behavior problems

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by katiebarger, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. katiebarger

    katiebarger New Member

    Hi all,

    I just joined the group last week -- and in the last week my 6-month-old Berner has suddenly (and I mean suddenly) developed some serious behavioral issues. It only occurs when we go on walks -- but he gets aggressive. He jumps on me and on a few occasions has growled and he bit my side the first time this occurred.

    I have no idea what to do. I am already very firm with him but I also know that Berners don't take negative discipline well -- so I'm at a complete loss. Today, I tried spraying him with water when he jumped but it just agitated him more. I've mentioned it to the breeder and all he said was "this shouldn't happen. be a better leader." Thanks, that's not helpful (granted, we're working with a Japanese/English language barrier, too). I'm assuming the problem is me -- but I have no idea what to do to change my own actions toward him.

    I've also recently changed his food b/c he had food allergies and the veterinarian believed this was causing him to be aggressive. So I'm clearly getting very different advice from the two people who I'd hope would help me :/

    This is very abnormal behavior from our puppy. He's usually so sweet. Hard-headed sometimes, yes, but never aggressive like has suddenly happened.

    Has anyone experienced this and can anyone offer me advice?


  2. Lynn

    Lynn New Member

    Without actually seeing the behaviour it is hard to determine whether this is aggression or over zealous play and some Berners can play very rough.

    I would say he is hitting his naughty teenage stage he has reached his sexual maturity and will now try to push his boundaries.

    Is he on lead or off lead when he does this or can it be either ?

    I would suggest when you start to pick up he is going to exhibit the behaviour to stop. Ask for a sit then a down then reward. Try moving off again keep up with this till he gets the message we are going nowhere till you walk nicely.
    Does he do this in the house ?

    You are going to have to try to be the stornger one they can be very testing and given opportunity will work things out their way. They do need firm but fair direction but you cannot afford to be a pushover.

    Is he food or toy orientated or both. Maybe try a distraction when he starts playing up with one of or either.

    Give it a try if it isn't working then I think you need a behaviourist. I am not sure if you are in the UK or US but make sure wherever you are they are qualified and come under the relevant training schemes. A bad behaviourist will take you backwards not forwards anyone who starts on about dominance and pack theories I personally would run the other way.
    If you find a method a trainer is using and you are not comfortbale with it and/or you feel your dog isn't then say goodbye.

    He is stroppy but he isn't wanting to dominate the world. He is testing the water to see what he can and can't get away with.
    If none of these things work then I would say a thorough vet examinition is in order to rule out any underlying health issues.
  3. katiebarger

    katiebarger New Member

    Hi Lynn,

    Thanks so much for your quick reply! He is always on lead when he does this and it has never occurred in the house. He has been trying to jump quite a bit on me while inside recently but never in an aggressive manner, more like "rough play" as you suggested. And he (for the most part) quits immediately when I tell him to or especially when I redirect him to a toy.

    Today, after I had to bring him back from outside b/c I couldn't walk for him jumping/biting me, he sat in his crate for a bit and then we tried the walk again -- he was wonderful. So I think you might be right -- he's testing his boundaries. Phew. I don't weigh that much more than him, haha, so it's difficult! I will definitely try your advice re: walking, stopping until he calms down, etc. He's been absolutely golden the rest of this evening so I guess I just need to grow some more patience and keep being firm :)

    Thanks again!

  4. jennyO8

    jennyO8 New Member

    My Berner used to do the same thing when she was the same age ( maybe little bit older). She used to jump up, bite the lead and put her paws up on my chest while barking. I had scratches all over me n narrowly avoided being bitten. ( She was not aggressive but didn't know what she was doing). We tried turning our backs on her but only got scratches on our backs! We tried ignoring it n kept walking as best we could but ended up with bitten leads and a loose dog, we tried distraction with food but she seemed to think this was a reward n got worse. We finally tried a can of compressed air ( it leaves off a loud hiss not a siren). When she jumped up I sprayed the compressed air behind me without her seeing, I did not spray it into her face as you don't want them to be afraid of you. I only had to spray the air ONCE on ONE occasion n she never did it again!!!!!
  5. Lynn

    Lynn New Member

    Sounds to me like you get the same as most of us do whichever breed when getting to this stage in their life. They see it as a game the jumping and biting and when they get over excited they cannot distinguish between lead and your arm or hand.

    Sounds like what you did worked I would keep plugging on the way you are and I think you will find he soon gets the message and starts to calm down.

    The compressed air I am not so sure about even if they cannot see it but can hear it it could make him noise phobic. If he is confident the last thing you want is him to start losing his confidence.

    I am going through similar behaviour problems with my 10 month old not lead biting but pushing the boundaries round the house. It can get you down but they do outgrow it and you need to keep giving firm direction. Just think human teenager you ground them or send them to their room so similar correction tends to work for dogs too.

    If Dillon gets over the top when trying to get his collar on then his harness I just turn away and ignore him till he settles its working. In some ways I am grateful for his over enthusiasm my previous Berner was a devil to get out and about even when young but we lost him at 41/2 and we later found out he had been very ill all his young life.

    Hang in there he will get through it and so will you.
  6. katiebarger

    katiebarger New Member

    Hi Jenny,

    Thanks to you, too, for your reply! I'll definitely try your method, too. Our walk this morning ended with me having scratches all over my arms :-/ It's very strange to me. We were walking along completely fine and then right as we got back to our house he started growling, jumping, putting the lead in his mouth, etc. I managed to get him to sit (finally) and we sat for about 6-7 minutes and then he walked calmly back into the house like nothing had happened. Sigh. .... Thanks for the advice :)


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