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Thank you all in advance for your help. I have an 18 week old Maltese/Miniature Poodle. We have focused heavily on socialization (bringing him to my kids school when we pick them up, taking him on walks where there are lots of people, having him around other dogs etc.) and his interactions have always been positive.

However, almost overnight we have seen an aggressiveness that he has not displayed before. He has always had some issues with getting over excited and then beginning to nip (which our response has been to place him in time-out in the bathroom for about 30 seconds, also giving him something appropriate to chew on), but his behavior recently is more aggressive.

2 nights ago he had something that he shouldn't have and when I bent over to take it out of his mouth he simultaneously growled and bit my hand. Last night he was chewing on a bone and when my 6 year old daughter lightly went to pet his back he did the same to her. Also, he used to willingly run to us when we bent down to let us pick him up, now he stops about 3 feet away and starts barking (it looks like he wants us to chase him which we don't).

He is currently in an obedience class and has been doing great with the commands (sit, down, take it/leave it, come) but when he is worked up he forgets everything (usually when home)

I've had 3 other dogs who have never showed this type of aggressive behavior (they were bigger dogs if that matters). It also seems like my other dogs appeared to "feel" worse (head down, tail tucked between legs) when we would tell them "no", while "no" seems to amp this puppy up. His behavior has us concerned since we have a 6 and 9 year old who have friends over all the time.

I spoke to the breeder who said we need to establish dominance and start putting him on his back. I spoke to the trainer who said to never put him on his back and reward the behavior we are looking for.

Please HELP!
 

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Definitely agree with your trainer! Grabbing him is what is getting you into trouble now. He's little and cute and you want to treat him like a toy. NO! Treat him like a big dog. Bucky is 13 pounds and really loves that we bend down to pet him and only pick him up with lots of notice and usually treat him. When he has something respect it and leave him alone. Do you like it when that long awaited chocolate chip cookie is grabbed from you or somebody starts a conversation with you when you were concentrating on taxes or an exciting book?

When confronted there are two general responses. Fight or flight. Your previous dogs shut down. This guy is fighting back. Little dogs often do because earlier warnings were ignored. Little dog growls are sort of cute, big dog growls can be terrifying.

If he objects to something then use your big human brain [call your trainer and ask what to do] and work around it. If he doesn't want to get picked up work on it. At a time he is calm get some tiny cookies and put one in his face as you scoop him up. When he is chewing leave him alone. Work on trading toys outside of emergency situations [ask your trainer!] and have a plan for if you need to move him or take away a chew. Make sure he has a safe place where he isn't subjected to people petting him. He should come to you to be petted. If he doesn't come then he doesn't want to cuddle or get petted. Be very sure to work on grooming, your groomer will thank you. He won't like brushes and combs at first but treat it same as the sit, down, leave it training and he'll figure it out. A little at a time and do it daily as part of the rest of his homework.
 

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Definitely agree with your trainer! Grabbing him is what is getting you into trouble now. He's little and cute and you want to treat him like a toy. NO! Treat him like a big dog. Bucky is 13 pounds and really loves that we bend down to pet him and only pick him up with lots of notice and usually treat him. When he has something respect it and leave him alone. Do you like it when that long awaited chocolate chip cookie is grabbed from you or somebody starts a conversation with you when you were concentrating on taxes or an exciting book?

When confronted there are two general responses. Fight or flight. Your previous dogs shut down. This guy is fighting back. Little dogs often do because earlier warnings were ignored. Little dog growls are sort of cute, big dog growls can be terrifying.

If he objects to something then use your big human brain [call your trainer and ask what to do] and work around it. If he doesn't want to get picked up work on it. At a time he is calm get some tiny cookies and put one in his face as you scoop him up. When he is chewing leave him alone. Work on trading toys outside of emergency situations [ask your trainer!] and have a plan for if you need to move him or take away a chew. Make sure he has a safe place where he isn't subjected to people petting him. He should come to you to be petted. If he doesn't come then he doesn't want to cuddle or get petted. Be very sure to work on grooming, your groomer will thank you. He won't like brushes and combs at first but treat it same as the sit, down, leave it training and he'll figure it out. A little at a time and do it daily as part of the rest of his homework.
Should I have to worry that my kids might get bit if they touch him when he has something he prizes? It seems like this is something he should be able to be trained to stop. When I think of a well trained dog the first idea that pops into my mind is a guide dog, and I'm sure they would not be allowed to respond aggressively, especially when no one is doing something inappropriate to it.
 

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Resource guarding can sometimes be trained out but sometimes it is genetic, or a permanent personality trait. I have a very severe resource guarding dog who I can safely take anything from, without conflict. BUT, he will always be a resource guarder through the 10+ years I've had him, and I have no doubt he would bite someone if approached improperly. My dog isn't your dog. But the sooner you respect your puppy's warning cues and work WITH your puppy, the less of a risk he will be in the future.

I would stop thinking about guide dogs and comparing your puppy to them. For one, was your breeder breeding for service animals? Does she health test? Did she do temperament evaluations before giving you this specific puppy, or did she let you pick whichever one and put money down? Does your puppy's parents have this issue? And honestly, given that your breeder stills believes in totally false and outdated dominance theory, I would imagine that she punished the trait out of any dog she might have, masking it outwardly but not genetically. Just my guesses.

It is false to think that correcting a dog for resource guarding will teach them to 'submit' and allow any person to take things. Yes, you can harshly punish a dog often enough that they will relinquish items to YOU. But it creates further negative associations between people and resources. It increases the chance that the dog might eventually bite you or someone else (kids are often the victims).

Your three past dogs seem to have been more sensitive to tones and corrections. Your current dog sounds like he escalates and gets more aroused when you push him. This is totally an individual thing. Do not let your kids pet him when he has something in his possession. Instead, teach them to toss him a treat then walk away. I know that some dogs allow petting when they are 'busy', but it is very common for dogs to want some uninterrupted alone time. And honestly, it's respectful to the dog for human members of the household to learn boundaries.

Here's a decent article on resource guarding:
https://positively.com/dog-behavior/aggression/resource-guarding/

He might not want to be picked up anymore. Honestly, he might not have wanted it when he was even younger, but infant puppies tend to shut down rather than act out. As puppies mature, they are more confident about telling you when they don't like something.

Think of it this way. Any time a dog growls or snaps, they are saying "I don't like what you're doing, please stop." If a dog bites and does NOT break skin, that is very deliberate. That's as deliberate as someone pushing a person aside in a scuffle rather than punching them in the face or stabbing them. I'm sorry that you didn't get a 'perfect' dog who will let you do anything you want to him. But know that growling, lifting lips, stiffening, showing teeth, snapping, are all NORMAL and HEALTHY forms of communication. You know what isn't? Going straight to a skin-breaking bite.

So let's say your puppy growls because your kid tries to pet him while he's chewing on a bone. "please stop", he is saying. Let's say you swoop in and roll this poor puppy onto his back. Which, I should add, can cause damage to such a young and small dog (See this article about how a trainer accidentally kills a dog by trying to hold it's neck and hold it's mouth shut: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201701/dog-trainings-dirty-little-secret-anyone-can-legally-do-it). So you pin your puppy, or shout NO! Or take the bone away... Ask yourself, does this make my dog feel better or worse about the presence of people? Worse. And are you actually teaching him to be comfortable, or are you punishing his growling? You are punishing the growling. A dog that feels he can't growl will sooner resort to a bite.
 

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Don't "establish dominance." That is not a thing between humans and dogs. "Alpha rolling" him will at best, have no effect, and at worst, create more problems.

It sounds like your pup is doing a bit of resource guarding. It could be something you have to manage for the rest of the dog's life. So yes, you will have to worry about your kids being bitten if they make the mistake of trying to take or touch him when he has a resource. Make sure nothing he highly prizes is laying around. He only gets special treats and chews in his crate where he can't be bothered, or you need to teach your children to leave him alone. Teach him to "trade." If he gives up a prized item, he gets an even better item. If I have to take something from my dog, I always give him a better reward, like a hot dog that is quickly eaten.

It seems that if a dog displays itself as a resource guarder, it will always have those tendencies and needs to be managed. Many severe resource guarders have been "rehabilitated", but their owners take precautionary measure to make sure their dog never feels like it HAS to guard their resources. The feed them in crates and pick up anything the dog thinks is a valuable enough resource to guard.
 
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