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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19604
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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I have a toy poodle who who thinks he needs to protect everything

Customer Question

Hi I have a toy poodle who who thinks he needs to protect everything my husband owns, he will not allow us to pick up clothes or shoes he sits in my walk in robe and if you try to go in he lunges at us some times bites, I've just had him desexed , but still goes everyone.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,
My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
In order to supply you with an informed answer, it is necessary for me to collect some additional information from you. When I receive your response or reply, it will likely take me between 30-45 minutes to type up my reply if I am still online when I receive notice that you replied. I hope you can be patient.
How old is Max
How long ago was he neutered?
Is he growling, lunging or actually biting?
Is he food aggressive?
Does he walk on a leash?
How many walks does he get?
Is he fed on a schedule?
What obedience training has he had so far?
Has he drawn blood?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi, it all started after we moved in to town , until then max had Reni our sons dog, and he had the goats as well, max is 14 months old he gets walked 3 days a week he goes in the car every afternoon to pick me up from work, he eats every morning and night and has dry food left out all the time, he has bitt me on the hand and was deep bit and plenty of blood with it, he has bit my husband while trying to pick his work boots up, he attacked my husband in bed the other night which took around an hour to get him off the bed and out of the room, he's barking at and growling at everyone that walks in the house, he'll follow my son in his room then won't let him touch his own stuff, I'm really getting worried I might have to put him down as we can't keep living in fear, you just don't know when he's gunna turn..I really hope you can help.. We try putting him on his lead and leaving him when he's in a mood, we've tried leaving him out of the room of a night , we've tried being the boss and he wins every time because he bites..
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful.
I think your dog is a dominant dog and needs leadership. Reni likely kept him in check and was the alpha. Now he has no alpha or boss. I don't think he feels anyone is his boss and as a result is trying to push everyone else around using growls and nips, etc as reprimands. It really isn't that unusual. If you do something the dog doesn't want you to do, then he growls and if you ignore it, lunges and nips.
You can change this by becoming the boss of the dog. However, first you need to have medical testing done to ensure he doesn't have a medical cause for his aggression. Read about these here:
Dogs that are allowed on furniture (even if put on the furniture) tend to feel that since they are elevated to your level or higher if on your lap, they mentally feel elevated as well in the pack order and thus are the boss. He is becoming an adult and is definitely at the age where they want to control what they do and not listen to anyone else. Keeping them on the floor can help lower them mentally back to a submissive position in the pack. So the first thing is to not allow him higher that the humans or even on the same level. In addition, humans shouldn't be on the floor with him either. Attach a leash to him and leave it on and use it to remove him from the furniture. Give a correction in the form of a quick tug and firm "NO" when he attempts to get on and a treat when he starts not trying to get on the furniture. Thus you are providing negative reinforcement for the getting on the furniture and positive reinforcement for the desired behavior (not attempting to get on the furniture).
There are other ways to regain the dominant position in the house as well. The best way is to start obedience training. While a formal training class is great, you can start obedience training without a formal class. Before you can get into classes, I am including a site that is great at teaching you how to teach him. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
No keeping food down for him all the time. Make him sit or lay down before he gets his food. Use tiny slivers of hot dogs for treats when training. A dog becomes a little more submissive each time they obey a command even if they are obeying just for the treat. It becomes second nature for them to obey and with that obeying comes the submission and then they listen to you. Once you are the boss, start others in the family training with him as well.
You will also want to keep a leash on him at all times initially to grab if he should disobey. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well your dog does with training. Dogs like knowing what is expected of them and they love the little paper thin slices of hotdogs that I use for treats while training. Give this a try and see how it works for you.
Additionally, I would suggest you get a basket muzzle and make him wear it anytime children are around or visitors are there. If you feel you can't work with him because he bites, use the muzzle when training as well. The basket muzzle will allow you to give treats when he obeys but he won't be able to bite. Be sure to use the leash to make him obey you. If he growls give a short tug to get his attention and a firm "NO" to let him know, you are not going to allow his aggression. If he is sleeping, give a little tug to let him know that someone is there so he isn't startled when being woken up. Remember NOTHING unless he works for it. If he wont' obey a command, then no food or rides or affection at all. don't even talk to him unless he obeys a command.
In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques on the previous website, you may have to consult a professional behaviorist. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.
I hope this information is helpful to you. If you need more information or clarification, please reply and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. If you are satisfied, please take the opportunity to rate.

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