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Lhasa biting daughter

February 17th, 2005, 12:01 PM
I'm hoping someone out there can help us. We rescued a Lhasa Apso about 7 years ago. When we took him (Pepper) to the vet, he estimated his age at 3-4. So, he's around 10 years old. For the past year or so we have to watch him around little kids because he had a tendency to get aggressive around them - we understand that is pretty common in Lhasas and we attribute it to him getting older and less patient. That we can deal with.

The real problem has escalated within the past six - eight months. We have a 22 yr. old daughter that is severely handicapped. She is about 2 yrs. old developmentally, so behaves as a 2 yr. old. I think Pepper has always known she was different and in the past just ignored her for the most part. Lately though he bulllies her. He actually seems to stalk her! If she does anything that irritates him, he bites her. Not actually breaking the skin, but hard enough to bruise. This has only happened 3-4 times, but that's 3-4 times WAY too many!

I've read the alpha dog article, and will begin that technique with my husband, other daughter and myself, but my handicapped daughter is unable to do those things and she is the one he has realized he can push around.

Any suggestions of what we can do? He bites at her feet if she bumps him under the dinner table, so we put a bed in the kitchen and are trying to make him stay on it whenever we are eating. He just seems to hang around her, daring her to make a wrong move. She doesn't understand any of this and is beginning to be afraid of Pepper, which I fear will only make the situation worse.

For 98% of the time, he's a GREAT dog! Very smart and affectionate and we really love him. But this could be a deal breaker. I'll appreciate any suggestions.


February 17th, 2005, 01:24 PM
wow that's a tough one. I don't have any advice but wish you well. I had a cat that went the same way about that age...began to pick on the youngest timidest cat and seriously hurt him (many abscesses) We eventually had to put him down after trying all kinds of behavior mod, and we couldn't find a new home for him - it was very sad. HOpefully you will have better success with a dog - a little more trainable I'm sure.

Lucky Rescue
February 17th, 2005, 01:33 PM
Need a little more info please.

If she does anything that irritates him, he bites her.

What is she doing when the dog bites her?

What do you do when he bites her, and what are doing to prevent him from doing this?

I assume he's been to the vet and checked for any physical problems that could aggravate aggression - arthritis, thyroid probs. etc?

February 17th, 2005, 02:01 PM
[QUOTE=LuckyRescue]Need a little more info please.

What is she doing when the dog bites her?

Usually she's busy eating her dinner. She is in constant motion, so she taps her foot while she's at the table. He'll go lay by her feet and growl if her foot bumps him. Or, when she's sitting on the floor playing with her toys, he'll lay close to her and get upset if she bumps him. He even does that to us at times. I am a foot bobber too when watching tv. He'll come and lay by me, then growl if my foot bumps him, or is near his face. Instead of moving, he seems to try to make us move.

What do you do when he bites her, and what are doing to prevent him from doing this?

When he has bitten her, we yell at him "NO!!" "BAD" and put him outside (we have a fenced yard). Unfortunately, she is very tender hearted and can't stand anyone being yelled at, so yelling at him upsets her even more. It's a viscious cycle! To prevent him from doing this, we make sure they are never left alone and tell him to leave her alone when he starts skulking around near her. He goes and lays down when we tell him to get away from her. And, as I said earlier, we try to keep him out from under the table when we're having meals.

I assume he's been to the vet and checked for any physical problems that could aggravate aggression - arthritis, thyroid probs. etc?

Yes, we took him to the vet some months ago and he has hip dysplasia, which he is on medication for. No other physical problems. I used to think he got "testy" with kids when they were around because they hurt his hips somehow, but that doesn't seem to be related at all. I know his hips are feeling much better because he's running up and down the stairs and when we took him to the vet, he wouldn't walk up the stairs at all.

We really do love him and he's such a good dog in every other way. *sigh*

Any advice would be appreciated. I'm planning to take him back to the vet since this is getting worse to be sure there isn't something else going on besides his hips.


February 17th, 2005, 11:07 PM
he seems to try to make us move

This is a telling statement, Your dog thinks she/he is in charge. Little dogs sometimes get away with this more than big, because they are easier to physically handle. But it can turn nasty this way. You need to do some alpha training with your dog - perhaps a trainer would be able to help you figure it out.

Don't discount that pain may be causing this behavior.

I know yelling is the instinct, but a better approach would be perhaps a 'muzzle shake' - firmly grab the muzzle give it a shake, and say no. (somewhat like a mama dog would do) Not yell just firm. Then there should be a mat or place that is your dog's place. He needs to sit there until you tell him he can move.

Lucky Rescue
February 17th, 2005, 11:27 PM
Instead of moving, he seems to try to make us move.
This is what the alpha dog in a pack does.

I agree that it sounds like this dog has be allowed to be in charge of the household. He is acting like "the leader of the pack" who will growl at underlings if they annoy him, and bite them if they ignore the warning.

I do not agree with grabbing his muzzle. This kind of aggressive move is likely to make things worse. It could also result in a nasty bite.

Let him drag a leash around the house. When you are in situations where he growls a warning, or tries to bite, you can correct him immediately with the leash without putting your hands or face in danger.

Dog training and behavior modification does not involve yelling. It's not neccessary, it's not working, and it upsets your daughter. Instead use a firm command ("No bite!") or whatever, coupled with a leash correction.

Stop letting him under the table when you are eating. If necessary, tie him where his bed is with his leash. IF he is lying near you when you are on the sofa, do not step around him or over him. Keep your feet on the floor and slowly shuffle them INTO him until he moves, and he WILL move once he realizes you mean business.

It's never too late for a dog to learn that HE is at the bottom of the heirarchy and not at the top anymore. You must be firm and consistant with this. It will take awhile to break the habits of a lifetime, but he'll understand that he has lost his position and will accept it with no hard feelings.

February 18th, 2005, 08:38 AM
There was a wonderful article relating to "my dog thinks it's in charge", but I can't find it.

My neighbours have the exact same problems with their poodle. He thinks he's in charge and I printed off the article for them. It's slow going but he's making headway...he doesn't snap at them as much anymore.

I wish I could find it. you know if the articles are archived? I searched, but with no luck. It may be hard to re-train such an old dog, but not impossible.

February 18th, 2005, 10:59 AM
I do not agree with grabbing his muzzle. This kind of aggressive move is likely to make things worse. It could also result in a nasty bite

Good point about the bite thing. Just to clarify - a muzzle handshake should NOT be an agressive move, any more than a leash correction.

Gently putting your hand around the muzzle, a firm no and slight movement of the muzzle, and turning their eyes to face yours to re-direct their attention to YOU! The 'discipline' should be over quickly - if they keep looking at you - say good girl/boy Sit now and then a reward for the good behavior.

Be just as careful with a leash correction not to use it as a yanking machine! :) a quick flick of the leash mostly to get the sound of it. Then redirect their attention to you.

February 18th, 2005, 11:03 AM
Question,is he by any chance going deaf or blind?

I have heard that having this happen in an older dog will change the behaviour.

Lucky Rescue
February 18th, 2005, 11:31 AM
Agree with not yanking the leash! Just a kind of "HEY THERE" to snap him out of it and get his attention, then reward good behavior.

Mona the only article I have is the boot camp one, called Who's in Charge Here? (

February 18th, 2005, 12:44 PM
Yes LR....that's the article. Full of good advice for the owner of a dog who thinks it's in charge!

February 20th, 2005, 07:28 PM
Growing up my we always had dogs and they were all little, our first dog was a Lhasa and he was horribly aggressive, we had to put him down. My dads last dog was a shih-tzu and he bit my son in the face when my son was 1. So as my kids grew up, I said that if I ever had a dog, it would be a medium or big dog. We own a retriever/collie X and he is the best. My son is 8 now and no longer terrified of dogs as he was for years after being bitten. Unfortunately I have no advice, just thought I would let you know how I feel about small lap dogs. I know I can't be so critical about all small dogs as they are not all bad, but I have had nothing but bad luck with them and my current dog "buddy" is a dog owner's dream come true. GOOD LUCK!

February 21st, 2005, 11:42 AM
Hi, Update: We've been working on Alpha training this past weekend. Pepper has to obtain our approval for EVERYTHING - eating, drinking, going out, etc. i.e. before giving him his food (instead of just leaving it out all the time) he has to sit patiently and wait while we put it on the floor, and even then until we say he can eat. He's doing pretty well. Same with going out - we open the door, but he can't go out until we say "ok". If he tries to lunge out the door, it's closed and we start over. He does seem to be acting more respectful already. I'm pleased so far, but not sure if this will transfer over to how he treats my daughter. The article I read says it effects the way he treats people in general - Fingers Crossed!!!
thanks for all your kind help and suggestions.

February 21st, 2005, 11:54 AM
Excellent!!! You're on the right track I"m positive! Well done!

February 21st, 2005, 11:57 AM
Part of an effective transfer is that if SHE can use the commands on him and get him to observe that she is also higher than him in the pack.

Is this a possibility? (I remember you said that your daughter is handicapped.)