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I Need Your Help . . . Company Calls, Puppy Answers by Biting

As much as we may talk to them, sadly our pets can't talk back. So, there can come a time when a precious pal behaves in a baffling way, leaving us to speculate what's caused the change. The cute Penny, a three-year-old Min Pin rescue, has begun showing aggression towards strangers visiting her home for the past few months. TeamSugar member aembry396 explains:

Penny has taken to biting – well, trying to bite as thankfully pants and shoes get in the way – some people who come into my apartment. Usually it's people who have cats, but yesterday she attacked a friend who she has met before for no reason that I can think of. This time she actually bruised someone (no skin broken and we are not even really sure if it was the teeth that did it).

Since we rescued her from a puppy mill rescue league last fall, we are still learning new things about her. However, this seems like such a behavior change. Do you have any ideas why she might be doing this and how to help her not do it again?

Let's put our heads together and try to come up with some suggestions in the comments below!

Join The Conversation
wmoonw wmoonw 8 years
I've heard that Min Pins are notorious for working their way into "Small Dog Syndrome". If she's falling into that category, then getting her into training may do her a world of good -- without structure, she may see herself as the leader of the pack, trying to protect her property (the house) and her subordinates (you, aembry). Putting her through training would help her figure out that she's not the boss, and that you will be protecting her and the house, which may help her fear issues in the long run.
Clairecsm Clairecsm 8 years
A woman in my building had the same problem and she just highered a trainer to come for an hour. He said that the dog did not see her as an authority figure but more as the dogs property and to set a few more rules, especially not letting the dog on any elevated surface, bed, couch etc. It seems to be working well. Good luck
flyingroo flyingroo 8 years
The best training I've seen for this type of behaviour is by Victoria Stilweel on "It's the dog or me" on Animal Planet channel. You can watch the episode online at: Good luck!
BridgetJones BridgetJones 8 years
I have a 4 1/2 year old adopted Min Pin, Bridget, who is aggressive to all dogs and people when on a leash, and to any new visitor to our home. Unfortunately Min Pins are a notoriously difficult dog to train, and adopting them later in life makes it even more difficult because there was often no early reinforcement of training techniques. We have completed obedience courses and had private training sessions to try to work with these issues, and Bridget still 'loses it' in these situations. The best I've been able to accomplish is to have new guests ignore her for a few minutes and allow Bridget to sniff around them and gain confidence. I'll often have visitors give her a treat as well. Usually after a few minutes she relaxes enough that even new people can pet her. Still, she tried to bite my future mother-in-law this weekend, so I clearly don't have everything under control. When I have tried to keep her away from guests (putting her on a leash or in another room seems to be the only way to do this, as the 'stay' command is completely lost on her when she is agitated by a visitor) she only freaks out more. I know this isn't particularly useful or optimistic information, but since I'm in a similar situation I just wanted to share my experiences with you. Min Pins are incredible pets - fiercely loyal, amazing cuddlers and full of personality - but they are certainly a handful. I would recommend watching a few of the min pin videos on youtube... they reinforced for me that a lot of my dog's quirky behavior is common in this breed :) Good luck!
koozl19 koozl19 8 years
Watch 'The Dog Whisperer' on the National Geographic channel. Cesar Millan is the best at dog training and discipline. He is always showing dogs who start out fine but then quickly change to aggressive. Cesar's main points are to be calm and assertive with a dog, and to be the pack leader. Often times when a dog becomes aggressive it is because they feel they have to be the pack leader as no one else has assumed the role. Here is his website: And the NatGeo show's website:
sweetpeabrina sweetpeabrina 8 years
What about having people ignore her when they come to your home? Most people (me included!) love to greet dogs as soon as they see them. It could be intimidating to her and she could act out because of it. Good luck!
peaceloveandpaws peaceloveandpaws 8 years
If Penny was previously very timid and shy, and has suddenly become aggressive, it sounds like she may be possibly fear aggressive. Now that she has been with you for a while, she's been able to recognize that your home is her territory and she wants to defend it. It's easy to pamper the timid ones, but Penny may be suffering from low self esteem and sounds like she needs a confidence boost. Personally I would still recommend obedience class because this socializes the dog. She will be able to encounter many different situations/people/dogs in a positive atmosphere and become more confident in herself. I know it's really difficult to see your little loved one frightened, but a little tough love goes a long way in preventing more serious problems from occurring later on. Good luck and give Penny a pat :)
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
First I just want to say, good for you for adopting a dog. There are so many that need to be adopted. I agree wren about the leash training. My best friend had a dog that had similar problems: acting out when people were over and biting. She used a combination of leash training and treats. If the dog wouldn't respond to either of those when company was over, the dog was immediately put in another room away from the company. The dog learned that if it couldn't behave around people, then there were consequences. If you didn't know the dog then, you'd never know it was the same one now. Just sounds like you need to work with Penny. There is no telling what she had been through before you got her. So just keep working with her, have some patience, and let her know you love her!
aembry396 aembry396 8 years
Thanks for posting this Pet! Thank you for the great ideas...I would love to hear as many as possible. To answer wren's question: no, she hasn't been to obedience training yet. Until recently (3-4 months or so), Penny was petrified of EVERYTHING! I did not want to take her to training if she was going to cower in fear the whole time. We have been working with her and the Go to spot and the leash training at home will do well for her. I will start that tonight. The real reason I ask this is because it is such a personality change. Until recently, she was scared of everything. She didn't like certian areas of our neighborhood, other small dogs (she loves big dogs though), most people in the street, sudden movement, car rides, etc. Lately though, she has gotten more confident (loving car rides, other dogs, people in the street). I was so happy to see her adjusting well that this really upset me that she was going aggressive. I wasn't sure if it was lack of excersice (Winters in Michigan don't allow for lengthy walks), changes with traveling for Thanskgiving and Christmas, or is this a less than subtle call for more training? Sorry for the long comment and again, thanks for your help!
Renees3 Renees3 8 years
Has anything changed recently? Moving, you working different hours or anything like that? We moved a month ago and our dog has been acting out. Our trainer said its probably because he's stressed and weirded out from the move. Anyway, sounds like Go To might be a good thing to teach her. When the doorbell rings, I tell B-Bop Go To the Couch. and he goes and sits on the couch until I release him. This allows the person to come in and establish that they are not a threat. Also maybe have a treat jar right by the door so EVERY person that comes in that door (Friends, mail men, anyone) is giving her a treat. Try to turn the door from scary people coming, to awesome treats coming! Good luck!
wren1 wren1 8 years
Has she has obedience training and could you put her in a sit stay when people come over? If not, you could put her leash and collar on her before you let visitors in, and if she bites, jerk her leash once each time she tries to bite. It doesn't hurt her because dogs have very strong necks. It will startle her, which is why it works. That's been very effective with my dog and he doesn't depend on treats for good behavior. Good luck, she's adorable!
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