Help! My Dog Hates One Family Member!



Gem Sheps


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Dog Doesn't Like One Person

It’s every owner’s worst fear: You’ve brought home the pup of your dreams, and he gets along with everyone in the family — except for one person. 

Aggression toward any family member, whether severe or mild, should be addressed right away to prevent the situation from escalating. What starts as a small growl could turn into a much more complex problem over time.  

Why Does My Dog Hate One Family Member?

First things first — it’s important to distinguish dog behavior from human characteristics in situations like this. 

Dogs probably can’t feel emotions as complex as hate. Reactions like growling, snarling, lunging, nipping and biting typically stem from either fear, pain, or learned aggression (such as dog fighting, past abuse, or even just an unwelcome interaction from puppyhood).

There are a lot of reasons that a dog may react aggressively toward a family member. If you’ve had your dog since puppyhood it may be easier to figure out the root cause, but for many adopted dogs the cause may never be discovered. 

More often than not, the reason a dog reacts aggressively toward a family member is due to poor socialization or fear from a past experience

What Can You Do About Dog Aggression Toward Family Members?

Finding the trigger that causes your dog’s aggression is the first step for resolving the problem. 

When your dog acts aggressively toward a family member, try to take inventory of the situation:

  • Does the dog appear to be guarding a resource like food, water, toys or bones? What about another animal or a child?
  • Does the family member use an assistive device like a cane, wheelchair, walker, or some other type of medical equipment? These items are foreign to dogs and could be scaring your pooch.
  • If the family member is a child, is she interacting with the dog appropriately? Children have a tendency to grab, pull, squeeze and touch their pet in ways that can make dogs uncomfortable.
  • Has your household undergone any major changes recently, such as moving, welcoming an infant, or bringing in a new pet?
  • Is the family member respectful of the dog’s boundaries? It’s important to remember that not all dogs are comfortable with being picked up or having their personal space invaded, especially with humans they aren’t as familiar with. If the family member is often intruding on the dog’s space, consider educating them about dog consent and encouraging them to let the dog approach them, rather than forcing themselves upon the dog.

Having a trainer evaluate the aggressive behavior is also a good idea. More often than not, dogs with aggression issues require professional assistance. 

In the meantime, preventing aggressive behavior like nipping and biting is paramount. Muzzles can be helpful for doing so – they may even be mandatory for some dogs. In some cases, such as those involving small children, complete separation may be necessary.

Is It OK If a Dog Is Protective of One Family Member?

“Protective” behavior is another human attribute that we project onto our dogs. Unless trained specifically for protection work, the “protective” behavior your dog displays is most likely resource guarding.

Dogs see their owners and family members as a valuable resource that provides food, water and affection. If you notice that your dog growls or snarls at other family members only when they are interacting with you, he might be guarding you.

Guarding behavior may seem harmless and even endearing at times—after all, how sweet is it that Fido loves you so much that he doesn’t want to share you with anyone? However, a growling dog is a dog that’s giving a warning; his behavior could escalate and a bite may soon follow.

This is especially important to acknowledge in any home with small children. Children have a difficult time reading dog body language if not taught very well. A guarding dog and a child who doesn’t recognize guarding behavior is a recipe for disaster.

Seek out a positive reinforcement trainer as soon as possible if your dog displays guarding behavior.

In this particular situation, it’s important that you avoid trainers who use aversive methods like positive punishment and negative reinforcement. Dogs who guard are trying to prevent the loss of their resource and have extremely heightened emotions when they feel the resource is at risk.

Dog Hates Husband

Why Does My Dog Growl at My Husband? Does He Hate Him?

Growling is a perfectly normal behavioral response for a dog to display — it’s simply a warning that something is making your pup uncomfortable and they would like it to stop. 

Dogs growl to warn other animals and humans away from resources they value (things like food, toys, or even water), to stop someone from touching them in a way that is uncomfortable or painful, or simply to tell you to knock it off and let them be.   

Dogs also growl at someone when they are afraid. It warns whatever the dog is afraid of that he wants this interaction to stop, and if it doesn’t the dog will be forced to protect himself. 

If your dog is aggressive toward your husband but not you, he may require more socialization time with men.

Men in particular have a tendency to be scarier to dogs for a number of reasons. Most men are taller, stockier, and have deeper voices than women; some also have beards or other types of facial hair that look odd to dogs. 

If a dog isn’t well-socialized with all sorts of men — tall, short, big, thin, with and without facial hair, with deep and high voices, of different races and ethnicities, disabled men, etc.– meeting someone “different” could trigger growling.

Fear not — this is usually manageable. Desensitizing your dog to your husband by having him play the “good cop” is a great way to start

How to Make Your Husband The “Good Cop”

In order to help win your dog over, your husband should start giving your dog all the things he finds valuable. For example, he should:

  • Feed the dog meals
  • Offer the dog treats
  • Provide high-value toys and play with the dog
  • Take the dog for walks or other activities your dog enjoys
  • Play trust-building games and activities with the dog

They key is to help the dog associate your husband with positive experiences – this guy is a heralder of great things!

Your husband should also avoid raising his voice and making sudden movements around your dog to encourage a positive relationship.    

Can You Keep a Dog That Is Aggressive Toward Family Members?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors.

If your dog simply growls or barks at one family member, the answer is probably yes. You’ll likely be able to solve the problem over time (and with training and desensitization), because the dog hasn’t felt that he needs to escalate. 

Even a dog that has escalated just once, in a moment of pain for example, may be able to stay in the family with the help of a trainer.

If, however, your dog has repeatedly displayed other aggressive behaviors,– like lunging or biting — it may be time to consider other options. 

This is especially true if there are young children in the home. Any dog who bites and breaks the skin must be taken extremely seriously. 

Behavioral intervention is necessary for all aggressive dogs, and if you can’t accommodate the cost or time that it takes to modify behavior, it might be time to find your dog a more suitable home.

No two dogs are the same, and triggers of aggression are unique to each and every one.

When in doubt consult a certified behaviorist (not just a trainer – they often don’t have enough expertise for aggression cases). They’ll be able to help you determine the type of dog aggression you are dealing with and offer additional aggressive dog training tips.


Does your dog seem to have issues with a specific member of your family? What steps have you taken to address the problem? Have you figured out any way to promote familial harmony? Have you solicited the help of a professional trainer?

Let us know all about your experiences in the comments below!

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Written by

Gem Sheps

Gem is a Denver-based animal industry professional and up-and-coming content creation specialist. They have experience in dog training and behavior, sheltering, and they currently work for a veterinary clinic.

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  1. Lisa Avatar

    We have scolded and crated when the aggression happens (which is something that was suggested). The dog is a rescue that is between 1/2 years of age, and we have only had him for about 3 months. The situation hasn’t improved as of yet so we have consulted with a trainer that referred us to a behavior trainer. We currently have an appointment with them to see what can be done if anything.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Lisa.
      We’re sorry to hear your rescue pup is showing signs of aggression. We’d second the recommendation to see a certified dog behavior consultant — that’s typically the best approach when dealing with aggression in any form.
      But we’d caution against scolding and crating a dog as punishment. Doing so can potentially exacerbate the fear and anxiety that often accompany aggression.

      Best of luck!

  2. rich Avatar

    Like any dog, they can be demanding and require daily mental, physical, and social stimulation to maintain their intelligence and experience a sense of contentment through the release of happiness hormones like serotonin and dopamine. Behavioral changes are often observed around the age of two as they mature by three. If you have a guard dog breed for example, things can be different as they not only exhibit intelligence but also demonstrate characteristics similar to adolescents, requiring proper behavior correction. It’s important to remember that we bring them into our homes to become integral parts of our families.

    In various blogs, I have noticed some owners downplaying concerns when their dogs display aggression towards them, children, or other dogs. It is crucial not to underestimate the seriousness of aggression from an adolescent dog equipped with the instincts a guard dog breed. In such situations, seeking guidance from a veterinarian, a behavior therapist, or a trainer is advisable to address the issue effectively. Additionally, it’s worth considering whether the owner is adequately fulfilling the dog’s need for happiness hormones or if the dog might be too much to handle for the owner.

    We must acknowledge that not all dog breeds are suitable for apartment living or being idle by the fireplace without sufficient investment in their daily activities. Unfortunately, there is a growing trend of these animals being prescribed anti-anxiety and depression medications by vets to suppress their natural instincts. Most dogs are breed to be working dogs and are meant to be all-around fun and balanced, but it requires regular daily workouts, not limited to just tossing a ball in the backyard. Boredom can lead to pressure, pressure to frustration, and frustration to negative behavior.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Rich.
      You’re right that not all dogs are suitable for all living situations, as well as the fact that dogs need plenty of canine enrichment activities to enjoy life.
      We write about both topics all the time.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Natasha Avatar

    Hey there!

    I have two dogs, one was a rescue from the UAE he used to be aggressive to everyone but is now a completely different dog (we brought him back to the UK) and he now seems to trust and enjoy all humans…except my elderly mum. My mum met him a few times when going through the aggressive patch over in the UAE but there’s other people that spent longer with him during that time which he is absolutely fine with now (jumps on them, snuggles them, licks them).

    Trouble is, I sometimes need to rely on her to enter our house or babysit when we’re not there (I work and have children) and to let the dogs out/feed them, but the minute me or my husband isn’t in the house he becomes seriously aggressive towards her – snarling, barking, jumping, getting a little too close for comfort in the threat of biting. Just the other day he would barely let her in the door and has bruised her from lunging at her (he’s a saluki cross retriever so he’s not small!. But when my husband and I are in the house, he loves her – accepts food, sits next to her, licks her…..

    The other dog we got when she was one (toy cockerpoo), and she’s also terrified of both my parents but NOONE else on the planet. She is not just picking up on the other dogs behaviour because like I said, he’s very friendly towards my mum when we’re there. When they’re in the house she doesn’t sit still and runs around the room growling trying to find a safe space. Again when we rescued her my parents met her quite early on and she was quite anxious but now loves everyone except them.

    My question is what now…she can’t be here all the time to play good cop, she does try to give them treats when we’re all together (saluki accepts them, cockerpoo doesn’t), she’s 75 so dog walks can happen every now and then if I’m there but I can’t let her take them out on their own.

    Please help!! <3

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Natasha. That’s a tough one.

      Since your mom’s availability is limited, it may be hard to make much progress. At least, not quickly. The better solution may just be to solicit a professional dog walker’s help.
      Short of that, you may need to reach out to a certified dog behavior consultant (not a trainer) to get some personalized advice. You probably would want your parents there while doing so, as they may be doing something that’s inadvertently triggering the puppers.

      We wish you the best of luck!

  4. Alex Avatar

    Hey, I have a 3 yr German Shepherd since he was a puppy, he is usually a little hyper around new people but happy and overall calm. However in the past week he’s suddenly gotten aggressive towards my brother who he has been fine with all his life. He just barked and ran at him once a day for a bit, but now whenever he sees him he starts jumping, lunging, snapping, snarling, and baring teeth. Otherwise he is normal and completely calm. I am not in a position where I can get him a behavioural trainer or find a way to properly consult a profesional about his behaviour in my family. What do you suggest I should do?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Alex. Have you tried any of the recommendations in the article, such as the “good cop” approach?

  5. Wendy Kirsner Avatar
    Wendy Kirsner

    This article tells it all except that positive reinforcement does not correct bad behavior, it rewards it. Redirect your dog with treats and he doesnt learn to stop the behavior. Follow this advice and you will have a lifetime of bad behavior or end up trying to rehome the dog after he bites someone. Let me put it in human terms – your kid walks up to a classmate and slaps him in the face, do you give him a cookie? No? Then what do you do? You can talk to your kid and you can ground your kid – HELLO! Thats called punishment. Seek out a Balanced Dog Trainer and run run run from pure positive trainers.

    1. Megan Marrs Avatar
      Megan Marrs

      Wendy, obviously we disagree quite a bit on this! Your approach doesn’t seem to take into account the dog’s feelings and emotional state. Adding fear and stress to an already disturbed dog will only bring more issues, along with an increased risk of aggression.

      To use your point about a child hitting a classmate — if you were to yell at the child and punish them, what are you really accomplishing? Have you figured out why the child felt the need to hit their classmate? Why was violence their first choice? A much smarter approach would be to talk to the child and try to understand their perspective — what is their home life like? How are they feeling about school in general? Are they having social issues with their classmates? What felt so frustrating and upsetting to them that they felt the need to hit their classmate?

      Refusing to acknowledge the underlying feelings and emotions of both humans and animals is lazy, selfish, and dangerous.

      If you want to learn more, we have a full guide to positive reinforcement based training that I’d recommend.

  6. Claudia Avatar

    Hi – I just adopted a dog today who seemed to get along with my family quite well – until my husband came home. The dog was great with my infant and toddler, other dog even my mom. The dog follows me everywhere. My husband came home from a late shift and then she started growling at him. It took about an hour for her to stop growling at him and allow him to lightly pet her. I’m freaked out that I made the wrong decision in adopting her because what if she turns on the babies? What if she shows more fear towards my husband? What do I do?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Claudia.
      Well, first of all, don’t panic — it takes dogs a while to warm up to new people sometimes. You may find that she and your husband become best pals over time.
      Just try some of the tips from the article (particularly the “good cop” tips), take things slowly (especially with the kiddos), and use your judgement.

      If she remains defensive after a few days, you may want to reach back out to the shelter or rescue and see if they have any advice.

      Best of luck!!!

  7. iza Avatar

    Hi, my dog is 8 and the older he gets the wore he is getting with aggression but especially with my dad. We have had him trianed but it is like he is undoing his training even though we keep up on it. I don’t what to do anymore he is now being considered a class D dog because of the aggression and we had many people try to help with the aggression. But now my dad walks into the room and he starts to bark or growl. The vet and the behaviorist said that putting him down might end up having to be the option. But I love him I mean hes my dog. Please what do i do?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Iza.

      We’re so sorry to hear about the struggles with your pooch — it sounds like you’ve done just about everything you can.
      At this point, you may just need to adopt some management strategies, rather than focusing on training solutions. For example, you may just need to crate him when your dad is around or move him to the backyard.

      Sorry we can’t provide more help, but we wish you and your pooch the best.

  8. Leah Avatar

    Hi there, I have an 11-month-old Great Pyrenees/German Shepherd dog mix. She recently got spayed and ever since has been acting more aggressively toward me, but not my partner. She used to only bark/ snap her teeth during play, which seemed to have been resolved. Now, she lunges/snaps/nips at me when I am trying to put her leash on her to go out, or when I tell her to get off of a piece of furniture. I don’t think she is an aggressive dog, but she’s starting to act out toward me. She does not resource guard food or toys and only seems to act out when I tell her to do something she doesn’t want to do. She still comes to me for affection and gives kisses when we are both in a relaxed state. Any suggestions?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Leah.

      Well, to an extent, dogs should be afforded some agency, so it is probably a good idea to think about when you really NEED her to do something and when she should be allowed to do what she wants to do. But there are certainly times you’ll have to be the “parent,” and make her do things she doesn’t want to (such as wear a leash during walks).

      To really address the issue, you’ll probably need the help of a certified dog behavior consultant. But you can probably achieve some success by simply doing a little Jedi-mind-trickery.

      Instead of telling her to get off the couch (for example), try to give her a reason that she’ll want to get off the couch (a treat, a toy, or some scritches). This may be enough to make her more manageable. Also, you may want to consider her frame of mind when telling her to do things. In other words, when she’s relaxed and happy, you can probably be a little more direct. But when she’s tired or grumpy, you may need to be a little more patient and gentle.

      Additionally, be sure to think about the good cop / bad cop tips above.

      Best of luck!

  9. Taylor Mongold Avatar
    Taylor Mongold

    Hey there! 3 weeks ago I rescued a Dalmation from a shelter. She was from a puppy mill and VERY timid. Terrified of the car, home,crate…. Everything. Weeks later and she’s doing very very well. No fear of the crate or car or really anything at all. So long as it is me and her she acts like the happiest most normal dog. No barking or potty training issues. She loves playing with other dogs and is picking up basic commands. For me she is GREAT. Super loving and snuggly and will sit, stay, and come for me- but she is still having trouble with other people. She avoids my partner who lives with us all together and occasionally growls when she gets too close and will run when she is near. This is obviously not a good feeling for her as we got the pup together and she’s been trying extremely hard to form some sort of bond. Azalea is absolutely obsessed with me (follows me constantly, freaks out when she sees me, wants to be on top of me all the time) and My partner is lucky if she lets her pet her or sit next to her at all. We have done tons of treats and her feeding meals and walks but she doesn’t seem to want to warm up. She is fairly avoidant of anyone else coming into the home as well. I take her to my parents house for them to watch every now and then and she does fine there and plays with toys and is relaxed but otherwise if it’s not me she isn’t happy. She crates fine at night and doesn’t cry but if she is out she paces and whines if I’m not in the same room. I wasn’t sure if this was something that training could help with or if this is just a behavior and how she is in general. I don’t want to push her into things she doesn’t want but would obviously love a happy household. I’ve never owned a dog so resistant to other human family members and it is causing some tension.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Taylor.
      Ultimately, you may want to reach out to a certified dog behavior consultant to get some assistance, but in the meantime, you may want to try having your partner do some of the day-to-day tasks with your pup.

      For example, when I first met my fiancée, her dog wanted nothing to do with me. But I started taking her on her regular walks, and within a few weeks, she’d accepted me as dad.

      Walks may not be the best activity for your partner, but just experiment. Perhaps your partner could handle meal times.

      Best of luck!

  10. Nancy Avatar

    I have and almost 6 year old German Shepherd that I have had since he was a pup (3 months old). I didn’t socialize him with other dogs as I should have, so I have had issues with him getting aggressive towards other big size males. He is fine with smaller dogs and with his adoptive dog a mix Labrador. He is also fine and loves playing with my niece 4yr old and nephew 3yr old. People come from time to time to the house. He is an inside dog. About a year ago he growled and bit my brother in law (did not break skin). It was the first time he met him but he was fine with him for most of the day until that moment when I wasn’t watching him and my bro in law was walking towards me that he attacked him. Now tonight same incident. Brother in law came in, we all had dinner. Then when I wasn’t watching and my brother in law was coming towards me he attacked him again. He’s only done it towards him. Please advise. I am torn and don’t know what to do.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Nancy.
      Sorry to hear about the problems with your pooch!

      It sounds like you need to discuss the problem with a certified dog behavior consultant, especially given your pup’s size and the fact that he’s now bitten your brother-in-law twice.

      In the meantime, it would be a very good idea to completely prevent this possibility from happening again. This will mean simply putting him somewhere else when your brother-in-law visits (such as in a closed room or crate). And it’d be wise to be extremely careful with him around other people too.

      Best of luck!

    2. David Avatar

      Your Brother in Law need to take it slow with the dog. Something about him is bothering him I hope it’s not a red flag you cant see? lol….Dogs are amazing judges of character. When a dog has anxiety like that towards me I always get down on my knees on the floor, put my head down and do not look at the dog in the eyes….You can even try having your brother in law get down on the floor and give him the submissive pose. It’s important he doesn’t make eye contact with the dog however. Get lower than the dog and tell him to Focus on bringing his energy down to a calm assertive level. Or your brother in law is an abusive narcissist and he is trying to warn you? I’ve seen it both ways. good luck….I have working dogs and deal with the same stuff every once in a while its not uncommon at all.

  11. Bhanisha Avatar

    Hi, I have an 8 month old golden retriever and we have had him as a puppy. Unfortunately we are having some serious issues with him. He resource guards sometimes but he also lip curls at my kids when they pet him. They are always really gentle with him so I don’t understand why. If I pet him he’s fine they pet him and he curls his lips and shows his teeth. Yesterday he bit my husband when he tried to lead him away by the collar. He also someotimes lip curls when my husbands pets him. I had a behaviourist come in and he basically said he resource guards and will have to be managed for the rest of his life and it’s sad that he isn’t comfortable with the kids as he’s meant to be a family pet! So basically was no help at all. My husband thinks we should re home him to an adult only home. He seems to only like me in the house I don’t know what to do? We socialised him extensively when we got him I don’t understand where this behaviour is coming from.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Bhanisha. Sorry to hear about the problems with your pooch!

      But we’d disagree that the behaviorist was no help at all — in fact, he or she gave you an important answer: This dog will need to be managed for the rest of his life.

      At this point, it is up to you to decide what to do with that information.

      From a safety standpoint, it may very well be wise to consider rehoming him to an adult-only home. Just be sure that you’re 100% transparent with any prospective adoptees, as you don’t want the new family to have to rehome him again.

      That said, plenty of people manage their dogs for their entire lives. One of my pooches is extremely dog-reactive, so we have to keep her separated from our other dog at all times and likely will have to continue doing so for the remainder of her life.

      Best of luck!

  12. Sarah Avatar

    I have a 7month old mini aussie. We have had him since the beginning, from a breeder. He is super affectionate and loves me and my daughter. We left him with someone when he was super young I think 10 weeks and after we got back he had issues. Scared of everyone except us, would shake and pee if me and my daughter were out of sight. Cries when picked up, none of this was the case prior to us leaving him for vacation. It’s been about 4 months since and he has come a long ways. He’s ok with most ppl now, But my boyfriend who lives with us is an on and off problem. He will lay with him, jump on his lap, show love, take treats, and play with him, then randomly bark, growl, and has nipped his leg once. When he nipped my bf was just walking from the room to the dinner table and passed him. Sometimes it seems he’s barking for attn and my bf will get on his level and pet him and this works while other times he gets more agitated and the behavior gets worse. He barks at him a lot like he’s an intruder but when my bf is sitting he loves him. I’ve asked my bf to walk away and ignore him because he thinks we should spank him but I think that’s what he’s scared of in the first place. I’ve started to tell him to go to his house (cage) to calm down. Besides this issue he’s the best dog and it breaks my heart to think of rehoming him. Any suggestions or hope that he will grow out of this and get use to my bf? I just want my dog to like people and not have to worry about him biting. Especially my bf who lives with us our house is small and it can be very stressful for all of us.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Sarah. So sorry to hear about the problems with your pooch.

      Definitely don’t spank him when he gets excited and starts barking — that’s only going to exacerbate his anxiety/excitement/fear.
      Instead, try some of the techniques recommended in the article (such as making your boyfriend the “good cop”).

      But if none of those works, you may need to think about reaching out to a certified dog behavior consultant.

      Best of luck!

  13. Nick Avatar


    We have an 18-month old Sprocker Spaniel. He’s a very affectionate, energetic and playful dog. He’s always excited to greet people and is popular with everyone he meets.

    Until a few months ago, he’d never showed any signs of aggression. Then he started resource guarding and growling or barking when approached in this state. We saw a dog behaviourist, and on their advice we have mostly managed to manage or avoid such situations.

    However, he gets extremely agitated / excited when someone knocks on the door. He’s barks and charges at the door once we go to open it in order to excitedly try and greet the visitor.

    I know this isn’t uncommon for dogs, and the behaviourist advised us to teach him to sit and give him a treat etc. in this scenario. But his behaviour is getting worse, and specifically towards me (over my girlfriend).

    Now, if I even walk past him while he’s barking after someone has knocked, he will lunge at me and has bitten me a few times (broken skin). I’ve tried the sit command; I’ve tried ignoring him and giving him a wide birth – but he seems intent on going for me if I walk past him to the front door when this is happening.

    While he will still show some aggression to my girlfriend in this situation, she can usually get him to sit and calm down a little. And he embassy bitten her or lunged in the same way as he has with me.

    It’s true that she gives him most of his meals and takes him on more walks. She also spends more time with in during the day due to the nature of where we work. We both raised him from 8 weeks and I play with him a lot and am affectionate with him. I’ll try some your ‘good cop’ suggestions, but any other advice would also be much appreciated.


    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Nick. Sorry to hear about the troubles with your four-footer!

      We applaud you for already reaching out to a behaviorist, but it sounds like your work there may not be done.

      It’s always wise to take biting very seriously, so we’d recommend getting back in touch with the behaviorist for some more help. It sounds like your dog may be getting too excited when someone knocks on the door, so some desensitization and counterconditioning training may be in order.

      But we can’t see what’s going on, so let the behaviorist guide your efforts.

      Best of luck!

  14. Patricia Heywood Avatar
    Patricia Heywood

    There have been a couple of occasions (unprovoked) when my dog has nipped my daughter. We try to guide her interactions with him for example leaving him alone when he is asleep and not picking up his (high-value) treat. On Saturday, he bit her on her hand when she was stroking him on the sofa. Earlier on in the afternoon, they were on the sofa (a different one) together and all was fine.

    Historically, he has resourced guarded the sofa and he certainly resource guards me. Moving forward, he is no longer allowed on that particular sofa. At the moment, my husband is intent on rehoming him as there have been a few incidents of nipping. Prior to my daughter, he nipped my neighbour’s (energetic and quite mobile) little boy when he went next to his bed.

    We are not sure of our dog’s breed as he is a rescue; however, we think he is a mix of sausage, Corgi, border collie and Jack Russell. We know that Border Collies can be skittish and he has definitely displayed this trait.

    As I said, my husband is intent on rehoming him, but I am not. I would like to get some help assessing him and working on his behaviour.

    I guess the question I am asking is whether this is the right thing to do (working on his behaviour) or thinking about how he might react towards my daughter. Usually, he is OK with her. She feeds him, plays with him, helps with training and gives him treats. At the moment, he is muzzled whenever she is in the room and as a precaution, we have now put him back in a crate when he is sleeping in our room in case our daughter wanders in.

    I look forward to hearing your advice on this matter.

    1. Megan Marrs Avatar
      Megan Marrs

      Hey Patricia!
      That’s a really tough situation. In the end, it’s tough to say what is the right call — really only you can decide what you are comfortable with, and you know your dog best, but I really do commend you for continuing to do your best working with him. I hope the situation can become more manageable, but if it doesn’t, it will be clear that you’ve done everything in your power to help him!

      Consulting with a certified dog behavior consultant will be essential. I’d also recommend a vet check if you haven’t done one yet — random aggression, especially mid-petting, could indicate some underlying pain issues that might make him more grumpy and touch-sensitive than usual. I know you said he has resource-guarding issues, so it might just be that, but I’d still advocate for a vet check just in case.

      It sounds like you have a really good system with the muzzle and crate use, but dog gates between various rooms might be another thing to consider, as they would be an easy way to keep your dog and kiddo separated.

      1. Patricia Avatar

        Hi Megan,

        Thank you so much for your help and advice. We are all going to work hard for Disco and ensure that he is set up for success. We have discussed rules which will be put on the fridge door so that we are all consistently doing the same thing.

        As per your advice, I will organise a vet check and organise a consultation with a dog behaviourist.

        I will keep you updated on Disco’s progress.

        Thank you kindly for your help.



  15. Jamie Avatar

    My border collie is fear reactive aggressive. We suspect that he may have been traumatized in his previous home. We have had him since he was 4 months. He is now 11 months. We had an episode with my mother, she touched her belt, he charged and barked aggressively. I’ve been working through his anxiety with counter conditioning and desensitization. He’s always been skittish around her, but she gives him treats and respects his space. Is there anything more I can do to help the situation?

    1. AdminLogin Avatar

      Poor guy! It sounds like your mom is doing everything right – using goodies to build positive associations while giving the dog all the space they need is the right way to go. When we have new visitors over with my reactive dog, I’ll often give him a tasty chew (like a bully stick), a frozen Kong, or some other kind of exciting puzzle toy to engage in, as that can help break up the dog’s attention so that it’s not hyper-focused on the visitor. You could try doing a place or bed cue as well so that your pup has a safe space to go to where they know no one will approach or bother them – that can help build some safety and confidence around strangers.

  16. Sherry Avatar

    I have a 5 year old schnoodle. He lives with my Husband and I who both have the time to spend with him. Up until yesterday he has been so sweet loving and just a perfect well socialized dog. My neighbor and I were sitting out front of my house talking. She and I were petting him on the back. My neighbor who have never owned a dog said to me that he was smiling at her. I was sitting behind him so I didn’t see what she was talking about. He actually was showing his teeth to her. She kept petting him and then he bit her on her wrist. Thank goodness it did not beak the skin. But it did leave marks and scared my neighbor. My question is. Is this considered a one time incident? Or do I have to take behavioral steps.We take him for a playdate 2-3 times a week with other dogs. He stays with a family and maybe 3 other dogs. Is this a problem. Is he learning this behavior from them. Thank you

    1. AdminLogin Avatar

      Hi Sherry! I wouldn’t be concerned about this as any kind of issue that needs remedying. It sounds like your dog was giving your friend very clear body language signals (aka showing teeth) that he was uncomfortable with her petting him. When a dog expresses that they do not want to be petted and do not consent to being touched, we need to respect that. I would say you’ll just want to keep an eye on him around strangers and make sure that if he shows these signs of discomfort, the stranger should stop petting him or not approach him. Some dogs don’t like strangers petting them!

      However, if this is unusual for your dog, and he’s normally happy to get attention from strangers, I’d suggest seeing a vet. When dogs have sudden behavior changes like that, it can be due to having pain or increased discomfort. It’s possible your neighbor was petting him on a part of his body that has really been hurting him! I hope that helps.

  17. Harley Avatar

    My family of five have had my dog for more than three years. She is a rescued retired puppy mill mamma and she has struggled with anxiety since we got her. She has gotten so much better and she loves me and my mom and is okay with people coming over, but she still hates my dad. She has never been able to sit still and not bark whenever he moves or enters the room and it has been a huge annoyance forever. Is there anything we can do or is it too late?

    1. AdminLogin Avatar

      That must be hard for your dad! It’s never too late though – just keep working on some of the recommendations here and she might end up warming up to your Dad. 😉

  18. Anthony Avatar

    Yesterday my Lab jumped up on my daughter (17) unprovoked and ended up with a cut on her lip which I had to take her to hospital to be glued. We thought that this was an accident until the dog followed her into the kitchen this morning with hackles up growling and showing teeth. He then started to chase her uintil I arrived and he stopped immediately. We are now thinking that the lip incident wasn’t an accident and are left unsure of what to do. My other daughter (13) plays rough with him and has never treated her this way. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Anthony. We’re so sorry to hear about your pooch, but we’re glad your daughter’s injuries weren’t any worse.
      But it is definitely time for professional help. We’d recommend keeping them separated completely and contacting a canine behaviorist pronto.

  19. Sarah Avatar

    Hi, my dad is visiting our home for the first time where its usually just me, my boyfriend and giant schnauzer, poodle and doberman mix. 3 days in and today for the first time he growled at my dad, the dog was in a completely knew scenario where he was cuddling into me but my dad was at the other side of him. Obviously he’s a big dog but is this something that’s correctable? He’s never growled at anyone before but I think he was guarding me he didn’t show teeth just made the noise.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Sarah.

      Actually, growling isn’t always something you want to “correct.” It’s one of the few ways your dog can communicate his feelings. Instead, you’ll want to work on adjusting the way he feels about your dad.
      This may mean taking things a bit slower and doing things like playing the “good cop” game described in the article.

      If that doesn’t start yielding results over the coming weeks, reach out to a certified dog behavior consultant.
      Best of luck!

  20. Anthony Avatar

    We just adopted a 6 month old Shiba Inu male and he is great with everyone except my mother. We have only had him for 3 days. On the first day he snapped and barked twice at her when she went to pet him even though she has been the one feeding him and also he has been sleeping in her bed. Now today when she left for work he was crying like he didn’t want to see her go, but when she arrives home at the end of the day he started growling and lunging at her after she walked in as if she was an intruder. Now after that every time he sees her he starts lunging, growling and going after her. I have had to separate them completely. The dog is great with everyone else it has met and is especially affectionate with me but he is the complete opposite with my mother. What do you recommend?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Anthony.
      Well, for starters keep in mind that your little guy is still getting used to his new surroundings, so he may warm up to your mom over time.
      But for now, you may want to have your mom try some of the “good cop” strategies Gem discusses above.
      Best of luck!

  21. Jason Avatar

    We have the most wonderful, loving and playful 3 year old little Bichon/ Poodle mix. He loves people and visitors to the house usually.

    Last week our 13 year old daughter had a friend around to visit her. He seemed to take an instant dislike to the friend, growling at her and refusing to go near her as he normally would with visitors. The friend loves dogs and went to pet him, he growled again and snapped without making any contact. This is the first and only timd he has done this. We were shocked. Should we be worried?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Jason.

      It can definitely be scary to see a dog growl or snap at a person — particularly when the dog is normally very friendly.
      But it probably isn’t something to “worry” about; it is something to learn from.

      The thing is, dogs — even the friendliest ones around — don’t always like everyone they meet. And that’s fine! We all (two-footers and four-footers alike) have the right to like or dislike whom we choose.

      In this case, it sounds like your little guy expressed his displeasure with your daughter’s friend. When the friend didn’t respect that, the dog had few other options.
      It’s “worrying” when a dog snaps or bites without warning, but in this case, it sounds like the pooch gave very clear warnings, which weren’t heeded.

      Definitely reach out to a behaviorist if you’re concerned, but we’d recommend starting by learning about dog body language and dog consent.

      As for trying to foster a good relationship between the pooch and the friend, you can try games like “Treat & Retreat.” Essentially, toss a treat to the dog and back away. Lather, rinse, and repeat until the doggo gets comfy with the friend.

      Best of luck!

  22. Sim Avatar

    My 1 year & 8 month old Boerboel has started to aggressively growl, lunge and threaten my dad in the last month. My dad was away in the early days of my dogs upbringing and only came back home when my dog was approaching 1 years old – so he was a bit off with him to begin with, but they were able to build a good relationship. Everything had been fine until only a month ago, my dog started frantically running up to my dad when he would be harmlessly walking around the kitchen, I think in turn my dad showed he was afraid and raised the dogs collar in defense. This led to my dog trying to lunge for him and show his teeth. Since then, there have been similar altercations.

    My dog has been showing a lot of signs of resource guarding over the last couple of months, so I’m not sure if that is playing a part in making things worse. We are currently all living in the same home, and we would never give our dog away as he is fine with everyone else, especially when he is out in public, so we really need to get to the bottom of this.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Sim. Sorry about the troubles with your pooch.

      Given the fact that you’re dealing with a big ‘ol dog, who could potentially be dangerous, we’d recommend being very cautious. If you think it is safe to do so, you may want to have your dad do some of the things mentioned in the article, such as being the only one to provide him with treats.

      However, the best solution would likely be to work with a certified dog behavior consultant — especially given the fact that you’ve witnessed some resource guarding.
      Best of luck!

  23. Gail Avatar

    My chiweenie is getting very aggressive in her age. She does not like men and I have tried everything I could do. She even does not like other dogs playing
    Is it time to find her another home. She has nibbed at my nephew

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Gail. Have you tried any of the strategies discussed in the article?
      If you haven’t, we’d recommend starting there. You may also want to reach out to a certified dog behavior consultant for some professional help.
      Best of luck!

  24. Jodie Avatar

    If I get my male dog sterilised will this stop him going at family members.
    He’s 13months
    Thank you

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Jodie.
      If by “going at” you mean he’s leg humping, then it may help. However, there are certainly no guarantees — some neutered dogs still hump legs and other things.

  25. Lisa Avatar

    My dogs bark at my son at night, especially one of them, as my son stays up a lot during the night while I sleep and he’s been living with me for a year and half. We’ve tried everything…he gives them treats during the day and they are generally pretty receptive of being offered treats from him and he talks to them. I’m deaf so I don’t hear the barking at night but it really has gotten annoying for my son as he comes and goes from the house during the night. I’ve tried reprimanding her (the worse of the two) if I wake up in time as I feel her and the other dog take off from the bed while they sleep with me. But it hasn’t helped. What can he do during the night to discourage this behavior while I sleep? My son is a grown adult as well.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Lisa. That sounds super frustrating.

      If really depends on why the dogs are barking. If they’re barking *at* your son, you’ll probably want to try some of the suggestions above (the reprimands probably won’t help much, incidentally). You may even just find it helpful to keep them away from your son at night (either by giving them darkened crates to sleep in, or sequestering them in other portions of the house). Aside from those things, continue to try to foster a better relationship between your doggos and kiddo during the day. Maybe even pick up some suuuuuuper tasty treats that only he gives to your pooches.

      On the other hand, if they’re barking at other things (sounds outside, etc.), you may want to try some of the tips we provide in our article about nuisance barking.

      Best of luck!

  26. Catherine Avatar

    My 10 month whippet puppy was sleeping in crate in living room last night my daughter was sitting in my husbands seat at time which is rare the dog was suddenly there barking her head off at my daughter and growling. My daughter whose 17 and has said she doesnt like the dog just cause shes always up to something probably doesnt give her treats either. We were quite shocked my little boy whose very close to the dog just pushed her head to side and said shut up. She calmed down back in crate. It was very strange. I wonder if she woke suddenly and didnt like that the family member who bothers with her least was in my husband seat. Praying it doesnt happen again. She was barking and growling at Jess like she had seen the devil.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Catherine.
      If it ends up just being a one-off thing, we wouldn’t worry too much — dogs occasionally get startled in their sleep. She may even have had a nightmare.
      But if it happens again, it’d probably be worth addressing with a certified dog behavior consultant.
      Best of luck!

  27. Jonathan Myers Avatar
    Jonathan Myers

    My roommates have 3 dogs: 1 mama dog, and 2 that are from her previous litter, so her babies are about 16 months old now. They’re little dogs, Yorkie / Shih Tsu mixes. They’ve been with us for about 14 months now, and while they’re all super friendly to me when I’m eating, none will let me get too close.
    One dog in particular is the problem. His name is Bear, and he simply won’t shut the hell up. We’ve tried shock collars but he simply barks through the shock. We’ve tried putting him in his kennel when he barks, nothing works. He just keeps barking.
    I’m the person in the house that he doesn’t like, so whenever I point out that he just lunged at me or bit me twice when I dared entered the living room, the roommates say I’m overreacting. One of my roommates even called me a sissy and said that a dog that small couldn’t possibly inflict a bite of any real consequence. My response was that it’s one thing for the dog to bite me, a resident of the household, but what if he bites a guest, or a stranger when out of the house? A lawsuit at the least, and Animal Control would impound him and put him down. Again, they say I’m overreacting.
    The dogs don’t get any real exercise or training, and in fact, the training is so lacking, 2 of the dogs wear diapers rather than learning to let someone know when they need to go outside to do their business.
    What would you recommend be done at this point?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Jonathan.
      Honestly, it just sounds like you may want to find better roommates.

      Maybe they’re lovely people, but your description certainly doesn’t make it sound like they are. Failing to take dog bites seriously is a very big problem (yes, even if the dogs are small — small dogs can still inflict considerable damage), and all dogs deserve (and require) attention and exercise. Additionally, while diapers are necessary for some dogs, it sounds like they’re just using them to avoid housetraining the pups.

      Since they’re not your dogs, the best thing you may be able to do is convince them to start providing better care for the four-footers.

      Regarding the barking problem, we do have an article about dogs who bark at everything you may want to check out, but we’d recommend ditching the shock collar — it’s unlikely to help and it will almost certainly increase the pup’s anxiety (which is potentially part of the reason he’s barking in the first place).

      Best of luck, Jonathan! Sorry we don’t have any better advice!

  28. Polly Avatar

    We recently adopted a 3 year old feast/beagle. She quite a sweet dog but we have a student staying with us for a few months and Beagle absolutely hates him to the point of lunging. We don’t know why. He’s actually quite small for his age and quiet. He mostly keeps to himself and keeps his distance but, unfortunately, when he’s around, Beagle can and will displace her aggression to Puggle. When he’s not in the house everything runs relatively smoothly. We just can’t figure it out but not sure we can handle this for the duration of his 3 months stay with us.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      That’s no good, Polly! Try some of the “good cop” strategies Gem describes and see if they work. You may even consider grabbing some super-high value treats and only allowing your exchange student dole them out.
      Best of luck!

  29. Rachel Avatar

    My bf’s dog is a blood hound mix, he has had him since he was 8 weeks old. I moved in with him August 2021 and since then we have made changes to the home where he is no longer allowed on couches or the bed or to get on the kitchen counters. We spend a lot of time as a family and go out hiking and he seems to love everyone except for me. I brought a very friendly and loving chocolate lab who he constantly nips at and he completely hates me sometimes. Just last night, 02/10/2022, I was feeding both as usual and it was bed time (9:30 they go in their individual kennels that have bedding and blankets). When I was telling him to go in the kennel like my BF does, he lunged at me, he was showing his teeth, barking, pushing me back while barking very aggresive. My bf’s 10 year old attempted to get involved and even backed him into a corner. We finally hid in the room until my bf got home and of course no bad behavior and happily went in the kennel. I am fair and nice to both dogs so I don’t understand his behavior toward me. We had a “trainer” come and say it was jealousy and it was gonna come down to me or the dog and while I’m willing to live with him growling and barking at me, I am now terrified of being attacked and my bf and kids love the dog and I do not want to rehome him, as my bf has offered, but we do not know who to get help from. Help us, I am terrified!!!!!!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      So sorry to hear about your experiences, Rachel! That must have been really frightening.
      Given that this pooch is likely relatively large, he’s shown some aggressive or defensive behaviors, and there is a child involved, we think it is absolutely time to secure professional help.

      But you don’t want a trainer for this. Trainers are great for teaching basic obedience and tricks; you need a certified dog behavior consultant. They have more training and experience dealing with behavioral issues, and they can help you determine a good solution for your situation.

      We wish you the very best of luck! Let us know how it goes!

  30. Felicity Avatar

    My daughters Toy poodle barks and growls at my teenage son. She seems to be scared of him ( for no apparent reason) We have tried lots of things to try and stop this, dog collars, saying no and then when quite rewarding, trying to get son to bond with the poodle, but it is just getting worse. She is very attached to my daughter and gets very anxious when she is not here.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Felicity.
      It sounds like your pooch is struggling with some anxiety, so check out our article detailing some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety to be sure. You may end up needing the help of a certified dog behavior consultant, but start by working on her anxiety and see if that helps.
      Best of luck!

  31. Margaret Birkett Avatar
    Margaret Birkett

    Why would a large Staffy have a hatred for me? I haven’t done anything at him at all. His hackles go up and he growls as soon as he sees me, this morning he launched at me snarling. He was meaning serious business and would have attacked me. He’s fantastic with everyone else but not me!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Margaret.
      It’s really tough (impossible) to say from afar without more info.
      Is this your dog or the dog of a friend/family member? What are the situations like when he growls? Are you inside or outside?
      How long have you known him?
      Let us know and we’ll try to help.

  32. Samantha Vickery Avatar
    Samantha Vickery

    Hi we got a new puppy a Morkie two weeks before I left to go out of country. I came back 51/2 months later and the Morkie didn’t take to me after about a week he realised I was here to stay. He became so attached to my husband and he growls at me. If I go to lift him he snarls and bites. He has bit me 7 times. My husband deals with him for walks also as when I take him he lies on the ground and won’t budge. I feed him and he did growl but he’s pretty friendly now with the meals and snacks I give him but it’s like a switch flips and he changes. The only other times my grown up kids had issues if they tried to get their socks out of his mouth he has bitten both my boys. Because I’m around him mostly I get the brunt of it. He acts up with my husband sometimes. Anyways any tips I would be grateful for. He is going to get fixed on Friday and I think a lot of his frustration comes from wanting to jump on everything even my husbands leg. Hopefully you can give us some direction. Thank you

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Yikes, Samantha! That sounds like one chompy canine you have there!
      Honestly, even though your pooch is a little fella, there are some safety concerns at play, given how willing to bite he seems to be. At this point, you’re really going to need to seek out the help of a certified dog behavior consultant. Having him neutered may cause some behavioral changes, but we wouldn’t count on it (and there’s always the chance that they could worsen his disposition).
      Best of luck!

  33. debbie ring Avatar
    debbie ring

    My brother lives with me my dod growls barks at him he gets aggressive I don’t know what to to do he likes my sister I think he don’t like men I had him since 8 months he’s 3 now

  34. Abigail Avatar

    Yesterday my husband and I brought home an approximatey 4 year old black and tan coonhound. We are familiar with the breed and have worked with them before. Today he interacted perfectly fine with some people. When my dad came over, his hair stood up and he lunged at him biting his arm. Thankfully it was just a superficial wound and nothing serious but Reuben (our dog) doesn’t want anything to do with him. We tried having my dad take his hat off and Reuben was still aggressive. We tried me hugging my dad and making physical contact with him so that Reuben wouldn’t think he is a threat but Reuben still didn’t care. We are hesitant to keep him because of this. Nothing, in particular, triggered this and he has been fine with everyone else that we introduced him to including other males. Any suggestions?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Abigail. Sorry to hear about the trouble with Reuben.
      It’d probably be wise to reach out to the shelter/rescue/breeder you obtained him from and ask if he has any known sensitivities or anxieties you can try to avoid. But you’ll probably want to reach out to a certified dog behavior consultant to have an assessment performed.

      Just keep in mind that it was his first day in a strange new place — that can be quite overwhelming for some pooches. He may settle in very nicely once he becomes more confident and comfortable in his new surroundings.
      Best of luck!

  35. Jena Avatar

    Hello! My 2 daughters and I adopted a Shephard husky mix when he was 8 weeks old. He is now 7 months. My problem is that he always nips/bites My 15 year old. He will go after her before any of us. She would play a but aggressively with him when he was teething as a younger puppy. Could that be the cause? How do I get him to stop? We do time outs, I yell in a stern voice and say no. I’m at a loss.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Jena.
      For starters, try some of the tips Gem provided — especially the ones about turning your daughter into the “good cop.”
      Just keep safety in mind and reach out to a certified dog behavior consultant if you feel like you’re in over your head.
      Best of luck!

  36. Suzanne Lindaman Avatar
    Suzanne Lindaman

    We need some advise. My husband and I adopted a 10 year old Bichon about 6 months ago and all was well. We had lost our other boy a short time before, Chico was a Mommy’s boy so I was excited that Brutus loved his daddy. My husband works from home so they are together a lot! He has started to growl, bark, and lunge at me in bed. It began as just growling when I would get up to use the bathroom, but now it is every time I move in bed. During the day he is fine and will occasionally jump in my lap for scritchies.

    I work two jobs and am away from home a lot, so it harder for me to be the only one that feeds him. Plus he was just diagnosed with pancreatitis and we are making his food for the time being. We also know he is getting cataracts so we tried putting the light on so he knew it was me.

    Any suggestions?
    Thank you!

    1. AdminLogin Avatar

      Hey Suzanne! I’d suggest enlisting the help of a certified dog behavior consultant to be sure. But what you are describing could be more of a resource guarding issue. It’s hard to say for sure, but considering he only behaves that way in bed, he may be feeling protective over the bed. You’ll likely still want to talk with a certified behaviorist about resolving the resource guarding, if that is the case. An easy first step would be to simply not allow the dog on the bed – at least until you get some help from a pro. Best of luck!

  37. Grace Avatar

    Hi, our Yorkie is 3 years old. We have five kids and our five year old the dog has become aggressive with. Our five year old is our youngest child and she has disabilities. I have never witnessed my child be mean or hurt the dog. Every time I witness the dog nip or growl or lunge, it’s totally unprovoked. She does have a walker and a wheelchair, but she mainly crawls as her mode of mobility at home. My child is at the point where she avoids the dog altogether, she won’t even enter a room if she sees him. It’s totally the dog that’s being mean to her and I don’t know what to do. The dog is small, only 3.5 lbs, so my child, 65 lbs, is completely capable of fighting him off of need be, which is why we decided on such a small breed, we wanted her to have a pet/friend, but we also knew she couldn’t walk and didn’t want a dog that was big enough to nip her in the face in the event the dog we got ever did get aggressive. The dog is a good dog and I don’t understand why he’s acting this way towards her. I was just watching her sitting on the stairs and the dog was out of view in the hallway, she didn’t do anything, she clapped her hands and was talking to me and he came into view running towards her and snapping for no reason. She wasn’t by a toy, she wasn’t heading his way, she was sitting, playing with her hands and talking to me and he attacked. Then he saw I was watching and ran to his bed. I don’t know what to do, I don’t want to get rid of my dog, but I can’t have him attacking my disabled daughter. Help!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Grace. So sorry to hear about the challenges with your pup.

      First, we applaud you for approaching the entire issue so deliberately, thoughtfully, and carefully. We think that dogs can be marvelous companions for kids with special needs, but it can still be tricky to pair any kiddo with any doggo.

      However, we would still recommend that you exercise extreme caution, as even a 3.5-pound dog can inflict very nasty injuries (and more quickly than you may imagine).

      It sounds like your daughter is (inadvertently) frightening the dog, but it is hard to know for sure from afar. It may look like nothing at all to you, but your dog may find even the most innocuous actions triggering. It honestly sounds like you’re going to need the help of a certified canine behavior consultant — especially given the obvious safety issues involved here.

      It may also help to brush up on your dog-body-language-reading skills so that you can better understand your dog’s motivations and emotions, but that’s not going to automatically fix the situation.

      Sorry we can’t be of more help, but we wish you and your daughter the best of luck.

  38. Damien Evans Avatar
    Damien Evans

    I’ve had my 1 year 2 month old yorkie mix for a year. He’s never had a problem with aggression, except at times when he’s asleep and I move him and he snaps.
    My sister, her fiance and their elderly pomeranian moved in with me. When they are gone, he whines and howls for a them for a bit, but he’s totally normal with me. When they are here, he will get aggressive with me. Sometimes when he’s near my sister or sometimes for no apparent reason. They leave and he’s fine min the 3 weeks they’ve lived here, he has bitten me 4 times and growled showing teeth until I leave the room multiple times. What do I do?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Damien.
      Sorry, but I’m not 100% clear about the problem. Is it your dog who’s biting you or your sister’s dog?

      Regardless, given that you’ve been bitten four times, it’d probably be wise to contact a canine behaviorist. It sounds like quite a complicated situation involving multiple people and dogs, so you may just need professional help.
      Best of luck!

    2. Pam Torres Avatar
      Pam Torres

      My husband and I moved my mom with middle stage Alz Disease with us three months ago. We adopted about a month ago a male 5 yrs old Chiwennie for her to enjoy his company. But I’m the main caregiver and he just attached to me as his mom. He already accepted my husband and connected with him, but we are struggling with mom. He doesn’t accept her, rejects to be near her, but just look for her when she eats as she is the one that gives him something from her plate. I know she needs some training too. But what specifically can we do to train the dog to accept and connect with her?

      1. Ben Team Avatar

        Hey there, Pam.
        Check out our article about getting a scared dog to trust you — it provides a number of tips for helping to forge a bond between two-footers and four-footers.
        Best of luck!

  39. lian Avatar

    Hello. My stepdad decided to bring a pitbull lab dog to our house two weeks ago and since then she’s been growling and barking at my voice and sight of only me and not my brother and my stepdad. I have a long term fear of dogs since I was young and do still get shaken by dogs and their barks. Although, our new dogs seems really chill and obedient infront of them she started to bark loudly to me every time like she has been holding hate over me for a longtime. We have never own a pet ever, so what should I do? Thank You!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Lian.
      Sorry you find yourself in this situation, and there’s no shame in being afraid of dogs — many people are.
      Ideally, you would be able to discuss the issue with your stepdad and try to figure out a good solution that works for everyone. But if that’s not possible, you may want to learn a little about dog body language.
      Understand that dogs bark for a variety of reasons — including when they’re just excited and having fun. By learning about how dogs communicate with body language, it may help you to feel a little more confident around them.
      Best of luck!

    2. AdminLogin Avatar

      Hey Lian! Ben’s suggestion about learning more about dog body language is smart. I’d also add that the dog definitely doesn’t hate you – it sounds like she is just as scared of you are you are of her! Check out our article on how to get a scared dog to trust you. A great way to start would be to play “treat and retreat”, where you can throw a treat away from you to the opposite side of the room. When the dog eats the treat and looks towards you or takes a step towards you, toss another great. The idea is that you don’t force the dog to come up and interact with you physically, as that can be too scary. But the dog will still get the idea that looking at you and being in your presence means they get treats, changing their emotional response towards your presence. I hope that helps! I’d urge you to give the dog a chance to acclimate to you and dispense a lot of treats so she realizes you are a positive presence. If you feel nervous around the dog, there’s also nothing wrong with putting up gates around the house so that you can relax without the dog near you. You deserve to feel safe and comfortable too!

  40. Joel Avatar

    We adopted a teacup poodle a month ago and she was fine with me at most times. But, lately, she’s been growling and sometimes would attack me when she sees me. Seems like she does not want to see me inside the house after i wake up. She would sleep with is in the bed but would growl if i come back to bed. Or even when she sleeps in the living room and sees me walking, she’ll attack me. I’ve tried feeding her everyday, giving her treats on my hand but after she finished the food, starts growling again. Can we still resolve this issue or is it time to let go?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Joel. Sorry to hear about the problems with your pooch.

      We wouldn’t consider it a hopeless situation — after all, it’s only been a month. That’s not an inconsequential length of time, but it may not have been long enough for her to feel comfortable yet. Just try to do everything you can to demonstrate to her that you aren’t a threat, and try to (slowly and patiently) develop your bond. As long as you can do so safely, continue doling out the treats, etc.

      But if a few more weeks pass without improvement, you may very well need professional help. Try to reach out to a canine behaviorist, so you can have an assessment performed and take things from there.
      Best of luck!

  41. John Blackmon Avatar
    John Blackmon

    My dog is 2 and a half. She is a mix. She has repeatedly lunged at my wife and my daughter. We have taken her for training and the trainer said that he does not feel like she is an aggressive dog. Yet she still has episodes of this kind of behavior with my wife and daughter. As a matter of fact she did it again today with my daughter. My wife and daughter have had it and they want her out of our house because they are tired of being scared around her and they feel as though I’m picking my dog above them. I’m not by the way of course if I had to choose my dog over my family it’s a no brained my family comes first. I just feel like I’m letting this dog down and I feel like she is a part of the family as well. She gets along well with us most of the time, but it really weird that once in a while out of the blue for no particular reason she will have one of these leaching out episodes and bites or attempts to bite like one snap and done kind of thing.
    My wife says she wants a dog she can love on and cuddle with, but she can’t with this one. She has rolled on her back before and I rub her belly and she has leashed out at me before as well.
    I guess I need options because I know deep down that we should probably find her another home, but I don’t know if it would be safe for her to go to another family or not. Also I don’t want to have to put her down/ euthanized because that would break my heart. It’s a bad situation and I would love to have a happy ending to the situation. Sorry for all the rambling but there is a lot going on.
    Thank you for any advice you may have.


    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, John.
      So sorry to hear that it isn’t working out with your pooch. Ultimately, you’ll just need to use your judgement and try to determine the best path forward for you, the dog, and your family.
      However, we would recommend that you solicit the opinion of a canine behaviorist (as opposed to a trainer). He or she may be able to provide some help with the issues and determine whether your pup is actually dangerous.
      Best of luck!

  42. sakshi sharma Avatar
    sakshi sharma

    I have a one year old indie dog, he was rescued when he was about a month old. he was a very friendly dog in starting but from a few months he has started growling on my bother who has moved in few months back nd my dog is getting anxious day by day. Is there anything you could help me with?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Sakshi.
      There’s nothing we can do personally to help, but if you try some of the tips outlined above, you may find that they help.
      If not, you’ll probably need to reach out to a canine behaviorist.
      Best of luck!

  43. Lisa Avatar

    How do you recommend finding a certified behaviorist for dogs in your area? Our rescue dog is amazing in every way except he despises my father. He growls ferociously at my dad from the minute he comes in our house until the time my dad leaves. He is very assertive and aggresive towards my dad. We thought it would pass but everytime he comes it’s the same. My dad is the nicest guy and we have no idea why he is acting this way towards my dad. I hate to choose between my dad and dog but it’s just not letting up. Any suggestions? Recommendations? Any advice would be greatly appreciatged! Thank you so much!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Lisa.
      Check out our article explaining exactly how to find a canine behaviorist.
      Best of luck!

  44. Isaiah Cervin Avatar
    Isaiah Cervin

    Hello, just to keep things brief. Basically, I rescued my basset hound about a year and a half ago. The minute he stepped into my house he immediately did not like my brother. Granted, it was my mom and my girlfriend who accompanied me to rescue him 2 hours from where I live. But it was an issue alongside being skittish and just overall scared of people. An issue I thought would go away over time but still hasn’t. He has never gotten aggressive or lounged at my brother. But he violently runs away for his life, like some type of fear i can’t even describe. He also suffers from separation anxiety when he’s away from me. What should i do?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Isaiah.
      Check out our article on separation anxiety to learn how to deal with that, but regarding the fear of your brother, you’ll basically want to help dissolve that fear slowly, over time — likely with the help of positive reinforcement.
      For example, you may have your brother sit in a chair outside. Then, with your pooch on a leash, walk as close to your brother as you can without frightening your dog (this may be pretty far away at first). Then, give him a treat.

      Lather, rinse, and repeat, while slowly moving closer to your brother over time.
      Best of luck!

  45. Donna Avatar

    We have had our rat terrier (dak) since a puppy. Very loving dog with husband, self , grandson, friends . Stepson (32) lives with us with his son (7) . But stepson he growl barks all the time he is in sight.! I tried to get stepson to greet dak and give him a treat but that lasted two days but dak stopped barking so it worked . Now stepson is back to yelling in a deep voice “shit the f…up” all the time dak is barking . Our little girl Daisey also rat terrier turns her head and ignores them both . Dak is 6 Daisey is 7 . I can’t get it threw stepson to stop the barking keep doing it till dak learns , dak needs repeative teaching ! Help me with step son ( blockhead)

  46. Monique Avatar

    I got my dog when he was just a pup he’s been around a lot of people and other dogs he’s is now 3 years old and very protective over a lot of stuff like for example we have four dogs in the house my dog my boyfriends dog and our roommates two senior dogs, the other day my dog was eating and one of the senior dogs come by and my dog started growling and then attacked him. This happens with his toys also. But he is also very protective with family as well, when he is laying on my lap and someone comes by us he starts growling and if you come to close he will get snappy but he gets like that with my boyfriend or other people if he’s laying with them and someone comes by or the dogs get to close to whoever he’s laying with. And one more thing he does not like my uncle . He has a walker and is a heavy person and he constantly just barks at him , or sometimes try’s to attack his walker. But he tells me when we’re gone he is his best friend. I’m really not sure why my dog is like that maybe it’s just because of me he is being protective. The way I correct him when he gets aggressive is I tell him no and send him to his cage. I’m trying to show him everyone’s isn’t a threat to him or me so when he’s laying with me and someone comes by and he doesn’t react I praise him . I really want to help him fix this problem cause if it doesn’t stop and just gets worse I’m gonna have to give him to another family but I really don’t want to go down that road I’m willing to try my hardest to get rid of that behavior. I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong .

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Monique. Sorry about the issues with your dog.

      Unfortunately, it sounds like you’re probably going to need to work with a private trainer who can assess your dog’s behavior and get to the bottom of his issues. Sometimes, it just takes a professional eye to figure out the problem and devise a good plan of attack. If you don’t have a trainer in your area you can consult, you can reach out to Journey Dog Training — they offer a variety of long-distance training solutions.

      We certainly don’t want to see you have to rehome your pooch, so you’ll need to act quickly — we’re concerned that he may end up biting someone, which will make it even more difficult to keep him.

      Sorry we don’t have a better answer — best of luck!

  47. Arshi Avatar

    I have a GSD, he is 3 years old, in the last 2 months he tried to attack my brother 5 times of which 3 time he has bitten him , my brother goes to pet him and he starts growling and attacking, we tried keeping my dog and my brother in separate spaces and the least interaction possible but it is not working he is attacking all of a sudden without any prior warning . most of the days he is fine with him even swing his tail seeing him, we do not have any professional assistant of a trainer over here, my dad is thinking of rehoming him, is there anything that can be done?
    my brother got the dog when he was 12 days old .
    I Dont think he was properly socialized because he barks at the people living on rent in my home, even though he has seen them day in and out, I don’t know what happens but sometime he does not bark at all at them, but then all of a sudden he tries to attack them. is there anything that I can do to change his behaviour?
    I met him when he was 1 year old, I think he was poorly kept and that might have caused aggression.
    Because of a lot of people living on rent in my home we have to chain him 10 a.m. – 10 p.m, but I take him on long walk to compensate and tries to involve him in different activities all day. we do have a backyard all for him but he does not like to go there.
    He even growls at people,children who are afraid of him.
    i don’t want to abandon my dog, my whole family is afraid and scared of him now that’s might do some real damage as there are a lot of people {7 families} living in the home.
    he has a good relation with everyone in my family other than my brother, of all people in the room he tries to attack my brother, please suggest something that i could do?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Arshi.

      That sounds like a difficult situation for both you and your pet. Living in fear that he’ll bite someone is certainly hard on you, and being chained up for 12 hours a day is almost guaranteed to make him frustrated and depressed, which will exacerbate his behavioral issues.

      Unfortunately, based on your description and your pup’s likely size, it is critical that you get some professional help. As you explained, he’s already biting people and that can’t be allowed to contiue.
      If you don’t have access to trainers in your area, try reaching out to Journey Dog Training. They offer a number of long-distance training solutions that may help.

      Best of luck!

  48. Don Avatar

    Our dog which we have had for 15 years has, in the past number of years become aggressive towards my daughter. It started when my daughter was around 16. It normally is just growling but it did elevate to a bite. The dog is a small Shitzou/Bichon crossed with a cocker spaniel. We have no idea why this started or how to stop it. The dog does follow me everywhere and is often under my chair or with me when I lay down for a nap. We have gone away on trips for up to three weeks with the dog left with my daughter to take care of but this has done nothing to alleviate the growling and barking. The only thing I recall my daughter doing was when the dog was younger she would dress her up in large doll clothes (my daughter was about 8-10 years old at the time). Other than that I am at wits end how to end this behaviour.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Don.
      So sorry to hear about the issues with your pooch!

      It’s hard to tell exactly what your dog’s issue with your daughter is from afar. Given that, as well as the fact that the behavior has escalated to biting, we’d strongly recommend working with a private trainer. If you can’t find one in your area, you can reach out to Journey Dog Training. They offer a variety of long-distance training options, and you can obtain a discount for being a K9 of Mine reader (just see the link for details).

      Best of luck!

  49. Patricia Avatar

    We rescued a blue heeler mix almost a year ago. I am not sure of the history of the dog. I was just told an elder women that was having surgery and could not keep her. From the beginning she has barked at my son, never aggressively never snipping or biting. And when she barks, she is almost whining too like she wants his attention but barks too. If she is in the room when he enters, she barks and runs away from him. She will run to my daughter’s room. I think she feels that is her safe place, where she spend a lot of time. She will now allow him in the same room with coaxing. She will eat a treat left by him and let him pet her and will even lick his face if he looks away. He can not walk towards her or try to pick her up. She also barks at men of my son’s statured/size. He is getting frustrated and will not help that much in trying to get her to stop barking. He wants me and my daughters to train her. I do not want to rehome her or have to choose between my Son and the dog. We have another rescue dog that does not bark at him. I was thinking that the second dog would calm her and teach her that he is ok. Any help would be apricated.

  50. Tahia Avatar

    My dog keeps lunging at my grandma,he did it twice, he was quite calm when grandma came to live with us but after 2 weeks of her being here he attacked her one day out of the blue ,it shocked me and my mum ,my grandma likes dogs in general and didnt harm him at all so it was very strange
    apart from this incident my dog has some instance of sudden lungng and biting people at times
    ive had him when he was quite old (3 years old) so i really dont know what to do
    please help! :/

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Tahia.
      So sorry you’re having trouble with your pooch!

      We usually recommend working with a professional trainer anytime your dog is biting (or attempting to bite) people. If you don’t have a trainer in your area, try reaching out to Journey Dog Training.
      They provide a number of long-distance training solutions, and you can get a discount for being a K9 of Mine reader.

      In the meantime and for safety’s sake, it’d probably be wise to keep your dog separated from your grandma.
      Best of luck!

  51. Erin Avatar

    My family and I adopted a 4 year old redbone coonhound a little more than a year ago. At first he was pretty shy but slowly showed us his personality. Then a few months in he started to growl at me when other family members were eating. Then it turned into barking and growling. So my dad would put him in another room. Now it’s gotten to the point where I’ll just be fixing his bed or touching something near him and he’ll nip me. I can’t understand why he is only acting this way towards me. Since we got him from the shelter I’ve been with him. He would sleep in my room, I would feed him, take him on walks, bathe him, and everything else. I’m his main caretaker. Occasionally my mom will feed him but it’s normally me. It’s very puzzling and makes me think he doesn’t like me for some reason. Yet when someone hugs me or goes to touch me he gets upset and growls. I’ve never hit him I’ve only ever smothered him with kisses. Any advice would help.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Erin.
      Unfortunately, given that he’s starting to bite, I think you’re going to need some professional help at this stage.
      Reach out to Journey Dog Training — they offer a variety of long-distance training solutions.
      Best of luck!

  52. Alberto Avatar

    We’ve had Blacky since he was a pup, and he just turned 5 years old last month. My family got him while I was on vacation, so I got home 2 weeks after he settled in, and I’ve always joked about how he doesn’t like me because I was a stranger that came to live with him.
    Over the years we’ve played, taken many walks and he was my companion when I got into jogging. He sleeps besides me in my bed most nights. However, since last year he has progressively showed aggressive behavior towards me, which started with him growling whenever I tried to pick him up.
    He still sleeps in my bed, just not beside me anymore, he stays by my feet, and if I try to pick him up, or just go in for a hug he growls, bares his fangs and if dare touch him, he tries to bite me. He doesn’t actually do it yet, but he does do a snapping motion as if throwing a bite but stops right before his teeth touch my hand.
    He, however, only does that if my mom and dad aren’t around, in which case he reluctantly let’s me pick him up for a short while.
    I’ve stopped attempting to do those things, since I figured he didn’t like it anymore, but he does let other family members do it. Should we be worried?

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Alberto. That certainly sounds like an issue!
      We’d recommend working with a trainer anytime your dog snaps or attempts to bite people.
      If you don’t have anyone in your area you can work with, you may want to consider reaching out to Journey Dog Training. They offer a variety of long-distance training solutions.
      Best of luck!

  53. Stacey Acuna Avatar
    Stacey Acuna

    Help! Please! One of our dogs that we’ve had since a puppy has become aggressive toward our son. It started around the time he started college four years ago and has escalated. He recently moved back home and her behavior has worsened. She hasn’t bit him. She’s ok with him at times then just minutes later changes to an aggressive behavior. It’s very stressful for all of us and especially upsets our son Who wants to be a positive part of her life. We have tried making him the positive person like suggested and she will be fine then flip in minutes to seconds. We are at a loss and want her to be a happy furkid and for our son not to be alienated by her behavior. We haven’t tried medicating her other than Bach Rescue Remedy And recently hemp calming chews. Not very helpful. We are desperate. ANY guidance would be appreciated. May your day be blessed!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Stacey.
      Unfortunately, this sounds like one of the times that’ll simply require the help of a professional trainer or behaviorist.
      If you can’t find one in your area, consider reaching out to Journey Dog Training. They provide long-distance training solutions, which may help.
      Best of luck!

  54. Dawn Tresenrider Avatar
    Dawn Tresenrider

    Our Grandson and wife are living with us for a while. Although their dog appears to love “Grandpa” and lies at his feet walks with him, etc, he greets him when he arrives home or enters a room with sinister growls and raised hackles before he settles down.Then he is normal.
    “Grandpa” is the only one of five adults that receives this behavior.
    It seems to be getting worse over time.
    PS ” Grandpa loves him and dogs in general and has never abused him.
    We have also known the dog for a long time before they moved in with us and he didn’t do it then.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Dawn.
      A change in living arrangements can be difficult for dogs at times. He may settle in and relax over time, but if he continues to react poorly to Grandpa, you may want to reach out to a trainer for help.
      Best of luck!

  55. Kathryn Rawlins Avatar
    Kathryn Rawlins

    We got a mid sized golden doodle January, 2020. Was born 11/16/2019. Started him in puppy play as soon as he had appropriate shots. He did well. Socialized with puppies and their owners alike. Enrolled him in a positive based training class. This was one on one and we both participated. He did fairly well. Pulled at leash, but did basic sit, down, roll over, come.
    Jesse, the puppy, has always favored his dad and they do have a tight bond. I am the one who feeds him and fills his nightly Kong with peanut butter. Jesse has grown to be very aggressive towards me. Unprovoked he will attack me, bite me until I bleed, growl, snarl. He will leave a room with my husband then turn around and run full force back to me, jump on me full force biting. If I turn around to ignore him he will bite me in the back and has torn many shirts in the process. I have tried most everything I have read to do. Mostly always positive reinforcement which is quite difficult when a dog is viscously attacking.
    He’s completely fine with other people but with Covid-19 he hasn’t been around many. He currently is going to dog day camp, half a day, twice a week and working with a trainer. I’m just about at my wits end.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Wow — that sounds pretty scary, Kathryn.
      We’d definitely recommend working with a behaviorist at this point.
      Best of luck!

  56. Anita Avatar

    We rescued Charlie and Holly at the same time and Charlie growls, barks and runs away whenever my 16 year old son is present. Holly seems to be fearful of him, but I don’t know if she’s just afraid because she sees Charlie is. Could he be protective of her? We’ve had them 4 months and it doesn’t seem to be going away.