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Canine Behavior/Agressive 1 yr old mini goldendoodle


our millie
our millie  
My husband and I got our mini Goldendoodle at 8 weeks old, she just turned 1 years old (25 lbs). Several months ago she started showing aggressive behavior, first it was with her food. She would growl and bite us if we came near her while she was eating, and has bit both my husband and I. We had a trainer come to our home and we tried everything! She also will take tissue out of a trash can or anything she can grab and run with and will not release it, she will try to to eat it and swallow it, and will growl. We tried teaching her the 'leave it' command with treats, she'll do almost anything for treats. She will still eat the tissue and come running for the treat, and if it's an object she can't eat, she will leave it only for a high value treat. She is better with her food now, since we used clicker training with high value treats when we are around her, to the point where she won't eat her regular food and is waiting for the better high value treats. We leave the food bowl and she occasionally goes to it and eats when she is desperately hungry. But now she growls sometimes when we pet her, or when give her commands she does not want to obey. She will come wagging her tail and get on her back for a belly rub, and sometimes in the middle of rubbbing her belly she will start growling and will want to attack. We have her on a leash at home so we can grab her when she get's in this mode, so she hasn't bit us again but she could do some real damage! She also is possesive of her crate, and will attack us when we try to get her in there, so now we can't even put her in her crate. We left her with a trainer for 2 weeks in August and we did see some progress, but when he came to the home, even he was getting growled at and she bit him when dealing with her food. He thinks she is possesive and needs a behavorist. We exercise her daily, and try to take her out and about as much as possible and work on training every day with her. We are expecting a baby in March and are desperate for a miracle, because we will have to give her away is she does not change, and we love her too much. She is an angel 90% of the time, a little devil otherwise. We are taking her to yet another behaviorist/trainer this week.

Another thing is she has an inverted vulva so our Vet told us to wait to do surgery and spay her after her first heat cycle, she is currently going through her heat cycle -
Our Vet said this shouldn't affect her behavior, so I don't know if there is something mentally unstable with her, and this is just her personality.

We tried everything out there, several trainers... we're going nuts! We're using NILIF, and work on this everyday with her. She is still showing aggression, and we think it is fear aggression and possesiveness. We are heart broken to think we may have to give her away, but we can not have her near our baby in March. I hope someone can help us??

NO trainers!  Undereducated, little or no real experience with aggression, and ALL the bad advice in the world.

You have an actively aggressive bitch.  At age one and having actively bitten, the prognosis can be quite bad but it doesn't have to be.  My best educated guess is: something in the environment (and I'll wager some of the "advice" you got from trainers) has heavily contributed to this.  Let me explain one aspect:  resource guarding (tissues from trash can).  Dog learns that going into trash can gets attention; dog then goes into trash can for the attention (high value reward) and is chased; owner is anxious, owner may become angry; dog becomes fearful.  Dog does NOT make connection between TAKING the tissue and the resulting anger/fear or her own distress but she does know she has to "protect" herself, and so becomes aggressive (growling, snapping, lunging, can get as bad as outright "attack").  ALL of this can be fixed.

Food aggression is usually the result of one of two things:
1.  Inappropriate management of the litter by the breeder.  (Let's face it, this hybrid has become popular, people who don't know what they're doing (explaining the inherited physical problem you described) do it for money.  They do not properly manage the litter.  A cross breed (hybrid) produces a huge litter (normally).  Dams (mothers) are often unable to adequately provide nutrition and appropriate management of a large littler.  Bad breeders don't know this or don't care.  Puppies are hungry as neonates: enter, food aggression.  Or...
2.  Owners mess with the puppy's food (thinking it's teaching the puppy something).  In the dog's culture, what's "mine" is "mine".  When an owner messes with the food (sticking a hand into the dish, removing the dish, etc), it breaks that "rule" in the culture and confuses the dog.  Dog then begins to guard the food (after all, you need to eat to live).

High value treats are a secondary reinforcer when using a clicker.  MANY trainers don't know how to use a clicker properly.  Also, as John Fisher used to say, "You know what you're trying to teach, but you have to know what the DOG IS LEARNING."  So somewhere along the line, your dog has gotten mixed signals and has "learned" the "wrong" thing.

Allowing this bitch to go through first estrus cycle is ESSENTIAL and the absolutely correct thing to do.  In fact, don't even think of spaying her until you've consulted a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB).  These issues need to be addressed one at a time.  The "damage" done by inappropriate training/management has to be undone.  Counter conditioning has to be put into place.  The dog has to learn that no one cares about a tissue (or anything else) stolen from the garbage, etc.  To find a CAAB in or near your area, consult the following sites:

You say the dog has bitten (made contact).  This means she has lost bite inhibition.  She needs in person, professional evaluation ASAP.  MEANWHILE, if she "steals" something from the garbage, LEAVE THE ROOM.  If she follows you with the article in her mouth, LEAVE THE ROOM.  If she persists, put a closed door between you and her for ten to thirty seconds; crack the door; if article is still in her mouth, close the door.  Persist until she has dropped article, open the door, ask for "sit", food reward (use her kibble), walk away.

DO NOT add anything to her food.  Forget the clicker right now, something is going wrong with this training.  Do not bribe her, that isn't what positive reinforcement training is all about.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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