Our three-month-old Izzy has, so far, loved everyone he has met. For the first visit to the vet office, in New-Mom's care, he was very outgoing, loving ALL the attention that staff, clients, and vet delivered. He didn't even know he got two shots, 'cause he was so involved with all of the cookies.
But when we were still in the waiting room with a half-dozen different dogs of all sizes, he singled out two large dogs across the room as "enemies". There were other large dogs in the office at the time, and he lives/plays with two active Australian Shepherds. He was curious, and enamored, with all of the other canines, but Izzy became quite aggressive toward the two dogs that he "chose to hate". He lunged at the end of his leash, barked aggressively, and acted like a complete idiot. It was embarrassing to me, and I wanted to deck Dawg. I sternly used "NO",...and twisted his soft collar, to regain his attention.
I have never seen a pup this aggressive at three months. I have not seen a pup single out "innocent dogs" to instantly hate.
I have no idea as to his behavior/handing at the previous two vet visits for first puppy vaccs. Appointments, prior to purchase, were also at a different clinic.
Izzy loved the entire "vet-clinic experience", except for the two (not-at-all-agressive) dogs that he chose to instantly hate. I did not want to be overly harsh, as it might leave Pup with a poor impression of going to the vet, as well as having other clients, now fearful, hugging their pups/dogs to their breasts.
How harsh should I be during the next visit (less than a month away)? We want our Pem to have a good experience at the clinic, but I can not tolerate this kind of weird/aggressive behavior.
Any ideas on levels of punishment?
Rather than being harsh with him I would suggest bringing a treat pouch and rewarding him for keeping his attention on you instead of the other dogs. Barking does not necessarily mean aggression either, dogs also bark out of fear.
Thanks, Jane for your feedback. A treat pouch to distract Izzy would likely work, as he is bent on eating (Anything?).
But he needs to learn to socialize without constant handouts? Izzy's barking was very aggressive towards his "chosen singled-out dogs". There may have been some fearful origins with his nasty behavior. But just giving treats won't solve the deliberate aggression from a three month old baby?
Izzy is otherwise extremely "trainable", and intelligent. I can't see a dog training me...?
I think it's very unlikely this was true aggression from a 3 month old puppy. Most likely he was overwhelmed by the situation and became reactive towards the other dogs out of fear or insecurity. While you cannot force a dog to socialize and like other dogs, you can teach them to at least ignore them. And the best way to do that IMO, is counter conditioning with treats and praise.
He is very young, so treat freely and often.
Wow! Thanks ALL!...For the great input. Guess I am gonna go the treat route, and restrain myself from decking Pup. The cheap hot dogs and string cheese tidbits sound like a great idea. I grew up with stock dogs, and they weren't coddled in this fashion, but I have always believed that "tricking/rewarding" any animal is much better & kinder than having to do battle.
I think Izzy was somewhat overwhelmed by the busy office, and huge amount of attention, possibly becoming a little flustered along the way. I want to forgive him, but I will continue to be concerned.
Next visit may be different, and hopefully for the better, as we have to take all three hounds in at once. The two Aussies, and Izzy need their rattlesnake vaccinations. Pup may be happier with his calm Buds present. I hope.
I will try to hold Izzy on my lap, and manage treats too(?). The two merle (a blue & a red) Aussies always attract attention as well, so this still may end up being a three ring circus? Can I give the other hooman clients the treats, and say "sit"?
I will work more at home, at gaining Izzy's immediate attention. He IS veeery food oriented. Izzy & I have been working on that already. But I will step up my efforts.
Great comments, everyone.
I think Jane's idea is good, you always want to help your pup be successful first. I also think your concerns are valid and, if the distraction techniques do not work, I would not tolerate ANY overt aggression. Since he has displayed this trait once, you are ahead of the game because you can now anticipate it. Look for the first signs, like hackles going up, staring down, stiffening of the body and correct then. If you wait to correct when the full blown aggression is going on, your chances of success are less.
Teach him to ignore the other animals in the room, no socializing. Hold him in your lap if this helps, while he's still young and learning. If the room is too crowded and conditions seem chaotic, keep him in the car until he has to go in. Build on success and correct firmly if things go wrong in spite of your good planning. He needs to know this is totally unacceptable to you.
I have an Izzy also! I would not really punish a puppy at this age for barking or growling at other dogs as much as distract him. Teach the "watch me" command. Hold a treat up by your face and say "watch or look", as soon as he looks give a treat with the other hand. Practice this a few times a day at home and then when you are out in public.This is a good starting command for most training so can be very useful in distracting your dog. Chances are at his age he is feeling insecure around certain dogs and is trying to bluff them into thinking he is a tough guy. It usually is not a good idea to punish fear based behavior. Now would be a great idea to start a class with him because it gives you a chance to have him around other dogs in a controlled environment. Your aim is to show him that you will take care of him so he doesn't have to worry about other dogs. It isn't unusual for a dog to be nervous around some strange dogs and not others especially a young dog.
I agree with Beth and for rewards....tiny pieces are fine so you can give many without it affecting him. Something he really likes. I use cheap hot dogs quartered and cut tiny. String cheese the same way is good also.
Maybe some play dates with friends who have well behaved dogs so he can also learn. early socialization for many things is very important:)