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Discussion Starter #1
We have a 3 1/2 year old, purebred, neutered male. While I am waiting for an appointment with our vet, I'm doing all the research I can.

Recently we have noticed that our dog is getting angry for no apparant reason, & lunging towards people's faces. Example - we take him everywhere in the car with us - I was talking to a friend of mine & had "Kosh" in my lap. She was standing at my car window, & had been gently petting him for about 5 minutes while her & I visited - suddenly, Kosh jumps up & lunges for her face. Luckily she backed up in time. I thought he was playing with her. Now I think otherwise. Yesterday, I was watching tv with my children. My oldest son (age 8) was gently petting Kosh. Suddenly, Kosh becomes irate, growling & whining, & lunged straight at my son's face. My son held him at bay - with both hands around Kosh's neck so he couldn't attack my son's face. A few weeks ago, my baby girl, who is 1, was giggling at Kosh (not touching him!) & Kosh lunged straight at her face. Thank God she backed up & he did not get her. Months ago, my oldest son went to pick Kosh up & Kosh lit into him. That particular time, Kosh did get my son's face & it beat him up pretty bad. He was ok, but he had a big goose-egg on his forehead & some scratches.

We are just now putting all this together. We are animal lovers, & our children are taught to respect all animals = no picking on them whatsoever. I do not think this behavior in a dog so young is typical/normal. I'm actually getting a little concerned for the safety of my children. We love our dog so much - he is the cutest thing & we adore him. He is part of our family. I just don't know what to do!

Anyone experience anything similar? Is this normal for a 3 1/2 shih-tzu? Why is he not biting hands or ankles, I wonder. He always goes straight for the face. Any suggestions are appreciated! :)
 

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Face to Face greeting is considered rude to dogs. It may be as simple as that. He may have given warnings previous to this that other dogs would understand but that people, especially kids, do not understand.

Vet exam first. If all checks out, get a behaviorist in.

Meanwhile, separate kids from the dog b4 someone gets seriously hurt. Do not allow anyone near this dogs face with their face. Use a leash and, if necessary, a basket muzzle.

Keep things this way until this can be sorted out, if, indeed, it can be.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you! We do not let our children get in our dog's face, & my friend that he lunged at was no where near his face. All the times I have witnessed him lunging at my children, none of them, as a matter of fact, were near his face. It's kind of like one minute he is totally fine, & then in a matter of seconds, he just "snaps" & is very angry & wants to attack someone's face. The nurse at the vet's mentioned "behaviorist" - I have no clue what that is. I'm still waiting for the vet himself to phone me back.

Thank you again for responding! :)
 

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An animal behaviorist, in this case a dog behaviorist, is one who specializes in animal behavior modification. They're trained to deal with dogs with behavior problems and fix said problems. Some are better than others, but that goes without saying.

If this is sudden change in behavior I would definitely rule out any physical problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you. I just again got off the phone with my vet's nurse, who had spoken with the vet about our issues. She said that IF provoked, lunging at the face for defense is totally normal. However, if this is happening unprovoked (which is the case in ALL our incidents), that is completely abnormal. Especially in a dog 3 1/3 years old. They recommended a good physical (which he's had more times than I can count & I know for a fact he is totally fine and healthy) & labwork, and/or behaviorist. And/or a Neurologist. She did say my vet is very concerned because children are involved. Lots of decisions for us to make.

Thank you again.
 
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