He Growls at Me but He’d Never Bite Me!

Thanks to the times.co.uk for the photo

I don’t know how many times I have heard this, or something similar.

He snarls at me but he doesn’t meant it.

He nips at me, but he’s not being aggressive.

He bites me, but it’s not hard.

He won’t let me or my family take his bone; but he is the sweetest dog on earth and would never bite anyone.

It is really confusing and difficult for us dog trainers.

People like living in denial.  Not the Nile, that is a river in Africa 😉

The Problem….chihuahua snarl

People realize there is a problem, otherwise I suppose they would just live like this (I suppose actually many do) but they don’t, can’t, never will admit their dog has an aggression problem.

The thing is, that no dog; okay very few, rare cases of dogs are aggressive ALL the time.

And, these dogs are sometimes easier to deal with; you know you are dealing with an aggressive dog.

But unless there is some kind of misfire, or medical condition, or aggression training aggressiveness comes and goes.

That doesn’t mean it is not predictable, it can be predictable, but 90 percent of the time (or so) the dog is perfectly happy and loving.

The other 10% is when the owner goes to touch his bone, or gets too close to his chair, or tries to kick him out of the bed, or touches him while he is eating, or corrects him verbally or with a leash.

So the owner learns to live in an abusive relationship and tries to avoid those triggers.

Actually…

It is just like an abusive relationship.

No one wants to admit they are being beat up or abused physically, verbally, emotionally or mentally.

The abuser said he was sorry and he would never do it again, right?

And, the person loves the abuser.

And, the abuser isn’t abusive 100% of the time; it is only when he drinks, or does drugs, or gets mad or when he doesn’t get dinner on time.

Abusive relationships are often rationalized.

Don’t Get Me Wrong

I have stayed in relationships both with dogs and with people far past the point of comfort always hoping it would get better.

So I understand the mentality.

However! 

I Also Know That You Won’t Change Your Behavior and Help Your Dog Change His Until You Admit There is a Problem!

This is a Very Clear Warning

This is a Very Clear Warning

That is the first step.

It doesn’t help me to help you if you won’t admit there is a problem.

And, let’s face it; feeling like a hostage in your own home is uncomfortable even if you love the hostage taker.

Good News!

The good news is that dogs are dogs and they aren’t abusive people.

So you don’t have to sit down and have a really uncomfortable conversation with them and you don’t need to pack your things and leave in the middle of the night or call the cops.

You just need to make a commitment to change both or your behaviors.

And, if you do it right the dog won’t even recognize much of a change or buck the system.

For those of you with seriously aggressive dogs (you sleep with one eye open, or your dog has already bit you or someone else and drawn blood, or you are in serious fear) you need to seek the help of a veterinary behaviorist to come out to the house and witness the behavior and make sure it is safe for all of you.

The last thing I would want to do is give “generic” advice that could make your particular dog worse.

Remember dogs are as different as we people are, and sometimes they need different approaches.

But Denial Is Making Your Relationship Worse

If a Warning Doesn't Work a Bite Will!

If a Warning Doesn’t Work a Bite Will!

Every time your dog is successful at scaring you away from his bone, his bowl, his toy, his bed or keeping you from brushing him or trimming his nails… his confidence rises and he is closer to his bite threshold.

You see dogs warn other dogs several times, and if their warning is not heeded to their desired level or if the dog keeps nagging them… they BITE enough to get the message across.

Some dogs might draw blood, some might barely touch skin, and some will send you to the hospital for stiches.

And if that warning is not heeded or you make the mistake of touching say him while he is sleeping again you are likely to take an even more aggressive attack.

I always remember the story of a disabled person who was mauled and killed in her own bed by her own dog.  I am guessing the dog had snapped and warned before, but finally ended up killing her.

I am also guessing that even though she probably knew there was a problem… she too would not have liked calling her precious dog aggressive.  Because, I bet most of the time the dog was  affectionate, loving and  a good pet otherwise.

If she had always felt like she was going to be mauled to death she probably wouldn’t have let the dog live in the house, much less sleep in her bed.

This is Pretty Dramatic…

Most of your abusive, aggressive, controlling dogs probably aren’t going to kill you in your sleep.

And, some of you may live the rest of your dog’s life without incurring a terrible bite or a need for stitches.

BUT… some will!

And, I can’t see into the future.

My crystal ball is broken; so I can’t tell you if you are one of the lucky ones, or if you or your family or children will be in the hospital getting stitched up.

So, I err on the side of caution.

snarlyWhen I hear, “Oh, he growls at me; but he doesn’t mean it” ; it stands the hair on the back of my neck straight up, and I feel like it is my duty to try and help you understand you MAY be one of the unlucky few.

I’d rather be proven wrong; than ignore the problem or give the kind of advice that gets you mauled.

So, who has a dog that falls under these parameters and you would like to change your lifestyles and teach your dog a better behavior??

Although there are so many circumstances here, and this isn’t a how to article (because the subject is so wide) I can write an article to help those of you who live with a  dog like this.  But be prepared to make some changes!

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Comments

  1. Kelly says:

    I have recently been on the receiving end of a bite and it was through a muzzle! Very scary! Since I am a green dog trainer and was WAY out of my league, I was asked by a friend to come and just view her pack! I have four dogs myself and thought I could at least give her a few tips. Although she was happy with what I did suggest, she has a LONG way to go to turn her pack around. One has already bit two people and I made number three!
    I also have a fearful dog who has not bit anyone, but has the potential. I have connected with a veterinary behaviorist and was very disappointed in the money I spent, the distance I traveled (with a fearful dog), and the lack of training that was shared. It was simply a consult, however, I was hoping for some hands on training and examples of how to handle situations.
    I would love to read what you have to say about the changes that need to be made….

    [Reply]

  2. Dogma53 says:

    My dog was reported to animal control for being off leash, my fault, and barking threateningly at the neighbor who is afraid of dogs. I probably am in denial. She also growls at my husband and I in bed if we move her out of the way to get in or out. Soooo…… I would love to read your ideas on how to change the behaviors. I’m spoiling her, so I need to change.

    [Reply]

    Ken Beaudet Reply:

    This, to me, is the number one mistake people make with their dogs. Allowing them to take a place in their bed. Unless you truly have mental control of your dog he should not be allowed on any furniture that you (might) want to occupy!!
    What to do now?~~
    First and this is urgent: Get him/ her off of YOUR bed. He is claiming that bed as his own. Now that he can’t be in your bed, you don’t have to fight for YOUR place in YOUR bed.
    Loving your dop means that he knows exactly what you expect and happily complies.
    Happy training, Ken

    [Reply]

    Geraldine Reply:

    When I put my dog into my bed before I get in, she ALWAYS goes to where she KNOWS is my place and I have to move her………..guess she wants to run the show, take what is mine, be the pack leader.

    [Reply]

  3. Jeanne Young says:

    We got a small dog from the pound about 2 years ago. They said German Shepard but the DNA came back Nova Scotia Tolling Duck Retriever, Dachsund, English Spaniel and Chow. We named her Dingo because she is so wild at times and behaves like a coyote, jumping in the air and digging. She is very sweet but she will suddenly bite if touched at the rear. My daughter put a harness on her one day with some trouble but no violence. When I went to take it off she bit my arm. The people at the vets are afraid of her because she is unpredictible. They even gave us tranquilizers to use before we go in again. They tried to bathe her and she was so afraid they had to quit. It took us nearly 18 months to house train her. This is really unusual for us. We have had dogs all our lives but never one like this. The vet wants us to come for a $75 consultation. The dog gets on our bed sometimes and will lie quietly unless I move my feet, then she jumps like there is a snake in the bed. She had been adopted from the pound and returned before we got her so there definately is a problem that we must tackle. Any suggestions?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would recommend getting her off of your bed, before you incur a bite.

    If she gets startled like you say, in some ways it is no fun for her to be on the bed and have to feel like that?? I wouldn’t want that kind of fear in my own space.

    Crate her at night.

    I would pay the $75 to have her evaluated by a veterinary behaviorist because someone who is knowledgeable about behavior needs to see her behavior.

    As with anything, it is a professional service and should be paid for and valued as such.

    Behavior, in my opinion, is like any kind of physical problem or disease, it is important to provide care for both.

    [Reply]

    maryam Reply:

    regardless, bless you for having patience with her. you are a good person

    [Reply]

  4. Fere George says:

    This are the scary aspect of it for me to have one. But i know , one or some day i’m going to have Dogs, not one , or two but dogs of species. so i need to devote time in knowing more about dogs now.

    [Reply]

  5. Anna Elmy says:

    Poor Dingo is obviously feeling very insecure and biting is part of a dog’s natural defence mechanism. Get her used to a crate, not as a punishment but as her own secure refuge. Feed her in the crate: never shut her in without a little treat so she associates the crate with good things. Give her a comfortable bed in it and leave the door open so she can go in and out even when you do not need to contain her.This alone may calm her considerably.Before taking her to a behavourist try to do some research to be sure that your money will be well spent and you will be given sound advice.Good Luck

    [Reply]

    Linda Reply:

    Good reply. Dogs do bite out of insecurity. Unfortunately, my husband was bitten recently by an obviously aggressively trained pit bull. (Owned by squatters trying to move in next door – no provocation by my husband – dog bit him on OUR property.) But, when the animal control officer came out to take the dog and get a report, I told him I would NEVER say a dog of mine would not bite.
    We have had sweetheart dogs, trained them well, and can even take bones right out of their mouths. But still, they are dogs. They are still animals, descendants of wolves, who need to fight for their very existence. I believe almost any dog will bite under extreme circumstances.

    [Reply]

  6. Michael Casey says:

    Hi Minette,
    I have a loving German Shepherd that likes to graze (if that is the correct term) while she is being brushed, she nibbles gently on my arm.She never growls and I can take anything from her but occasionally if I rub her lower back she will snap at my hand. If I leave my hand there she will lick it but the automatic reaction is to take my hand away. The snap does not seem in any way agressive but it is still a snap. I usually stop rubbinng her and send her to bed but she does not seem to understand. Have you any advice for me ?
    Mike

    [Reply]

    Sandi Reply:

    Mike, from what you’re describing, I would be concerned that perhaps there’s a medical issue. Shepherds are notorious for having hip problems or it could be a spinal issue. I had a Poodle that was born with a spinal defect that didn’t show up until he was nine years old and of course, it required surgery and extensive therapy. If it were my dog I would take it to a good vet for a thorough check-up explaining what you did in your letter.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I too recommend seeing if she is in pain.

    But a nip or teeth on your hand especially when you are doing something she doesn’t want is aggression.

    Go to your vet first and then you can go from there behaviorally.

    [Reply]

  7. Sue says:

    Hi Minette

    I have 3 rescue dogs and live in Spain.

    I have a shepherd dog who we are careful about when in the house as he will bite without warning (he growls, barks and bites in the same nanosecond!) if we have the audacity to put a hand out to him when passing him. We have a strong suspicion he was beaten in the past as he was totally terrified of tiny sticks when we first had him – he’s okay with them now though.

    One of the other dogs barks at passing bicycles, motorbikes, some people (but not all), etc, etc. which sparks off our 3rd dog. This 3rd dog was a street dog for almost all of her life – she’s about 15 months old now – and was the friendliest, most sociable dog with humans and other dogs. BUT now she copies the second dog by barking at people, bikes, etc but has the added benefit of giving some lucky passerby a quick nip as well.

    HELP! I need to be trained how to train my dogs, desperately.

    Sue

    [Reply]

  8. Lisa B says:

    My Vet. refers to my lab/rat terrier as a “fear biter”. He has not YET bitten, but when we bathe him he growls and my husband relents. I just scoop him up and don’t give him an option. I would love some help/advice!!!!!!

    [Reply]

  9. Rick says:

    We recently re-aquired a Yorkie who is very aggresive, as you describe, 10% of the time. He will go into his kennel but gets violant when we try to close the kennel door. He sleeps in his kennel at night with open door. No problem. My mother-in-law took him for a few months but was afraid of him so we got him back. He’s territorial, and jealous of our other two dogs and will attack them viscously at times when they walk buy. My wife can’t handle his behavior and I have to hold back from whipping him. I don’t want to hurt him, so we’ve talked about training services or just taking him to the SPCA. He’s a cute dog and very playful but his aggresiveness is getting the best of us. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    [Reply]

  10. Nan says:

    I have a boxer/golden lab mix who has nipped at us like he wants to play. Our other dog did that for a while until we got this dog. Both were puppies. This one is not yet a year old, and he occasionally nips lightly at my leg or hand like he thinks I’m a dog and that means I want to play… or I’m excited. His teeth are not baring down on my hand but I get slobber all over my hand. I know he isn’t mean. He is very gentle otherwise. What concerns me more is that when the boxer mix and the terrier mix play (wagging tails all the time) they bare their teeth and growl loudly. Is this aggression???? The vet says no that is how they play. Sometimes we just say that’s ENOUGH! and we make them stop it like bad little boys and they do stop. But all that teeth baring and stuff seems kinda scary.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/dogs-play-teeth/

    Dogs play rough with other dogs, but it is important that you teach them this is inappropriate with you.

    And, when you are uncomfortable, stop it!

    [Reply]

  11. Glenn says:

    I have a concern with my German Shepherd. She has always been friendly to adults and other animals, but I have had to really watch her around small children. She grew up with cats and loves to chase them and they turn around and chase her. It is a big game for her. When children show up, she runs to them and barks. It really scares the kids. She has not shown any agression but I need to figure out how to stop this behavior. I really believe she is trying to get the kids to play with her, but again, I need to nip this.

    [Reply]

  12. Lou47 says:

    I have a 4yr old chihuahua mix that likes to nip when we play and will growl and snap if interrupted while in “hunt mode”
    She’s the sweetest girl, but I do see signs of aggression. I don’t want to be afraid of her.
    I would love to read what you have to say about this.

    [Reply]

  13. pitbull lvr says:

    Hi my name is Arnie I recently bought a pit bull about yr ago and his name his dodger. Recently I noticed tht when my family and I are outside playing he is outside with us he gets hyper and charges at my kids to knock them over and he starts to either nip or bite them until me or my wife gets him off. The other day my daughter was on the swing and he kept jumping up and trying bite her, he got a hold of her elbow for a split second until I finally got him to come away from her. And when he knows he’s in trouble he runs back and forth at full speed until I can finally get him to calm down. He also gets super hyper when my kids have there freinds over as well. I tell my wife and kids that he gets like that cause he just wants to play. Am I in denial if I say that he is a nice dog and he is a gentle dog when he’s not hyper…..what do you think

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Aggression is aggression and growling and biting is not play or at least not acceptable play.

    I would seek the help of a veterinary behaviorist to help you keep your family safe and who can come out and see the behavior!

    [Reply]

  14. Laura says:

    Hello,
    I have a beautiful Pointer/Lab. He loves to play, when I don’t play with him right away he will get a shoe and wants me to chase him. When I take the shoe away he will try to take it away. Then when I tell him no he will growl. Also he gets very upset when an other dog is near by. My dog is about eight months old. Do you have any advice.

    [Reply]

  15. Elke says:

    Hi Minette,

    I have a Rottie. She has been very warm and wonderful, but lately has been getting more obsessed with her toys and has started growling when people reach to take them from her to play catch. She has even growled at me! I am VERY not okay with this attitude, as people are already nervous with Rotties. I instantly tell her no and she instantly drops it, but I don’t want to have to do this. I would love help regarding getting her to share her toys – and I mean SHARE, not stare fixated and wound tighter than a spring ready to growl if you touch her while she’s watching the person with her toy!
    Thank you!

    [Reply]

  16. Lin says:

    Hi Minette
    I have a standard poodle that I got at eight months old. when he is playing with the kids and gets excited he will nip their back end. Also I can’t let him play with other dogs be ause he does the same thing, nip their rear end. this is a habit he had when he came. I am not close enough for a correction when this happens. the kids tell him NO of course, and we don’t let him play a lot with kids, but when my grandchildren come over he loves to be with them. They are not young babies by the way. I realize that I missed the puppy aspect of teaching him NO MOuthing, it seems harder to fix now.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    It is much harder to fix when they are older… sometimes it comes down to leashing them and keeping it from happening for an extended period of time until the behavior goes away.

    Your grandchildren may accept it, but if they have a friend over and he does this to them… you may end up with a serious problem.

    I would keep him on a leash when the kids are there and teach him what your expectations are 🙂

    [Reply]

  17. Sandy O'Sullivan says:

    Yikes! I have rescue dog that we got when he was one year old (Chihuahua). He at first would nip and growl until he learned to trust us. He always would grumble and walk away since and never let us pick him up or go near him while he was eating. We just chalked it up to his being abused in the past. He has turned out to be the most loving and, yes, obedient one of our dogs. He is now 11 years old and has been getting worse. The past few weeks, he has growled and jumped up to bite, fortunately he no longer has 2/3rds of his teeth! Just walking by him sometimes will cause him to growl and attack our feet and jump up to get our hands if we keep walking. There is no warning at all that we can see, and I am pretty good at reading my dogs body language (I thought anyway) We have 2 other dogs that we got as pups and have never had any of these problems. Just this morning I noticed that he had marked one of their beds. As soon as I started wiping it up, he attacking me. Now, he has been marking since we got him, so wiping it up is nothing new to him, and his reaction was completely unexpected. If he had all his teeth he definitely would have done damage to me these past few weeks. I figured I would just put up with it since, again, he is short on teeth. Your article is very good timing for me. I would really love to know what you may think about this problem I started having with him. OH, and he has been getting more aggressive toward the other dogs too, but only pushes them and growls at this point. Also, I do tell him no and he is being a bad boy and to go to bed (a crate). He does go, and I do not lock him in, but continues to grumble the whole time. Thank you so much for the article and, in advance, for your time.

    [Reply]

    ann fuller Reply:

    Your dog could have an ear infection, another infected tooth, or some other health issue that is causing him to feel bad and take it out on you. I would get him checked out by the vet, definitely. I had a senile dog who had a lot of behavior changes in her later years—due to brain changes.

    [Reply]

  18. Gloriann S says:

    I have a 15 month old male chiweenie. He likes to nip and before I had him neutered in 12/12. He would attack my arms with his teeth. Now that has stopped. But he is very teritorial with his bone,heartyhide strips and some of his toys. He has started to bring back his toys and then he runs into other room and waits for me to toss it. Which I feel is an improvement.
    Doesn’t seem to mind if I rub or scratch his back while he’s laying next to me. Or if I touch his food dish while he eat.
    I started taking him to a dog park near by. And he went nuts. We were the only ones in the small dog park ( he is only 15 pounds. All he did was sniff and run around and bark at the top of his voice. And when other people would bring their dogs in. Buddy would crawl under the bench. And bark and growl especially if the other dog tried to come near to sniff. There were a few people who left within a minute. And others kept saying, He needs to get use to the park.
    I called a trainer from Animal friends. They tell me that chihuahuas and daschund don’t like other dogs only their own breed.
    I’m only working part-time. And can’t afford a dog behaviorist $90.00/ per session. These trainers tell me to do positive reinforcement. One of the vets said to use the spray water bottle when he start to nip. But the trainers said it will only reenforce his agression

    I noticed that buddy is settling down some. I continue to take himfor walks. He sometimes barks or growls at people if they are nearby. But I keep him on a short leash or stop and let people pass by. And when I feel he is starting to become anxious??. I will say NO, UHha, And he is starting to get the drift. The vet office doesn’t feel that it isn’t anything medical
    I could use anything any one can offer as advise.
    thanks

    [Reply]

  19. Luann says:

    Hi Minette,

    This is a great article, thanks

    [Reply]

  20. Stacy says:

    Hi Minette:

    Great post. My dog was just seen by a behaviorist and we have her on a number of supplements for awhile before we can even start behavior modification training because she’s too anxious/nervous right now. She has bitten 2 dogs in the past 8 months where she had never done anything but growl and snarl at other dogs (on and off leash) but now it is has gone too far and we have sought help. I’m wondering if dogs that bite other dogs out of territorial anxiety would also be very likely to bite people? She’s never bitten a person but now I’m very cautious and wonder if my caution is sending her the wrong signal as well.

    Thanks for all your posts!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    It is hard to tell because I can’t see her.

    Most of the time dog aggression is different that people aggression, but territorial behavior can be for either.

    Being cautious is always a good way to handle the situation!

    [Reply]

  21. Biljana says:

    I have Neo Mastiff who growls when we want to push or pull him without leash inside the house, I am not in denial I am very concern and that is why I purchased your companion course because my dog is big and I don’t want him going from growling into biting.
    I would love to hear and do changes you recommend.
    Biljana

    [Reply]

  22. Janice says:

    Almost two years ago I adopted 9 month old mixed breed dogs from a no-kill shelter. Mixed breed- Rottweiler, Lab, Boxer, brother and sister. They sleep in separate kennels. Getting them to go into the kennels has never been a problem. The kennels are in our basement, rec room. This is where the TV is. They do not go upstairs. The problem. When they are in kennel and my husband, or anyone else goes up the stairs they bark uncontrollably. They do not bark at me. They do not bark if I stand by the kennels when anyone goes up. Another thing I notice. When I walk with the dogs to feed them, the male walks near me or behind me. The female runs ahead and stalks her brother. When I call her to come to me she runs at her brother and does not make eye contact with me. Her behavior with me and most everyone else is to rub up against them, throw herself down to get her belly rubbed. Then, when you least expect it she bites you in the rear. Not me. I have some fears about her behavior. Any suggestions?

    [Reply]

  23. kat says:

    well, i love my dog. she is a 4-5 year old pitbull and we adopted her about two months ago. the good things about her are that she is a very sweet dog, mellow, loves to play, and loves people. the issues with her are house breaking, or re-house breaking because the shelter told us she was house broken, and dog aggression. it’s really confusing because again the shelter told us that she was in a foster home with other dogs and even a personal friend who worked at the shelter said she was great with other dogs.

    what are we doing wrong? there has been 1 really good experience at a dog park and 1 bad experience at the dog park where a friend of ours got between her dog and our dog and she was bit, but we couldn’t tell which dog got her it was so fast.

    ever since then my nerves have been in high alert every time there is another a dog around! i’m sure it’s 90% my anxiety. some answers to these questions could really help!can dog aggression get worse and become general aggression? i’ve been looking up trainers and found one that uses a prong collar; can a prong collar lead to more aggression? how do i get her evaluated?
    what kind of changes are you talking about?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Yes, a prong collar can lead to more aggression!!

    Find a veterinary behaviorist not just a trainer or a “behaviorist” since anyone can use that term… find a veterinarian that specializes in behavior.

    [Reply]

    Stacy Reply:

    Hi – the list of certified veterinary behaviorists seems very small when I looked. I found an animal behaviorist in my area who works with all the pets at the humane society and my vet recommended her so if you can’t find one, you may want to ask your vet to see if they know of a reputable one. And as far as your anxiety, you’ll definitely need to try to manage that as I’ve been told numerous times we send that right down the leash or if off-leash they pick that up from us as well (and I’m very guilty of it with my dog and have had to learn to cope with it).

    [Reply]

  24. Janice says:

    I have a brother and sister pair of Rot/Lab/Boxer mix dogs that were adopted from a shelter when they were about 9 months old. We have had them for almost two years. They are aggressive towards my husband, especially when they are in their kennels. If I stand near their kennels they do not bark, but if I am not there they go crazy with barking. If I set up a kennel situation, they don’t bark at him.
    Something else the female does. When I take them to feed them, he walks by me or even behind me. She runs ahead and stalks him. When I call her to come, she runs at me but really towards him and jumps on him. She does not make eye contact with me. When she is wanting to be petted she throws herself down for a good belly rub. She does this for everyone, but when you stop and move away she nips at you. Any suggestions?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I don’t understand “if I set up a kennel situation they don’t bark” how is that different than when they are in their kennel?

    Aggression, especially when directed at someone in the home scares me for that person and is when I recommend a veterinary behaviorist.

    I would feed them in separate kennels.

    And, I would not let her demand to be petted like that if she is going to be aggressive.

    Pet her on your terms but don’t pet her when she requests or demands it.

    And don’t pet her if she is going to nip!

    You can reward her for good behavior and not nipping by giving her a treat, but she gets nothing and no more interaction if she nips!

    [Reply]

  25. Patty says:

    I have a Morkie (Maltese/Yorkie) that is adorable. However, when I am sitting in the living room at night and my husband (or anyone else for that matter) approaches my chair, she will run to me and bark and growl at the person. She also has begun nipping at my legs when I leave the house for anything other than work. What can I do to control her more?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/love-thee-possess-thee/

    She needs more obedience and to understand that this is not acceptable.

    [Reply]

  26. Sunny says:

    I have a 3rd litter of a Border Collie mixed Great Pyrenees. He is almost 8 months old. He also almost bit me a couple of times and I don’t trust him as I should. I can’t go in the master bedroom when my husband is lying in bed with the dog besides him, or when he is sitting on the couch. Sunny is with me all week, I feed him walk him. So why is he doing this to me. Help please this is my 3rd dog and last one, getting to old for a extreme hyper dog.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    My guess is he is possessing your husband.

    He should not be on the bed if she shows this behavior.

    Only dogs that are nonaggressive and possessive and listen to their owners should be allowed on furniture.

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/love-thee-possess-thee/

    [Reply]

  27. ann says:

    Help
    I Have
    Two jac chi terriers one male one female not related…..thé bitch barks and bite other dogs dogs far bigger than her she id a mini…..hé then joins in or Airways seems ti be dogs on leads…Im getting so fed up of all This….. I love them but i need Help in training me not them….
    Thanks Ann

    [Reply]

  28. Helpme2 says:

    We have a small breed dog who for the most part is very loving and sweet. However there are times when she grabs a toy/object that is a no-no and hides in the corner with it and if we try to take it from her she would growl. Lately she has growled, bared her teeth and “snapped” at my daughter who just sat down beside her to pet her. We frequently have young children in the home and I am afraid that someday they will unintentionally disturb the dog and have terrible consequences and while the dog has never bit anyone I don’t want to take that chance. Also, for future reference I’d like to know what to do to prevent getting to this point with a dog in the first place.
    Thanks, Helpme2

    [Reply]

  29. Susan says:

    My malti-poo growls when playing tug with a toy. Are you saying this could lead to biting? I thought it was just part of the game.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    It certainly can, it is how we begin to train police and protection dogs to bite!

    I would stop playing if growling occurs.

    [Reply]

  30. Bob says:

    I am currently attending a police sponsored dog obedience class. The trainer has won multiple competition trophies with the dogs he trained. They are not all police working dogs either.

    We had a dog that was a biter and when Mr. Trainer gave him a bone and tried to take it away, the dog showed a bunch of aggression.

    A choke collar was installed and when the situation was repeated, he literally lifted the dog off his feet with a tug on the leash. He repeated that until the dog made up his own mind that the only way to stop this undesirable condition was to stop trying to bite this guy.

    Ten minutes later, the dog allowed the trainer and his owner to remove the bone with no sign of aggression what so ever.

    The dog was not hurt at all, he was a big boy with a very powerful neck but he got the message real fast and permanently.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    So do you think the dog would let a 5 year old take the bone away 2 months after training?

    Hanging only works if you are big enough and scary enough that the dog doesn’t want a fight and you are physically capable of doing it.

    This kind of training is barbaric and breaks down with any weaker person making his “FIGHT” feeling even more severe when approached.

    [Reply]

  31. Alison says:

    I have a three year old Jack Russel who can be aggressive. We adopted him 2 years ago. When he came to us he had been badly mistreated for the first year of his life. He has a deep rooted mistrust of people and other dogs. He will bark and try to nip people outside so we need to keep him muzzled. At home we get him used to new people by excluding him from the room if he tries to bite them. Once he learns to ignore them and realises they’re not going to hurt him we get the visitors to give him treats. After this visitors can return to the house without incident. How can we move this on to people and to dogs outside.

    [Reply]

  32. Leslie says:

    I have a 2 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback who is a sweet girl until she get’s ahold of horse manure or anything that has horse scent on it she can tear into. I have tried to manage keeping her away from the manure with a shock collar, which works most of the time, but she still tries again a while later. I found her yesterday tearing apart some horse boots, intensely. I told her to “drop” and she growled. I told her to drop again and this time hit the shock button. She wheeled around to me and started biting my hands. Luckily I had leather gloves on so I wasn’t hurt, but she wasn’t about to give it up. It took me a few seconds to redirect her mind and get her away from it without attacking me again. Someone suggested I turn up the shock collar to a higher level. What would you suggest?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I think the shock collar is the reason this has escalated to aggression.

    Pain often incites aggression and makes it worse. It kicks in that fight or flight response and fight is what you are seeing.

    I would go to positive reinforcement and teach her (on leash) to leave it when you tell her. Then give her something better for doing so. This takes all the compulsion and “fight” out of the situation and it becomes win, win for you both!

    [Reply]

  33. tess brady says:

    I live in a small town and the rule makers have told all of us that any dog that has a problem,we must tie a yellow ribbon on it’s leash or on it’s collar, to warn others.

    It’s working.

    Thanks for all your doggie e-mails

    Tess

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    yes! I hope this continues!!!

    There are also leashes that provide caution to others 🙂 such a great idea, I am surprised it has taken this long to institute!

    [Reply]

  34. Donna says:

    I have a Jack Russell terrier mix. He bites my shoes when I walk. He bites me when I trim his nails. He bites me if I move him from the couch. Any suggestions?

    [Reply]

  35. Debora says:

    I resued at 5 month old boarder collie/lab cross and he is 3 yrs old now. When he first came he was such a loving puppy to anyone. My boyfriend decided to teach him to protect me and started grabbing my legs while I was sitting to get the dog to growl. I asked him to stop but he wouldn’t. Now when someone comes over the dog barks and is aggressive towards them until he feels there is no threat even when I tell him it’s okay. He was laying at my feet while I was talking with my 22yr old son and when my son bent down to pat him the dog bit his hand and drew blood. My neighbour was talking to me and turned to leave and the dog jumped up ran at his back and bit his hand, bruising but not breaking skin. The other day my boyfriend was grabbing my legs as I was sitting on the couch. My dog was on the floor in front of me and he was growling at him, I told him to stop but he wouldn’t and the dog then bit him just above the ankle and drew blood on both sides of his leg. My boyfriend got mad at the dog and I told him it was his fault for teaching the dog to protect me. I don’t want to put the dog down as people suggest unless there is nothing that can be done to retrain the dog. I think my boyfriend has finally realized that teaching the dog to be aggressive when he felt I was threatened was unwise but it took him getting bit to see that. I put the dog in my sons’ bedroom when people who don’t know him or are afraid of him come over. Is there any hope for my dog?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Contact a veterinary behaviorist ASAP before the behavior gets worse and someone needs to go to the hospital.

    [Reply]

  36. Linda says:

    Hi,

    I have a 7 month old Min Pin, six pounds, just a tiny thing. She will try to bite anyone who tries to pick her up (except me) and then she goes into a love and crying frenzy to make up for it while being carried. She also is in a frenzy to sleep under the blanket and when my 2 year old Terrier, who she is totally in love with, comes up to his spot on me, being careful not to step on her, she digs her way out and lunges at him to bite! I have grabbed her around her mouth and told her NO, but the next night she does it again. She is so sweet otherwise, but so afraid of being little….what to do for the biting??? She is also a very social dog at the dog park and plays well with every dog and little kids too.

    Thanks,
    Linda

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would have her sleep in a crate!!! That behavior should not be tolerated and I feel bad for your other terrier that she can bully him that way.

    I believe dogs should be like kids, if you earn the privilege you can have it, but sleeping on the bed is a privilege and if you are a bully you haven’t earned that privilege.

    Work on obedience, jjust the basics at first, sit, down, come, heel, eye contact, stay etc to get her to listen to you on a regular basis; so when you tell her NO she is more apt to listen!

    [Reply]

  37. binu says:

    sir,
    i am having one lab and one Pomeranian dog but they are not trained lab is not barking when any body is coming ,i am thinking to teach some thing to them please send some video or notes to me ,
    thanking you
    binu

    [Reply]

  38. Robert says:

    Hello Minette.

    Great article on aggression and how serious it can be. However what I need is an article telling me how I can deal with a Dog that will not let you go near him if he has certain things in his mouth. I have been bitten once and do not want a repeat of that.

    So how about an article on how to cure this problem.

    [Reply]

  39. Meri says:

    I have a Yellow Lab mix I adopted from a shelter 3 months ago. He is very sweet, he lived his first yr on the street in TN, he is now 15 months old. He has some scars on his face, suggesting he had a rough life before me. I have two other dogs, one 20 lbs, sheltie, and one 7 lbs. Japanese Chin. My lab gets along great with them, but is terrified of other dogs. He has recently begun to take control of the other dogs.(well, the sheltie) He lays at the top of the stairs and won’t let the sheltie come up. And now he lays in front of the doggie door, and won’t let the sheltie come in. When he’s outside playing with the sheltie, they do play together, when the sheltie starts to come in through the doggie door, the lab grabs his tail or rear quarter and tries to stop him. I witnessed this, and heard my sheltie yelp. Is this a sign of agression in early stages? All three dogs wrestle around and play. The little Chin even jumps at his tail, and bites his ears, and he just lays there and lets her do it. When he plays with both dogs, he does little nips, not even opening his mouth. He is gentle most of the time. I only see his dominice with the sheltie. When I work with his training, he is awsome when the leash is on, but as soon as I take off the leash, he acts like he didnt’ learn a thing. Any suggestions??

    [Reply]

  40. Jaebird says:

    Hello,

    I have two Jack Russell/Chihuahua mixes. The younger dog is mostly great off-leash, with the exception of another dog that is too hyper or in his face, and then he shows teeth and snaps. He has never bitten another dog. My other concern is when he’s on a leash, he charges after people as they walk by. He nipped at a young lady the other day, which he has never done before.

    He also barks “aggressively” and charges at other dogs when on the leash while out for walks. I have tried everything and nothing seems to work. Any insight would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    [Reply]

  41. Jaebird says:

    Hello,

    I have two Jack Russell/Chihuahua mixes. The younger dog is mostly great off-leash, with the exception of another dog that is too hyper or in his face, and then he shows teeth and snaps. He has never bitten another dog. My other concern is when he’s on a leash, he charges after people as they walk by. He nipped at a young lady the other day, which he has never done before.

    He also barks “aggressively” and charges at other dogs when on the leash while out for walks. I have tried everything and nothing seems to work. Any insight would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    [Reply]

  42. carla says:

    hello :-),
    I have a 2 yrs old chihuahua, my 3 yrs old love her and carries her, sometimes the dogs growls at her and show teeth but never bites her, she even looks for my daughter to play, my dog lays in the sofa with me sometimes and my daughter comes and hugs her and dog growls a little, it just takes for me to look at the dog in the eyes or say her name and she stops growling, she is a jealous dog and does the same with me when I approach my husband, he puts her on time out and she obeys going to her bed with her tail down and ears back you can see she feels guilty, she has bitten me once not hard just because I approach my husband, she loves my 2 other kids, and I try to avoid off course for my daughter to pick her up, I wish we can all get along.
    Thanks

    [Reply]

  43. Cheryl Kean says:

    I have a dog who just recently has started growling and snapping when being petted? when i say petted I mean the lightest of strokes so we know hes not being hurt, he’s 14 months old. He’s never been hit or chastised and never seen aggression. Up untill the last few weeks he’s been the faultless , but now it seems to be getting more regular. Hope you can help me.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I recommend a vet first and then a visit to a veterinary behaviorist if there is not a health condition. Some dogs get aggressive when they have ear infections or other ailments that we humans can’t see without the help of a vet.

    I knew a poodle (Standard) who got more and more aggressive as the days went by and bit the owners child. So they decided to euthanize the dog. When the vet had the dog ready for euthanasia, they noticed that the child must have wrapped a rubber band around the dogs ear and the ear was dying and infected and painful…. The owners didn’t notice.

    I also had a 9 month old puppy who got aggressive because he had severe hip dysplasia and he was painful.

    Sometimes with pain comes aggression.

    Otherwise a distinct change like this needs to be seen and handled by a professional behaviorist so no one gets bitten or hurt.

    [Reply]

  44. Jesse Kerch says:

    My 2yo GSD loves to steal high value items and tries to play keep away. We try to distract him and that works, but I want him to stop. What do you say?

    [Reply]

  45. Jessica says:

    Please help. I have a springer spaniel she’s just over 1 years old bought her as a puppy from a working dog family.
    My problem is that I’m the only one what it doesn’t, growl or try bite ect.. But then after all this time today as a treat she goes in the living room once a week, 10 minutes after running crazy, I went to pick her up and she growled and nearly bit me. I ended up picking her straight up and putting her in her cage for ‘time out’ she does this to my younger sister a lot. And also my mum. But then today she did it to me and it devistated me. What should I do?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Find a veterinary behaviorist before someone is hospitalized this is even more concerning because of her age read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/?s=veterinary+behaviorist

    [Reply]

  46. Lauren says:

    My three year old unaltered male Labradoodle as of the last month has been growling at me in the morning and night roughly up to a hour after he eats. Initially when talking to the vet he believed he was having dominance aggression so he told me ways to establish my dominance over him. After about a week of having him sit for any and everything and feeding him out of my hand he is still growling. He hasn’t ever moved his head in the direction of my body nor does he show his teeth but there is a big difference in the growling that takes place in this setting compared to when we play. He seems fine in the middle times of the day because I continuously go up to him, wake him with touches or hugs. When he does growl in those moments he has a face of fear and is submissive when I ask him to sit. Should I see a vet before referring to a behaviorist?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Yes, in cases of aggression especially toward YOU the owner, I would get the help of a behaviorist!

    [Reply]

  47. Lauren says:

    My three year old unaltered male Labradoodle as of the last month has been growling at me in the morning and night roughly up to a hour after he eats. Initially when talking to the vet he believed he was having dominance aggression so he told me ways to establish my dominance over him. The vet did not see him physically. After about a week of having him sit for any and everything and feeding him out of my hand he is still growling. He hasn’t ever moved his head in the direction of my body nor does he show his teeth but there is a big difference in the growling that takes place in this setting compared to when we play. He seems fine in the middle times of the day because I continuously go up to him, wake him with touches or hugs. When he does growl in those moments he has a face of fear and is submissive when I ask him to sit. Should I see a vet before referring to a behaviorist?

    [Reply]

  48. Olga says:

    My 2 yr old schoolers bit my finger sent me to hospital for stitches. He had grabbed a sock and usually I bribe hi to get in his crate and he lives whatever he’s grabbed but this time he brought the sock w him in his crate and I reached in to take it out of his mouth and he bit me
    I haven’t seen the vet yet I’m seriously thinking of not keeping him what should I do
    He has shown that I can never take anything out of his mouth

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Don’t rehome him! He is a liability. If he bit you, he will likely bite someone else and if you rehome him and he bites someone else or a child you are responsible (even if you tell them) and you can be sued for everything you own!

    If you keep him it is time for a veterinary behaviorist to help

    [Reply]

  49. Ivanna clark says:

    I have a 14 month old female chiwiennie
    She is very aggressive with her bed. She growls and shows her teeth
    So we take her bed away,then after awhile give it back
    When she was just a few months old she sat,high fived,shake,lay and rolled over. Then,she was up on her hined legs so I started having her to be up while I sang. La cookarocha She stopped and even if we offered her special treats. She runs if you offer her a treat and tell her to sit and etc.
    She leads us when on her leash. We almost want to say mush. We shorten her leash and make her slow down. But she still tries it
    When in the dog park she feels very intimidated by other dogs. She piulls her tail in and comes to us to hold her
    She,will bark at some friends and some family. She seems to be overwhelmed
    We,also had to quit giving her chew bones,she would growl at us. She would with her food but finally quit when we took her bowl away
    She growls sometimes when my husband is holding her when I’m going to pet her,i just tell her no you be a good girl. Then I pet her and tell her to be calm
    So please give us your thought on our little cuddles
    Thank you

    [Reply]

  50. Jamie says:

    We have 3 pitbulls. One female who just was fixed and 2 males…one of them are a pup from our female and male adults. Anyways… our male adults dust now that he’s matured has been showing signs of aggression when he doesn’t get his way… or when he is woke up and we want him to move.

    He doesn’t growl at us everytime though..it’s almost like he’s “pms-ing”… and he’s just in a mood…. he doesn’t like being tugged at by his collar when he is being directed …for instance…when we are leaving and we try to get him to go downstairs… if he doesn’t go on his own and you’d try grabbing his collar to lead him..he may growl… anymore he stays upstairs.. he’s trustworthy and won’t get into anything or make messes….

    I’m not sure what to do with him… he has growled and kinda walked slowly towards my boyfriend… I ended up distracting him and he came to me without growling… not sure what’s going on with this boy… he’s always a big lover boy until he has those moments….

    Advice?

    [Reply]

  51. Joe says:

    We have a 5 year old German Pointer short haired. We adopted him 6 months ago. Very sweet, tempermant is very patient and a little submissive. Sensitive to loud sounds only barks when somone knocks on the door. Can be Velcro like 😉 which we don’t mind and is good with kids. The other day we were all in the family room relaxing and he was dozing off on the couch next to my 10 year old and she leaned over him from his rear to his neck and blew in him, I think she startled him or was elbowing his side, he growled and showed teeth. It scared us completely. We yelled at him and he stopped immediately. Got him off the couch and later went back to snuggle with our daughter. Should we be worried. He usually sleeps with our kids on their bed. Should we not now? This is so out of the ordinary for him. He is 110% the best dog, patient, submissive, listens. Weird.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I certainly wouldn’t let him sleep with my children.

    I also wouldn’t let my children hug him or approach him this way.

    They both need lessons on how to interact with each other so that there is not a bite.

    But when dogs are asleep they can do things they wouldn’t normally do awake. This is why I wouldn’t allow the dog on anyone’s bed. Dog owners have been literally mauled to death at night in bed.

    [Reply]

  52. Sarah says:

    Hi,

    I just adopted a german shepherd mix from a rescue. He is about 9-12 months old and I’m his 4th owner. I have talked to Hank’s previous owners and they all said they just didn’t have time for him, but he was a great dog and they had ZERO issues with him.

    I took him to the vet the other day and he was great until the tried to draw blood. He was fine at first until they couldn’t get the blood drawn and the growled and showed his teeth. The vet came in and tried again, and she didn’t even poke him and he went after her. He had a basket muzzle on at the time, but he tried his hardest to get at her. He then went after the vet tech again. They made a comment that he challenged them, and made eye contact with them. so the minute they made eye contact, the attacked.

    The second the vet tech left, and the vet was just talking to me, Hank lied on the ground completely relaxed asking for his belly to be rubbed.

    However, a few days later, I lied on the couch next to him and he nipped at me.

    I have only had Hank for a week, and I know he comes with baggage from being tossed around. But I want to make sure that I’m training him right.

    Do I get a trainer?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would find a boarded veterinary behaviorist ASAP. That is a lot of aggression in a week.

    [Reply]

  53. Kitty says:

    I adopted a GSD- husky puppy when she was 8 weeks old (7 months now). The people that had her said she was the runt. And would always get kicked off her mom by the rest of the litter. I read to help prevent food aggression i should hand feed her and pet her while she ate, but when she turned about 3 months old, she became a different dog. She got aggressive around her food bowl. I can put my hand in her bowl, or feed her from my hands and she won’t bite me. But she absolutely hates being touched when she’s eating. I have tried so many things and I’m starting to worry that I’m making it worse.
    I have tried: trade ups, pets for high value treats, running and long walks before eating, leaving her alone in her crate (safe space; fyi: that just made her protective over her crate), I’ve tried “no” with a touch, currently, i am feeding about 20 kernels at a time, wait for her to ask for more, give her – “good girl” a pet and some more food, to show her i am a provider, and I’m not going to take her food away. I’m looking into a professional. But I’m not sure what to look for, and what i can do in the mean time to ensure her I’m not going to take her food. I need help, I’m scared she is going to bite somebody.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Then look for the help of a boarded veterinary behaviorist in your area.

    [Reply]

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