Aggression issues can be a serious problem when it comes to dogs. Even the little ones.
Perezcious reader, Courtney, writes in, asking Dr. Patrick Mahaney:
I have a 10 month old pug, Francis, who has some aggression issues. Because he has run away three times I have had to get a 20 foot leash to tie him up in the backyard when he goes out to the bathroom or to play. When I want him to come inside he gets extremely hyper and he runs away from me and usually starts running in circles, and then he attacks me. He jumps up at me and bites me. He will bite my hands but most often he bites my pant leg. He bites so hard he has bruised me and broken the skin and made me bleed. I’ve tried ignoring him and I’ve tried scolding him but nothing seems to work. He also sometimes attacks me when he is on a walk, it seems to be a dominance issue when he’s on a leash. What can I do to fix this? He is generally a well behaved dog and doesn’t show any other aggression issues. Any suggestions would be helpful because what i’m doing just isn’t working.
Dr. Patrick responded:
I am sorry to hear of the hardships you have experienced with your dog. Pugs are one of my favorite breeds as they are typically so jovial and pleasant.
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to your questions.
As Francis is still in a state of emotional maturation, it is best that you work to the best of your ability to resolve this problem before it worsens. If he were to bite another person or pet, you could potentially be liable from a legal perspective.
First of all, is Francis neutered? I recommend any male or female dog that has behavioral issues have their reproductive parts removed via neuter or spay (respectively).
Schedule an examination with your veterinarian to explore if there is an underlying reason why Francis is exhibiting such behavior, such as chronic pain. Even though he is a young dog, he could have a physical problem, such as an imperfectly formed part of his musculoskeletal system (luxating patella, hip dysplasia, intervertebral disc disease, hemivertebra, arthritis, etc), which creates pain.
Additionally, ask your veterinarian for a referral to a board certified veterinary specialist. These veterinarians have advanced training in pet behavior issues and are the best resources to resolve complicated issues such as with Francis. Here is the link to find a board certified veterinary behaviorist in your area: http://www.dacvb.org/resources/find/
Patrick Mahaney VMD CVA
We wish Courtney the best of luck getting Francis under control.