The Pets Doc

Dr. Kevin Watkins, DVM


Aggressive Puppies – Watch For Signs Of Bad Behavior

Last year, a client came into our animal hospital with his newly adopted puppy to have it vaccinated. During that initial visit, the puppy was weighed, examined from nose to tail, and vaccinated.

Sounds simple, right? Ordinarily, it is. Most puppy visits are filled with “oohs” and “ahhhhs,” lots of cuddling, and giving of treats. Puppies usually don’t even realize they’ve been vaccinated before they are handed back to their owners.

In this case, however, the puppy was very aggressive: growling, baring his teeth, and attempting to bite anyone who came near him. Fortunately, the owner had advised the veterinary technician at the beginning of the visit that the doctor and staff should be careful.

I discussed behavior training and behavior modification with the owner during that first visit, a year ago. He agreed that something needed to be done because he had no control over the pup, and he was afraid it might bite his grand kids or a neighbor. I discussed basic dog psychology, or how dogs approach the world and how they learn. We also discussed beginning some training and leadership exercises he could start that day. I warned him that persistency and consistency were what this pup needed if it was to be the companion he had hoped for when he adopted it.

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Client brought his dog in for us to examine and vaccinate. The dog is a lot bigger than he was a year ago, more aggressive and nearly uncontrollable. The owner advised us that the dog now lives in an outside pen and is allowed to roam freely most of the time. He also admitted that he wished that he had taken a more proactive role in modifying his dog’s undesirable behaviors before he became such a big menace.

While those little puppy teeth are sharp and break our skin, in a 100-pound dog those teeth can break our bones, and kill. Most people don’t realize that even puppy “mouthing,” something all puppies do when they are teething, must be discouraged. Puppies that show any signs of early aggression need immediate behavior intervention. Also, some breeds are predisposed to aggression, so be educated before you decide on your next dog

Margo Watkins, Pet Behavior Counselor

Pawsitive Pet Behavior Blog