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Dogs/Agression Issues


Hello Patti, I read your response to the sudden aggression question about protective growling when the owner was sick. My problem is my 3 1/2lb Morkie had the cutest little puppy on my living room floor! BUT now she is 9 months old and every time we go to bed she is all happy friendly and then in an instant as I am petting her and she is liking it suddenly its like a switch turned on and she growls and if I don't let go of her, she bites, lays down and if you try to touch her or bump her with your leg, foot, hand, even just the movement in the bed she growls, try to pick her up and she will tear your fingers off. Also she is now 6lb and her tiny little Momma is scared of her when she growls:( She has attacked the neighbors and bite the shin of visitors, I bought a muzzle and she bit the sweet pitbull next door while she(my dog) had the muzzle on! I did buy a shock collar and it has helped out doors with most of those issues But, I just don't know how to cure the indoor aggression, just picking her up off the couch. She is friendly & playfull most of the time but night time is always leary. Tried the shock collar at night, made it worse. Even threw her out of bed for a while, didn't work. Do dogs get Bi-Polar? Any suggestions. Thank you, Corinne


Hi Corinne,

Unlike the letter on sudden aggression in a dog you've referred to, your puppy's problem is not one of sudden aggression, but of poor socialization and lack of training.

First, dog aggression can be caused by medical issues. If you're seeing aggression in your puppy, you should have her examined by your veterinarian to be sure the root problem is not physical (or has some physical component in addition to a behavioral issues).

If you were able to get a handle on this problem by just reading about it, you would probably have it under control by now. You need the help of a trained professional who can evaluate your puppy's behavior in person, and then show you how you can get the problem under control. Your veterinarian's office or a local boarding kennel may be able to give you a referral to a dog behaviorist. Unlike a "dog trainer", a behaviorist is a dog handler who holds a graduate degree and professional certification. They are generally experienced dog handlers, who have developed their experience over many years of hands-on experience, along with formal college education. You might also be able to find a behaviorist in your area here:

Until you can find a dog behaviorist, there are a couple of things you can do. For starters, no matter how much your puppy annoys you, you should never throw her off your bed, punish or hit her, as this only adds to your puppy's aggression problem. Pet or touch her as long as she allows, and don't push it, since you know it's going to cause her to become aggressive. Let your puppy have her space and allow her to receive attention on her terms, and don't try to force her to be handled. Some dogs are just not overly affectionate, it is part of who they are as individuals. Be patient. Your puppy didn't get this way over night, it's going to take a few months to teach her more acceptable behaviors.

A really simple way of laying the groundwork for your puppy's place in the "pack" is a simple training regimen called Nothing In Life Is Free. You should practice the rules of NILIF every day without exception. Consistency is very important when you're trying to train a dog.  Read about NILIF here:

You might find this article from the ASPCA helpful. It's called "Dogs Who Are Hand Shy", it talks about dogs who prefer to not be touched, and offers suggestions of how to help your dog better tolerate being touched.

I hope I've been a help.
Best of luck,



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To date, I've owned 7 dogs, all of which have lived into old age. Having cared for them in all stages of life, I feel I can offer sound advice to other pet owners, and people considering getting a dog. I am knowledgeable about the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breeds, training and exercise, caring for sick and elderly pets, feeding, as well as many holistic treatments pets can benefit from. My only request is that you write me using standard English and punctuation.


My life experience in this field is more like "on the job training" rather than an actual degree in animal welfare. You may benefit from my experiences over the past 30 years. Aside from the dogs I've owned, I'm also involved in "breed rescue" and have fostered several dogs, all of which have been adopted to wonderful "forever homes". I find helping people who want a dog very rewarding.

Real life experience, based on over 30 years of dog ownership.

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