Apologies for the long post in advance!
After our beloved Dobermann passed away some time ago, we decided to get a new dog. We picked a cute 5-month mixed race puppy from a local shelter. In the shelter she looked lovely: active, curious, loving of human interaction, very good relationship with the rest of dogs, etc. She did look like the perfect dog for us.
Today we picked her up from the shelter and took her home. She was great, very excited all the way, and very loving. But after 30 minutes of snooping around the house, she jumped on the couch.
I thought 'here we go', and simply picked her up and put her down on the floor, saying 'Off'. Same thing we did with our previous dog when she was a puppy, and it wasn't a big deal. It just takes some repetition and conviction.
So down she went to the floor, and 5 minutes later she jumped again. So i picked her up again, and then she growled a bit. I thought 'wow, this one's bold'. After 3 or 4 more attempts, the growling started to become serious. I remained calm and kept putting her down on the floor, saying 'Off'. A little bit later, I was in the kitchen when I heard my wife yell at the dog. The dog had snapped at her and she was quite upset and afraid to pick her up. So I grabbed the dog again, she growled very menacingly and tried to bite me too.
The situation got worse progressively. After 3 or 4 more attempts, the puppy would growl at us just by getting anywhere near the sofa. I knew we had to stand our ground, or else she would just be reinforced in her behaviour. So I tried sitting in the couch as close as possible so that she wouldn't growl, then slowly inch towards her, trying to 'claim' the space back by spreading my legs, square shoulders, and so on. When I was close enough I just picked her up again and tried to put her on the floor and then she bit me in the arm. The teeth didn't get past the thick sweater I was wearing but it was a bite nonetheless.
After some hesitation, I was determined to take the dog away from the couch. So I wrapped my arm with a thick blanket and picked her up and put her down again, and she tried to bite me, a lot. After she was on the floor we took her out to the garden and waited til she was calm, then i put her on leash and let her free again.
Now we're just sitting on the couch and every time she jumps on the couch, I just pull the leash and put her down. Oddly enough, this does not seem to upset her and she goes back to her dog bed after that. She's now sleeping in her bed looking all cute and innocent, waiting for the next opening... This has been going on for about 1 hour now and I'm writing during this break in the hostilities to ask you people, how weird is this? I've been reading online and this seems to be a common problem with dogs, but it seems to happen with people who start by letting the dogs on the furniture, and then the dogs become possessive/dominant over time and etc. This also usually happens with teenage dogs, not puppies.
This dog has been with us for a total of 6 hours, and I know for a fact she's never ever seen a couch before in her life, since she was abandoned when she was days old and left at the shelter together with her brothers. She hasn't been abused or had any incidents that might explain this.
It's also strange that she seems to click out of this behaviour as soon as she touches the floor. 5 minutes after biting me, she was all sweet and licking my hand and following me around the house like nothing ever happened.
Do you think this is just her testing the waters and trying to find her place, and will go away soon? Or is it an indication of some kind of problem? We plan to have children soon and I'm not having an unstable / nippy dog around the house when that happens.
UPDATE: as per suggestions in comments, we tried putting some unwashed clothes on the dog bed. This seemed to work for a while. After an uneventful night, we are now more or less back to the situation of yesterday, minus the biting because we use the leash to pull her off the couch, but the growling continues. We will now seek advice from an ethologist to try to find a solution for this. In the meantime, any suggestions or thoughts are very welcome.