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11 year old Lhasa Apso suddenly aggressive?

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11 year old Lhasa Apso suddenly aggressive?
  • Prince my Lhasa has always been leery of strangers.  He warms up to new people fairly quickly, but he is very growly when they first meet him.  He's been like this since he was about 1 and a half.  We chalked it up to fear and treated it as such, letting him meet new company only after everyone is settled, dragging a leash, the whole deal. 
     
    In over the 10 years that our neighbors have lived near us, he's never had a problem with them.  He isn't fond of the kids, but loves the mom and tolerated the dad.  His recall outdoors was never an issue until recently.
     
    Within the last 4 or 5 months, he has suddenly become aggressive when it comes to my male neighbor.  He's still fine with the woman and two kids, but when "A" is outside, he ignores every command given to him and runs full tilt snarling toward the man.  "A" is the only person he does this with.
     
    As background, "A" has never done anything to him.  When Prince is outside, he is watched and never left alone where anyone could mess with him.  He has been to the vet and there are no medical issues that could be causing this sudden aggressiveness.
     
    At this point, we're resigned to taking him out on a leash when "A" is home and only letting him exercise in our yard when he is at work or at night when "A" is in the house.  We'd like to be able to resolve this issue, but if not, we will deal.
     
    My question is this: what could be causing this sudden aggression with just one person?  What can we do about it?  Should I be worried that this could turn into a problem with more than one person? 
     
     
  • "A" has never done anything to him.

     
    Sometimes, what you perceive as nothing isn't perceived the same way by dogs.  Let's assume, for example, that your neighbor came out one day and inadvertantly startled your dog (dogs don't tecognize people from far away sometimes - their vision is different from ours and their primary sense is smell, not sight).  So, he barked or growled.  The neighbor turns to look (stare?) to see what has gotten the dog excited, not realizing it's him.  Dogs see prolonged eye contact as a threat, so now the dog thinks the guy is asserting himself.  Dog growls or barks and lunges to keep that scary, and now threatening, thing to keep its distance. 
    Not saying that's what's causing this, but just to show that the dog may have a reason the humans have not discovered.  A behaviorist could give you some insight, and most likely provide a protocol to resolve this.  In the meantime, you are wise not to let the dog practice "making the scary human go away".
    Lhasa's were originally used as protectors, and it is not unusual for them to be a bit on the aggressive side when frightened or challenged.  Groomers have a joke - Shih-Tzu, short nose, sweet -
    Lhasa, long nose, lunge and snap.
  • ORIGINAL: spiritdogs
     
      Groomers have a joke - Shih-Tzu, short nose, sweet -
    Lhasa, long nose, lunge and snap.

     
    [:D] My groomer told me that one when we started going to her.  It's actually pretty true. 
     
    We have an appointment with a behaviorist in a couple of weeks.  Thanks for the insight.  At least I know we are doing something right for him in the mean time.
  • I'd also consider the possibility that it could be a vision or hearing or other health problem... I know 11 is not that old for a small breed, but it's probably worth keeping in mind.
  • ORIGINAL: jones

    I'd also consider the possibility that it could be a vision or hearing or other health problem... I know 11 is not that old for a small breed, but it's probably worth keeping in mind.

     
    Thanks.  He was just at the vet and he was thoroughly combed over.  It's possible something was missed.