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Canine Behavior/agressive silky terrier


Lucas 1 year old
Lucas 1 year old  
Hi Jennifer:
I have a 1 year and 4 month old silky named Lucas. He is adorable when it is just us at home. ( my husband, 2 boys and me) but transforms into an agressive devil when children come to the door or he watches them from the window. No one can come in. At the dog park he is awsome, he runs and plays with all dogs and people. Its the children in the neigborhood he does not like. he looses control and even bit me once when a little friend of my kids was at the door, I picked him up and he got really anxious and barks a lot and goes crazy. He does obey to sit, is potty trained, and crate trained. He is very energetic. I do not know what to do to stop this crazy behavior.

Hi Mariella -

I am sorry to hear that Lucas is giving you trouble.  This is a serious problem and I recommend contacting a local trainer and/or behaviorist to help you work through this issue and observe the behavior firsthand.  It sounds like Lucas has been socialized if he is good at the dog park with other dogs and people.  How is he on walks with you?  I am trying to figure out if he is being protective of his home, his family, or both.  Is it just children that come to the door or all people?  If it is just children then he could have had a traumatic experience (remember what's traumatic to a puppy may not phase us humans) as a pup.  For example: a child playing to rough with him, drop him, step on him etc...  Puppies go through several fear periods as they develop.  This how they learn appropriate behavior and survival techniques.  During this time "bad experiences" can become generalized such as a visit to the vet for a nail trim where a nail is clipped too short and triggers a pain reaction.  Some dogs can then become overly sensitive about nail trims or vet visits in general.
I would start doing "mock" visits with Lucas.  Have your children ring the doorbell and come in to pet Lucas.  Designate a greeting spot (where he must sit/stay to receive guests. (Start this on leash so you have control over him). Once his behavior improves progress to other children, preferably other family members children - nieces, nephews, cousins etc. followed by close friends and neighborhood kids.  As Lucas' greetings improve remember to praise lavishly and treat.  If he goes crazy on you say no or eh-eh and have the "guest" leave and try again in a few minutes.  These techniques work really well for dogs that are food motivated and love human affection because you are building an association in the dog's mind that guests = treats and petting.  If Lucas isn't motivated by these things it will be harder to use these techniques.  I would recommend using a really special treat he never gets (chicken, steak etc) and keeping it special just for greeting guests.  Lucas will learn that if he wants yummy steak he must be polite to company.  Once he starts doing better you may want to let the kids treat Lucas' if he's not too nippy. This will further build the association of kids being a good thing in his mind.
This technique takes time so patience, patience, patience.  Until you can be sure he has reliable greeting manners you may want to put him in the crate BEFORE you have company over to avoid the chaos at the door and chances of a bite and integrate him later when he has calmed down.  Remember to praise and treat all positive interactions with children.  As for the barking out the window, you can try to interrupt the behavior ("no or eh-eh")  and redirect it on something positive like a favorite toy. Be sure to praise him if he stops barking and plays with the toy.
Please seek a professional to help you with this situation.  If you keep him crated and avoid front door greetings entirely the behavior can become worse, however you don't want to risk a guest getting bit either.  Best of luck with your pup.  Please keep me posted.

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Jennifer Ganser, LMT, ABCDT


For canines I can answer questions related to behavior, obedience training, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) For equines I can answer questions related to behavior, barn management, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) I am not a veterinarian and it is not within my scope of practice as a licensed massage therapist or certified dog trainer to diagnose health conditions. Please contact your pet's veterinarian for illness related questions and emergencies.


I am a licensed massage therapist for people, horses, and dogs and a certified dog trainer. I teach group obedience classes as well as private lessons. I also work with horses and help barns establish good management practices.

Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) National Certification Board of Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)

2009 - graduate of Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy 2010 - certified in canine/feline first aid + CPR by Red Cross 2012 - graduate of Post University equine program 2012 - graduate of Animal Behavior College Obedience program

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