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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I was hoping people might have some advice. Maddie is 1.5 years old and has recently started displaying aggression. There have been 2 different incidents:

1. She is allowed on 1 couch (does not sleep on my bed at night) in the house and when she's sleeping on it she will growl if she's touched in anyway. She has growled if my foot has accidentally touched her and also when the other dog comes near her.

2. She has always been fine with any high value treat such as a bully stick. Over the weekend she had a high value treat that I needed to take away from her (I was worried she was going to get an upset stomach because it was rich) and she absolutely freaked out. She snarled and tried to bite my hand and I was shocked.

Could there be an underlying issue that is causing the aggression? Should I bring her into the vet? Any suggestions would be great, thanks!
 

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It's possible that there's a medical reason. Hypothyroid or pain from an ailment can cause dogs to react aggressively. I would definitely check with a vet to make sure she's in good health. Otherwise, I suggest a good trainer or behaviorist. And in the meantime, use positive methods only when dealing with her. Corrections and confrontations could escalate any aggression leading to a bite.
 

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A vet is always a good place to start if you notice a sudden change in your dog's behavior... so you can't go wrong by getting a good once over (and a full thyroid panel). Beyond that, this sounds much more like resource guarding than aggression to me. NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) is always a good place to start... just google, it's all over the net. Seriously get back to basics, all good things come from you and she must earn them. Management will be key, especially in the early stages. There's a number of strategies, from hand feeding to the trade game that may be helpful... but honestly, based on the severity of the second incident you mentioned, it may be a better idea to bring in a qualified behaviorist to help you through it. I strongly recommend a professional who focuses on positive reinforcement training, as punishment risks magnifying the problem you are having by proving to Maddie that she is right to be anxious about her "prize" (be it the chair, the chew, or whatever). Best of luck!

Julie and Jersey
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the advice, I think first I'll bring her into the vet to get a thyroid panel run because it seems weird how her behavior has changed recently. I will also look up the NILIF information for now and then wait for the vet results.

If it's necessary after that I will look into a behaviorist. For now she won't be getting any high value treats and I'll keep her off the couch too.
 

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I think that is a great start. When and if it comes down to a behaviorist, do your research first and ask around for references. Try to have a phone interview with the person before you ask for their help to make sure you agree with their practices and procedures. Ask what their methods are ahead of time. I recently checked out a place that believes that not all dogs can be fixed and the ones that can't must be put down. I don't believe that so I moved on to someone who believed what I believe. I also know someone who hired a trainer to come to her home and was completely devastated by his methods and results. They still had to pay him. Good Luck and please post updates.
 
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