds. i had to get a harness instead of collar because he constantly pulls at the leash and i dont want him to be injured by this. im still not sure how to stop him from pulling all the time! i like to take him for walks, but its like a constant struggle all the way down the street. ive tried taking treats with me but he will still pull at the leash until i call his name to give him a treat. (so he is always either eating or pulling).

when i play tag and fetch with him, he acts in a peculiar way which i have not seen dogs do before. most animals i've had get the idea of tag, one will chase the other, until he turns around and starts to chase the other one. other pets ive had will play this with me, so i chase them until they turn and they chase me. no biting or jumping and i don't rough them up, just running back and forth. when i go to chase my new puppy his FUR STANDS UP like a mohawk down his back! even though he is wagging his tail and sometimes barking playfully, he refuses to run, but will face me straight on and stand his ground. however when i turn to walk away he will run at me and push the back of my legs with his paws, to try and shove me over! its as if he wants to chase me, but refuses to run. i've stopped trying to play tag with him since i think his behaviour is odd, but when he is outside if i happen to turn away he will still run and push the back of my legs! when he is out of my reach in the backyard he will bark REALLY loud at me to try and get me to play, and won't stop barking even when i tell him "no!". when he is inside or on the leash he doesn't do this at all. it seems like he is saying "ha ha you cant get me!" and looks to enjoy it very much. he will come when i call him however, but only will stay if i have a treat with me. otherwise he comes when i call, then turns and runs away while barking.

as for house training him, i used the crate training method. when he would poop outside i would give him alot of praise and even a treat. when he is out of his crate he has learned not to go poop inside. but when i leave the room for literally 30 seconds and he is totally alone, sometimes he will poop on the floor! even if i had just let him outside a little while earlier! when he does this i take him by the collar and point at the poop and say "no! bad dog" then take him and the poop outside to show him where to go. but now when he poops on the floor when i go to get his collar he will sometimes growl at me! he knows im going to tell him off, so he won't let me get his collar to take him over there. i have never rubbed his nose in it or anything like that, so the fact that he is so defensive about it seems weird and scary!

i got him when he was 7 weeks old and now he is about 4.5 months old. he has seemed a bit weird to me since i got him. he is really bossy and unlike any dog i've had or known before. the only training he responds to is by giving him food/treats, and only responds when i have the treats with me. to scold him i need to have a hold of him and stare him in the eyes while saying "no!", otherwise he will just run around barking where i can't get him and think its a game. when i have a treat and try to get him to do a trick, he will do the trick but bark loudly in defiance at the same time. for example he will sit without barking, but to get him to lay down i will say "lay down!" and he barks back at me while half-laying down, then i say a few more times until he lays down all the way, but he will bark loudly as he does it (seems like he is arguing for the treat rather than comply).

im afraid that his dominance will turn into real aggressiveness as he becomes older, so i need some method to curve his behaviour slowly without having to hit him, or be rough with him, or yell at him. he is incredibly stubborn but i dont mind being stubborn back, and doing something with him 100 times if i have to. please is there any way to get a puppy/dog to not be so dominant/bossy/stubborn and to stop him from growling at me when i tell him off? i would like to be his friend and family not have to battle him for leadership of the pack every minute we are together. please help me and my naughty puppy!
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Old 04-23-2004, 05:17 PM
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Renee750il Renee750il is offline
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Okay, Mug, you've got the right idea. Make him give you his belly. When he's exhibited submissive behaviour to you and done what you want, make a big fuss over him.

You're right about needing to address this before he becomes a problem, although with that mix, I would be suprised if he became dangerously aggressive; still, you never know and it's best to take care of problems before they become problems.

I think some of his "strange" behaviour, particularly playing tag, is the Border Collie coming out. That herding and droving instinct is very, very strong. You need to devise games that will let him use that instinct and develop it.

I'd strongly recommend that you do some research, either on the web or in a good bookstore, and find some books or videos on dog training, particularly herding breeds, and if you can find some breed-specific sources for Border Collies it will really help. Border Collies and Australian Shepherds are very different from other breeds in some ways. That herding instinct is almost obsessive and it really needs an outlet.

Dominance plays a large part in a herding dog's ability to work, especially with the Border Collies and Aussies, as they control the herd by sight as much as movement. If you have an opportunity to watch them work, you'll see that the dog will crouch down and stare at whatever he's herding long enough to establish complete dominance and mastery over the animals.

Your dog is going to take some special handling, but it will be worth it. He'll be the source of much joy and laughter to you. Border Collies and Labs are both breeds that like to have fun and clown around, so yours should be tons of fun!
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Old 04-23-2004, 11:38 PM
mug mug is offline
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yeah i guess you would need balls of steel to stand up to something 10 times your weight without backing down, but i wish he didnt see me as one of his cattle, hehe. when you talk about herding instincts from his border collie side, it seems to fit in with how he acts alot of the time. i guess even though he looks like a lab, he has the heart of a collie. i have noticed that sometimes when i have my other pets out (ferrets) that he will stop playing and come sit next to me and watch their every move. he doesnt try to bite or play with them or anything, just stares at them the whole time. maybe he thinks he is a ferret herder?? (btw i would never leave him alone with them just in case).

ill keep working on him showing his belly. he does learn things quickly.... with the right treats. ill also take your advice and look up a book on how to train herding dogs. im used to dogs who arent so gutsy and bold, so some guidance on how to curve his energy at a constructive game would REALLY help. i also need a way for him to stop trying to push people over, but maybe... push a basketball or something instead. ive started to say "lay down!" every time i call his name, so that when he comes up to me he lays down, but still as soon as i turn around he pushes the backs of my legs. when my nephew comes over he will jump all over him and even sit on top of him! maybe i need to build an obstacle course in the back yard to tire the little beast out

before, i thought his defiance and pushiness was aimed at me for no reason (which weirded me out) -- thanks for putting his actions in a new light. now i think he just really needs an active game to play, so he can act out his instincts in a positive way, rather than having battles-of-will with me instead! i used to think border collies were all about listening to their owners whistle commands to move and such, but you're right.. they would also need to be very bold to face a herd of larger animals and not run away! sounds like alot of work to tame the little bugger, but maybe all i need is a herd of sheep and a big bag of treats.

thanks for your help!
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Old 04-24-2004, 08:39 AM
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Renee750il Renee750il is offline
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An agility course of some size set up in your yard might help tire him out.

There's a reason I recognized what is going on with your little monster. So far, I've got three herders; a 4 /12 year old male German Shepherd/wolf mix, an 8 1/2 month old Fila Brasiliero and a 13 week old Fila, both females. The Filas have been bred to herd cattle on the Brazilian fazendas, hunt jaguar, act as guards, have no fear of gunfire (or anything else for that matter) and have the instinct to dislike strangers and take away anything that they see as a weapon. The meter reader loves our house! (lol) Fortunately, we have 60 acres and 70 +/- head of cattle, plus coyotes and groundhogs to keep them amused.

When Bimmer, the Shepherd, was a pup, he used to drive my cat crazy by herding him. Yes, he would herd the cat. He hung around a lot with my Mom's Australian Shepherd that I brought home from the pound years ago. The Aussie was born blind, but still herds anything and everything - cats, terriers, O'Reilly's relentless.

You're going to have a ball with your dog as time goes by. Keep a camera handy, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to keep a journal handy, too. The day will come when you want to relive your adventures.
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