Using Positive Dog Training to Stop a Goldendoodle Puppy From Growling at Kids

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 26, 2017

Solomon is a fourteen-year-old Bichon / Poodle Mix who’s family welcomed one-year-old Goldendoodle Abraham into their home. Their guardians called to set up a dog behavior training session to stop Max from growing at children when they approach him while he has a bone or high value item.

I saw the growling first hand, seconds after I arrived for the session.

In the incident at the start of the above video, Abraham was attempting to keep me to himself or take the first position on his own. His growl at older and smaller Sol was intended to back him off. But because Sol is an older dog, his hearing and sight isn’t what it once was. Im guessing that he didnt see or hear the younger dog’s attempt to back him down which is why he took things to the next level by lunging at him.

One strategy the family may consider is to train Abe to move away and stay behind an invisible boundary 10 or so feet from the door. The extra distance can help Abe stop acting this way around the door. Plus the human enforcement of this new rule will help them appear more leader like to the dog.

Id prefer the adults train Abe to move back from the door using the Escalating Consequences we introduced later in this session. Once Abe is moving back with ease, then the parents can supervise the kids doing the same. With practice, Abe will learn to keep his distance and do so on his own.

When I sat down with the guardians, I saw Abe repeatedly invade his human’s personal space; attempt to nibble on her notebook and pretty much ignore his guardian’s attempts to stop or correct him. This is something many dog trainers ignore but a good dog behaviorist will always want to fix.

After going over some non verbal ways to disagree with unwanted dog behavior, I showed his guardian how to claim her personal space and train the dog to keep a one foot bubble of personal space.

Training a dog to respect personal space is an important part of teaching them proper manners. How a dog treats and interacts with you is how it thinks it should interact with everyone. Teaching Abe to respect this boundary is going to be important.

Its going to be important for the humans to assume the leadership role to help Abe stop thinking he can challenge them when he wants to do something they don’t. I suggested a number of rules and boundaries and went over some structural changes that will help Abe see his humans as leaders instead of peers.

I also went over a Leadership Exercise I developed a few years ago. You can watch the family’s mother run through this great dog training exercise in the video below.

It will be important for all the members of the family to practice the leadership exercise every day until Abe can sit for up to 15 minutes ignoring the tasty treat laying in the middle of the floor.

Often when a dog growls at people when it has an item, the assumption is its a case of resource guarding. I don’t think that is the case here, I believe this is more a case of an adolescent dog who has recently discovered he can growl and get his way through various movements including nipping.

But the approach I would use to address resource guarding can’t hurt in this situation. I came up with a variation of a method I have used with many resource guarding dogs that took advantage of the family having multiple children. You can check it out in the anti resource guarding video below.

Abe is an adolescent dog trying to figure out where his position is in the home; with amongst the humans and dog. Just like children, he will challenge at times and protest when he doesn’t get his way.

If his guardians practice positive dog training through the exercises we introduced daily, consistently enforce rules, let him with a purpose, and reward desired behaviors, Abe should start to identify as being a follower behind all the humans in the home.

The humans will also need to keep a close eye on Abe when he is around Sol. Due to his sight and hearing deficiencies, its possible there may be more challenging interactions between them. Setting Abe up for success by upping his exercise and maintaining good supervision while the dogs are together with toys and bones will both be advisable.

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