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Is my Puppy Aggressive?
  • vkohvkoh
    Posts: 12
    Went through the forum but wasn't able to find a thread similar to what I "think" we're facing. Our puppy is 4.5 month old & going through her teething.

    She is extremely hyper (& cranky) & can't seem to tire out. We have yet to actually see her fall asleep (we were under the impression puppies will need more sleep). If we leave her in her play pen with her toys (before bedtime), she will go after the toys quite aggressively, throwing them around, jump around in the pen, some barking etc. We take her out for 2 45 minutes walks. 1 in the morning & 1 in the evening.

    Yesterday evening during her walk, she acted up and wanted to lunge forward. I did my research on pulling so i just stood still & wait for her to calm down. Instead of calming down, her "aggression" escalated & she rush back to be screaming & started to scratch & nip at my legs (leash getting tangled around my legs as she spins & jumps). Seeing that she is not calming down, I bend down & scoop her up to bring her home. Instead of giving up her tantrum, she decided to go for my hands. I can tell this is not "play biting". She is actually trying the "attack" my hands, while in my arms.

    We are kinda lost now & hope we can get some advice here.

    [mod edit: changed category]
    Post edited by sunyata at 2014-05-20 07:20:05
  • This sounds more like a frustrated puppy with too much energy than aggressive. What else do you do with her besides walking? I spend only 1 hour walking my dogs on weekdays and up to 3 hours on weekends but aside from that I spend additional hours playing with them outside and in, training them, etc. Walking is only a part of it.

    The behaviour with the toys doesn't seem to bad. Both my dogs are manics with toys, they growl and throw them around and if they aren't good quality and strong they'll be destroyed in less than 10min.
  • koyukikoyuki
    Posts: 1244
    Shiba puppies are known to be more mouthy than other breeds, aswell as this they can be very vocal, and their play style tends to be a little more 'wild' than other puppies. If you are certain that this is not playing, or typical puppy behaviour (which it sounds like to me), have you ruled out medical/physical? Could she be reacting to pain or discomfort? Honestly though, Shiba puppies can be quite dramatic- and its not uncommon for them to carry on a little bit with things they dont like/ are not used to. Has she had much training or experience with leash walking yet? It sounds like she is still learning to walk on the leash so i suggest you carry a favourite toy and treats to reward her when she is walking nicely, or to redirect her biting (onto the toy).
    Koyuki - red female
    Takeo- cream male
    Kenji- black and tan male
    Suma- sesame female
    Haruki-brindle Japanese Akita Inu
  • zandramezandrame
    Posts: 1106
    From what you have described, this sounds like normal puppy behavior. Is this your first puppy?
    There are a few threads they might be helpful to you.

    But I will also say, 2 walks a day is not enough. Exercise should be more frequent, but not necessarily long. And socialization is important - and counts as mental exercise. People, places, and puppy kindergarten.

    A tired puppy is a good puppy!
  • Kobe1468Kobe1468
    Posts: 1590
    Just to answer the question of the thread title....NO!

    As others have said, this sounds like typical puppy behaviour, and a lot like Shiba drama. I would read through the threads zandrame linked, to start. Have you done any formal training classes?

    Aggression is such a misused term when it comes to dogs. Many behaviours can easily be confused as aggression. Frustration is a big one. Acts such as pulling on leash and nipping are others.

    Seek out a positive reinforcement trainer. Even if you have taken a basic training course, a follow up course can be extremely helpful.

    "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
  • vkohvkoh
    Posts: 12
    Thanks everyone, for the advice.

    @oslo_and_kuma: we do also have play sessions with her on top of the walks, including fetch & tug (which we use to teach her "leave it" on command). Though not several hours, maybe additional 1-2 hours max on weekdays. We spend more time with her over the weekends. We also allow her to run around a free (totally empty) room in the apartment as we don't have a backyard, as part of the play session but she just seems to have infinite energy. Do you have any particular "activity" which you think is more effective in draining her energy? I try to refrain from rough play with her physically as she is very small (Vet suspect a runt) at 5.5 lbs (4.5 months old)

    @koyuki: yes she is still learning how to walk on leash (we also practice this in the free room we have) & we do bring treats along for training her on the walks (kikopup style). She does fine at times (I'll say 50-50 chance for now). It's just that when she acts up and goes into a frenzy during the walk, I'll wait for awhile for her to calm down. If she doesn't, Ill try to pick her up and end the walk. Not sure if I'm doing this right.

    @zandrame: yes she's our 1st puppy. we made sure we did our fair share of research before getting her (actually I did go through the 2 thread you recommended before posting). I'm still slightly unsure of the socialization bit even after going through the forum. Towards people, she now tend to hide away as the stranger walk towards us. As soon as their back is facing us, she will try to lunge forward to "chase". Towards other dogs, she just want to pull forward to the extend she is "standing" on her hind legs. The one time we let her sniff noses with a very very old Dachshund, the Dachshund growl at her and our shiba went "come at me, bro" stance. I know shiba plays rough but I don't want to be the owner that tells people "she's friendly" just before she maul & hurt the other dog (should I risk it?) We continue to work in trying to get her to calm down before meeting people/dogs (distraction with treats) but limited improvement so far (maybe we are a bit impatient).

    @Kobe1468: yes we had basic obedience training. we are the type that "over-prepare" (not sure if there's such thing for a shiba owner). We had the trainer over within the 1st week of having our pup in our home. We also signed up for a group class but that will only come in July due to availability. Issue with going to group classes, according to my trainer is that in Singapore, there isn't a strong culture in formal dog training. So many owners only enroll their dogs in classes after the problem become very escalated. She thought it may not be the best idea to mix our pup with a group of aggressive or problematic dogs. So we have to wait for her next "puppy only" class.

    Sorry for the long post.
  • RikkaRikka
    Posts: 1501
    Lauren, living with a 4 y/o Shiba named after a scientist. ☆
  • kiba888kiba888
    Posts: 144
    Kind of just sounds like the pup is being stubborn. Kiba use to do the shiba 500 on the leash, or he would hang back and just bite my calves if he didn't want to walk anymore. Picking him up during these situations resulted in him squirming in my arms and biting my hands and shoulders. I think over the months of not reacting to his bites, he just stopped.
  • vkohvkoh
    Posts: 12
    Thanks again for all the inputs. I guess deep inside we sort of know this is normal but needed some assurance when actually experiencing it..

    Anyways, we'll up the exercise & hopefully she will improve & eventually get pass this phase. In the meantime, some pictures! (1st time attempting to post pictures. hope it works).

  • vkohvkoh
    Posts: 12
  • vkohvkoh
    Posts: 12


  • Koji's momKoji's mom
    Posts: 632
    One other thing to note is that puppies can also become "overtired" like a child - they can be wound up but need a nap...

    With small puppies sometimes it is better to do frequent, but short sessions of play/training etc...their attention spans are short and need for rest high...We did "training" of only a few minutes at a time, then bursts of play then quiet time..

    Koji would turn into a raging monster frequently as a puppy - when he got cranky...he bit, screamed and "attacked" me like he wanted to "kill" me...all normal I found out :)

    For your comfort he is an angel and I trust him totally - he is very well mannered and tolerant as an adult.

    I would do whatever you can to get socialization going...seems late to you have friends with puppies or can you find others to meet and have play time with lots of fun and treats? let them go nuts but break them up frequently give a treat, calm down - then play - repeat...

    Shiba puppies are little demons...
  • Jshaw1993Jshaw1993
    Posts: 25
    Try checking out your local Petco if you have one, I know they sometimes will have weekly puppy playtime for 20 minutes or so for pups under 8 months and I think Petsmart does it too but I'm not sure. My pup seems like he'll squirm until he's dropped if he's given the chance but I've found reinforcing him when he's calm while being held has helped a ton.
  • Kobe1468Kobe1468
    Posts: 1590
    She's a beautiful girl! Please start a 'life story' thread for her so we can follow her progress(if haven't already)

    I'm so glad you are committed to training classes. Good luck!
    "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
  • @vkoh Did you ever experience a change with your puppy? I would love to know if so! And what training steps you took. My pup sometimes shows similar behaviors - less intense as you describe, but I worry it will escalate so I wonder what you did to stop this.
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1272
    @Biohazardia - I figured I'd share some of my own experience since this thread is a few years old heh...

    So, Ozzy would sometimes like have zoomie / shiba 500 moments on walks before learning more walking manners. And I kinda went through more of this when teaching him to walk on a collar vs a harness. He was much more energetic on a collar, felt more free, and wanted to sprint and be loud and excited lol. As a puppy, if he got too overexcited and was jumping all over me, if I tried to pick him up, it didn't help at all. Just continued to hype him more and he would be mouthing all over my arms / hands lol. Of course, I knew it wasn't aggression, but overstimulation. If he started throwing a sort of tantrum on walks, I would totally ignore him. I kept his leash short, close to me, and did not even look directly at him. I just stood there while he wildly tried to sprint around and screech lol. He is super vocal. I'm sure plenty of people have thought he was being tortured or that he was attacking me or something. :)) But he's just very vocal when he's doing just about anything... running, yawning, playing, etc, yet zero alarm barking. :)) I did absolutely nothing and continued to just stand still until he was totally calm. Usually, he would calm down quickly, but still be excited, still be panting and ready to run. So if I started to move again or spoke to him, he would go right back to excitedly trying to sprint and jump. So by calm I don't just mean "not running." I mean when the fire has gone lol.

    When learning to walk only on a collar rather than in a harness, he would have excited moments like this too, and I did the same thing. It only took a few days for him adjust. Usually it was something kinda subtle that would overstimulate him. Like once some kids on bikes rode by and wanted to pet him, but they only had time to pet and then go. He wanted to stay with them and was frustrated when they left haha. Or once when we walked through some grass that had just recently been mowed and he got overexcited by all of the loose dead grass and wanted to run and go nuts. If he was jumping on me or trying to nip at me, sometimes I would just turn away from him of totally ignoring him wasn't working. But usually he would realize that getting hyper was not getting him what he wanted. I didn't say "no" or do anything except be a tree. :P Once he did get kinda tangled in his leash, and of course when I tried to help him he just freaked out more and started softly chomping on my arms and screaming. I thought he was legitimately hurt, so I just held him in my arms and ran home. And he was fine, but giving him attention when he's being overly hyper just added to his frustration.

    He would definitely get overly tired and act like a child throwing a tantrum sometimes. In the beginning, he often wouldn't nap unless made to nap.. I almost never saw him just fall asleep by tiring himself out. Usually, after playing / training / walking, etc, I would need to get some stuff done like having a shower or doing dishes or other chores, so I would put him in his crate or exercise pen, and he would fall asleep during that time. He also would not fall asleep if he was alone, so I sat right by his crate and listened to a podcast or updated his life story while waiting for him to fall asleep at first. Later, I was able to get stuff done as long as he was in his crate or ex pen in the same room. But at first, he needed some reassurance and wanted me to be close to him before he fell asleep.
    Post edited by Lilikoi at 2017-04-13 21:55:01
  • @Lilikoi Thanks for the reply! My puppy is thankfully very good on walks, he only freaks out if something weird is happening (he once got a tree branch stuck in his collar and flipped out, screaming and writhing on the ground until I could extract it). Other than that his only issues are not wanting to walk in the direction we are walking, lol/taking too long to sniff around on walks that need to be more directed. But he has some days where he'll go crazy at home, namely when we're trying to do something else (I have homework, or if we try to eat dinner). And this is where I REALLY sympathize with the OP. He will be so upset about being penned he'll scream and yell, so we have to resort to putting him in his bedroom playpen, where we can shut the door to block the noise. However we can't have him out with us, since he still chews on things he's not supposed to (furniture) and nips our legs/cries for attention when we're eating. When we put him in the bedroom playpen he does exactly what the OP described - screaming, flinging his toys around, slamming himself against the playpen walls, etc and it can take 20-50 minutes for him to calm down. Same thing with sometimes being cranky and just screaming, barking when he wants something, biting etc/won't calm down, when we ignore him he just moves on to something else. I don't think he sees it as "negative punishment", just "meh this one's boring" sort of deal. In this sense we definitely are worried about him getting aggressive.
    Post edited by Biohazardia at 2017-04-14 02:24:58
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1272
    @Biohazardia - oooh I see. Hm. I would probably try like giving a small snack or something, like maybe stuffing his dinner in a kong with a bit of peanut butter or something..? What is it that he wants when he's screaming during dinner time and stuff? Does he just want freedom, does he not want to be separated from you, does he want people food? Lol. I make it very clear that Ozzy won't get something he wants if he's being a brat about it ha. In my mind, if he is screaming in his ex pen to communicate that he wants my attention, I will get up and walk or if the room until he is quiet. I am more stubborn than he is lol. Even if it takes a long time, I would wait for him to quiet down on his own. Then, once he's quiet, I would come back in praising, giving treats, and spending time with him inside his ex pen or near enough to interact with him through a crate. If he starts whining again, I dramatically get up and walk out of the room ha.

    Ozzy was never really having overexcited episodes in his pen as long as he could see us... at the beginning, he wasn't comfortable with being alone much. So I often sat very close to him and kept my hand in the crate or held chews for him and stuff. But as he got older, I slowly gave him more space and alone time.
  • ZenkiZenki
    Posts: 396
    My puppy is aggressive... aggressively cute, that is....

    Hahahaha.... just trolling. ;))
    Black, Tan and Awesome
    Instagram: @ShibaZenki

    “Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.”
    – Ann Landers

  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 776
    It's really hard to find that balance as each dog has energy needs different from another, even in Shibas. As everyone said, if you don't deplete that, it spills out into other areas of life (leash walking, etc) My Coal seems to have more energy than is reasonable sometimes, and we have a weird situation here that you can cringe at on my life thread.

    For leash training, you will want to break the walks up into smaller segments, something manageable and as she progresses in her manners, you can increase the lengths. Multiple walks per day are better for young puppies, anyways. Keep treats and make sure you have a strong marker word or clicker to mark when she does what you want. This will take time. Kikopup on youtube has some great tips on this kind of training.

    For my pup, who is now 7 months, he gets about 4-5 walks a day (self-employment and a supportive husband is a dream) with one walk being the longest and all the others being shorter. I also do at least 2 play sessions a day with him, one outside and one inside (or both outside, or both inside). I mix in training sessions during play (drop, give, fetch, sit, wait, stay).

    Some toys I use:
    -Rope for tug
    -Rope-ball for fetch/tug
    -String Ball for chasing (he adores this one more than life itself)
    -Wind up Mouse---seriously. Coal goes nuts for it! But you have to be quick because these toys are generally made for cats, so they break easy. This is a good time to practice "drop" too
    -Plastic bottles wrapped in an old sock
    -Bottles with things inside to make noise---another favorite. The louder the better XD
    -Puzzle Tennis Ball--simple one . Split open a tennis ball, clean out the inside and fill with treats.
    -Toilet paper roll puzzle. Take a bunch of the cardboard centers of toilet paper rolls and stand them up in a box. Put treats inside randomly and hold the box so she can't knock it around. Good puzzle game.
    -TP roll puzzle. Fold up one end, stick a treat in and fold up the other--again, need to watch them and be ready to drop/trade to make sure they don't eat it.
    -a bunch of hand-made tug toys from shirts and towels, etc

    I am still on the lookout for more toys. Lots of online sites that give great ideas to keep your baby busy. AND tire her out ^_^

    One fun thing I read from Bonding with your Dog by Patricia McConnell: when on your walk, if you see a bird or a flying leaf or something that is moving, ask your dog to sit (they probably spotted it before you, which is fine ) and as soon as they sit, give the okay to chase after the potential prey. It is a lot of fun :D and helps keep her focused on you during the walk.

    Dog parks, I heard, are great--but I haven't gone yet as I just got Coal all his shots and rabies (Japan rules that you MUST have all shots and rabies before going) but I hear it is great to really tire them out. Get a really long leash and take her to the park and let her run around/chase you. This is another great one. You can play fetch, practice recall, etc

    Hmmm... that is all I can think of. Puppy classes, I can't say as Japan doesn't have any in my area, but they sound good.
  • @Lilikoi So last night, I tried giving him a Kong stuffed with some AMAZING treats (bite sized pieces of frozen beef, chicken, etc) when we put him in the bedroom playpen while we ate dinner. It occupied him for about 20 minutes, but I presume that he emptied it because he started his normal yowling process which lasted ~30 min after that. I think I'll keep giving him a nice Kong when we do that though to show that the playpen isn't punishment. We did try at first having the playpen in the dining room so my pup (Griffith) could see us, but he cried anyway, and the sound was too loud for us to concentrate. So we had to move it to the bedroom so the door can block the noise. We don't ever give him attention when he's crying, whether it be crate, playpen or otherwise, although sometimes we know he's crying because he needs to potty, so we'll wait for a quiet moment and then take him out. BUT during those sessions where we are in the bedroom, we take him out to potty directly beforehand so we know it's not the need to potty that's driving his crying. I'm pretty sure it's boredom/desire for attention, but as I mentioned we can't let him roam around with us or keep him in the room in a playpen with us because he'll either get cranky and bite us, go bite other stuff (we can't supervise him if we're eating or working), or cry in his playpen. His crankyness can last until after dinner but it doesn't happen every day - he was pretty good yesterday for example(aside from the screaming during dinner).

    @Anjyil Thanks for the suggestions! I actually read a lot of Coal's thread to try to glean some information since I saw you were having aggression issues with him too. (I think your case is worse than mine, so I know you definitely have a lot of experience). We actually do have a lot of the toys you mentioned - empty waterbottle/waterbottle with a bit of kibble inside, puzzle dice that gives food, rope toys, etc. He gets bored of them though after ~10-20 min when we put him in the bedroom playpen though. :( I should really get that Bonding with your Dog book, that sounds extremely helpful and I remember you mentioned it had really good tips. My puppy hasn't had his second set of shots, but after we're hoping to go to local puppy play sessions, and he is currently enrolled in puppy classes. But both of those are only once every week on the weekend - not helpful for the dinner situation, or for when he is bitey and aggressive after we come home from school/work.
    Post edited by Biohazardia at 2017-04-14 14:38:35
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 776
    ^_^ I don't know about worse. We only ever really had issues during meal times, and now it seems to be mostly resolved. We did so many things at once that I am not sure what the true one is that worked XD

    Dogs get bored easily. Rotating the toys is really helpful. Coal is always eager to go upstairs because a lot of the toys he loves but doesn't see often are up there. I put one of those toys downstairs with him, and he has really cooled with it. I am still trying to figure out a rotation schedule (and get more toys for downstairs that can fill in the gaps)

    Honestly, just about anything by Patricia McConnel, Jean Donaldson, and Victoria Schade are great resources. I just finished Mine! by Jean Donaldson recently and it had some great ideas as well. I am constantly hunting for more books on body language and behavior to help better understand the signals my dog is sending. I found Brenda Aloff's Canine Body Language: A photographic guide extremely helpful and more indepth than the original researcher's, Turid Rugaas (both are excellent books to have, though!) Real eye opener!

    Some other things that might help that I do with my dog:
    when he bites, go completely emotionless and just ignore him completely. He vanishes. This worked really well with my husband...I can't pull it off very well, though XD
    "Ouch!" or "Yip!" or whatever and leave the room---this worked extremely well with me

    A lot of the stuff I am reading now indicates that giving the royal treatment (nose in air while you turn to look away, arms crossed, huffy Queen thing) is really effective in dog-language. It is the ultimate leader/parent pose to an insufferable whelp XD I would say that 90% of the time, it works on my dog more so than any verbal trick I have heard of. I keep trying to visualize how I handle his teenage moodiness but most of it is on the fly that it is hard to catalog. If I think of anything that might actually be novel, I will post again. ^_^

    As for the dinner, our pup tends to give up really quickly so I can't say much on that. The only time he doesn't give up on howling and whining is when he is trying to tell us that he needs to go pee or poop XD
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1272
    Do you put background noise on for him when he's in the bedroom? That actually helps Ozzy a lot. I'll put on the radio or a documentary on my iPad for him lol. Or leave the TV on if he's in the living room.

    Well 20 minutes of peace is a good start. :D hehe. Ozzy's most energetic time is in the evenings. Even if he's had plenty of exercise, and especially as a puppy. He just gets hyper in the evenings lol. He was able to free roam in the daytime a lot earlier before I could let him free roam without constant supervision in the evenings hehe. He's gotten much better with age, though. He's learned how to appropriately exert his energy and is great at self entertaining with toys of I'm unable to play fetch or something with him. But really what helped to tire him out the most, like i mentioned in your story thread, was more mental stimulation.

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