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Lisa, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16545
Experience:  CVT with a special interest in behavior modification through structure, boundaries and limitations with positive reinforcement.
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We rescued a 2 year shih zu/poodle mix 3 weeks ago. He was

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We rescued a 2 year shih zu/poodle mix 3 weeks ago. He was aggressive toward my 18 year old son but that has subsided. The last three nights as my husband was coming into my bed he attacked and bit him. How do you handle that situation?
Hi there. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm happy to help you with Tito's aggression issue. Just like an in person consult, I have a few questions to ensure I am on the right track...

So Tito is allowed on beds and other furniture?

Do you know anything about his history before he came to you?

Is he on any kind of a schedule?

How do you react when he acts aggressively?

Is he crate trained?

Any other behavior issues you can think of?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

First question, yes he is allowed on furniture.

Secondly, we know nothing of his history or what breed he is exactly. The shih zu and poodle are his most dominant features. The only thing we know about Tito was that Animal Control in Philadelphia picked him up. He was severly malnourished and full of parasites. Animal Alliance rescued him, cleaned him up, nourished him, fixed him and updated him with his shots.

The Animal Alliance told us he was crate trained. He was living in one with them for months. So the night we bought him home we put him in the crate at night. He pooped, peed and threw up everywhere beside barking for hours. I checked on him around 2 in the morning and found the mess. I had to throw the contents in the crate away and disinfect the crate. two weeks ago, I brought him to be groomed and the same thing happened there. We landed up having him sleep in our room. Lately though he is coming too possesive of the bed. He growls at me when I move him to the end of the bed. He attack my husband when he comes into bed.

I have set a schedule for Tito. He is fed 2x a day. We walk 4/5 times a day and one of the walks is about a mile.

When he act aggressively I try to be as calm as possible so he calms down.

Tito had a number of issues, barking at everyone but me. Not housebroken. Leaps alot when he sees me come home or before our walks. He is much better with people barks for a few seconds that is it. He is house broken and does not leap as much.

I am just concerned at his aggression toward my husband. He gets to be Jekyll and Hyde. Normally he is a good boy. This issue is at night time. I realize we have to get him out of our bed but I don't know how.


THank you so much for the additional information. I really appreciate it.

As the mom to an adopted Maltipoo that I got from a backyard breeder, I can actually completely understand what you're seeing in Tito. My little guy had a lot of the same behaviors.

In cases of dogs who are acting dominant or possessive, the very first thing I always suggest is getting them into an obedience class. Not because he needs to learn how to sit and stay (although that's super nice too), but because attending these classes will build the bond between you and the dog and will elevate you into the position of top dog in the house since you'll be requesting him to do something and expecting that he follows through. It will also allow him to socialize with other people and animals in a safe, neutral environment. Since Tito seems to have already bonded to you pretty solidly, I would strongly suggest that your husband be the one to take him to classes, as it will help with their bond.

Because this seems to be a dominance issue, the next thing I'd do is start the Nothing In Life Is Free (NILIF) training program. In my experience, if done consistently, this type of training offers the biggest results for both dogs and owners. With NILIF, your dog will obey your commands without any sort of physical discipline or frustration. The theory is that you raise yourself in the pack heirarchy by controlling all the dogs resources.

More to the point, you're doing to decide when to give your dog his food bowl and when it goes away. You're going to control when you pet your dog, when you offer toys or treats and when you're going to play with the dog.

I like this training because it works on every dog personality. Dogs who are shy get self confidence, dogs who are easily distracted are focused and shy dogs come out of their shell. Dogs like yours, who tend to be a bit dominant will learn patience and manners and that you are the alpha dog and anyone you allow in the house is okay to be there. He doesn't have to guard you/the bed from them because as the top dog, you've got things under control.

NILIF works like this: we're going to start by essentially ignoring the dog when he demands your attention. No matter how much he tries to get your attention..whether he's pawing at you, or barking at you or even bringing you things. You should absolutely step over him and ignore him as completely as possible. Don't look at him, talk to him or even make eye contact with him. Keep in mind, you're not trying to be mean to're trying to get him to understand that he can't demand you pay attention to him when HE wants it...with consistency, he'll figure out that you're in charge, regardless of what he thinks. As he figures this out...he will become less possessive of you and less likely to act up towards your husband.

One thing you're going to have to do is to not allow him to be on the beds anymore. In a wild pack, the top dogs sleep in the higher spot in the den, so Tito is going to need to sleep on the floor instead. You can get him a super comfy bed and insist he stay down on it.

A side note...he may act up more when you first start training him. He's going to really work hard to get you to pay attention to him when he wants you to, but I promise if you don't give in, it'll be worth it in the end.

Everyone in the house is going to have to take part in these new training rules. Make sure they know that from now on, your dog is going to have to earn anything he gets in the house. There will be no treats, no petting, no anything without the right behavior from the dog. When it's time to eat, he's got to sit and wait before you feed him. If you want to give him a little tasty treat, then make sure he earns it by performing some behavior (could be simply sitting). If you're playing with him, only continue as long as you want, then pick the toy up, put it out of reach and walk way. Consistency is the key!!

The botXXXXX XXXXXne here is that NILIF is going to establish a very clear pack hierarchy in your house with you and any other human in the house in the top spot. It's done without cruelty or physical punishment, but will get the point across. In time, your guy is going to stop doing anything that you wouldn't agree with, and that includes trying to bite anyone you allow in the house, including your husband.

This isn't an easy thing to fix...but I have no doubt that with the combination of obedience classes at a training center and your NILIF training at can absolutely get him in line.

I hope this helps!!
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