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Ask Dr. Diane: My Dog Charges at My Family

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Dear Dr. Diane,

I have a 10 year-old Malte-poo and a 1.5 year-old yorkie-poo. Every once in a while out of the blue the Malte-poo will charge at the other dog snarling and barking and since she is a little bigger than the yorkie-poo she kind of tramples on her and it scares her so that she will cry out. She doesn’t bite her or nip her she just scares her. She also does this to my brother and nephew if they get out of their chair or come out of their room (they live with me) or my brother calls me or my nephew from the kitchen. She did this to my ex sister in law and other nephew when they were staying with me before the divorce and before we got the yorkie-poo and then it was only my nephew after that but when we got the yorkie-poo she started doing it to my brother, too. How can I correct this behavior and why is she doing it? Thanks

My suggestion would be for you to consult a local animal behaviorist who can witness, assess and diagnose your dog’s behavior. It is obvious that your Mali-poo has some emotional issues which need identifying and correcting. She is displaying her aggressive, intimidating behavior to not one, but to quite a few, people. She is perhaps also “acting out” as a child might, to the divorce and to the arrival of the yorkie-poo and the coming and going of your various family members who have “lived” in your home.

It appears that she is, perhaps, insecure and that her behavior may be territorial and possessive – as though she is attempting to secure her position and place in your household which has undergone many changes. I would keep her separated from those that she dislikes or distrusts as much as possible and discourage her “unwelcome” behaviors as much as possible by correcting her with a verbal “No” when she displays them and even giving her a” time out” when she manifests this kind of behavior. Whenever she is well behaved and friendly I would verbally reward her with a “Good girl” and praise.


Dr. Pomerance is an animal behavior specialist and an expert on topics such as deciding which puppy is best for your family, how to pick out a rescue, and on healing from the loss of a pet.

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Paris Permenter
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