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#1 of 72 Old 04-28-2009, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi!

Can anyone explain to me when a puppy growling is considered normal and when it's something to be concerned about? I guess by "normal" I'm talking about situations where it is reasonable that a puppy get annoyed and growl. Our new puppy has been growling at times at my boys when they try to pick him up. It seems to be mostly when he's tired and wants to take a nap. I've instructed them to stop picking up and leave him 100% alone when he's sleeping. Honestly, I'm a little surprised to hear ANY growling from him, but this is our first puppy and I'm pretty clueless overall. We're talking about a 9 week old male lab (purebred) here. Thanks!

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#2 of 72 Old 04-28-2009, 07:33 PM
 
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Ummm.... never. Puppy should NEVER think it's okay to growl at anyone in the house. Ever.

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#3 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 02:42 AM
 
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Never, ever. At any age.

9 weeks and he's already doing this? You are likely in for a wild ride, I'd start looking for a behaviourist now, to use in the future.

I mean that in all sincerity.
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#4 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh dear, you both have me really worried now.

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#5 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 10:15 AM
 
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OK, I know I'm a cat person, however my kids aren't even allowed to pick up our cats. That is, not even our 7 y.o.

I don't really think that kids should be picking up an animal that size. What if the dog isn't supported properly, feels threatened and growls/bites?

Maybe I'm in the minority though.

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#6 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 10:53 AM
 
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Even so, the puppy should NOT think it's okay to growl. Growling is the precedent to biting and this puppy obviously thinks he has every right to growl... and guess what is coming next??

A nine week old puppy doing this has got some cahones... that is for sure... and could have a screw loose. Aggression in a puppy that young is NOT normal. At all.

Even if the kids were picking him up wrong, his reaction should be to cry, not growl.

I would contact the breeder asap and possibly consider that you might have gotten the wrong puppy for your family.

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#7 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 11:11 AM
 
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I really agree with Mom0810. She is right on and you really have my sympathy for your situation. The pup may be right for someone else who has the time and inclination to handle such a dog but you want a playmate for your kids, not a project.
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#8 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I really agree with Mom0810. She is right on and you really have my sympathy for your situation. The pup may be right for someone else who has the time and inclination to handle such a dog but you want a playmate for your kids, not a project.
You're exactly right, I want a companion for my boys, not a project.

I think it's time for a chat with the breeder.

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#9 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 11:32 AM
 
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Is growling when playing with a toy also unacceptable?
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#10 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 11:37 AM
 
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No not when playing with a toy. If it is growling when taking the toy away that is a different kettle of fish.
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#11 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 11:53 AM
 
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You're exactly right, I want a companion for my boys, not a project.

I think it's time for a chat with the breeder.
Don't you have a cat? What is wrong with having a cat as a companion. I find them to be the easiest to care for, though they are of course more expensive to care for than a small rodent...but definitely cheap in comparison to a dog.

After having had some cats pass on I purposefully sought out super friendly, outgoing, affectionate cats to adopt. My cats are fantastic...they greet peopel when they come in and generally love people! Lap cats, super smart and great with the kids, two of them even fetch (yeah...you read right they fetch!). They are the most amazing pets ever, and hardly any work. And, nearly half of the work my kids now to (feeding/watering). The other half (litter pan) is quick! I even have persians, though I've cheated recently since having a baby and clipped my two girls down. So they're currently shorthairs!

I adopted them as adults, and none had prior experience with kids, BUT they are wonderful. (keep in mind I don't let them handle the cats, other than supervised petting and play though)

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#12 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 12:04 PM
 
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Great book I used when we got a puppy 6 mos before our first baby. Some examples we used to childproof were coming up on the puppy unexpected and grabbing, pinching, pulling all the shile saying good dog and giving praise. Simulates what a child does when playing with a dog. Also around dinner time taking food out of bowl WHILE dog is eating and same thing giving praise. The book is short and easy read with great troubleshooting too. Our "puppy" is now 13 and is not only great with the kids, he protects them as well. Important for then to know where they are in the pack....ZETA! The book is called CHILDPROOFING YOUR DOG Brian Kilcommins
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#13 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Don't you have a cat? What is wrong with having a cat as a companion. I find them to be the easiest to care for, though they are of course more expensive to care for than a small rodent...but definitely cheap in comparison to a dog.
Yes, we do have a cat. He's a good cat, we really love him, but he doesn't like playing with the kids much. You're right, cats are soooo much easier than dogs.

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Great book I used when we got a puppy 6 mos before our first baby. Some examples we used to childproof were coming up on the puppy unexpected and grabbing, pinching, pulling all the shile saying good dog and giving praise. Simulates what a child does when playing with a dog. Also around dinner time taking food out of bowl WHILE dog is eating and same thing giving praise. The book is short and easy read with great troubleshooting too. Our "puppy" is now 13 and is not only great with the kids, he protects them as well. Important for then to know where they are in the pack....ZETA! The book is called CHILDPROOFING YOUR DOG Brian Kilcommins
Thanks for the book recommendation, I'll check it out!

Sara Mama to DS (6) and DS (4)
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#14 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 05:37 PM
 
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Wow, I am totally surprised by everyone saying that growling is abnormal in a 9 week old puppy. If you've ever seen a litter of puppies together they growl, and snap, and yelp at each other to let their litter mates know when they've crossed the line. Being woken up by a litter mate who wants to wrestle (which is what being picked up by your kids probably seems like for your puppy) would be a perfectly good reason to growl.

What you need to do is teach your puppy that your kids are not litter mates and that what is acceptable with other puppies is not acceptable with them. But this is not something that you can expect your puppy to know intuitively. Especially at 9 weeks old, which in my opinion is on the young side to be away from Mom.

I think you really need to get some guidance (perhaps from the breeder?) on what is normal and what isn't and how to deal with various behaviours in order to turn your pup into a valued member of your family.

Good luck! I can tell you want what's best for your family and your dog, and that's a great place to start.

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#15 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 06:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I e-mailed the breeder this morning and her response is NOTHING like what I got here. She basically said that a 9 week old pup is is testing limits and needs to learn his place in the "pack", which is at the bottom tier. She actually encouraged me to get him to growl, and then when he does, the kids and I are to firmly tell him "NO!" and roll him over on his back for 5 seconds. Then all is forgiven. We are not to give him space as this teaches him that growling makes people do his bidding, bad lesson. Honestly, this makes more sense to me than statements that a 9-week old puppy should NEVER growl, EVER!

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#16 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 07:41 PM
 
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It's not that a 9 week old puppy should never growl, ever! It's that he should not growl at his people.

I TOTALLY agree with flipping him over on his back and would have suggested that earlier, but I have been flamed here for doing so, so I was treading lightly. Your breeder is very right and she knows her puppies better than anyone. Please try it and I am sure you will have a different puppy in no time.

Sorry I did not suggest it before, but you will no doubt hear all kinds of reasons here why that is such an awful thing to do to your puppy. DON'T pay attention and do as your breeder suggests.

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#17 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 08:35 PM
 
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It's not that a 9 week old puppy should never growl, ever! It's that he should not growl at his people.

I TOTALLY agree with flipping him over on his back and would have suggested that earlier, but I have been flamed here for doing so, so I was treading lightly. Your breeder is very right and she knows her puppies better than anyone. Please try it and I am sure you will have a different puppy in no time.

Sorry I did not suggest it before, but you will no doubt hear all kinds of reasons here why that is such an awful thing to do to your puppy. DON'T pay attention and do as your breeder suggests.
I have a question....

Were you flamed because the school of thought that says flipping the puppy on his back could cause him to later be aggressive. I am just curious!
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#18 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 08:50 PM
 
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I am a cat person also but have been reading ALOT about puppies (forcefully by Dd who wants a puppy, SO BAD!!! Her words lol) You should get Cesar Milans books. He has some great ways and has been working with dogs since he was 15. Turning the puppy on his back is a perfectly acceptable way of establishing pack authority, but its not like your going to let your kids grab him by the legs and fling him on his back. I doubt highly that he would become agressive later on in life. Maybe if you are unsure bring him to the breeder and have her show you how to do it (and the kids too!) This is your first puppy you should not feel like you can't have a support system for him! lol I know never having a dog before in my life I would have to also!
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#19 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 09:10 PM
 
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I am a cat person also but have been reading ALOT about puppies (forcefully by Dd who wants a puppy, SO BAD!!! Her words lol) You should get Cesar Milans books. He has some great ways and has been working with dogs since he was 15. Turning the puppy on his back is a perfectly acceptable way of establishing pack authority, but its not like your going to let your kids grab him by the legs and fling him on his back. I doubt highly that he would become agressive later on in life. Maybe if you are unsure bring him to the breeder and have her show you how to do it (and the kids too!) This is your first puppy you should not feel like you can't have a support system for him! lol I know never having a dog before in my life I would have to also!
Thanks for the advice!
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#20 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 10:07 PM
 
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The reason to not alpha roll your puppy are legion. Read up on alpha rolling and see if this is really what you want to do. And when that stops working what will you do next?

Breeders are not automatic experts in dog behaviors and often times simply blame the new puppy owner rather then admit faults in their breeding program. There could be a million reasons this puppy is growling-you are a novice home and advising you and your kids to do alpha rolls is horrible advice.

If you are going to keep this puppy please enroll in an obedience class that the whole family can attend-including your hubby. Get a second opinion on what is going on with this puppy from a behavorialist. Where are you located?
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#21 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 10:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The reason to not alpha roll your puppy are legion. Read up on alpha rolling and see if this is really what you want to do. And when that stops working what will you do next?

Breeders are not automatic experts in dog behaviors and often times simply blame the new puppy owner rather then admit faults in their breeding program. There could be a million reasons this puppy is growling-you are a novice home and advising you and your kids to do alpha rolls is horrible advice.

If you are going to keep this puppy please enroll in an obedience class that the whole family can attend-including your hubby. Get a second opinion on what is going on with this puppy from a behavorialist. Where are you located?
I don't think it's too difficult to figure out why the puppy is growling. He is seeing the kids as littermates and he's testing the limites. As far as alpha rolling, I really don't know a lot about it, but it doesn't sound that unreasonable to me. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about???

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#22 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 10:55 PM
 
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I stand by my previous statement. And I agree with what mom0810 said about a possible screw loose, I just didn't know how to say it.

A 9 week old lab is a baby and should not be growling. It should not be occurring in his baby mind to growl and object to being picked up. Maybe a 9 week old Tosa or something, possibly, although I'd even question that.
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#23 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 11:21 PM
 
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He is seeing the kids as littermates and he's testing the limites
Is he? Are you sure? You posted before about having no idea if growling was appropriate because as you said yourself:

Quote:
but this is our first puppy and I'm pretty clueless overall.
So know you suddenly feel comfortable doing alpha rolls and other aggressive responsives to behavior you admit you don't understand? Where did this insight come from? Your hubby is hitting the puppy (!!!!), he is growling at your kids and now you have decided he is only testing your limits?

Who knows maybe this puppy is just confused and needs guidance but please stop posting for advice on the internet and get busy with hands on help for this puppy.
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#24 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 11:30 PM
 
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I used to rescue pitbulls and owned a rottweiler from police lines. My pitbulls NEVER growled at me (one did later bite my son, but he never growled, ever). I remember now when my rottweiler was 6 weeks old, we just got her (yes, I know it's too young). We took her over to my mothers house and she was eating a rawhide bone thing. My sister reached over behind her and took it from her mouth. Gretta started hissing and bit my sister, through her shirt and drew blood. It was crazy!!

we started alpha rolling her from the time we got her. She was always very dominant and as she got older she stopped submitting at all. But I never worried about her biting us. She had other issues, such as food aggression and sometimes toy aggression. She was A LOT of work. A constant "project". After my son was born she started growling at him. We DID socialize her around children constantly but she always hated them. We rehomed her to a place without young children who want to invest a ton of time into her.

She's MUCH happier.

I saw be grateful he's only 9 weeks old and it'll be easier to find him a better home. Labs can be a very domineering breed.

As far as growling when playing with toys, I've never seen that as a problem. My DH liked to play pretty rough with our dogs. But that was a completely different situation.
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#25 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 11:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is he? Are you sure? You posted before about having no idea if growling was appropriate because as you said yourself:



So know you suddenly feel comfortable doing alpha rolls and other aggressive responsives to behavior you admit you don't understand? Where did this insight come from? Your hubby is hitting the puppy (!!!!), he is growling at your kids and now you have decided he is only testing your limits?

Who knows maybe this puppy is just confused and needs guidance but please stop posting for advice on the internet and get busy with hands on help for this puppy.
Okay, now you're just being rude. Did it ever occur to you that maybe I did a little research? Maybe I asked for advice elsewhere? Maybe I talked to the breeder?

I didn't say I was comfortable with alpha rolls (and what other aggressive responses are you talking about??). I just said I'm wondering what all the fuss is about.

I might not know a TON about puppies since this is our first one, but I'm not an idiot, so stop making me out to look like one. And I WILL continue to post for advice if I want. You don't have to respond.

Give me a break. You're ridiculous.

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#26 of 72 Old 04-29-2009, 11:47 PM
 
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I am not being rude. I am being blunt with you because I care more about you doing the right thing by your family and I worry that you are getting very dangerous advice. Good luck. Hope it works out for you, the kids and your puppy. And I hope your DH gets on board too.
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#27 of 72 Old 04-30-2009, 12:26 AM
 
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I'm so sorry you're going through this!

Please do not "alpha roll" a puppy, I'm going to be blunt - it's an out of date, unfounded, and dangerous practice, especially if you haven't been around dogs much. There is not one certified veterinary behaviorist in the country that recommends rolling dogs. Not one. Breeders are really great at bringing dogs together to reproduce, but they are not behaviorists and many times not great trainers either (just look at dog behavior at dog shows lol).

Quote:
HISTORY & MISCONCEPTIONS OF DOMINANCE THEORY
[ABOUT THE ALPHA ROLL]

Note: The information in the following article came from an interview with Dr. Ian Dunbar, who spent nine years studying the social behavior of dogs during the study mentioned below. In an earlier version of this article, Dr. L. David Mech was credited with the 30-year study. This was a mistake. The researcher who conducted the study was Dr. Frank Beach. An effort has been made to correct this error. However, if you know of a place where the original article was published, please notify the editor and request a correction.
The original alpha/dominance model was born out of short-term studies of wolf packs done in the 1940s. These were the first studies of their kind. These studies were a good start, but later research has essentially disproved most of the findings. There were three major flaws in these studies:

1. These were short-term studies, so the researchers concentrated on the most obvious, overt parts of wolf life, such as hunting. The studies are therefore unrepresentative -- drawing conclusions about "wolf behavior" based on about 1% of wolf life.
2. The studies observed what are now known to be ritualistic displays and misinterpreted them. Unfortunately, this is where the bulk of the "dominance model" comes from, and though the information has been soundly disproved, it still thrives in the dog training mythos.

For example, alpha rolls. The early researchers saw this behavior and concluded that the higher-ranking wolf was forcibly rolling the subordinate to exert his dominance. Well, not exactly. This is actually an "appeasement ritual" instigated by the SUBORDINATE wolf. The subordinate offers his muzzle, and when the higher-ranking wolf "pins" it, the lower-ranking wolf voluntarily rolls and presents his belly. There is NO force. It is all entirely voluntary.

A wolf would flip another wolf against his will ONLY if he were planning to kill it. Can you imagine what a forced alpha roll does to the psyche of our dogs?
.
3. Finally, after the studies, the researchers made cavalier extrapolations from wolf-dog, dog-dog, and dog-human based on their "findings." Unfortunately, this nonsense still abounds.

So what's the truth? The truth is dogs aren't wolves. Honestly, when you take into account the number of generations past, saying "I want to learn how to interact with my dog so I'll learn from the wolves" makes about as much sense as saying, "I want to improve my parenting -- let's see how the chimps do it!"

Dr. Frank Beach performed a 30-year study on dogs at Yale and UC Berkeley. Nineteen years of the study was devoted to social behavior of a dog pack. (Not a wolf pack. A DOG pack.) Some of his findings:

* Male dogs have a rigid hierarchy.
* Female dogs have a hierarchy, but it's more variable.
* When you mix the sexes, the rules get mixed up. Males try to follow their constitution, but the females have "amendments."
* Young puppies have what's called "puppy license." Basically, that license to do most anything. Bitches are more tolerant of puppy license than males are.
* The puppy license is revoked at approximately four months of age. At that time, the older middle-ranked dogs literally give the puppy hell -- psychologically torturing it until it offers all of the appropriate appeasement behaviors and takes its place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. The top-ranked dogs ignore the whole thing.
* There is NO physical domination. Everything is accomplished through psychological harassment. It's all ritualistic.
* A small minority of "alpha" dogs assumed their position by bullying and force. Those that did were quickly deposed. No one likes a dictator.
* The vast majority of alpha dogs rule benevolently. They are confident in their position. They do not stoop to squabbling to prove their point. To do so would lower their status because...
* Middle-ranked animals squabble. They are insecure in their positions and want to advance over other middle-ranked animals.
* Low-ranked animals do not squabble. They know they would lose. They know their position, and they accept it.
* "Alpha" does not mean physically dominant. It means "in control of resources." Many, many alpha dogs are too small or too physically frail to physically dominate. But they have earned the right to control the valued resources. An individual dog determines which resources he considers important. Thus an alpha dog may give up a prime sleeping place because he simply couldn't care less.

So what does this mean for the dog-human relationship?

* Using physical force of any kind reduces your "rank." Only middle-ranked animals insecure in their place squabble.
* To be "alpha," control the resources. I don't mean hokey stuff like not allowing dogs on beds or preceding them through doorways. I mean making resources contingent on behavior. Does the dog want to be fed. Great -- ask him to sit first. Does the dog want to go outside? Sit first. Dog want to greet people? Sit first. Want to play a game? Sit first. Or whatever. If you are proactive enough to control the things your dogs want, *you* are alpha by definition.
* Train your dog. This is the dog-human equivalent of the "revoking of puppy license" phase in dog development. Children, women, elderly people, handicapped people -- all are capable of training a dog. Very few people are capable of physical domination.
* Reward deferential behavior, rather than pushy behavior. I have two dogs. If one pushes in front of the other, the other gets the attention, the food, whatever the first dog wanted. The first dog to sit gets treated. Pulling on lead goes nowhere. Doors don't open until dogs are seated and I say they may go out. Reward pushy, and you get pushy.

Your job is to be a leader, not a boss, not a dictator. Leadership is a huge responsibility. Your job is to provide for all of your dog's needs... food, water, vet care, social needs, security, etc. If you fail to provide what your dog needs, your dog will try to satisfy those needs on his own.

In a recent article in the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) newsletter, Dr. Ray Coppinger -- a biology professor at Hampshire College, co-founder of the Livestock Guarding Dog Project, author of several books including Dogs : A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution; and an extremely well-respected member of the dog training community -- says in regards to the dominance model (and alpha rolling)...

"I cannot think of many learning situations where I want my learning dogs responding with fear and lack of motion. I never want my animals to be thinking social hierarchy. Once they do, they will be spending their time trying to figure out how to move up in the hierarchy."

That pretty much sums it up, don't you think?
from: http://www.bogartsdaddy.com/Bouvier/...ha-roll_no.htm

I've had labs my whole life, and know a number of breeders around the country. This is NOT normal lab puppy behavior, and imo, it is certainly beyond any quick fix like rolling the puppy onto its back. I would seriously consider returning the puppy to the breeder. You haven't had it much longer than a week if it's only 9 weeks right?

From your other post it sounds like an "adult" dog might be a great fit for your family. There are TONS of really great 4 year old labs in rescue. They're still young enough to play around with kids but past the puppy "seek and destroy" stage Plus, they will have been in foster care and evaluated for their suitability for a life with kids! This is one that has a couple adult dogs available that are listed as good with kids:
http://www.rockymountainlabrescue.co...2/Default.aspx

Sending you all good thoughts and prayers in the meantime.
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#28 of 72 Old 04-30-2009, 12:49 AM
 
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Puppies that age do not test rank. Not with other puppies or people. They haven't really figured out the dominance thing yet, and that is why puppies usually get "puppy license" with most adult dogs.

I also disagree about it never being ok for a dog to growl. Dogs growl sometimes to let you know that they do not like something or they are uncomfortable. It doesn't always lead to a bite, but it can sometimes. If you punish your dog for growling, you take away their voice and that only leaves them with the option to bite when they are uncomfortable. I also do not think it is ok for a puppy to think it is ok to growl at everything. If it is growling when the kids are picking it up, then I think the kids are probably hurting it. I also think that kids should always listen to signs that dogs give, because typically kids are the ones being annoying and ignoring the animals' behavior and in the end being bit the most. I do find it very odd that a puppy that age is growling in an aggressive manner.

As for the "alpha role", it is a touchy subject because it can cause more damage than good when done by most people. Only middle ranking pack members physically fight over placement. Typically, the dominant leader has enough of a presence that a lower ranking will submit themselves... not be forced into submission. Most of the time, when dogs do forcibly submit another dog, it is to attack them. So expect your dog to defend itself. I think there are probably other better ways to assert your dominance without having to use this method.

I think you should find a highly recommended trainer or even a behaviorist in your area to start working with your family and your dog... now. I would also recommend not letting your kids play with your puppy when it is all revved up (you know, in the evening hours before bed but after dinner when they are so restless and other times like that).

I also think you definitely need to start practicing NILIF with your puppy. And the best thing you can do is be consistent and fair every time.

Michele married to Dh since Dec 2000 and happily sharing a home with 3 kitties, 1 doggy, DS R born 8/25/09 into the arms of his mama, and DS E born 2/25/2012

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#29 of 72 Old 04-30-2009, 11:37 AM
 
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I don't think it's too difficult to figure out why the puppy is growling. He is seeing the kids as littermates and he's testing the limites. As far as alpha rolling, I really don't know a lot about it, but it doesn't sound that unreasonable to me. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about???
Neither am I, but like I said, I was afraid to bring it up here for fear of major backlash.

But you are exactly right in how you are looking at it. And remember, your BREEDER told you to do this. Trust her. She knows what she is talking about. I don't know if those who are so critical of that alpha roll have actually ever RAISED a litter of puppies, let alone know the ins and outs of dog behavior like a breeder does. Trust your breeder. Your puppy DOES see your kids as puppies and IS challenging them. That puppy's whole world needs to cave in on him for you to change the behavior. Please listen to your breeder and you will not regret it.

And perhaps, maybe, those who haven't raised litters or been involved professionally in dogs for any length of time should not throw stones???

Mom to two beautiful boys, now in school to be a therapist and help other women with PPD.  
 

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#30 of 72 Old 04-30-2009, 11:39 AM
 
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Okay, now you're just being rude. Did it ever occur to you that maybe I did a little research? Maybe I asked for advice elsewhere? Maybe I talked to the breeder?

I didn't say I was comfortable with alpha rolls (and what other aggressive responses are you talking about??). I just said I'm wondering what all the fuss is about.

I might not know a TON about puppies since this is our first one, but I'm not an idiot, so stop making me out to look like one. And I WILL continue to post for advice if I want. You don't have to respond.

Give me a break. You're ridiculous.

You're not an idiot, OP. You are doing the right thing. I told you there would be unfounded and crazy backlash against mentioning alpha rolls... just go on and do as you have been told and go with the people you know IN REAL LIFE who are the experts, like your breeder. She is not wrong.

Mom to two beautiful boys, now in school to be a therapist and help other women with PPD.  
 

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