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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20180
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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We adopted a JT cross from Croatia in Sept last year, Medena

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We adopted a JT cross from Croatia in Sept last year, Medena is 18 mths apprx and was found as a stray. She is becoming increasingly aggressive towards members of the household and now when she is out and on the lead. She is lovely and I've taught her to sit and paw and wait for her food. Also, she has now got good recall. I'm the one who does the walking, feeding playing. My husband has been playing rough with her, which she seems to enjoy as she is wagging and always leaping about for more. She rolls over onto back when she knows she's done wrong and also pushes herself into you to get your attention. But when she sees my husband and I hug she'll leap in and bark and snarl. Today I fell whilst out walking and she came back to me and stayed with me but tried to attack anyone who approached to help me. She has always attacked the mower and hoover. When off the lead she basically ignores other dogs and avoids them, only when they saw an interest she gets aggressive and snaps at them. She has snapped at my 17yr old daughter and just bitten my husband while the hoover was on. I know some has come with her, but also know my husband's play antics however funny, haven't helped. Please can you help me. Sally
My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.
Are you the only one who has trained with her?
Has she show aggression toward other people before now on walks?
Can you give me more information on what was going on when your dog bit your husband when the hoover was on? Where were they, what was going on at the time?
The same information concerning your daughters close call would be appreciated as well.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, I'm the one is has done most things to date, as I am told she is my dog! My husband works a lot and my daughter spends majority of time in her room. She went for a few people today while out both before and after my fall. Meddie was walking around the lounge quite happy before my husband put the hoover on. She immediately started attacking the hoover and mu husband went to restrain her and she jumped onto my lap and he tried to get her off to put her in another room while he finished hovering. I think my daughter made her jump as not sure she knew anyone was at home so may have been guarding.... also Meddie was settled for the evening and my daughter at our suggestion went to give her a walk, but the dog seems to be very jumpy when walking at night with her so they set each other off. She would attack the postman given a chance also, something to do with reflective clothing I think. I think that's about it. Sally

Most of these situations seem to be dominance based situation though fear aggression might also play a part.
It is not unusual for small dogs to be dominant at all. But before we go into that, I want to mention that there are some medical conditions that can cause sudden aggression and those may be a factor. Unfortunately, these would not be able to be ruled out without testing.

Unfortunately, the site does not allow me to make clickable links, so to view the supporting websites, you will need to copy and paste the link into a new browser window or tab.

It sounds like your dog may be having issues with dominance aggression. Many dominant dogs are described as well behaved until you try to get them to do something they do not want to do, and then they reprimand you either with a growl or bite if you don't heed the growl. Things like taking away something they want, making them move when they don't want to, waking them up, etc can cause them to reprimand (bite) you or in this case, family members. They use bites and nipping as a way of reprimanding you for what they find is unacceptable behavior.

Dogs that are allowed on furniture (even if you put them 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 since they can bite. She may not feel you are lower in the pack but if she has started guarding you on occasion then it is likely. Keeping her on the floor can help lower her mentally back to a submissive position in the pack. So the first thing is to not allow her higher that the humans or even on the same level. You can attach a leash and use it to remove her from the furniture. You can also give a correction in the form of a short tug and firm "NO" when she attempts to get on and a treat when she 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). Everyone in the house has to be consistent with training.

There are other ways to regain the dominant position in the house as well. The best way is to start formal obedience training. While a formal training class is great, you can continue obedience training without a formal class. Before you can get into classes, I am including links to a couple of other sites that teach some good methods of training. Be sure and read both.
The following site is helpful. 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.

Everyone in the household should be involved with training in order to establish themselves as the dog's boss as well. When a dog obeys a command for a tasty vienna sausage sliver or liver sliver, it makes them just a little more submissive to that person and thus why everyone has to be involved in training.

You will also want to keep a leash on her at all times initially to grab if she should disobey. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well your dog does with training from everyone and the NILF program.
It will be helpful if you can find someone to help you once you have your dog listening to commands consistently. What you will do is have your dog on the leash. You will have your helper off in the distance. Your helper will gradually move closer to you preferably walking past your position in the distance. As long as your dog ignores them, you can give your dog praise and a treat. The second you see her fixate on the person or show any other sign of aggression (hair standing up, etc.) give your dog a correction by giving a short tug and a firm low toned "NO". It shouldn't take your dog long to realize you will not tolerate the aggression and that if she ignores the person, she gets treats. Once this happens you can repeat the training moving the person closer until she is no longer trying to lunge at people. You will need to practice this when you and your dog are walking as well.
Bat training might also help as well for this which you can read about below.

And of couse, group training will help with situation as well since she will be socialized more around a lot of strangers in a controlled environment with an in person trainer present to help you learn how to control her aggression as well. The trainer may have different techniques as we each have methods we prefer. Dogs are like people and what works for one may not be as effective as another, so try them separately or together and one will work to help with the various issues.
I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. 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 .
Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Jane,

thank you for your advice and what sites to visit. the ones I'd tried before coming across this one weren't much help as wasn't sure what sort of aggression. Meddie does on the chairs but does not go upstairs at all. Hopefully, things will start to calm down.


Many thanks



You are very welcome.