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Canine Behavior/Help with poodle aggression


Hi, my family and I just rescued a miniature poodle. She is about 2 years old and recently had a litter of puppies. The very first time we met her, she was very sweet and calm. My kids played with her and she allowed them to pet her and giggle as they interacted with her. Toward the end of our interaction(30mins), I went to pet her just before leaving, she growled and tried to nip me out of the blue. The foster parent said she's never seen anything like that type of behavior in the 2 months she's had her. We brought her home over the weekend and she seems to be settling in well. My friends kids were over visiting and she displayed the same behavior and they left shortly afterwards. My neighbors kid was over playing with my son the very next day and her reached down to pet her and she duplicated the same behavior. Tonight, my son came downstairs to say goodnight to her and she did the same thing. My son and I have been the primary to take her on scheduled walks,etc and she recognizes him as a family member. She will be spayed in 2 months but I am concerned about this unpredictable behavior or how to correct it because it is not provoked. What should I do?

This dog is not socialized to children; she is in an environment that appears too "chaotic" for her (normal when children are in the home, as well as visitors).  I suggest you immediately contact the rescue group from which you got her and return her to the foster parent ASAP.

The dog is demonstrating no bite inhibition. The dog does not "recognize" anyone as a "family member"....she is far from being habituated to your household.  The concept of "family" is not in the dog's culture; there is a social hierarchy in dog culture and it takes an adult dog months to find its "place" in that hierarchy.  This dog is frightened and confused.  She needs to be returned before she learns more about using aggression and/or really hurts someone.  Contact the foster home today; request to return the dog.  Insist upon it.  In a fully adult home with little or no foot traffic, this dog might never demonstrate these behaviors again.

Canine Behavior

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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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