Lots of questions about puppy aggression

  • Hi all,
    Just wanting to get some opinions/help if possible.

    So we picked up our pup (4 months old) from the breeder on Sunday morning. He got sick on the car ride home (no surprise)…seems like he was kinda nervous...but after he threw up he slept the entire rest of the drive. He is getting used to his new home and has already staked his claim on the couch :rolleyes: lol. He hasn't had an accident in the house at all...and is generally very calm and sweet. We are already in love with the little guy LOL

    My bf took him to the vet on Monday and he got his rabies shot and his puppy physical (everything looked good...didn't have worms or anything...and I thought all puppies had worms LOL). He was a very good boy at the vet and was pretty tired when he got home.

    I took him to work to show him off yesterday and he was so sweet to all my co workers who cooed over him...pet him, got on the ground with him, and held him. No aggression towards them at all. I also took him to the vet again yesterday b/c my bf forgot to get his bordatella vaccination...so we had to go back. He was very anxious while we were there and got pretty scared when he heard big dogs barking....but didn't growl or act aggressive towards the vet or the nurse. We came home and he was tired...slept again.

    Here are my big problems....he hasn't eaten much (I know he won't starve...but I'm starting to worry). I tried to give him his heartworm medicine in peanut butter and in cheese and he didn't want anything to do with either one (what else could I try?). He takes a few bites of his food (Merrick) and then isn't interested. He's thrown up a few times in the past few days (every time he's in the car). Maybe he's just a bundle of nerves and doesn't want to eat? How long should I let it go before I get worried?

    **My mother in law was at our house yesterday & this morning and when she tried to approach Jackpot and he growled at her and tried to bite her...and in the process of trying to bite my mother-in-law...Jackpot bit my boyfriend (broke the skin on his hand & everything). BF is okay...but I'm really worried that we have a "fear based aggression" thing going on and I don't know what to do about it. At the time my MIL tried to say hello, puppy was on the couch and eating a bone...MIL was not fearful when she approached and was talking gently. He continues to growl at her even when she if a few feet away and they are in a different part of the house (tried to introduce them again this morning). (I thought maybe he was possessive of the couch...so we tried to have them interact in a different room of the house). Still a "no-go" as he growls at her every time she gets close. (and we can't use a treat as a 'peace offering" becuase he doesn't like anything...serious... he won't eat any of the very high quality treats we got for him!)

    BTW...I've taken him for several walks around the neighborhood and he's kinda skitish with cars going by, and loud noises...I just tell him its okay and we keep walking....should I be doing anything else? He sits right next to me and growls at other dogs when we meet them on the sidewalk. (Obviously he wasn't well socialized by the breeder...so it will be my job to do this...but I'm just not sure what steps to take. I am committed to work on this and will hire a trainer to come to our house if need be!)

    Any suggestions? I know that when myself and my bf are with him he is as sweet as can be and he can mess with him while he's eating a bone...take it away, etc and he doesn't mind. But for some reason he is really not liking my MIL.

    Thanks for any and all responses and sorry my post is so long...we just have LOTS of questions 🙂 LOL

  • Have you talked to your breeder? What kind of socialization did he have before you got him?

  • I did talk to our breeder and he wasn't socialized outside of his litter with mom and dad. (not good, I know)…but I'm just trying to focus on what I need to do now (can't change the past). I just got a recommendation from a coworker about an animal behaviorist and trainier that she used with her dog and highly recommended.

  • Maybe he just doesn't like your MIL. Jazzy has certain people that, for reasons known only to herself, she CANNOT STAND to have in our home, and others that she LOVES LOVES LOVES–gets very excited when they come over, tail-wagging, etc.

    Maybe have your MIL become a font of treats. When she comes over, give her treats to give to Jackpot. Every time she approaches him, there's a cookie involved! He may well learn that he LOVES GRANNY because she's walking cookie jar. Eventually you will be able to give a treat every other time, then every third time she approaches, etc. until he finally just accepts her.

    He may get used to cars in time. Probably they're just something new and noisy. And he's very small -- I think they'd be intimidating if they are close.

    Jazzy was well-socialized: by the breeder, and we took her to puppy classes, walks in parks where there were other dogs, etc. and she still hates dogs.
    Sometimes that is just who they are.

  • Jazzy's mom-
    Thanks for the response 🙂 I'll let you guys know how things are going…and when I get a minute I'll post some pics 🙂

    Thanks again for the reply!

  • For car rides, you need to take him out lots.. and to fun places so that he doesn't think that every time he goes someplace that it is the Vet's office… and that is a fact, sometimes they just plain do not like someone.

    Did you MIL let him come to her in he own good time? Sometimes if you try and force yourself on a pup they take great offence to it...

    I think that a behaviorist is a great idea.... good luck

  • And about food, just give him the food (is this different then what the breeder was giving him?) and give him 15 minutes to eat… if he doesn't eat, take it away... as we have all said, he will not starve himself. Remember when he was with the pack there was competition for food, now there is none and he needs to learn good eating habits. Is the heart worm pill chewable? Usually they are not a problem.. if just a pill, you most likely will need to "shove" it down his throat... your Vet should be able to show you how, or one of the Vet Techs

  • Thanks again for the replies! No, I think the first problem was that the meeting with MIL was not well planned (she called that day and asked to spend the night at our house before heading to the airport)…so we didn't have much time to prepare the meeting and it wasn't well planned out (major learning curve on this one and I will make sure to plan introductions to people much more thouroghly in the future.) I don't want to put Jackpot (or a guest in our house) in that position again.

    I will definately use the "let him come up to you in his own time" as part of introductions in the future.

    I still have the heartworm med (yes its chewable...but he doesn't want it). I'll see if we can force it down & if not we'll take him in to the vet tech and see if they can show us how! 🙂

    Thanks again...you are all such valuable sources of info and I truely appreciate you taking the time to respond! 🙂

  • First things first…every experience your little Jackpot has with the world needs to be a happy one. Start small with taking him outside and praising him with tons of yummy treats. Try cheese, if cheese don't work try small pieces of a hot dog. If that don't work try some jerky, etc. When a car goes by...praise him and tell him how much of a good boy he is being and give him a treat. Constant praises while he is out of his comfort zone.
    When people come over...dont let them go to him. He needs to go to them. Give your guests treats to give Jackpot. Keep the treats by the front door so you will have them available. Dont have many guests over right now. Jackpot is already in a new environment and it may take sometime for him to adjust to his new home.
    Its going to take time...just be patient. Take baby steps with little Jackpot and I think the situation will get better. 🙂

  • First of all, I think you have completely overloaded the puppy with changes. Just reading your description of what you have done since Saturday made me feel nervous and overwhelmed 😉 Try slowing everything down, and let him adjust slowly to new things.

    Secondly…I wouldn't force this puppy to do anything right now,force will most likely make your situation worse. He is already showing signs of resource guarding (bone on couch at MIL)...that is not good for four months old. Definitely contact the behaviorist...and make sure she is experienced with resource guarding and positive reinforcement techniques.

    Sounds like he also is either going thru a fear period, or just has a naturally fearful temperament...either way try to avoid putting him in situations where he may get scared, particularly if he is fearful enough that he can't take treats from you in any given situation. You don't want to flood him with the stimulus that makes him afraid, you want to introduce him to new things slowly, with lots of reinforcement.

  • I agree this boy has been put into a lot of new things, and he needs time to slow down and adjust.
    Are you in a major heart worm area? I mean, if he doesn't get this med this week, but next week, would that be ok?
    I wouldn't force this pill on him, at this time, unless his life will be in danger.
    Slow and positive things for his boy now.

  • Hi everyone,
    thanks for all the replies! I agree that we overdid it with the stimuli (we were just so excited to have a puppy & got a little too excited I guess). We are paring it down as much as possible and I was able to get him interested in a little bit of hot dog…so that might be a very good treat (as long as it keeps his interest). The vet just called and asked how he was doing and asked if he was still throwing up the little food that he does eat...and when I said he was...the vet asked me to bring him in tomorrow to ensure that Jackpot isn't dehydrated, has a virus or anything else. So, that will be the third trip to the vet this week (poor thing). We are going to try to take a very short car ride tonight to the park across the street...just to give him a "fun car trip" and see how that goes.

    Thanks again for all the knowledge, suggestions, and "reality checks" guys! I can't thank you enough! 🙂

  • or should we just skip the short car ride to the park (I was just trying to make sure that not all car rides are to the vet)…but I don't want to overstimulate him my getting in the car tonight, going to the park, etc. Ugh, I just want to do what's best for him! :o

  • I am pretty sure you just need to give him time and socialization is a big key. When I got Medjai, Phil was feeding his dogs the WalMart brand dog food. If you put him on better dog food, he will get much better skin and coat.

    It may take a week or two for the pup to settle down, but I'm sure it will happen. Medjai is not a huge fan of the car, but he doesn't mind much. He is GREAT with social situations and even really surprised me at the dog park.

    Just remember that although Phil is not the best parent of the dogs, he does raise good dogs, and they just need more TLC at the beginning than people who are always with the pups and socialize them often.

  • Thanks for the input Michael! Pat, I appreciate your knowledge and input…I hear what you are saying and respect your opinion. At this time, we are just trying to go forward (can't change the fact that we already have him and where he came from)...just learn for the future, right? 🙂

  • @Chelbell26:

    Thanks for the input Michael! Pat, I appreciate your knowledge and input…I hear what you are saying and respect your opinion. At this time, we are just trying to go forward (can't change the fact that we already have him and where he came from)...just learn for the future, right? 🙂


    Exactly…. I totally agree.. you are a good Basenji "parent/slave"... and you are doing the right thing..

  • <<they know="" what="" cleaning="" the="" house="" is="" and="" can="" help..="">>

    Uh…my pups don't know what that is...and actually I doubt my son does either ;)</they>

  • Chelbell-

    Sounds like your pup was really overwhelmed with all that was going on. The vomitting may be a slight reaction to shots or car rides. You can test for dehydration by pinching the skin. The skin should snap back, if it stays "pinched", the dog is definately dehydrated, but of course take you new puppers to the vet if you're unsure. In the future, personally, I'd separate the shots. Don't give your pup everything at once. There are many reasons for this and I won't go into all of them right now.

    Be careful of puppy classes. Some are better than others. I've seen and heard about lots of puppy classes that tend to over-excite the pups and the pup just seems to be over threashold whenever they are around other dogs. I see you're in Co, if you'd like to meet up sometime and do socialization or talk training, I have some nice dog-safe dogs. You're welcome to pm me.

  • @Quercus:

    <<they know="" what="" cleaning="" the="" house="" is="" and="" can="" help..="">>

    Uh…my pups don't know what that is...and actually I doubt my son does either ;)</they>

    OK, I should have "put"… when I do clean....;)

  • I think our house is cleaner when we have puppies than it is any other time since I want to make sure the pups are socialized to all the sights and sounds of cleaning.:D

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