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My dog attacks me at night for no reason. HELP!

August 24th, 2005, 01:38 AM
I need some serious advice and I am hoping you can help me?

I have two adorable Chihuahus. The female Bella is 3 and the boy Nikko is 4. I got Nikko out of the paper when he was 11 weeks old. The family I got him from had a mean little boy that kicked him when I was there looking at him. I was looking for a younger puppy that didn't have any bad habits, but decided to buy him to get him out of the bad home. That was 4 years ago and I love him very much and he is part of our family. He has been timid around people since the day I brought him home. I thought it would fade in time as he got to know our family. Even after four years of spoiling him and doting on him he still backs up when I go to pick him up. He also does not like to be held. When we hold him, he freezes in place with a panic look on his face.

Here is the problem..
First of all let me say that I made the mistake of letting my two babies sleep with me when they were puppies and they still sleep with me. When Nikko became a year old he started a strange habit of growling in his sleep and would wake up in the middle of the night looking for a fight. That progressed to off guard attacks on my female dogs then random middle of the night attacks on me. He only does it a few times a month and he never bites hard enough to break the skin. I have thrown him out of the room and punished him for a few nights of sleeping outside the room. He seems to get more timid when I punish him. It's hard because he is such a good dog during the day, loyal, walks off leash without running away, likes other dogs, likes people and kids and is not a barker.

Last night was the final straw.. I am in bed sound asleep and boom he starts attacking me and he bit my arm really hard. My female is a doll and jumps in to help me and then they start fighting. This time it hurt. Today I have a big bruise on my arm and it hurts. I am so confused. Why would my dog who is in a sound sleep wake up and starting a vicious attack on me and my female dog. I just don't understand. The only thing I can think of is he is having a bad dream about the abuse he got when he was a puppy? It's almost like he is asleep when he is doing this. I dunno please help!

August 24th, 2005, 09:51 AM
You have not spoiled him by putting him in the bed (we sleep with 5 dogs) - it is not about the bed it is about his relationship to you and the other dog.
By doting on him you have spoiled him and that has possibly made things worse for him. When we coddle or baby a dog (especially when they are naturally timid or fearful) we often make the problem worse. Yes the little boy was mean, but your dog might have had this temperament regardless.
Right now he is insecure and doesn't think anyone is looking out to keep him safe - lack of trust. When he nails you in the night - lack of respect. The love part is already well established so you don't need to work on that anymore. You need to work on the trust and respect.
He needs some intensive care - by that I mean he needs you to be a strong and confident leader 24/7. He needs to have lots of jobs to do - obedience commands throughout the day. He should probably be in a crate at night until you get this resolved so that no one gets hurt. You should have him on the leash in the house as much as you can stand it. Ask him to do lots of things when you are together - not because you need him to sit/stay or down etc., but because he needs it. You are also at the ready to correct any bad decisions and reward the good ones.
When he shows fear or insecurity DO NOT COO AT HIM! Instead you act with confidence and give him more to do to keep his mind busy. The more you expose him to his fears and he gets through them - the better he will be.
I would ask him to sit/stay when I pick him up. Come in to his body from the side - not the top (too intimidating) and as he shows more confidence then you can start coming in from the top. Touch him a lot. Make it firm strokes not timid pats. Firm strokes are like mom licking him. Don't coo at him when you do this. Try not to gush. You need to be more matter-of-fact in your attitude, not be putting him up on such a pedestal.

August 24th, 2005, 10:21 AM

Thank you for your reply. First of all let me say that I thought I was bad for letting my two 10lb dogs sleep with me. Five? :eek: I hope you get some sleep.

Many things you say make sence to me as I know I put my dogs on a pedestal. They are way too spoiled and somewhat run the house. People even make fun of me cause I had a ramp built for the bed. I have an 11 year old daughter and my mom tells me she is bad somtimes because she is looking for bounderies and dicipline. I guess it shouldn't be any different for a dog. I will try everything you said and see if it works. I am motherly at nature so it will be hard for me to not coo at him. When an animal is afraid, you want to coo and be gentle by nature. I am wiling to try anything at this point.

I have a question for you. As humans we look to understand things so we can rationalize them. Why are dogs insecure and afraid when they have a loving home? I have never done anything to create an insecure environment. Furthermore, why would he bite me? I do nothing but love him. Many times I think he is not right in the head. He is a purebread and I wonder if he was an overbreed?


August 24th, 2005, 10:25 AM
I would suggest you crate train him and get him attending group training classes with you. Choose a school that uses positive methods. Aversive is not going to help with his trust issues. Classes will help with all issues. I wouldn't try to do this all on your own. He needs to be handled by all kinds of people all of the time. He needs to learn basic skills and he needs to learn where his place is in the home. Corrections need to be at the time of, correcting later does nothing. He needs to socialize with everything possible. Does he get carried when he is out with you.

Socializing is not with what they know but with what they don't know.

August 24th, 2005, 03:28 PM
All dogs require good leadership just like all kids need good parents to be raised with a healthy balanced personality. Without good leadership some dogs become too confident (because they have to be their own leader) and become pushy, assertive and possibly aggressive. Other dogs without good leadership become insecure and frightened because they have no one looking out for them and they are too meek to look out for themselves and they can become aggressive out of self defense. Either way it spells a dog whose temperament is out of balance. Dogs need structure and boundaries to feel safe in the world and to have confidence - this comes from the leader.
Your daughter does need boundaries just like your dog does. Especially as she is hitting the scarey teenage years she will feel safer in the world knowing you have set good boundaries for her and that you have her best interests at heart. Having her best interests at heart does not mean letting her go to every party or buy every trinket she wants. Its about saying 'no' sometimes just because she needs to hear it. It's about teaching her to say 'no' to other kids. It's about teaching her the value of waiting for what she wants and even earning it herself. Same thing goes for your dogs. You can be a better mother to them all by having better boundaries and sticking to them. They will not only love you for it, but trust you and respect you aswell.