Question regarding aggression - Havanese Forum : Havanese Forums
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-06-2009, 07:32 AM Thread Starter
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Question regarding aggression

Our family adopted a 18 month old rescue Havanese about 6 weeks ago. Overall, it's been fantastic. He's got all of the wonderful Havanese traits everyone here talks about. From day 1, he became instantly attached to my wife, following her everywhere, obsessed with her, always needing to know where she is. Despite that, he is still very loving and affectionate to my 5 and 7 year old children and to me. He likes to be held and likes to play and has no issue with food aggression or anything similar. He's protective of the house and barks at visitors that enter, especially men.

The issue is one that has occurred three times - twice with me and once with my mother-in-law and it has occurred when we have tried to take him off the bed when he is lying in bed next to my wife. He has snarled quite viciously, snapping and barking, with a demeanor that is quite scary and much different than the protective barking he does when visitors come to the house. Other times, he has very willingly let me pick him up and take him off the bed, and he never has this aggression during the day on a couch or anything. All of these events have occurred late at night or early in the morning in a partially darkened setting. He did not bite, but I'm convinced that had I not backed away, he would have. Both times with me, I attempted to use stern "No's" but that only made him angrier. It wasn't until I physically backed out of the situation that he calmed down.

Not sure what to do about this. It is so opposite of his normal behavior. In fact, the next morning, he jumped up on me and started licking me like he was my best friend. Curious if anyone has any ideas. Not sure if I should alter my behavior and try not to put myself in that situation, or if I should deliberately recreate the scenario and use some sort of training technique to try to break that behavior.

Thanks in advance for any ideas.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-06-2009, 07:39 AM
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He has to lose his bed privileges right away.

I'd have him sleep in a crate next to the bed.

I suggest you use the Nothing In Life Is Free approach which you may find in training tips on the forum. You can also google it. It involves having him sit to earn everything: Sit before a treat, petting, food, going out the door, etc. And he should be doing this for the entire family including your mother-in-law and the children.

I'm sure others will have lots of good advice.

Good luck. He sounds like a wonderful dog despite this issue, which is fixable.

Chico, Cali, and Finnegan
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-06-2009, 07:48 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestion. We actually do have a crate next to the bed that he does sleep in. I think my wife likes to give him some visiting time up in the bed before we turn out the lights for the night. That's probably a great idea though - forbid him from the bed entirely. That will eliminate that sense of entitlement. I think he looks at my wife like his mother, and taking him off that bed is like separating him from his mother. Of course, as a rescue dog, we don't know what went on in his previous home(s). Thanks again.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-06-2009, 07:50 AM
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I don't have any solutions but I'm sure other's will. That's what's so great about the forum. I just wanted to say Welcome to the forum . We love to see pictures.

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-06-2009, 07:52 AM
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I think Nan gave you good advice. I know Ann had this problem with Scooter and he is the sweetest little guy. Here is the thread where she talked about it and advice she received.

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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-06-2009, 09:56 AM
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We did have that problem, take him off the bed and don't let him back up there. If he can jump up then get on the bed and move towards him with your arms crossed and don't break eye contact until he gets down. Then give him praise for getting down. We've found with Scooter that he doesn't like to be startled awake. Whenever he's asleep we wake him gently.

Give that a try and see if it helps.

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-06-2009, 10:20 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the advice and welcome. This forum is great. I'll post a picture after we find the charger for our camera battery. LOL. All I have now is pre-adoption pics - he needed a good grooming.

Starting tonight - no more bed time for him.

It really is quite strange behavior and very out of character for him. He loves to be held. He lets the kids, me, everyone carry him around all the time. He will have the occasional growl (or noise) when he wants to be picked up, and every once in a while if the kids are engaging in horseplay and he perceives them as fighting. All of those things are very easily managed by a stern "No". His ears drop, and he adopts a passive position. He doesn't seem to have any dominance issues.

But this reaction that I described that has occurred a couple times when picking him up off the bed when he is lying next to my wife is a whole different story. He transforms into something viscious. I think someone else referred to it as Cujo. There is no putting him on his side or back (at least not by me) during one of these, though I did ask my wife to do it. I'm convinced that this more has to do with his obsession with my wife. I'm sure this would not occur if she were not lying in the bed next to him.

I feel like a dog psychiatrist but although the obsession with my wife is usually funny, I think it leads to this behavior. And this is not something that our environment created. He was like this from day 1 of our adoption. I mean he needs to know where she is at all times. If she leaves the house, he stares at the front door until she comes home. If he isn't sure where she is, he runs around the house frantically looking for her until he finds her. I don't think we foster this either, because we all show at least as much attention and affection towards him as my wife. We share the feeding, grooming, etc.

It's troubling because it is like a Jekyll and Hyde situation. You can't even believe he is capable of it.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-06-2009, 10:28 AM
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We had a problem with MacGyver when he was younger. It was when he was sleeping in someone's lap. We discovered it happened only when we woke him suddenly, so we're more careful about that. Now we wake him and tell him to get down. He "grumbles" rather than growls and jumps down right away. He just doesn't seem to wake up well.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-06-2009, 10:30 AM
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As you said, you don't know what happened to him before you got him. He probably sees your wife as his safety and his protector and he's frightened when he can't see her. A lot of this should pass as he feels more secure in his new surroundings and knows this is his forever home. I do agree though that he has to "get" that growling menacingly is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Otherwise he sounds like a real sweetie. I'm looking forward to seeing photos. Welcome to the group!

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-06-2009, 10:46 AM
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We call Scooter "Cujo" when he does it. He would even do it to me when he fell asleep on the bed so at that point we knew he just couldn't be up there for a while. Every now and then we'll put him up for a minute but then we call him to the side of the bed so he's standing when picked up. He still does it to the kids occasionally but only when they startle him so I believe it's their fault. I say, "How would you feel if someone 10x your size jumped at you and tried to pick you up?"

There are many people on here who have rescued dogs from bad situations and trained them with love and patience!!! All of you who do that are angels! I'd ask for their opinions because they can offer lots more advice than I can.

We love photos and we'll bug you relentlessly until you post some!!!

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