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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18801
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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I have a 13 week old rescue puppy that is unpredictable- especially

Customer Question

I have a 13 week old rescue puppy that is unpredictable- especially when you pick her up to go outside or somewhere else. She growls and has been growling for a few weeks - but she recently started to lunge at both my son's face as well as my husbands face. The issue seems to be mainly when you are holding her or trying to pick her up - and while we can respect her boundaries where possible, it does not seem reasonable to have a puppy that we have to worry about already. I am not sure how to handle.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 6 months ago.
Hi JaCustomer, My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today. You really don't want to pick up puppies unless you are picking them up properly. Certain breeds of dogs are prone to back issues (discs). If picked up under the arms without supporting the rear end it puts pressure on the spine and can cause discomfort and even pain. This is often the case with longer backed breeds like chihuahuas, shih Tzu's, beagles, terriers, poodles, etc. Dogs should be picked up by placing a hand on the chest and scooping the rear legs into the other hand and lifting straight up. This keeps pressure off the disc of the spine. The pup by this point should be on a leash and walking on a leash. If the pup won't walk, you can encourage the pup to walk with small pulls on the leash. Don't drag the pup, just a short tug and let the leash go slack. You can have a treat like a hot dog sliver that is stinky that will often encourage a dog to come toward you to also help her learn to walk on the leash. If anyone has been using physical punishment for training purposes, that can also encourage a dog to lunge and nip at faces and hands, etc. This includes holding a muzzle closed, swatting a but or rubbing a dog's nose in urine or feces. I don't know if anyone has done this either now or before you got her, but it can contribute to a dog becoming aggressive toward humans. What it does it teach a dog that physical reprimands are acceptable. The only physical reprimand a dog has is nipping and biting if the growl is ignored. Start obedience training now and have all the family member participate in training. Dogs do not reprimand the bosses and leaders. Obedience training makes the humans the boss which effectively stops a dog from giving reprimands (growls and nips). The following site is helpful in helping owners train their dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions. Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below. At this age, a pup will learn really quick and stopping the behavior now will stop it from escalating further. Now some nipping and gnawing on people is part of play behavior. A puppy might lunge at feet and jump back and bark and bow down while nipping at a person. This is play behavior which you can curtail by finding her a suitable playmate. That will need to be a fully vaccinated pup of similar size and opposite sex. That will give her an outlet for excess energy and give her someone to play with. That way you can discourage play biting and nipping if that is present. Encourage various play behavior such as ball chasing, tracking, and even agility. Tracking training can be found on the page with obedience training link. This can keep a pup stimulated and happy. That along with walks will help calm down the pups as well. So start the training as soon as possible and let everyone know not to pick her up. With training, it shouldn't be necessary to pick her up. I hope this information is helpful to you. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer positively so I am compensated for my time.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 5 months ago.
A quick note to see how things are going. Remember to rate if you found my answer helpful.

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