Agression/ Biting goldendoodle

Hi Everyone,

Im at a bit of a last resort here so any helpful insight is greatly appreciated! I have a 10 month old golden doodle male, Kingsley, who has been fixed.  Around five months old he started having aggression problems that consisted of him baring his teeth, growing and lunging forward threatening to bite.  There was no specific incidence that provoked this behavior.  I immediately disciplined him and have been very proactive at making sure he knows I am the dominant one in the relationship.  Since then this has happened multiple times to the point where I thought he was actually going to bite me.  I am a nurse and live with a friend (who grew up with a golden doodle) and he has acted the same way with her.  On Christmas Eve he was doing the same thing aggression thing he normally does and I walked toward him to discipline him and he bite me this time.  I ended up having to get stitches.  Since then he has continued to do the same thing and actually bit my mom when I was visiting her.  He has tried to bite more people since as well, but I am now very careful where I bring him/who I let close to him.  I am around young children a lot so I am very concerned, and he has bitten two people now.  Does anyone have any suggestions or thoughts on his behavior? He has always been so sweet and we did puppy school when he was younger!

Thank you so much!

Sarah & Kingsley

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Replies

  • While you are evaluating his physical and behavioral  health, I would take away any toys or item he is guarding - just so that you avoid any guarding that is possible.

  • I would also get a behaviorist to come in an observe him.  Does he just lunge to bite out of no where, for no reason?  Bentley growls when he doesn't like something, or is uncomfortable.  For example, he does not like to be picked up (he's a mini at 22 lbs), unless he lets us know it's ok.  He doesn't like to be hugged too tight, and we have to work with him a lot on dominance guarding.  We took him to 3 levels of puppy classes and he did very well.  We had our trainer come to the house to work on the dominance guarding, which is not aggression.  Each dog has it's own personality, and some need individual lessons.  So you need to make sure you're not doing something he's uncomfortable with.  As someone else said, growling is a good thing because he is warning you that something is wrong.  Good luck - I know how upsetting it can be.

  • I have no advice but just want to wish you good luck. Hang in there!

  • Thank you so much everyone,  I really appreciate all the helpful insight! I am going to give my vet a call today and schedule an appointment for him.  Karen- he was eight weeks old when I took him home from the breeder.  The next day he went to my vet for his initial exam and everything checked out OK other than worms, which were taken care of.  Aside from the basic few weeks of puppy class he hasn't had any other "professional" training.  I grew up with dogs and horses so I've been around animals and the ups and downs that come with them, but have never experienced behavior like this before.  I work with him every day on basic commands, he picks up tricks quickly, and we always work on his listening skills.  He has very structured days and has been very well socialized with both people and other dogs, cats and horses.

    • I asked about age because I have seen a few doodles with biting issues who were taken from the litters too early, before they had developed bite inhibition, but clearly that's not the case here.

      And of course, training, is ongoing. :) The classes are meant to teach us how to train our dogs, but the real training/learning takes place every day outside of class, in our daily lives with our dogs. It sounds like you are doing that, too.

      If you see your regular vet about this and not a specialist, be sure to ask the vet to run a full thyroid panel and not just test the T3 or T4. The full panel will need to be sent out and take about a week to get results. 

  • Here is a link to the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists where you can find a specialist in your area:
    http://www.dacvb.org/
  • In addition to the excellent suggestions you've been given regarding seeing a veterinary behaviorist (NOT a trainer, a veterinarian who specializes in behavioral issues) and getting a full physical work-up including a full thyroid panel done (veterinary behaviorists will always do that to rule out a physical or medical cause), I'm wondering what the "discipline" consists of. 

    How old was he when you first got him? 

    What kind of training has he had since puppy classes? 

  • I would talk to your vet and have them run a full thyroid panel among anything else they may suggest. Unprovoked aggression (as you're describing) in such a young pup is very concerning. Further, I'd ask for a recommendation from the vet for a trainer to observe and see if it's truly unprovoked or if there is something you're doing, without realizing it, that is causing it. They'll be able to assess what happens before, during, and after the behavior and instruct you on how best to deal with it.

    In the mean time, to protect yourself, when you approach him to "discipline him" and he growls at you to go away, that is his way of warning you that he's about to bite. Respect that. If you don't,  he'll just start biting without warning and then you'll be in real trouble. This is especially important since he has already escalated his warnings to a bite. For your own sake if nothing else, I would give him space until you have a professional assessment from a trainer which isn't something anyone can do for you via the internet. 

  • I would find a reputable animal behaviorist as soon as possible.  I would also take dog to vet to be sure that there is nothing physically wrong.  To neglect this problem is to put the dog at high risk for a tragic ending.  He will bite an innocent person and that will be that!  Likely to be confiscated by animal control and at high risk for euthanasia.  You have to deal with this at a professional level to find the cause.

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