"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Aggressive Shih Tzu

– Posted in: Aggression, Columns
Shih Tzu

Dear John,

We have an aggressive Shih Tzu terrier mix which we have had for a couple of months. The people who gave him up said he was male aggressive and had bit her25 yr old son. To us he was sweet and he came right up to my husband and jumped on his lap. We had to have him! Since then he has turned into my dog, hardly gets off my lap. He is home all day with my husband as he is on disability, but will not go out for him or eat either unless he gives him treats. He has also charged at him a couple of times for no reason and nipped at him. He nipped at our son on the back of his leg as he was walking away from him, and also our grandson in the face, all of which no blood was shed and no marks were made. Still made us upset! What do we do about this behavior. He is perfect for me and I can do anything with him, except keep him calm in the car, another problem!

S.G. Mason City

Dear S.G.

what you’re describing is often the case when a dog has been led to believe that it is equal to or greater in status than some members of the household. As you’ve noted it can take a little time for a dog to get that impression and it has to do with a lot of little things rather than a few major handling errors. Some dogs it doesn’t impact but others (and Shih Tzu is one of the breeds more susceptible) it can really mess up. The good news is, with a little patience and time¬†you can more often than not turn things around without it being overly stressful for the household or the dog.
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5 Comments… add one

My shitzu max has food aggressions if you give him a bone and try to take it he bites your hand what do I do to stop it

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Often the way trainers reply to something like this is directly. I personally find long term success is better if before you address it directly you get the dog clear on the topic of who is the teacher and who is the student. Get involved with a serious balanced trainer and give the dog a few months to get clear on hierarchy. Sometimes this alone evaporates the behaviour. More often not though the dog will have to be taught that what they’re eating is your food, because you’ve said they can. I just find success is better if you get the teacher student stuff taken care of first.


Rodger Wright

Our male Shih Tzu is now 6 months old. He was neutered at 3 months.
We got him when he was 10 weeks old and noticed he was a little on the biting side. We are still working on that and it is better but in the past couple of months, he has become enamoured with paper products. Paper towels and napkins etc. We are very carful but every once in awhile he gets something and then he EATS it. Now that is not the problem.

When we try to get it from him he becomes very, very aggressive. He grits his teeth and growls deeply and when we finally get a grip he aggressively tries to bite and has now several times broken the skin on myself and my wife.

Any ideas would be helpful as we are now considering giving up to someone else.

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Shih Tzu is a breed with a level of popularity that has subjected it to less then careful breeding practices. They aren’t as stable as they once were. For any dog to get aggressive at such a young age, it’s a red flag. It doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road but you should get involved into some serious training sooner rather then later. Heads up though, I’ve found some of these guys have this hard wired into them and there’s no going back. Hopefully not the case here.



This sounds like our 6 month old Shih Tzu No problem with feeding her .the problem is when she gets something she shouldn’t have

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