10 month old bichon with sudden aggressive behavior.

by Teresa
(Grove City, OH 43123)

I have a loving and sweet 10 month old Bichon that lives with two older dogs. One is a Bichon and the other a Maltese. They are 13 and 12, We have had him since 8 weeks. Sometimes they will and other times they won't play with him. He seems to be a people dog. Sleeping at our feet or just laying in the vicinity. We have two adults and two sometimes three older teens in the home. Lots of other teens in and out all the time.

Never have seen any aggression. Displays submissive behavior at the dog park and to our other dogs, rolling over and showing his belly every time from the beginning.

He does sleep with me and the other two do not. He likes to sleep at my head on my pillow. I have been told by separate dog trainers this is dominant behavior and then that it is just him wanting to be close. It is me he does this with mostly. He will move over to my husband sometime and sometimes sleeps at the bottom of the bed but 95 percent of the time he is on my pillow. When he rides in the car he also wants to be on my shoulders. Draped like a stole. But doesn't act mean if have to move him. He rides in the car frequently. If a week or more pass in between rides he still climbs on my shoulders almost every time.

This weekend at a softball tournament with lots of people running around and kids of all sizes he was his normal self until we were standing in a circle he barked and lunged and nipped at a 2 year old boy. Catching his pants. I was floored. I thought he had to be playing. He sometimes gets excited when someone in our family enters the house or even comes from upstairs and jumps on them and bites at their pants or robe. He has done this to me and nipped my skin a couple times and he barks during these episodes but I did not view it as aggression. I have tried correcting the behavior but don't think it made and impact.

Same day, same child he lunged and nipped at this boy again a few hours later. Again catching his pants. The child was standing still. I thought maybe it was the child's size that had something to do with it. I corrected him the second time this happened harshly. Awhile later an adult women walked by and as she passed he did the same to her. Getting a hold of her pant leg as well. I corrected him immediately, I am friendly with this person so she stopped to talk to him and make up by putting her hand out and petting him and letting him smell her hand. I kept my hand on him and around his snout. We were at the dog park with her the next day and he was fine. He was the smallest of 4 medium size dogs and played and ran with them. The whole time there were people around. He did not act like that towards anyone else the rest of the time and there were other kids near him. Teenage girls and boys petting him with me right there.

I feel like I can't trust him anymore and we take him on these types of trips frequently.

I am looking for advice on what to do as the next step.

He has had about 4 weeks of obedience training. Mostly sit, stay, walking without pulling, come. He will not come when called still. He jumps backward or gets in a playful stance sometimes when you reach for him.

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Nothing In Life Is Free
by: Adam G. Katz

Employ the "Nothing In Life Is Free" approach, so that your dog starts to view you as the "pack leader." If your dog doesn't see you as the leader, then your corrections will be meaningless. So, if you're doing subtle things (inadvertently) to undermine your leadership role around the house-- it will be counter-productive.

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