How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Jane Lefler Your Own Question
Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19772
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
Type Your Dog Training Question Here...
Jane Lefler is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Our 4 yr old female havenese is very aggressive. Has bitten

Customer Question

Our 4 yr old female havenese is very aggressive. Has bitten my husband and daughter. My husband cannot pet or even talk to her. She growls at him constantly. Not as bad with me but she did snap once. If anyone comes into the kitchen she attaches their feet when they go near her food bowl. I think we are at the point where we have to give her up. I have had to professional trainers. They did nothing with agression
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year 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.

The first thing I would do is test her for medical reasons for her aggression.

You can read about these here:

Trainers are good, but the actual family members have to work with the dog daily to establish themselves as the boss of the dog. This takes formal times for training to be established and the family members repeating the same commands over and over again, rewarding her for her good behavior with tasty treats like hot dog slivers in order to get her listening. Each time a dog obeys a command from a person, it makes them just a little more submissive to that person. This is why repetition is so important. And this happens even if they are doing it for the treat. So all family members have to participate.

The following site is helpful in helping owners train their dog. 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.

Her food bowl should not be down all the time especially if she is food aggressive which it sounds like she is. There are some techniques you can use for food aggressive dogs. Resource guarding is what this behavior is called and it can be dangerous if not addressed correctly. I have to tell you that it is best addressed in person with a professional behaviorist. However many owners are able to help their dogs overcome this unwanted behavior with lots of patience and hard work. The following sites go over this in great detail. The last site give many different ideas and techniques to help resolve resource guarding.


If you have taken the time to read the above sites you will notice that the owners gained their dog's trust by not taking things from them unless they gave them something even better. In the case of food, I've found that hand feeding gets the dog used to you being around the food. I would stop feeding from the bowl and start hand feeding. I usually progress to putting the food in the bowl and just hold the bowl continuing to talk and pet them. Once the dog is used to this, I will put the empty bowl on the floor and put food in the bowl piece by piece if necessary, so the dog knows that I control the food, not her. Additionally, you might have some really tasty treats in hand and as you get close to the dog start dropping these so the dog is associating you with giving more tasty treats rather than just approaching her food. Once she sees that you are adding food to the bowl and not taking it away, she shouldn't feel the need to attack to warn others away from herfood. At this point, you want to have an extra tasty treat like hot dog slices and have them in one hand to distract her from her bowl. As she takes the treats, lift a handful of food from his bowl and then put it right back. Be sure she sees you put it back. This teaches her that just because you take the food doesn't mean it isn't coming back.

In addition, you may need a behaviorist instead of a trainer. This site lists qualified individuals.

I hope this information is helpful to you. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer positively so I am compensated for my time.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

I'm following up to see howyour girl is doing and to see if you found my answer helpful.