My eight-month-old puppy has started to show aggression. He growls and tries to bite when you try to pick him up or put on a leash. Treats are not working. Suggestions?
— Eileen, Commack, New York
If this is a new behavior, take him to a veterinarian to rule out a health problem. If he is not fixed, get him fixed right away. After doing these things, follow the steps below:
Steps for stopping puppy from being so aggressive:
- He needs to learn who is in charge, and that only comes from consistent training. Right now, your stubborn little guy has learned he can control the household with a few well-placed growls and snaps. But you can begin to reshape his responses by training him to “sit,” “stay,” and “come” when called. The more you train him to listen to your simple commands, the less likely he will behave this way.
- For example, instead of picking him up, walk over to him, then turn away, slap the side of your leg to get his attention, and say “come” to get him to follow you. Puppies love to follow people, especially if their voices sound happy. When he moves from his spot, you should be able to pick him up with no issues.
- Once he learns to come when called, call him to you at least ten times a day, always giving him a treat to reinforce the behavior. This repetitive behavior teaches him you are more important than his spot.
If these things don’t help or he gets worse, please find a dog trainer or an animal behaviorist to evaluate his behavior.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal