Canine Behavior/cowering


Hello there.

Ive recently moved into a house and was asked to look after five dogs. 3 adults who roam the house and two puppies who are kept in a room.

Ive been feeding them but on the last day as I was feeding them the puppies dad whom theyd not seen before came into the room and weed on a wall as if to mark tertiary. The puppies were fine at the time running around as puppies do. And the dad only came in for a few minutrs.
However that evening when I handed care back to the owners the puppies had started really cowering and still are. I feel very bad and they think I have done something untoward.

How old are the puppies?
What breed or breed-type are the puppies?

How close did the adult male get to the puppies?
Did he have any direct interaction with the puppies at all - eye contact, physical contact, vocalize at them (growling, snarling, barking, whining)?
How close to the puppies was the wall on which the adult male marked?

What else happened during the day? Were there any loud noises, sudden movements, changes in smells (smoke, perfumes, cleaning chemicals, etc)?

Did any new humans come into the space with the puppies?

Did the puppies have any outings - go anywhere new or experience anything new?
How are the puppies with their mother?
Are they still nursing at all or are they completely weaned?
Is the mama dog generally relaxed and confident or is she a nervous dog?
Is the mama being sweet to the puppies or is she disciplining them?

Describe what this cowering looks like - are they huddled together, tails tucked, ears back? Are they hiding under blankets, in corners? Are they playing with each other and just afraid to come near humans? Are they showing fear of going to just certain people or certain objects or do they appear afraid of everything in their environment? Are they showing fear of their mother or the male dog?

Please use the followup button in this reply to answer these questions. With more information, I'll have a much better picture of what's going on and will be better able to speculate as to what is going on for these puppies.

Please feel free to add in any other details that I haven't specifically asked about as well.

Los Angeles Behaviorist  

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, MS, CPDT-KA


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 8 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members and many other issues. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been a professional obedience trainer for 9 years, and specializing in behavior modification for 8 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I own my own dog training and behavior modification business called Nutz About Mutz.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a masters degree (MS) in Animals and Public Policy, with a minor in Animal Behavior, from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. I also have 3 years of graduate education in Animal Behavior and Learning from UM-Missoula and UL-Lafayette. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences, workshops and seminars. Beginning in March, 2017, I will be the Behavior & Training Manager at Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff, AZ.

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