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Canine Behavior/aggressive puppy??


Ok so my dad surprised us with a boxer puppy (male). He is usually very sweet but he has growled and snapped at my four yr old. We believe he did this because he didnt want to be held. He is only 7 wks old. We thought we were getting him at 8 wks but then found out he was only 4 1/2 wks. It never dawned on us he was so young because he was huge and ate well and was fully weaned. Needless to say we were angry. He also growls and bites our 2 yr old catahoulas face. It sounds and looks serious but i dont know and she is to sweet and wont defend herself. Any ideas on whats happening and what i can do about this? I love boxers and have been wanting one so i hope this isnt going to mean something bad down the road. Thanks

This DOES mean something "bad down the road".  Bad breeding; bad breeder; puppy removed from dam FAR too young; no bite inhibition; most likely the largest in his (probably very large) litter.

Your puppy needs expert evaluation by a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (NOT A DOG TRAINER).  At seven weeks, NO PUPPY, regardless of breed or breed type, should be growling OR showing fear or a threat to social hierarchy regarding your Catahoula.  He was NOT "fully weaned" at 4-1/2 weeks, so he is very susceptible to developing food guarding.  It is quite possible that this particular puppy will require substantial intervention by a CAAB and DEFINITELY very, very heavy socialization outdoors, with people of all sizes and races, other animals, etc. (providing your veterinarian considers his vaccinations to be adequate: I'll wager he was NEVER VACCINATED by his "breeder"). He will also require a "puppy kindergarten" at a venue that uses ONLY positive reinforcement and with a trainer who has actual credentials you can SEE; check references, observe a "puppy class". Your window of socialization is FOURTEEN WEEKS OF AGE in the domestic dog.

IMMEDIATELY find a CAAB from one of the following sites or by calling the veterinary college in your geographical area:

If you do not act quickly, correctly, judiciously, you will soon find yourself with a large (and getting bigger) Boxer (wonderful breed, but when they are "bad" they are very, very "bad") who is growling, snapping, and will eventually bite.

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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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