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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20173
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Hi I have a 20 week old puppy ,he is a cross New Zealand huntaway

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Hi I have a 20 week old puppy ,he is a cross New Zealand huntaway australian kelpie . We have been attending puppy training for one month and he walks really well on a lead ,he will sit ,stay and retrieve without question. We have a big garden where he plays with the family,he is very rarely left alone and is walked at least four times a day but he displays terrible aggression towards me in particular,sometimes.Last night he , for what appeared to be no apparent reason, he flew at me biting me hard on the forearm he has done this on at least a dozen occasions he will bite hard enough that that the bites he leaves cold do with a stitch I don't understand why this is happening but i need help now . I really don't want to give up on him but I can't tolerate this any longer Any advice you could give me.would be gratefully appreciated Yours gratefully Allan Hendry
My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.
Are you the one working with him on obedience training?
Does he have any dog "friends" or playmates?
Does it happen after you reprimand him?
How long have you had him?
You are the only one he does this to?
Was he taken away from his mother young?
Did he have siblings?
Does he appear to shed a lot?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
We work together as a family with obedience training at home. It is usually me
who takes him to training classes once a week. The trainers have been helpful to a point. They have been firm with him when he refuses to do anything but has tried to bite them. He is extremely nervous around other animals but is not aggressive to them.
He has no dog friends or playmates.
No his aggression does not come after I reprimand him. Sometimes it happens for no apparent reason eg the dog was playing with my wife, he had an old collar in his mouth , he was taking it to her and putting it on her knee for her to grab, as soon as she moved he ran away with it but kept coming back to repeat the play. My wife moved away and he did the same to me. I put my hand down to clap him and he went for me and wouldn't stop. That is when he bit me. I had to leave the room.
We have had him since he was 10 or 11 weeks old. He had a previous owner. He was a young lad who was out working all day and the pup was left in all day himself. We are sure the young lad was cruel to him. That was one of the reasons we took him.
He is most aggressive with me, but he has bitten my wife and son. This happened each time when they were playing with him. He played well but got more aggressive and then was snapping viciously.
I do not know if he was taken away from his mother early.
We were told he was 1 of 10 pups.
He does not seem to shed a lot.
To emphasise how he looks when he is aggressive can only be described as ferocious , for a pup, it's frightening.
While he is still technically a puppy, he is 5 months old which is close to sexual maturity. The fact that he has this serious of a problem with biting and what appears to be sudden aggression would lead me to believe that it may be medical in nature even though he is quite young.
The game he was playing is also one that invites bites since it is a keep away type game. He tempts you to grab at it and then runs or snaps at you if you try and get it away. These are games dogs play with other dogs and a bite like you sustained would likely not done damage to another dog.
It sounds like he was never taught bite inhibition at a young age. This happens when a dog was taken early from its mother. Given that everyone has been bit might make him not such a good fit for your family having a child. However, you could continue to work with him on obedience on a daily basis. YOu don't have to go to classes but he does need daily training. The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your 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.
Have everyone work with him. Get a muzzle for him so you do not need to worry about bites when he is around your son. Get approved toys such as the long rubber tug of war toy. Use that to play with him if you must play that type of game with him. Never use cloth like toys or he may perceive towels and clothing as play time resulting in a bite. Maybe invest in an automatic ball throwing machine and teach him to put the balls into the machine to continue play. Don't play any games with him that invite him to jump at humans or take things away from humans. Keep more than one item so that if he brings one to you, you can throw the other thus not having to get the item from him.
Teach him leave it. Read how here:
Keep a leash attached to him and let him trail it. Use it to reprimand him. If he gets that look in his eye, give a tug on the lead and do a firm low toned "NO" to let him know it is unacceptable.
Get him a thorough check up and ask the vet about the possibility of a thyroid issue even though he is young. A thyroid imbalance can lead to sudden aggression. Read more on medical causes of aggression here:
He may have learned that when he act this way, he gets his way and can intimidate people. If that is the case, it will be difficult to break him of that without the muzzle. So I would first purchase a basket style muzzle to keep your family and you safe while yo work on this issue with him. If he is not neutered, get that done as well.
I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. 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 .
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I have a son and daughter. My son is an adult, he is 23. My daughter is 15 so they are not children. Your advice is appreciated and I will check out these links you have provided. Our first challenge will be to get a muzzle on him! Any advice there?
I forgot to mention that Hugo stores his urine for long periods overnight. I have had dogs all my life and never known a dog not to want out in the morning. He beds down around 11pm. My wife is up at 05 30 and won't go out. I'm up at 06 30 and he will go out then. Is that not unusual. He drinks and eats well.
Well it eases my mind to know these are not young children. That would allow you to work with him. Here is a site that goes over getting a dog used to muzzles.
Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Jane, thank you very much for your advice and links.
Kind regards


You are very welcome.