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I just joined this forum but have read it many times for years... thanks for all your past knowledge!

I have a Toy Shih Tzu who weighs about 6#’s. She is my second Shih Tzu, however my first was standard size and I thought this one was as well until I noticed her not getting very big and contacting the breeder. She has been a fun, active puppy until the past few months. She will be 2 years old in April!

Anyway—- my mom was really sick so my son who is 28 moved back home to help me with her and she passed away last Nov — so since then it has been myself and my son with little Izzy every single day and most nights.

Izzy has suddenly, from nowhere become much more VOCAL! She growls at us both when protecting her “bone” and if my son walks thru the room she begins barking loudly! She barks now at every person she see’s when I let her ride in the car with me (which she LOVES).., but this barking has made me not want to take her.

She was not like this “AT ALL” until the past two months or a little longer. She will growl at my son and be wagging her tail wanting him to play with her at the same time.

She bites at my foot when she sees it move under the covers at night, and growls at me anytime she is near her “bone; snack” even if she brings it to MY LAP!! She seems startled by everything more than usual.

I have tried lying her on her side and gently holding her there until she settles down. I am at my wits end at what to do. I would NEVER give her away or anything like that... just looking for any advice!!!

Thank you! Cate
 

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Has she been to the vet since this started? If not, then a thorough check up is in order, along with a complete thyroid panel (T3, T4, Free T3, Free T4, TSH, etc.).

Please don't pin her on her side. That is an old dominance based method, and can actually make things worse.
 

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Like LeoRose said, a vet check may be in order to ensure nothing medical is going on. Sudden changes in behavior always mean a vet check.

Did Izzy know your son before he moved in with you? Has she been okay with strangers before? If she went from bubbly and social to wary and afraid of strangers, again, make sure she isn't suffering from a medical problem.

The "guarding her bone" sounds like resource guarding. If that's the case, I would pick up all "high value" things like bones and long-lasting chews so she can no longer guard them. If you give her a chew, make sure she is in her own area, like in a crate or pen, so nobody can bother her and have a treat that she likes better than the bone so you can pick it up. Look up the "trade game."

That being said, growling and barking can be play, too. My dog snarls, growls, barks, snaps his teeth, and makes other noises in the midst of play or if he wants me to play that may be concerning if you didn't know him or couldn't see his body. I can tell the difference between play behavior and actual distress by reading his body language (and by now I recognize the different sounds to growls and barks, too). Without seeing her behavior, I couldn't tell, but perhaps you can get help from a professional, positive based trainer who can teach you to understand dog body language and what that means.

Also note, your pup is still a youngster! She's developing her own personality, and sometimes at this age the happy-go-lucky puppy becomes a wary adult dog.
 
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