Aggressive Growl / Biting

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Aggressive Growl / Biting

Post by Matriksi » 06 Jan 2019, 23:30


We have a 3.5 month old MS who has been with us for for 1.5M (bought him at around 8 weeks from a breeder).

He has been easy to train and has picked up the basic commands: sit, lay, wait, outside, etc.

We are trying to figure out what is the best way to address his random aggressive temperament. There are times during the day when he is picked up, or disturbed in any way - taking a toy, etc. In a very calm manner where he would growl and in some cases attacks aggressively biting you. I can tell the difference between playful nipping and accidental nipping, this is more temperamental.

We have been told of ignoring, time out isolation, pinning down until on his back he is relaxed and then ignore for a minutes.

As this comes from out of the blue, we do not have time to distract with a toy or treat.

Any recommended method to a: minimize or eliminate the growling and attacking and b: proper way to address once the growling and aggressive bite has occurred.

Thank you.

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Re: Aggressive Growl / Biting

Post by Oscar 12345 » 07 Jan 2019, 10:12

Hi Mark, welcome to the forum.

I would think about each time this has happened and try to ensure that you don't do the same thing again. For example, I wouldn't pick him up unless you have to or until you have worked on him accepting it nicely. If you show him a really nice treat and put it higher than him so that he wants to be lifted to get it. A good idea is to use a grooming table to place the treat on as he will need grooming/brushing and this will teach him that going on the table is a good thing. Everything you want him to do needs to be rewarded at the moment to take his mind off any aggression. If you want a toy either wait for him to move out of the way or offer a treat away from the toy and then take it. I have never taken a toy away from a puppy unless it was for safety reasons. Treats need to be high value, tasty. Remember that some dogs just don't like being picked up. My 1st schnauzer hated it, used to grumble when I picked him up and then grumbled when I put him down. You just get used to it. I would say never ever try to pin the dog down in an attempt to relax it. It certainly will not do that with a schnauzer. You will traumatise him and it will take a long time for him to trust you again. He is a baby just don't push his buttons and he will relax. Also make sure you do have some boundaries and behave consistently. Don't let him jump on the furniture, let him have controlled access to rooms etc. The "leave it" command is very useful too. Lots of training, keeping him mentally satisfied and also the gentle exercise will help greatly as will socialisation with dogs, people and children etc. Finally, if you remain worried about his aggression after trying some new things then it might be worth a quick trip to the vets to make sure that there he isn't in any pain particularly with the picking up.
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Re: Aggressive Growl / Biting

Post by Schnauzer Sam » 07 Jan 2019, 16:50

Hi Mark,

Welcome to the forum. I had the same problem with my second mini who is now 7 months old and I had similar problems with her.

The thread is here viewtopic.php?f=46&t=23777

Just for the record, 5 months have passed since then and she still likes to use her mouth when playing but she has learnt how to limit the pressure (and the second teeth aren't as sharp as the needle like deciduous teeth ) :)
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Re: Aggressive Growl / Biting

Post by EmG+ » 13 Jan 2019, 15:42

Our Rupert has similar trait, but we got him slightly later at 12wks and i think that plays a part, he was brought up in a fantastic family home but they were fortunate enough to a gorgeous 2acre plot and the pack were allowed to roam freely, even at night as had own outside barn etc. The downside seems to be not having the socialising. He can be very snappy at times, not to us but with our other MS Sindey. Comes out when snoozing if Sid gets too close or trys to share bed, sometimes after food, we raw feed and he's always been quick to wolf it down and go check Sids leftovers, you can see him tense up and get ready for battle if Sid dare try to do the same.

Recently started growling at certain toys if Sid goes near them, i noticed with it seems to be ones he was specifically bought, or if he's on sofa with us and Sid trys to get up he'll have a go. We dont tolerate that sofa rights are stripped and back on floor. I can only describe it as territorial but no real pattern. Some days he's happy to share everything 🤔

He definitely shows more "pack" mentality and is definitely becoming dominant one. Even with us you can see he isnt really focusing on whatever you're asking him to do, its like he's arrogant or something and will do or say whatever he wants 😆 We have to put him back in line alot, firm assertiveness seems to do it, i find walking up to him, standing over making him back away without saying anything until he gives in by sitting and finally looking at us seems to do it. He untenses and kind of zones back in!

Growling/snappy barking doesn't really bother us as so far not aimed at human, i do worry he may snap if spooked when sleeping etc but as its something we're aware of we always go careful and will let others know.

Sidney is complete opposite, we picked at 2wks and think he would have been the soppy one in pack, when visiting at 5wks you could tell he was just happy to be bundled etc while others were much more boisterous. I think if he could cry after Rupert grumbles he would!

I personally believe alot of it comes from dominance, pack dogs would never grumble or snap at a leader/alpha as they know their place in the pecking order, the hierarchy in our family is very clear but we battle with Rupert a fair bit! 😤🤬🤪

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Re: Aggressive Growl / Biting

Post by zeta1454 » 13 Jan 2019, 18:02

Hi Emily - It is always going to be difficult to manage two young dogs (especially of very similar age) who may be trying to assert themselves with each other and possibly also within the family unit.

From what you have written, Rupert has had a bad start in life as a family pet if he has not been raised within the home environment and had little or no guidance from his breeders or controlled socialising with other dogs and humans. You can help him with careful training but I would not be inclined to try "dominance" type approaches to this which rarely are successful in training a dog to behave as we would want them to. Intimidation, even passively by standing and staring, can seem to be getting the required response (backing off) but it is reinforcing that strength and aggression are the key to who is "top dog" and does not train a dog to learn new behaviours such as allowing another dog to share the sofa or letting a human take away a loved toy or tasty treat without growling or snapping.

There is an interesting article here relating to the dominance theory: ... -debunked/

You will need to spend time with Rupert training him to surrender items to you willingly - this will take patience at his age but is always going to be valuable as there may well be times when it is vital that you can get him to give up something he should not have. Many of his behavioural issues will have stemmed from lack of early socialising before he came to you and, at 12 weeks of age, many unwanted behaviours may have been embedded from the free running "pack" environment. He needs to learn to become part of the family and accept the others, human and canine, with love and care and plenty of one to one encouragement. It may help, if you have a good local training class, to enrol Rupert in some activity such as scentwork or canine parkour which will focus and direct his energy and help teach him mental control and physical self confidence without aggression. It may be that before he came to you Rupert suffered bullying from siblings or other members of the "pack" and he needs to learn that growling / aggression is not the way to act in a family.

Puppies do react differently to a similar environment depending on their genes and inherited temperament but they can be helped to cope, whatever their individual personality. If you are allowing Rupert and Sidney to be on sofas, rather than making one or both get off if there is a bit of grumbling, try to encourage both boys to settle there with maybe one at each end, if they do not feel comfortable alongside each other. Not all dogs do like to share space and that also needs to be respected. We have a mini who will often take herself off to a crate or another bed if one of the others tries to lie beside her. She will occasionally share a bed but rarely and that is just her way - she is not aggressive with it just values her personal space.

I would also try to avoid potential conflict if you are aware that there may be a problem such as at mealtimes and allow Sidney his own area to eat until he has finished without Rupert being able to intimidate him. If need be, feed in separate rooms or in a crate or with a barrier between the two. If Sidney is a more laid back dog whose natural temperament is to avoid trouble at all costs, he will give in to Rupert and this may become their natural relationship. With an older dog, seniority can command respect naturally but with two adolescents, the more forward assertive dog will prevail and this is a natural situation which may need to accepted. However, you must not let a 'dominance' which is accepted without distress become 'oppression' whereby one dog (or person) forces another into a situation they find stressful or frightening. Dogs, like people, will learn who is always ready for a game or a snuggle etc. and who they need to be more wary of as they are inclined to be grumpy - no family is always happy and serene all the time - but when raising puppies together you just need to be aware of their different personality and temperament, encourage them to engage together but don't force it and give them each plenty of one to one time and fun :)
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Re: Aggressive Growl / Biting

Post by EmG+ » 13 Jan 2019, 18:58

Thanks Leigh, some useful advice there and I'll have a read of the link.

My description has probably sounded worse than it is, not like the OP regarding biting, he certainly isnt agressive when it comes to us, other dogs or Sidney, just has occassional grumble and snap bark, happens maybe once or twice in a month, and we've no issue with taking toys if necessary etc and has never grumbled at us.

By no means did he have a 'bad' upbringing prior either, his previous family and breeder were amazing and very hands on, he was just in his pack longer than usual and still has some of those traits that come out occassionally. We've tried and tested many things and found a more assertive approach has worked wonders when needed.

Im aware theres a fine line between being firm and being intimidating, we know the balance thats enough to settle when required. We learnt a great deal and seen huge near instant change to the few troublesome behaviours following one-2-one sessions with a very experienced trainer. This was mainly to help with Ruperts excessive barking and whining when out.

They've always been fed seperate and generally finish in same 10 seconds 😂 but very much on Ruperts terms if they decide to switch positions and clean eachothers plates, don't get me wrong Rupert can be the instigator if they get a little too frisky but Sidney holds his own, infact it was the other way round until recent.

With regard to grumbling on sofa, they're invited up on our terms, on rare occassions he does have a grumble its usually if Sidney decides to join at a later time when Ruperts settled. We'll either just put them both down, let them stroll about & settle in their own beds then try again. They're not forced to be near eachother if they dont want as kind of got their own areas with us, there's no reason or rhyme to as 95% of the time they cuddled up buried in eachother!

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