Puppy getting sassy when disciplined!

Posted by srymer
Jun 5, 2009
My 5 month old Cavachon (Cavalier Spaniel and Bischon) puppy is definitely learning what's acceptable and what's not! He has learned all the basic commands and we are working on not dashing out the door, nipping and drop it. Only problem is, when he needs repeated discipline, he gets frustrated and starts barking and growling at me. This might be when he needs to back away from the dishwasher when it's open or when I'm folding laundry and I make him sit and stay because he keeps snatching the clothes. Sometimes I can distract or ignore, but other times that doesn't work and end up putting him in his crate for a time-out. I want to be consistent, but don't know the best way to go about handling it. Thanks!
Posted by KOPsarah
Jun 9, 2009
Hi srymer and thanks for your post.
Reacting aggressively to discipline is usually a sign that the dog feels you are challenging his leadership and that he thinks he is the alpha leader. It is important that you do alpha training with him while he is still young or he will continue to further challenge you as he reaches his teenage months. Alpha training is outline in your secrets to dog training manual and videos but I will give you an outline of the important points here.

Following the alpha dog training helps show the dog its position is at the bottom of the pack and that you are the leader. When dogs feel that there is no particular leader of the pack they feel obliged to take on this role themselves. Its a very tricky and complicated role that a dog in a household cannot properly fulfill and it will put a lot of stress on your dog. Once it knows you are the leader it will be much more comfortable and relaxed although it may resist initially this usually passes in a week or so when the dog is certain you are leader. It is also important to remember the key points of dominance.

In a wild dog pack the dominant pack member controls :
-access to food
-access to favoured sleeping areas
-any interactions with lower pack members
-access to favoured items such as toys

In order to show your dog his position as bottom of the pack you and your whole family can take advantage of these keys points. For example

1) He must be the last to eat at every meal and should never get treats from the table.

2) Hey should never walk through doors before you. A good way to practice this is to walk around the house and make him sit at each doorway and wait.

3) If your dog is lying in the hallway or anywhere you have to get past make him move. If you think he will snap leave a lead on him so you can move him whilst maintaining a bit of distance.

4) When you arrive home completely ignore the dogs for 15 minutes. Don't look at him, talk to him or pat him. After this go to him and give him some quiet attention only as long as he is relaxed and calm.

Only interact with the dog on your terms. If your or someone else is petting the dog or playing with it and it becomes aggressive or badly behaved immediately remove your attention from the dog by either removing yourself from the area or moving the dog to another area. You should do this without displaying any emotion such as anger just be a calm but decisive pack leader and the dog will appreciate knowing where it stands.

Similarly if the dog misbehaves in any way a quick time out is the most effective punishment as it removes the dogs most prized possession - your attention. Three minutes in another room, outside or in a crate while you completely ignore them works perfectly. Remember not to physically discipline or yell at your dog, this is actually interpreted by the dog as a challenge to his dominance which only reaffirms to him that he is currently the dominant one!

Also you can assert your dominance by not allowing access to beds and couches or by only bringing out favourite toys when you want to play and removing them when you are finished.

I hope this helps and I am sure your dog will soon respect your leadership and happily follow it and you can enjoy your time together more. Keep up the good work with the command training as well and let me know how you two get on.