(Closed) Puppy acting aggressive, need help!

posted 4 years ago in Pets
Post # 2
333 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2016

How do you know his behavior is aggressive in the first place? Not all and not even the majority of barking is an expression of agression. It can be a warning sign (don’t come too close, I’m scared), but you DO NOT correct warning sign, you just work on a dog not being to stressed by whatever makes the dog scared. It can also be the way your dog tries to attrack people to play with him. The dog on the photo with the kid does not look aggressive at all, but he does look pretty scared. 


There is way to little info with what you write about. I would also teaching your dogs to eat in crates. And my main focusi would be to build up confidence in your dog while teaching your dog behaviors that make your dog calm down. So basically behavior that focus your dog on you. So when there is a kidd passing by, your dog sits and you use positive reinforcement (treats) to get your dogs attention not you, not on the children passing by.  

Post # 3
5152 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2014

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MamaWilson :  You need to first of all, get a fenced in yard or put the dog on a leash. He shouldn’t be running down the road/off leash under any circumstances. As for the food, I would just put him in a crate any time theres food prep going on. I would also feed them in separate rooms – he can go in his crate to eat too if he can’t behave. 

Post # 4
4252 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: February 2009

He just needs more work.  I would go hang out with him in public places, like parks and just sit on a bench and practice him sitting and being quiet.

For running down the road, I would just not let him be free.  Most people have fences where I live.  If you are in the country that may be harder, but I would suggest a dog run.  I have lived rural a lot of my life and a ranch dog bit my cousin once, running out on to the road as we were playing, and the dog was then put down.  So if you don’t want that, I would keep him confined to you property.

For food agression try only hand feeding.  He needs to learn you are the boss of the food.

Post # 5
9067 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

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MamaWilson :  If he can’t be trusted off leash, don’t let him off. As someone who has a dog that was hit by a car (he was with his walker at the time) trust me it’s the shittiest feeling in the world – you need to keep him leashed or fenced. 

Post # 6
5940 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2014

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MamaWilson :  It sounds like you’re doing well by bringing him to training class. I agree with others that you can feed them separately. I feed one in another room and the other 2 I keep an eye on. 2 are food aggressive-ish. As for prepping food, hmmm… yes, maybe crate him for that short time? Or ask your trainer? That needs to be nipped in the bud. You can also reward positive behavior. Like if he stands there during food prep and he’s being good, just say “good boy!” and stuff like that. He sounds very manageable. And he’s super cute!!

Post # 7
511 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2017

So sorry you are having issues with your puppy, we are currently raising a second puppy and it’s difficult regardless of where the puppy came from.

Your post wasnt entirely clear about what you have tried so far to deter these behaviors, so I apologize if you have already tried these things. 

For the barking, I am wondering if it’s more of an excited barking where he wants to play with children since you said there were no issues meetig your trainers grandchild. I would recommend giving him as many interactions with children as you can. At first, maybe invest in a soft muzzle to lower risks to any children or get a lead that goes over the mouth to give yourself better control during these interactions. Give him treats or reward him with play for good behavior.

When it comes to running down the street I would invest in a long training lead (some are like 50 ft). Or, if your yard has trees, set up a line between two trees and attach a lead to your dog and attach the handle of the lead to line using a carabiner. This will allow your dog to play in the yard without being able to actually run away.

As for the food aggression, you need to allow him to be near you while you are preparing food. The second he starts showing agression you need to give a loud, firm no and put your full attention on him by looking him in the eye until he looks away. This is a dominance thing, you are basically showing him you are the boss. If he does it again, react similarly, but this time, flip him over onto his back and once again give a firm no and look him in the eye until he turns away. When he looks away, let him go and tell him no one last time. This is essentially mimicking pack alpha behavior and by physically putting him in a submissive position you are asserting your dominance. By removing him from the situation he may not understand what his problem behavior is but by correcting it in the moment he will know that growling around food isnt cool. It won’t hurt him but it will give a lasting impression that you are in charge. Food agression is no joke and it’s a hard habit to break.


Best of luck and remember that you are your pack leader!

Post # 8
3586 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

None of these behaviors sound very bad or even out of character for a dog that was socialized well with a breeder. Barking is just instinct and doesn’t need to be aggressive at all. Dogs will bark at their own shadow but that doesn’t mean they want to kill it. Some breeds bark more than others. You may just be lucky with your other dog that she isn’t very loud. Plenty of family friendly dogs will bark at kids.

And on that note, some breeds will stay by your side and others will run off with anyone they see no matter how long you have had them. Please keep your dogs on a leash or drive them to a fenced in park. Or put up a fence. But by letting your dog (who is potentially aggressive) run free you are risking the life of your dog and others. What if someone with a little pomeranian walks by and your dog runs off and attacks? Please don’t take those risks. 

The food thing is also pretty common. He’s not seriously going to bite your other dog. Again, it’s just instinct to protect his food. That’s another behavior that even a well socialized dog from a breeder may do. Perhaps you should feed him in his kennel if you are genuinely concerned. What do you mean when you say they start fighting?

He’s still so young! You are doing all the right things. Keep socializing him!! Take him on walks by parks so that he gets more familiar with children. He sounds like a great pup! Perhaps you were just incredibly lucky with your other one. 🙂

Post # 10
443 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

BARKING…  There is not enough information given.  If you are concerned about the barking at kids I would talk to your trainer and see what advise they have for you.  If barking is something you want stopped talk to your trainer about how to correct issue.

DOG RUNNING DOWN THE STREET…  You should have your dog on a lead at all times.  If your dog does something you don’t like correct it.


FOOD AGGRESSION/ RESOURCE GUARDING…  Yes, I am an expert on food aggression…  I do have several suggestions for controlling this issue.  All the things suggested are things I have done myself.  My dog was extremely food aggressive.  Dealing with food aggression can be stressful and dangerous depending how aggressive your dog gets.  My own dog was very aggressive and dangerous when it came to the resource guarding of food.

1.  Have a good lead for dog training…  The lead will help with dog control and will be for your safty as well.

2.  Attach the lead to something strong like a gate or pole.  Make sure the dog can’t slip out of the lead.

3.  Put the dog bowl at the very tip end of the dogs reach.

4.  Have the dog sit.  Do not give the dog any food until the dog sits.

5.  Once the dog is sitting with you holding the bowl have the dog focus on your verbal command.

6.  This is where the command ‘relax’ should be used.  The relax command means the dog is not leaning forward, ears are relaxed and dogs eyes are not fixated on you or the food bowl.  Do not give to dog food until the dog is ‘relaxed’, dog not leaning forward, ears relaxed and not staring you down, grawling or barking.

7.  When dog is relaxed push to food bowl toward dog.  Keep food bowl close enough to the end of dogs reach so you can pull food bowl away from dog while dog is eatting.  Dog will learn you can pull food bowl away at any point, put food in bowl or touch bowl whenever you want.  Dog must learn to stop eatting and relax when you touch food bowl.

8.  This exercise has to be done every meal until dog learns resource guarding food is not acceptablde behavior.

9. after time goes by you can try taking food bowl away from dog without lead.  But, know it takes months of training to stop resource guarding of food.

10,  Without lead dog should sit accross room from food bowl.  Release command is only given to dog when its ears are relaxed and she looks away from me and food bowl.  She also must walk calmly to food bowl.  If dog runs to food bowl you know dog was too excited to be given release command to eat.

11.  Lastly it may also help to do everything stated above AND stand over food bowl entire time dog is eatting.  This makes dog think food belongs to you and you are allowing her to eat YOUR food.

12  You should never let dog simply stare you down while you have food on the counter.  Dog should be on a lead, laying in place and or should be corrected immediately when bad behavior starts.

You should have assistance from someone helping you with food aggression training.  With this training you should be able to take food out of bowl with your hands, take food bowl away from dog or add food into food bowl.  Again, please be very careful with this type of training.

And during this food recource guarding training…  Stop, stop and stop hand feeding your dog.  Your dog must first learn all food is in the food bowl.  And he will only get the food bowl if the recource guarding stops and he relaxes.  Resource guarding is the opposite of relaxing.

Post # 11
6241 posts
Bee Keeper

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NoItsBecky :  dominance theory is really old hat in modern dog training and dog psychology.  Adding fear and anxiety around resources is never a good idea. 

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tyene :  great advice!

Post # 12
3164 posts
Sugar bee

It sounds as though you’ve only just started puppy school so I would continue with that and consider one on one training if there are areas you want to address in a more personal setting. Honestly, this doesn’t sound like anything too bad, and I would almost call it typical puppy behavior. Our boy is very high energy and requires an hour or two of exercise and an hour of obedience training per day to tire out his body and most importantly his mind.  My only advice apart from the great, positive reinforcement style advice you’ve been given above is to practice, practice, practice. With time, patience, repetition, and practicing the things you learn at puppy school he will relax and learn 

Post # 13
11375 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2010

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Beegritte :  +1 This sounds like typical puppy behavoir so don’t feel discouraged, OP! This puppy sounds a bit bored, so a solid one hour of running him (fetch, whatever) will help loads. If you’re doing an hour already I would add another 30 minutes of walking time/play time where he isnt just running about on his own but has one on one with you. 

The food situation can be scary, I know. One of my dogs gets agressive over food and we have been working on it and decided the safest is to keep the dogs seperated while eating. If human food is also a concern I would lock him in his kennel until all food is up and out of sight. Keep going to the trainer and working. These are all fixable issues!

Post # 14
1364 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

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MamaWilson :  First of all, you’re pup is ADORABLE and I really commend you for going to such lengths to help him overcome his crappy start in life.

Second of all — please please please do NOT NOT NOT use dominance methods with this dog. I am not opposed entirely to all dominance methods but this is definitely 100% not a situation where they are suitable. 

Third of all, your dog came from a puppy mill which means that he wasn’t only not socialized to human life, but he missed out on crucial socialization with doggy-language too. This is very important to keep in mind especially with the resource guarding (and conflicts with your female).

I’ll go through each “issue” in turn: 1) Barking at kids; 2) running away down the road; 3) resource guarding.

1) Barking at Kids

I reposted this particular picture so that I can outline a couple important things. One, notice how tucked your dog’s tail is at the top — highlighting that he is tense and uncertain. Second, notice that even in this crouched position (I assume she was askig him to lie down) he’s trying hard to keep his weight back away from the child while still getting the treat. Three, notice how the little girl has her body directly facing your dog head on and is crouched over your dog’s head/front. The first two are signs of how nervous your dog is about this situation, the third one is a very good reason WHY he’s nervous. Dogs, especially nervous dogs, perceive head-on approaches as quite aggressive and being crouched over is very threatening for them. So it’s very understandable why your dog is showing real nervousness in his body language, however he’s working hard to perform for the treat – what a good boy!

I would put a pause on direct interaction with children right now and work your way up to that. Instead, have your dog on a long leash (10 feet minimum) and slowly approach kids in the distance — what that distance is is up to your dog. You want to get him to the point where he’s aware and focused on the kids but only showing minor signs of uncertainty (lip licking, yawning, ears perked/focused eye contact on the kids). At this point just hang out, don’t move forward and just let your dog mosy as he wants on the 10 feet lead (don’t let it drag so that he gets tangled…just let it hang loosely without touching the ground). Have some treats, but don’t feed them to him directly, toss them around you so that he has to sniff them out. Sniffing self-soothes dogs so it helps him calm himself in the presence of “scary kids”. This works best on grass (so that he HAS to use his nose rather than just being able to see the treat on pavement).  If your dog ignores the children and sniffs around (not treats), just let him. Don’t follow him backwards/sideways, but if he follows his nose forward toward the kids then follow slowly. The key is letting him set the pace, using treats to engage his nose, etc. 

During this exercise you can also do some intermittent obedience practice (sit, paw, lie down) but try to use treats he needs to lick (e.g. cream cheese) rather then hard treats as licking is another self-soothing action for dogs. 

As you build up and he gets more confident and relaxed with kids being close to him (but make sure they ignore him) you can begin working on interactions with kids again. When you do this, don’t have the kid ask him to perform tricks. Just have the kid standing sideways to Tulo, have a small tupperware or similar with cream cheese (or similar) spread thinly around the edges, and just let Tulo walk up on his own volition to lick clean the tupperware. The kid should just stand staring forward (not looking at or trying to pet Tulo) and let Tulo approach, eat, and decide when to leave the kid. You can build up slowly from this over days/weeks to the kid facing Tulo but not engaging, the kid glancing at Tulo as he approaches, the kid making eye contact occasionally, the kid petting Tulo, etc. 

2) Running away – long line (50 ft). Nough said. He’s a pup, he doesn’t know to stay near you. This doesn’t mean he’ll ALWAYS need to be on lead (so don’t despair) but I would recommend he stay on lead in unfenced areas until he doesn’t test the lead’s boundaries.

3) Resource guarding. PP had a good recommendation (tied up, waiting to relax, etc). When you can’t do those exercises, you just have to manage the situation by keepign him separated (crating works well here). This doesn’t mean you separate him once he acts badly, it means he’s separated FROM THE ONSET until he understands food = relaxed. 

Your female is absolutely acting appropriately by noticing his poor manners and saying “hey, cut it out” — Tulo is acting badly by responding with aggression/assertion. This is just a matter of Tulo not learning proper doggy manners/language as a pup, so it’s not his fault and he ‘s not a bad dog. However he is what he is so now you just need to manage the situation. Don’t put him in situations where you know he’s going to become possessive and not be able to communicate properly with other dogs, since each time he has this type of interaction it entrenches the habit. So prevent that habit from further solidifying by just keeping him removed whenever food comes into the equation. 

This sort of issue is obviously best done with atrainer, but keep heart that he is definitely not a lost cause! However he will require really diligent and consistent handling to help him overcome his puppy mill past and become more confident and relaxed in his “new” environment!

ETA: When working with kids keep in mind that working on it in multiple short bursts is better then spending LONG periods working on it. It may not seem it, but he’s likely to be in aheightened state during these sessions which can be incredibly draining and stressful. Imagine walking home in a strange neighborhood at night and there’s a random guy walking behind you — that’s the same level of fear that he’s feeling so keep the sessions short and positive so that he has time to “come down” from that level of alertness. 

Also — when you get to the point of working on direct interactiosn wtih kids, I wasn’t clear that he child is holding the tupperware. You can also start out with the child sitting cross legged holding the tupperware out to their side and have the dog approach the same direction (i.e. chld is sitting with their side facing the dog).

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