Advice for Owners of an Aggressive Puppy

Beagle pup

Our Beagle Puppy Is Too Aggressive

Visitor question: We just brought home a ten-week-old Beagle puppy named Daisy. She was obviously the alpha dog in her litter when we went to pick a puppy. She is everything I've read a Beagle should be except that she's frequently aggressive.

There are six of us in our family "pack," and Daisy acts differently with each one of us. She is submissive with my husband and I, as well as my sixteen-year-old, but the other three kids have a much more difficult time. Her behaviors range from growling to nipping.

She continues to challenge all of us from time to time, and this is only day five of having her home. I also wanted to know if it's a bad idea for her to be sleeping with us in our beds? I wanted her to bond with all of us and to be a loving dog, but am I doing it wrong?

Thank you,

Kathy Conti and Daisy May

Expert Reply

Hi Kathy,

You've hit the nail on the head. Daisy doesn't know her proper place in the pecking order, and she's trying to determine where she fits in. She's gone from being an alpha pup in her canine family to a completely new situation in unfamiliar surroundings, so she's trying to establish herself in canine fashion.

Nipping and growling are not acceptable. She obviously views herself as dominant over the younger children, so I advise supervising their interactions over the next few weeks. Teach your children how to firmly say "No" to any signs of aggression from Daisy. She needs to hear it directly from them, but you should be ready to reinforce the "No" yourself if she doesn't listen. I'd recommend a time out in her crate in addition to the "No," which will give her some time to settle down.

In fairness to Daisy, you also need to make sure the children aren't over-taxing her. A new puppy is hard to resist, and Daisy may just want them to back off a bit.

Be consistent in your interactions with her, and she will quickly learn her proper place. I also recommend putting a stop to sleeping in your beds for the time being. This sends a mixed signal and will only prolong her confusion. Give her a snuggly bed of her own and a regular place to sleep. She needs her own routine, just like a human baby.

Although I share your concerns about Daisy's immediate behavior, I believe this situation can easily be rectified, and that she will turn out to be a wonderful pet your whole family will enjoy.

You should investigate local dog training facilities to see if anyone is offering a "Puppy Kindergarten" class. This is primarily designed to provide socialization, and give new owners a chance to work on problems they may be having. Follow up with an obedience course around six months of age, and Daisy should become a model canine citizen.

Thanks for your question, and let me know how things turn out.


More Aggressive Dog Problems

A recent visitor writes:

My two-year-old male Dachshund has aggression problems. He thinks he is a king or the Alpha in the pack. He is not, he just doesn't know it. He doesn't "challenge" us, but he growls and shows his teeth. We tried the "Alpha roll," but we're not supposed to do that. We know that you're not supposed to put them in a crate that is the same place that they sleep. We are going to try the firm "NO" with him. If it does not work then what do we do about his aggressive behavior?

We looked through every web page we could to find good ways to stop his aggression towards us, so can you give us some ideas for safely disciplining our pet?

P.S. We also have a female Beagle at home, she is no problem.

~~ Alex

Expert Reply

Hi Alex,

I'm going to disagree with you here. Your dog doesn't just think he's the Alpha. If he's consistently getting away with his behavior, he has assumed the Alpha position in your family pack. It's going to be up to you and the rest of the family to assert loving, but firm dominance over him.

You are all larger than he is, and that's to your advantage, so use it. I don't recommend using the Alpha roll on a Dachshund because you don't want to risk causing spinal problems, however, some sort of physical display of supremacy is required to adjust his attitude.

I am currently raising two Jack Russell Terrier puppies that have enough feist between them for four puppies. Being Terriers, they naturally challenge the pecking order in our house. We re-establish dominance at these times by cupping a hand over their shoulders and accompanying a firm "No" with one slight, quick shake.

This is definitely not hard enough to harm them in any way and is not painful. I am not advocating that anyone begin shaking their pet. It simply takes their control away for a second, which makes them focus their full attention on us. It is very similar to what you would see a mother dog do with her mouth on the scruff of a puppy's neck when it is challenging her. When we do it, we are met with sheepish canine grins, lowered ears and generally submissive attitudes.

So far, it is working well, but these are only nine-week-old pups, so it will take longer for them to learn. Your two-year-old Doxie should get the message far more quickly. The real key here is that all of your family needs to be consistent, otherwise he will wind up being submissive to some and remain dominant over others. Once he learns his true place in the pack, you should have harmony once again.

Thanks for your question~~ Kelly

Advice for Owners of an Aggressive Puppy