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Discussion Starter #1
I have a little Chihuahua-terrier cross that we've had since he was a puppy. He's going on 7 years old now, he's neutered and appears to be healthy (clean bill of health last check up).

My dog has turned into a monster and I don't know what to do!! Over the past year or so, he's gotten extremely aggressive. Yesterday he bit my 13 year old son and drew blood. It's just a little hole in his hand, nothing major, but still, I can't allow him to be biting like that.

He is my son's dog, nothing has changed, my son treats him as he always has (he's 13) and is not at all mean to the dog. My son can't even get near him without him snarling most times (if he has treats for him, he's fine).

When he's on my son's bed with him, he's not aggressive to my son at all, but should I happen to come into his room, stand by his bed, or even the doorway, the dog goes insane, snarling, barking and threatening me. I tell him to get off the bed, and he does, but he still acts up.

I am at my wits end with him. Last night he started snarling and growling at me too when I reached out to pet him, he's never done that. I put a muzzle on him last night to show him that his behavior is bad, probably not the best thing to do, but I was beyond frustrated with him (along with all the stress it brings to our house, son upset that he cant get near his dog, etc...)

I do not want to get rid of him, but I can't allow this psychotic behavior to continue, but I don't know what else to do. I know he senses my frustration and at times anger, but he never used to be like this, it started out just isolated incidents about a year ago, now it's daily.

Any suggestions would be most welcome!
 

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Wow. Well, I'm glad I took the time to register and look around this forum. You guys have been sooooo helpful.

Come on, 21 people view this and not one suggestion? Are only purebred Chihuahua owners allowed to post and receive replies or what?
 

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Wow. Well, I'm glad I took the time to register and look around this forum. You guys have been sooooo helpful.

Come on, 21 people view this and not one suggestion? Are only purebred Chihuahua owners allowed to post and receive replies or what?
Not at all everybody is welcome.Any ideas anybody ?
 

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I would suggest two things....

First, if you can, you may want to consult a behaviorist. Aggression issues are often complicated. A behaviorist can work with you and your family to get to the bottom of the problem and work through it. (Think Victoria Stilwell on Animal Planet, etc.) You can call your vet and ask for a referral.

Second, I would google NOTHING IN LIFE IS FREE which is a training method. It is very good for establishing pack order and helping dogs with behavior problems. I don't have time to spell it all out, but it's a great program and wanted to pass on the info!

Of course mixes are welcome!!! :) Please keep us updated.
 

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Hi & Welcome!! I would use a stern voice saying "NO". You could get a newspaper or magazine & when he acts up slap your hand with it to show you will not tolerate this behavior. (They don't like the sound of the slap). Is this your only pet? Who feeds him?
 

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Sorry no ideas other than having a trainer come in I know people usually suggest googling "nilf nothing in life is free"
LOL Sherri! We posted at the same time!! ;)

Oh, and to the original poster - sometimes you have to be patient on a message board. There are people from all over the world here. Not everyone is going to be awake or available to help at the same time. A sarcastic attitude doesn't help at all! We do want to help you, so hang in there.

One other thing.... a sudden change in temperament can also be due to a medical issue. (hormones, brain tumors, pain issues, etc.) So I'd have him checked by your vet and get bloodwork and a thorough exam before trying anything else.
 

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I would have health issues ruled out first.

It doesn't make sense for a 7 year old dog that you've raised to become aggressive after this long. Has anything changed inside the home??? Anthing? No matter how minor it might seem to you?

I have a 3 year old Chi/Cairn terrier mix. He has aggression problems, but he was that way when I rescued him. His aggression is fear based, due to abuse by children. He's come a long way in our care - he rarely exhibits aggressive behaviour anymore, and on the rare occasion that he does, he isn't serious about it. For him, it was all about gaining his trust and making him feel protected and secure.

Of course, if you don't know what happened, it's a little more difficult.
 

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I would have health issues ruled out first.

It doesn't make sense for a 7 year old dog that you've raised to become aggressive after this long. Has anything changed inside the home??? Anthing? No matter how minor it might seem to you?
I agree.

I would have him checked out thoroughly at your vet for any health problems. My first thought too was that he could be in pain considering this is not behavior he showed in the first 6 years of his life. Dogs can become unpredictable and aggressive in their behavior when their having health issues and/or in pain. How are his teeth? If he has dental disease that can be very painful.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks everyone

Thanks everyone. Sorry I came across as impatient, I didn't mean to, I just had another incident with him prior to posting and was just a bit irritated (for lack of a better word) with him.

Nothing has really changed apart from other dogs. We had a husky that he just adored, followed her everywhere, loved her to death, but the old owners wanted her back due to personal reasons and I just couldn't say no, it was just too important to them to get her back, so she went back.

He seemed lonely after that. We've had him since he was a pup and I've always had other dogs in the house, this was one of the first times he was without a companion for months, so I rescued another dog. Big mistake. He did not like him at all. They'd play every so often, but he only weighs 13 pounds, the other dog was close to 80, and an irritating pup to him I'd assume as he was only a year old, so play time could get unintentionally rough with the big dog accidently overpowering him. We decided that the big dog was not suited for our lifestyle/yard, he was far too big, required too much exercise and nothing we did would tire him out, even running him 6 km with the truck, as a result, he got bored and destructive. I found him a home on an acreage that was better suited to his needs.

After the big dog left, he seemed lonely again, moping around, stuff like that, so I got yet another dog (what can I say, I want him to be happy). This time we spent some time with the other dog, made sure there were no real big issues. They seemed to get along with each other, little dog would snap at him every so often, just to kind of show him who the boss was type thing, and that was it. I've had the other dog for a week now and there have been no real problems with him, he likes him better then our last dog, and they play a bit together.

But he was like this before we got the big dog before we rehomed him. At the beginning, I thought it was cute how protective he was of my son when he was in his bed, I can't get anywhere near the bed without him going all psycho. He usually just barks and snarls at me, but has tried to bite me a couple times. I do reprimand him, I do make him get off the bed and out of the room now when he behaves like that (not so cute anymore). I do give him a time out in his kennel if he does it anywhere else in the house, once he starts baring his teeth (sometimes all you have to do is say his name and get your hand close to him to pet him), he gets put in his kennel. He knows the behavior is unacceptable, yet he still does it.

Last night I had both dogs on the bed and OMG, I couldn't even pet him without him bearing his teeth at me. I figured he was just jealous that the new dog was in bed with us and he's not used to that, so I tried to let him know that it was ok that the other pup was in bed with us, and he still had a place in my bed. I let him do his psycho snarling, teeth baring thing, I pet him and talked to him calmly and he just got off the bed on his own. I think that was a jealousy thing, but still.

A lot of the time he's perfectly fine, you can pet him (as long as he appears happy and wants the attention, and believe me, he loves attention), but other times you just don't know what to do when he goes all nutty. He's worse with my son then he is with me, but it's getting to the point where it's escalating with me too, and he just adores me, follows me around everywhere.

Nobody really feeds him. He is free fed, has been all his life, all our dogs are. He has food at the back door and it's always full, the dogs eat when they want, I've never had any issues with overweight dogs for those who don't think this is a good idea. When the food dispenser is empty, either me or my son refill it, whoever notices it first. We both fill the water dish daily, we both have pretty much equal responsibility for the dogs, with the exception that I do poop patrol more often then my son does, as I'm more thorough.

His teeth are fine, they look like young dog teeth, gums are fine, so I know it's not his mouth. I thought he might be in pain too, so I've taken him a few times and kind of 'massaged' him all over his body and watched him to see if he favored any part of him, or if something made him flinch, or obviously hurt him, nothing.

I have heard thyroid issues could cause this kind of behavior, but he's not changed. He's not gained/lost weight, his fur is just fine, there are no outward indications that anything is physically wrong with him. I think a vet visit is in order though, just to rule out everything.

I thought of a behavior/trainer, but I'm not sure that would work. He's fine when there's other people here, he's always going person to person looking for pets, jumping on people's laps etc, so the trainer would have to be here daily for him to get used to him and start exhibiting this behavior, and that's the weird thing, if I have friends over or whatever, he doesn't do none of this really, this is what stumps me.

Sorry for the novel here, I thought I'd give a bit more info and answer all the questions asked in hopes of getting ideas from someone who might have a similar issue.
 

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I would highly recommend making an appointment with a veterinary behaviorist. Those are vets that are also PhDs of Animal Behavior. They can prescribe medications if needed where non-vet behaviorists cannot. Also remember than anyone can call themselves a 'behaviorist'. There is no standard currently for behaviorists so you have to be careful finding one.

The vet behaviorist I used to work for would do in office appointments and if there was a question of the dog not displaying the behavior there she would have the family video the incidents for her to see. There is also a very extensive questionnaire for the families to fill out.

I would also definitely take him to the vet for a full work up, CBC, chemistry panel and full thyroid panel as a behaviorist will ask you to have these done before starting work with your dog (and if they don't ask you to then I wouldn't consider taking my dog to them).
 

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Gee, I wish I could help. I have a snarly old man, but his issues are different than yours. I'm the one he guards for one thing. And he came to me at about 11 years old after years of neglect and possible abuse. It sounds like you are reacting correctly when he goes too far, but how to change it, I am just not sure. Hope you can figure it out, neither you nor the dog sound like you are having a good life right now.
 

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I would also suggest a behavoirist. at least to get the basis of how you should correct this. theres a lot at play or i would give you what tips i've picked up with mine. but like, the growling on the bed with your son, thats resource guarding, not really aggression. thats an easier fix, I'd say possibly the same on the bed with you, but he's guarding the bed I'd think. since you can't get near him either. Duke my foster does that, but he guards the bag of chips if its open, he's guarding from my big dog but he gets himself so worked up he snarls at me. i have to put up the chips for him to act normal. ( he doesn't even get the chips, he just likes the smell or something random). but some of the other things, sounds like possible other issues, definetly see a trainer, and reasearch the Nothing In Life Is Free methods. You could look up the Trade up Method, but i'm not sure how that works with people or large object guarding lol. I know when Duke gets snarky at my big dog on my lap i tell him off and i leave the room for a few moments. what he wants is me and when he gets snarky he can't have me. I would not encourage guarding it will only get worse.

Hope it helps and you can find help :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I've never heard of a veternary behaviorist before? I wonder if there is a different name for them in Canada? I will definitely look into that, videoing the incidents is an excellent idea, I've never thought of that, thank you for that idea!!

Like I said, I've had him since he was a pup, there has been no neglect here, he's one of the family and gets treated as such. If he was neglected, I could understand his behavior better? What he's doing now I just can't understand because apart from finding him a companion, nothing has changed. We've lived in this house for just over 3 years so it's nothing like that. He was very protective of the husky he loved too, he's just getting worse as time goes by, but it's not all the time, it just seems to be when the mood strikes him.

I'll definitely be taking him to the vet. I have an appointment with the other dog tomorrow, he's got a bad ear infection that I need to get something for, maybe I'll bring Scooby with us and see if I can maybe sneak him in too, if not, at least get the vet to quickly look at him and maybe book an appointment for him in the next few days.
 

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Is he always on a couch/bed etc when he's doing the snarling? He could be resource guarding. I agree an Animal Behaviorist is in order. Definitely work on the NILF and I wouldn't allow him on the furniture while he's doing this aggressive behavior, that's a privilege that has to be earned. Thyroid doesn't always show signs, they actually don't show outward signs until 60% of the thyroid function is lost/destroyed. My golden retriever is slim, and hyper as all get out, she has a low thyroid, we tested her when she was 1 year old for a 'baseline' and discovered she had it.
 

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No, he's actually not allowed on the furniture unless he's been invited. If he jumps up on his own, I make him get down, I do the same with my other animals too.

He snarled at me when I was letting the dogs out to go pee and I reached down to pet him, snarled at me in the hallway when I reached down to pet him, has snarled at me out of nowhere when I have been sitting with him and petting him, he'd be fine one minute, snarling the next??

He does the same with my son. When you shoo him away to his bed or his kennel at the back door, he slinks away very cautiously, tail low and slowly, like he's ready for something to come at him so he can attack? You'd have to see it to understand, I cant seem to explain it properly.

I will definitely get him to the vet and get him checked out, if all turns out ok there, I'll see if I can look into a trainer or a behaviorist for him. I have read some of the NILF stuff in the past, and I pretty much follow a lot of it anyways, he knows who the bosses of the house are, it's the critters with 2 legs, but he seems to forget that, or tries to challenge it, or something.

It just boggles my mind how he can be happy and playful one minute, and the next minute he might as well be a wild dog. I've owned dogs all my life and have never seen anything like this.
 

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It just boggles my mind how he can be happy and playful one minute, and the next minute he might as well be a wild dog. I've owned dogs all my life and have never seen anything like this.
This sounds so much to me like some kind of pain issue. I work with rescue, and we've seen a lot of dogs come through who have what at first look like behavior issues that later revealed themselves to be medical ones.

We had a dog who was very touch sensitive, anxious, aloof, very atypical of the breed I work with. Her teeth were gunky and as part of routine medical care, we got them cleaned. Besides having dirty teeth, she had a few rotten ones. After her dental, she was suddenly a completely different dog. None of us even considered that the behavior could be related to her teeth, as it was whole body sensitivities, nothing mouth specific.

I worked with another dog who would randomly lunge and snarl at people on walks. It turned out this pup had demodectic mange and when the harness he wore agitated it, he'd lash out at what he thought was the culprit... whatever poor person happened to be passing. When the mange was resolved, the behavior went away.

When I worked at an all breed shelter, I remember this german shepherd we had who was very dog reactive. Didn't want other dogs near her or in her space. She was suffering from hip issues, we found out, and when we placed her on medication to help manage the pain, she became much more comfortable around other dogs.

The fact that your dog is sometimes totally fine and sometimes irrationally snarly, that he slinks when scolded almost like he's confused, that it's hard to find any particular rhyme or reason as to why or when he does these things really sounds to me like he's responding to something internal rather than external.

When you take him for his workup, I'd also suggest asking for a dental x-ray. Sometimes, there can be infection or an abscess below the gum line, even when the teeth and gums look gorgeous outwardly. If everything else comes back normal, request a dental x-ray just in case.
 

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Thanks for the info Smith, that makes a lot of sense. I thought of pain issues too, that's why I've laid him on the floor and sat with him until he was relaxed and rubbed every inch of his body to see if he reacted in any way, but if it's something else inside, then massaging him isn't going to do much is it?

We were at the vet last night for my other dog, the vet was backed up, we waited for almost 2 hours so he he treated my other dog, filled prescriptions, etc... I asked him quickly if there could be a medical reason Scooby was like this, he said absolutely, but that it could also be a result of inbreeding (?). Years ago when we were kids, friends came over with their beautiful golden retreiver. He was out in the yard, perfectly fine one minute, the next minute he just went mad, nobody could get near him. We ended up calling animal control because he was so crazy, and they put him down. It was later revealed that he had something wrong with him, can't remember what now, but showed no outward signs until that day :(

I get paid next week, so I think I'm going to book him an appointment too and get him looked at and thoroughly examined. I honestly think it's just aggression issues as he only does this in certain situations, but to be safe, I'll have him checked out.
 

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There is a syndrome which I hesitate to mention, because I think it is misdiagnosed too often. But it is called "rage syndrome". I have NO idea if this is what is happening in your household with your dog, but you could read about it and see if there are similarities. It is actually a type of neurological disorder. Perhaps that's what your vet meant when he said his behavior could be caused by 'inbreeding'.

It is common enough in springer spaniels that many have coined the phrase 'springer rage'. But it can occur in other breeds as well.

Rage Syndrome Article

http://ezinearticles.com/?Unpredict...-Syndrome---A-Neurological-Disorder&id=998912

I hope this is NOT the case as this is a true behavioral emergency and will require a trained behaviorist and perhaps medication to control.
 

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I've never heard of rage syndrome before, very interesting reading!

I don't think my dog has this. He can be very unpredicatable at times, but he does respond when you tell him to stop (usually) and you can definitely tell when he's getting in a 'mood'. Sometimes it's as simple as him laying beside the couch and and one of us reaches down to pet him, he'll show his teeth and growl. The attacks, where he tries to bite are only when he totally loses it, which again, can be unpredictable but there are generally signs right beforehand that he's about to get snappy. He doesn't lose it to the point where he attacks inanimate objects like walls or items on the floor, it's always directed at myself or my son, and occasionally other dogs that I've owned, never at the cats, and rarely does it happen outside of our house. If we take him with us when we go visit friends or something, 99.9% of the time he's just fine.

But this is definitely something to ask the vet about, even though it doesn't fit his profile, at this point, I don't want to rule anything out. If we can stop this unpredictable behavior, everyone will be all the happier for it.
 
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