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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If this would be better suited for the training forum, I apologize - please feel free to move it.

Here is my problem (it's long, I'm sorry!): I have an 8 month old female Papillon who I purchased from a reputable breeder. She's normally a very happy and friendly little dog, though I have had some issues with her in terms of food guarding. I have tried working with her on it, hand feeding and whatnot but it doesn't seem to have improved drastically. Aside from this, she has no problems with resource guarding of toys, treats, etc. It's also worth noting that although she was well socialized as a puppy, she is still somewhat timid with strangers. She will go up to people and wag and do a happy dance, but she does not let people touch her right away - it sometimes takes a few minutes for her to warm up. Part of this is just that she's very bouncy and doesn't stay still long enough, but that's only part of it.

In the past two weeks though, she hasn't been herself. She's begun snapping and biting at us. This happened once or twice to myself and my boyfriend - when she did it to him, he was picking her up, so he corrected her (gave her a firm no), but we kind of dismissed it because he thought he accidentally pinched her fur or something and she just reacted badly. When she did it to me, she was in her bed and I was moving her blanket - I also corrected her, but assumed it was because I had startled her or something.

This didn't happen again, until this past weekend, while we were visiting my parents. I'm not sure what happened, but she snapped/snarled a total of 4 times just this weekend, for different things - twice when my mom tried to put her in her crate at bedtime, once when she was napping on my bed with me and I petted her ear (I did this all the time when she was a puppy, it's not a new feel for her), and once when she was sitting on the ottoman and I tried to adjust the blanket she was on.

I'm extremely concerned about this, because for one, Papillons are NOT supposed to act like this. Nothing has happened to her to make her behave this way, it seems to have popped out of nowhere. This behavior needs to stop NOW, before it becomes a habit. Though she has bit us a couple times in these incidents, she does not do so hard enough to draw blood - I'm taking this as a good sign, as she really could do quite a bit of damage if she wanted to, but she does not.

Since this just came on suddenly, I have a vet appointment for her on Wednesday to rule out any health problems. I'm going to have them give her a once-over and also run some blood tests... but in the event that this is not a medical issue, what should I do? How do I handle this to curb this behavior before it becomes a serious issue and someone gets hurt? Since this just started in the last couple weeks, I do hope that it's not too late to reverse... I'm just so upset about this :(
 

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Great first move is to rule out a physical cause, so good on you for that.

If it's not physical, I would initiate a strict regimine of NILIF and read Who's in Charge Here? (If you're uncomfortable with all the talk of "pack" and "alpha", just replace them with "family" and "compassionate leader".) :) The information is good.

And go back to hand feeding. Everything good comes from you for a while.

Also, do you walk this dog? I know some people don't take their little dogs out for walks, thinking they get enough exercise around the house, but dogs need to get out and smell new smells and see new sights. It's a mental stimulation that they don't get by hanging around the house all the time.

Good luck!
 

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The absolute first thing I thought of was a medical check-up. It sounds suspiciously like something is hurting her or causing her discomfort when she is being handled. Even a cracked tooth can make a dog extremely irritable, so definitely ask the vet to give her a thorough checkup.

Beyond that, I would definitely start implementing NILIF. What kind of training do you do with her? I would also reduce the amount of physical manipulation... things like physically placing her in her crate, moving the blanket she's on, etc. Instead, teach her to go into her crate on her own with a cue like "crate up." Teach her to get off her blanket on cue, or call her to you before you reposition the blanket. I have Beagles, and I used to move them around all the time with my hands, like holding them still by their collars for ear-cleanings or physically carrying them to wherever I wanted them to be. Physical manipulation can be pretty confrontational to a dog (no, nothing happened to me, but only possibly because my dogs are some of the most tolerant ones I've ever met) so instead of doing that, I taught them "stand still", and taught them to recognise certain rooms so I could direct them there with a cue. Just treat your Papillon like she's the size of a Lab. Owners of large dogs can't just pick up their dogs and crate them, so it must be possible to get the dogs to do these things on their own accord.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
rosemaryninja, you know, I hadn't thought about it like that - I have been working on using verbal commands for things, but since she's small sometimes it's easier just to move her myself (particularly when she's being stubborn). I'll stop doing that and also implement NILIF.

FourIsCompany, she does get walks, but I'll admit that we don't go out every day like we should. Since she is an active breed, the thought had crossed my mind that perhaps she needs a bit more activity. I failed to mention this in my original post, but I'm also going to look at getting her into another obedience class. She really seemed to like the puppy class we did.

What was interesting though was that she DID get a lot of exercise this weekend in particular, so you would think that if this sudden aggression was related to pent up energy, she would've been sweet as sugar. That's one of the things that has me stumped.
 
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