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Growling and Agression, would like some advice..

1890 Views 15 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  samsonsmom
Jake is now 13 weeks old and is doing well overall - crate training and house breaking and obedience training have gone remarkably well. I follow the advice of his obedience trainer, have read books, and use this forum to ensure I am educated on how to raise a great Boxer. However, I've had a couple times where he has growled at me and it's causing me some concern because I have a four year old nephew who visits with family regularly. It's happened several times now; I have been trying to "document" everytime he growls, and it is when he is hyper, so I know excitement leads to it - but it seems to change into agression. Most instances it follows a short walk or anytime he is exciteable.

Tonight he kept jumping and barking to play, but it lead to biting which gets harder and harder. I've tried walking away, ignoring him, leashing him, but he doesn't settle down. In his obedience classes they showed us how to calm them down by picking them up. When I picked him up tonight and held him in the "calming position" (my arms supporting his body with his head above my one arm) he went crazy with what I perceived as some pretty aggressive behavior. He was growling visciously and I thought he was going to try and bite me. He growled for at least a minute and I think if he could have bitten me he would have. A family member witnessed it and also agreed it was agressive. I don't know if this is a dominance issue, or if it is excitement (gone awry), rebellion etc...? I am also trying to find out if I am doing something wrong. Does he get too much attention? (Cuddles, playtime, exercise etc). I feed him last (humans eat first), and he is only crated about 1-2 hours per day, and throughout the night. I don't yell at him or physically punish him, I just praise good behavior and speak sternly for bad behavior.

I need to alter this before he is 70lbs, because I can't take risks if he is aggressive - the main reason I wanted a Boxer was because of their nature and favorable temperment. Is it normal for them to challenge us at this phase of puppyhood? Any help in how to handle these situations (they are becoming more frequent at 2-3 times per week) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Personally to me it sounds more like typical boxer playing...they get rough when the play...goodness knows jetta left enough marks on me at that need to work on time out...placing them on a leash on the door when they get out of hand...yelp if it hurts...and ignore will get better...Jetta barked and growled for attention when excited, nipped my feet and hands etc until she was about 4 or 5 months me this sounds very similar to what we went through and I've heard of other boxer babies doing the same thing...i think it is really a phase at that age mark
Have you ever tried to give Jake a timeout? Basically by wrapping his leash around the door knob so he has to stay there. After that you simply ignore him. Make a point for everyone to turn their backs and do something else. When you go to release him and he starts up again take him right back again and tell him no biting.
Good advice from everyone.  This is not aggression.  This is typical puppy behavior like it or not.  DO NOT EVER punish a dog for growling.  A puppy does it in play and testing of you a full grown dog does it to let you know he cannot handle the situation.  You just need to follow the advice above and may I also recommend the book Mother Knows Best by Carole Benjamin for your future reading.

Thanks for the advice everyone. I really do believe it's him just getting really excited and it comes out in this form of growling. I will try calming him down with the time outs. (We have been doing that so we will continue it). He is actually excellent with my nephew, and my nephew is extremely hyperactive, so in that regard, he's well behaved. I'm not going to give up on this little guy, and if it persists and does seem like agression, we'll get some professional help.

Thanks, my mind is a little more at ease!
THe growling is normal...sounds like a challenge or rebelling. Just be sure that you get the behavior that you want in the end and that he isn't using the growl to get what he wants. Otherwise it will continue and become more frequent as a way of getting his way. I would turn my back when he barks to test you and be sure not to yell.

Hoos growls during intense play and maybe an occasional bark, but I'm am sure not to give affection until he is in a calm submissive state (C) Caesar Milan.
Sounds a lot like Bruce when he gets to playing rough...he sounds like he wants to kill you and it's freaked some people out who witnessed it...but it's just him playing...a quiet "ow" works great to bring him back down if he's getting a bit too excited
Oh yeah! The puppy yelp worked great when Hoosier bit too hard. Now he takes extra care when playing...even when he gets me accidentally, he doesn't bite hard. Im amazed at the control he has. To be able to grab the toys so well and to really make efforts not to bite me is awesome. After a yelp, he would come over and lick it and not really wanna play that game anymore for a while.
they are amazing dogs, so sensitive and I wish I could go home and hug Bruce right now, I miss my lil wiggle butt
They do growl alot in play and may sound like it is aggressive if you haven't been around it before.  You can usually tell a big difference with the play growl and an actual aggressive growling.  I know that we can with ours.  When they get really excited, like out playing in the snow together they both come in with their hair up and all excited growling and playing.  

On a side note out of the four boxers we have had Ziggi our youngest growls a LOT.  He will growl when he is laying on the floor and you try to pet him (his tail and butt are going crazy) so we know that he isn't growling to be mean but it is his growl.  He growls when the cat comes over and rubs on him, again no teeth showing, no hair raised, etc.  He doesn't do a normal boxer "woo woo" like all our others have so we think that his growl is his way of doing that.  He TRIES to do the woo woo when our other boxer is but it comes out sound like howl and other times it sounds like growling!

Good luck and it is good to get a handle on now while he is still young.  I know that our boxers DON'T like being picked up...they seem to panic so that might have been some of it when you picked him up, he could have been scared.
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My dog loves to be picked up and held, but yeah I agree.....picking up a puppy that's in an excited state doesn't seem like the best idea.  I'm not an obedience expert and those people probably know more than me, but cradling and coddling a puppy that is exhibiting unwanted, excitable behavior seems to me is just feeding and rewarding said behavior.
I was a first time Boxer owner, and my pup did show some problems with aggression.  It was not play.  We had a trainer come to the house who probably was not the best.  I was starting out.  Anyway she had us lay him down on his side and hold him there gently.  He fought, growled, curled his lip, and it was a struggle. When he'd stop fighting he was praised and allowed up.  He was never down too long.  Finally he became aware he was not the alpha in the house. The behavior stopped I think around 3 months, and never returned.  It was very stressful on us all.  Maybe this technique is not used anymore, but I would have somebody with experience evaluate the situation.  Something in his breeding maybe, but I knew if we didn't stop it very early his future might be a tragic one.  That was not going to happen, and he ended up to be the most beautiful, well-behaved dog.

Ann WI
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Great News:

Jake had one of his little fits of "agressive hysteria" at obeidence school, and the trainers all agreed it is over excitement. They have also shown me how to deal with it and calm him down. The time outs seem to really be working and just a few minutes on his leash tied to the front door seems to be working wonders already. Thanks to everyone for the advice. I was a little worried that it was aggression. On another note, his training is going fantastic!
nano\";p=\"70376 said:
Good advice from everyone.  This is not aggression.  This is typical puppy behavior like it or not.  DO NOT EVER punish a dog for growling.  A puppy does it in play and testing of you a full grown dog does it to let you know he cannot handle the situation.  You just need to follow the advice above and may I also recommend the book Mother Knows Best by Carole Benjamin for your future reading.

Glad to hear that the timeouts have been helping....Jake will figure it out, just give him a bit of time :)
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