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We got our toy boy when he was 6 months and he has come a long way. He’s always had issues when strangers approach him aggressively or when he is startled. We usually tell him it’s okay and have the person give him a training treat.

He now weighs 7 pounds. 3 times he has come after me snarling and bitten me. The first time was about a month ago. He was asleep on the couch, and I walked over and picked him up. I didn’t take it seriously because I figured I woke him from a sound sleep and startled/scared him. He bit me on the cheek. The second time was about 2 weeks later, he was awake and I reached over to pet him and he went ballistic, and bit my hand. Another 2 weeks has gone by and tonight he went ballistic and bit me on the hand. Tonight we went out and came home. He came out of his crate nd was happy to see us. About 5 minutes later I went to put on his harness and that’s when it happened. 3 incidents in 6 weeks.

I’m wondering what to do? I’m wondering if it’s some kind of neurological thing or????, I just don’t know what to do.

Any suggestions appreciated.
 

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I don't recall anything about what your dog's life was like before you got him if you have any knowledge of that. But I don't think that actually matters all that much. I also don't think there is sufficient information here to make any conclusion about whether there is a neurological problem or not.


All that being said if he has broken skin on any of these occasions this is a very serious issue. Dogs that break skin are not likely to learn how to be restrained in a situation where they feel provoked to bite. I refer you to Ian Dunbar's bite scale for an important assessment tool. http://apdt.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/ian-dunbar-dog-bite-scale.pdf


I would get an appointment with a veterinary behaviorist ASAP. I would not allow him to have direct contact with strangers until you have a better understanding of what is happening. Do not allow this dog to be around children at all in the mean time.
 

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Great advice from Catherine.

You need to also consider if this is fear biting, in which case it’s a whole different approach. My own toy bit me twice but it was always my fault, he bit out of fear. A dog who has fear doesn’t think and is just acting out of a fear reflex.

The biting might also be triggered by pain or inconfort, or even fear of pain. My belated chihuahua would snap at us if we touched a specific area on her neck. The vet couldn’t find anything. We just avoided touching her on that spot and never gave her the chance to bite.

I hope you find what is wrong. Dogs always bite for a reason. Finding it is not always easy but I’m sure you will succeed.

Also, if you’ve had this dog from 6 months on, think about what has happened that made him bite recently. If he was okay before, something must have happened. Or, he might have been giving warnings before, which you ignored, and now he has come to biting. This is something you need to consider also.
 

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Before anything, he needs to have a complete physical exam to rule out any physical problems he may be having and are cause him pain. It is not unusual for small dogs to have back and neck problems that are really painful, and since dogs are pretty stoic about pain, it's only when it gets severe that they lash out.
 

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A physical exam is in order, but I have to say Molly that I disagree about dogs being stoic about pain. Most dogs I know are pretty much wear it on you sleeve drama queens.
 
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Make an appointment with your vet to make sure it's not a physical problem. In the meantime, avoid petting your dog when he is sleeping or eating. Interrupting sleep and eating can lead to aggression in dogs, and people, too. If you were wearing a pizza and I took it out of your hands, you'd yell, "Hey!" and rightly so. You'd feel aggressive if I yanked your pillow from under your head and woke you up. Some dogs are more tolerant than others, but in general let your dog sleep and eat without interruption. If you need your dog to wake up and do something else, a squeaky toy gets their attention in a positive way.

Make sure you aren't accidentally acting threatening toward your dog. Crouching down, gazing lovingly into his eyes, cooing baby talk, picking him up, and hugging, all of these things we humans love to do with little dogs can be interpreted by your dog as a threat. Predators crouch, make deep unbreakable eye contact, they call to one another, and then they grab and kill. Your dog might be afraid and defensive because he's misinterpreting your actions and you're not speaking the same language.

Dogs speak dog. It's a language of gestures. https://www.kindredcompanions.com/for-the-love-of-dog/2015/6/7/dog-fail The more we study their language, the more we can understand how they are feeling, and help us communicate better with them.

Another thing to consider is small dog syndrome. https://www.smalldogplace.com/small-dog-syndrome.html See if any of this rings true. If you think your dog is developing small dog syndrome, the good news is it is reversible. Find a positive reinforcement trainer in your area. Tell them your dog is showing signs of small dog syndrome, and the trainer will come up with a training plan for your dog and for you.

If none of this rings true, and you know your dog better than I do, please contact your vet for the name of an animal behaviorist. If your dog has drawn blood, skip the trainer and go directly to a behaviorist. Catherine posted this link. I'm posting it again because it's important. http://apdt.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/ian-dunbar-dog-bite-scale.pdf
 
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