The Dog Bite Came Out Of No Where

This is a question I received last week about a biting dog. When you help out dog owners , you look for the absolutely simplest thing for them to do. A lot of dog owners, just don’t have the time it takes to go through a long dog training process.


Tommy our almost 12 year old mini-poodle, has come with issues that we’ve learned to deal with over the years. We got him when he was a year and a half old from the SPCA – he only spent one night there -but we do know that the couple who returned him did so because they felt bad leaving him alone for 12 hours a day. He was so sweet and wonderful for the first month – we never heard him bark – ever! But once he got used to things – he got into his own routine. He has separation anxiety – follows us around if he senses we are leaving – he rarely is not in the same room as me if I’m home. He’s barked and urinated when we’ve left him, and when he was younger would destroy things too if and when we left him..
He’d also be overly protective in his barking- we live in a 4-plex – and he’d bark at any noise outside our door – i.e. any time anyone else comes up or down the stairs – rather than just when someone is at our door.

This is all stuff we’ve grown used to – and he’s been on Clomicalm for years now. This has helped somewhat – but as I said – we’ve had him for almost 10 years now and we know that he’s got special needs and have learned to live with them.

The problem is that recently – he’s become quite aggressive when we wake him at night to take him out. Originally he’d just growl or groan – but he’d let us put his leash on and take him. Lately it’s become worse – he’s growling, snarling and biting. My reaction at first is to say no – then back off and leave the room (he’s still into following me) and when he’s awake and no longer in la la land – he lets us put his collar on and off he goes for the nightly “drag”… He still does everything that he has to – so it’s not a matter of not “needing” to go to the bathroom. Thing is my husband wants to show him that he’s not the boss of us and will fight back – which of course never comes to a positive ending.

I have an appointment with the vet in a week (he’s out of town) – but in the meantime – I’d love some advice if anyone has seen a change in behavior before like this and if you have any suggestions.


Hello Diane

First off, is that him “Anticipation…” ?
I think those drugs tend to have more of a calming placebo effect on us, as opposed to our dog.

When you say, “Originally he’d just growl or groan – but he’d let us put his leash on and take him. Lately it’s become worse – he’s growling, snarling and biting.”. I’m not surprised that the behavior has escalated a little bit, I am a surprised though, that it took this long to happen.

Was this a contributing factor originally, to you putting him on Clomicalm ? If so, at the beginning did you try to modify his behavior along with the drugs. And I don’t think that stuff is meant for long term use.

Anyway, back to your problem. If you can wake him safely, you can try getting a little more happier with you emotions, if you are not an alpha he knows it. So avoid confrontations at all cost, you will wind up making the behavior worse at that time. The following link article, can be applied to a lot of different issues we are having with our dog. also . Remember, a dominant or aggressive dog, doesn’t really growl at you, they just bite.

This article has to do with the behavior your husband is displaying, I’m gonna guess he’s not that crazy though.
Don’t take offense to the title.

Now, you want a simple solution ? Why don’t you try putting his leash on and leaving it on him, a couple of hours before his last walk. This way when it’s time for his last bathroom break, you can just grab his leash.

Hope this has been of some help to you. If you need me to go into more detail about anything, get back in touch with me.


Diane’s last sentence, (  I’d love some advice if anyone has seen a change in behavior before like this and if you have any suggestions. )

Her dogs behavior has not changed over time, her dog just displayed the behavior in a different way. Then what happens in just about every dog behavior case like this, we think the behavior came out of nowhere. It’s been there all the time, we just didn’t learn how to recognize the dogs behavior.

How to stop all dog aggression behaviors


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2 Responses

  1. Hello Kirsten

    You know it doesn’t really matter what mix he is, it’s the behavior that’s our main concern here. And this believe it or not, is a relatively common thing. So counting the older guy, this was the sixth time he’s done that ?

    Any type of dog behavior that goes unchecked, can and usually will escalate to the next stage of the behavior. He’s done it five times before right, so that should tell us two important things,
    1- The behavior didn’t come out of the blue, as we often mistakenly believe.
    2- Whatever behavior modification approach we’ve been attempting, doesn’t seem to be having the desired results.

    Can I ask you, how have you been attempting to modify his behavior, aside from any basic obedience commands that you have been teaching him? And are you working with a trainer ?

    Let me cover these points first. (1) Not that it matters, but this is not an aggressive bite, it’s a nervous one. (2) Although I’m nitpicking here, we do not modify behaviors by “training”. We modify those behaviors by understanding the inherited fears that our animals possess, and by working to relieve our dog of those fears.

    Lets get back to the incidences for a second. You mention the hat thing, does that mean he’s absolutely fine with non-hat wearing males ?

    Well anyway, If you want to learn how to modify these behaviors by learning how to relieve his fears. Look under the “Categories” title in the right sidebar, click on “The Mind of a dog” and look for the appropriate title with “nervous” in it.

    On the other hand, if you have almost made up your mind already, to get rid of him, then check out ( )

    Good Luck Kirsten, and if you want help learning just ask.


  2. Hi there,

    A couple of weeks ago I adopted a Boxer/American foxhound mix… says the K9-pals in Santa Barbara.
    I have worked with him so he now does not bolt out of the car, and sits and lies down on command. What concerns me is that at least five times he has jumped at males with caps on and nipped their clothing.
    Today, my seven year old son and I walked with the dog in town and again “out of the blue” with no growl or warning he jumped on a tall elderly man and made a hole in his arm. The blood came through the shirt. It was terrible!!
    Other wise he has been great. I am very worried though. The dog was adopted as a puppy but then given to someone that then later let the dog free and was picked up by k-9 pals. It was then at the shelter for three or four months.
    Do you think that this behavior can be trained away??
    He was neutered as a puppy. My son is so terribly sad as he loves the dog. I however am also sad but cannot have a dog that is going to perhaps bite someone. We have a Lagotto Romagnolo and she is great. She would never bite anyone.

    Thank you,

    Kirsten Hinrichs

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