i think it's a dominant puppy

Posted by stemi
Oct 9, 2008
Hi Everyone!

I just started up with SitStayFetch and I'm pretty excited to get going with my new pup. He's a lab and 12 weeks old.

Just a quick back story:

We got him at 7 weeks and he was timid and shy and unsure of himself. He also had a bad case of worms that had him feeling pretty bad for 2-3 weeks which might be why his more dominant nature is only beginning to show now. We did make a lot of the DON'T mistakes at the beginning because we thought he was so timid and he needed the confidence boost, but I think he wasn't timid and shy, he was just feeling sick because of the worms.

Lately I have been noticing some behaviours of his that are unsettling. He likes to nip at my (and other family member's) hands when i go to pet him (on his sides, not even his head) and if I give him a stern "NO BITE" it makes him even more excited and he starts to alligator snap at my face and growl and show his teeth.

I have read through DOG 202 for aggression and dominance as well as the dog literature and I'm starting to implement the outlined suggestions already. But here is my question:

If he is only a puppy, should I do the 48 hour social isolation thing? Or should I just start with the alpha dog suggestions and begin his obedience training as per SitStayFetch?

He shows signs of dominance already in that he ignores my commands and growls/shows teeth. He's going to be getting pretty big soon so I'd really like to try to nip this problem before he becomes 80 lbs and can knock me over in one fell swoop.

Any help, advice, stories would be appreciated. I don't yet have the ability to portray my calm-assertive manner, i'm generally a very easy going, laid back, passive person, so this pup has been teaching me a lot more about myself than i have been teaching him

Again, thank you in advanced,

Posted by stemi
Oct 11, 2008
So i'm usually not this forward in my need for help, but my puppy is totally exasperating me.

He has no respect for me, so i've started working on the alpha dog techniques, when he is frustrated with me (for not letting him eat grass and soil when he's outside) and i bring him in, he tries to bite my hands when i'm taking off his leash. I summon up the most calm assertive energy i can and i tell him "stop it, no bite" and at this point, i do hold his muzzle shut because otherwise he'd be biting me. he will calm down a bit but then he'll turn around and start going for my hands and alligator snapping at my face. he will also growl and start to show his teeth.

He's only 12 weeks old and showing these signs. It's mostly with me cause i'm with him all day and I'm the one who generally has to make rules and boundaries for him.

I'm totally at a loss for what i should be doing, please if you have any advice or suggestions, it would be greatly appreciated.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Oct 12, 2008
Hi stemi,

I am sorry to hear that your puppy has been showing some unfavorable behaviors. It is hard for me to believe that your puppy is really trying to hurt you or attack you. It looks to me more like an invitation to play with him.

I am a little concerned that he might be mistaking you and your family members as his play mates? The reason why is you said you had him since he was 7 weeks old and he was sick for a while. Usually, puppies need to be with his/her litter mates for at least 8-10 weeks so that he/she can learn how to play and socialize with other dogs. Being away from any other dogs during the period prevent your puppy from learning this socialization skills. Puppies use their mouth and front paws to play and bark/growl to invite/provoke his/her playmates.

Also, when you say "No bite!" he might mistake this as an invitation to play because he doesn't understand human languages.

If it is indeed an aggression sign, you might need to ask for a specialist's help because it is not very likely he treats you like that especially he has been with you for the last 5 weeks, unless he has some hidden problems.

Has he been given enough interaction with other puppies (i.e. puppy classes or off-leash parks) and enough mental and physical exercises every day?

If you and your family members are the only ones he sees and interacts with, his behaviors may be a result of boredom or lack of stimulations.

In the mean time, it is very crucial that you teach him basic obedience. As for biting/nipping, the best thing is just say "no" in a firm but calm voice and walk away from him.

Good luck
Posted by Maggiesmom1
Oct 12, 2008
I don't think you can tell at 12 weeks if your dog is "dominant" or not. He's a puppy....although it sounds like you have a spirited, lively puppy. I would suggest enrolling in a basic obedience class for puppies. Also, look at the gentle leader head collar...(you can google it for the web-page). The head collar may offer you more control over him.

Remember to exercise him a lot...he sounds like he is full of energy and wants to play a lot. A daily walk is essential.

When he is alligator chopping your face (I know exactly what you mean), push him down at the shoulders and roll him on his side...hold him down for a few minutes until he calms. This is what a mother dog would do to him.

Remember--stay calm and don't ever hit him or scream at him. He's at a very impressionable age right now. I know it can be frustrating.

I would not isolate him at all at this age. He's way too young for that. He needs to be socialized as much as possible right now. Remember-a puppy's critical social period is from 8-16 weeks of age...so show him everything and take him everywhere for the next month. He may have missed some critical parent training by being taken away from his mother so soon.

Training him will help so much and remember this-as with kids and dogs -"this too shall pass"....this is just a stage. It will be on to something else soon enough. Good Luck!:cool:
Posted by stemi
Oct 13, 2008
thanks for the advice so far, i'll definitely try to be more patient and remember that he's a puppy. I think i'm just overly worried since this is my first pup and i grew up in a home where we didn't have any dogs.

i'll try to keep my head clear and just enjoy the pup while he's a pup.

Thank you again,