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We have a six month old Havanese puppy from a breeder. We got her at four months and have been training her. She is good around the house, not fearful, but barks a lot around new people, snaps at them, and has bit people twice not in a playful puppy way. We hired a trainer and behaviorist and met with two vets who all say fear aggression. We are very worried and considering returning the dog to the breeder. Is this common with the breed? Any other suggestions?
 

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We have a six month old Havanese puppy from a breeder. We got her at four months and have been training her. She is good around the house, not fearful, but barks a lot around new people, snaps at them, and has bit people twice not in a playful puppy way. We hired a trainer and behaviorist and met with two vets who all say fear aggression. We are very worried and considering returning the dog to the breeder. Is this common with the breed? Any other suggestions?
It is not “common” with the breed, but it is, unfortunately, not unknown either. It should NOT be proper character for the breed, but there are breeders who are, unfortunately not taking enough care in their breeding, breeding only for the quick buck rather than producing healthy well constructed Havanese, sound in mind AND body. Have you talked to the breeder directly about the problems you are having? Four months is late for them to have been placing the puppy, and it makes me wonder why.

A TRUE biting dog, (as opposed to a playfully, nippy puppy) is a real liability. I would would be talking to the breeder about the possibility of returning her before you end up with a law suit.
 

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We have a six month old Havanese puppy from a breeder. We got her at four months and have been training her. She is good around the house, not fearful, but barks a lot around new people, snaps at them, and has bit people twice not in a playful puppy way. We hired a trainer and behaviorist and met with two vets who all say fear aggression. We are very worried and considering returning the dog to the breeder. Is this common with the breed? Any other suggestions?
You said you "hired" a behaviourist - are you still working with them, what steps are they suggesting? Fear aggression can take time and patience to deal with. I'd say step one though - knowing it's an issue -is to make sure that the puppy is never in a situation where they can be afraid and snap at someone. until you get it sorted out and not put them in a position where they are interacting with people who they are afraid of, except in controlled ways under the direction of a good behaviorist. If there are people visiting you at home, I would recommend putting the puppy in an expen away from people or their crate - a safe place. If they can be in their crate calmly, you can have them in the same room with you so they can observe what's going on, as long as your guests will listen and obey instructions to ignore the dog and not talk to it, try to pet it, etc.

I wouldn't say this is normal or common for a well-bred/ well raised puppy, but for those of us who have rescues or for puppies who are from pet stores/ puppy mills, it is definitely a possibility. Perry has a lot of fear and that has, in the past, turned into fear aggression (I found out a long time after that he bit my husband within the first couple of months after we got him - completely fear based.) The key is figuring out, with a behaviorists, what the triggers are and working through them - and understanding that you may never fully get past them - so a lot of it is also managing your own expectations.

For example, I know I will never have a dog who will run around and run up to people for pets and cuddles - he will tolerate them around, but he's never going to love everyone like so many Havanese do, and that's ok. I leave it up to him whether he wants to approach someone and decide if he wants to let them pet him or not.
 

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We have a six month old Havanese puppy from a breeder. We got her at four months and have been training her. She is good around the house, not fearful, but barks a lot around new people, snaps at them, and has bit people twice not in a playful puppy way. We hired a trainer and behaviorist and met with two vets who all say fear aggression. We are very worried and considering returning the dog to the breeder. Is this common with the breed? Any other suggestions?
I would be sure to check for medical conditions. Pain can trigger fear and biting. Someone I know recently saw some aggression in her dog and it turned out both ears are infected. Even something simple like mats can cause pain. I was also curious about the circumstances of the bite. For example, was anyone rough housing with the dog or handling her in a way that could make her uncomfortable.
 

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We have a six month old Havanese puppy from a breeder. We got her at four months and have been training her. She is good around the house, not fearful, but barks a lot around new people, snaps at them, and has bit people twice not in a playful puppy way. We hired a trainer and behaviorist and met with two vets who all say fear aggression. We are very worried and considering returning the dog to the breeder. Is this common with the breed? Any other suggestions?
Yup I have one of those puppies. Charlotte is 2.5 ish now. We too worked with a trainer and shortly with a behavioralist. Charlotte has not bit anyone yet but I wouldn’t put it past her either. I will say that it is a lot of work to manage her. We now have her on prozac to help her. It takes the edge off but still I try to do what the behavioralist has taught me. we put her in a crate when people come to the house. Thank god that we were able to crate train her. We try to walk her and avoid people and dogs when we walk our neighborhood. She will only walk with two people and has only two routes she will go on. She is work in progress. We love her but she will never ever be an easy dog.

does she smack her lips a lot ? Charlotte also has OCD.
 

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I think a lot of this depends on where you are in your life and what you’re looking for, honestly. As Melissa said, these kinds of problems come up with rescues and it sounds like your puppy came to you later and you had some intervention so you may have anticipated problems. If you’re looking for permission to give up the puppy, you won’t be judged for returning her. But if you have a connection to this puppy and want to keep her, I personally don’t believe that every dog with fear based aggression can’t be part of a family and are dangerous under all circumstances, or that it’s irresponsible to keep them, if their needs can be met. It does means accepting that if she’s fearful around strangers, no matter how much you work with a behaviorist, she may never be comfortable around strangers and may always need to be crated or have a carefully controlled introduction to new people. As an example, if you have children with friends in and out of the house, that presents a bigger challenge than a quiet house without children or with teens. If you were hoping for a dog to go with you everywhere in public, this puppy isn’t going to be that, but even well adjusted dogs aren’t all suited to loud places with strangers. Only you can decide if your life fits with this puppy’s needs, but whatever you decide, hopefully the forum can provide support. There isn’t much description of the circumstances, my opinion is based on incidents with strangers.

I don’t believe it’s common in Havanese from good breeders, but everything happens once in a while. It seems like good breeders with a more sensitive puppy or a puppy that’s returned and needs to be placed are careful about who they give that puppy to. It’s way more common that we hear these stories from people after they find out in retrospect they went to a shady breeder. There are a few Havanese on the forum that are more fearful or anxious (mine is more hesitant and startles easily but has never been aggressive and is social) but I think that’s because we come here for help, not because it represents a common trait in the breed.
 

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When my puppy was about 4 mos., she bit the groomer pretty badly. She was not accustomed to having her face touched. The groomer told me to routinely touch her face so she becomes used to it. I have done that ever since. She has never bit anyone since and she has the best personality and temperament. Just takes some work.
Best of luck!
 

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I came to this forum because I adopted a 12 year old Havanese who was "owner surrendered' to a rescue group. She is the most loving, cuddly adorable dog with me and my spouse, but is a difficult dog with strangers (has bitten one in the last 6 months that I've had her) and has lunged toward others and has scared them. She absolutely cannot tolerate other dogs (she goes nuts: barks, screams, jumps straight in the air, pulls, heart beats fas and loud, can barely breathe, etc.) It takes about5 minutes of holding her after seeing another dog for her to calm down. I actually started another thread in this forum (New Dog/Old Dog) if you want to read the ongoing tale. We have now tried 3 trainers, we work with her daily, and between this fear aggression and the separation anxiety, we are considering behavioral euthanasia. I'm sad for her and for us, I'm angry at whoever didn't socialize this fabulous dog, and I'm stunned at my own inability to solve this problem. I don't think I'll ever have another dog again, just in case it turns out to be like this. So, to address your question: go back to the breeder, and find out if s/he is reputable, responsible and will do the right thing by you. But don't let this go too far down the track you are on such that it handcuffs you to a dog you can't manage. If I sound too "dark" I'm really sorry, but I'm really in a funk about my fear aggressive/separation anxiety dog.
 
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