Q: Usually at night, my 8-month-young mini pinscher sleeps in my brother’s bed and if someone passes by the room she jumps off the bed and barks; if you enter the room, situation is getting worse and if you try to calm her she can even bite you! This is happening every time she sleeps next to someone, no matter who, no matter when, and attacks everyone who is “disturbing” her!
Dr. Nichol: Pint-sized masters of the universe are not rare. Your miniature pinscher has gotten possessive-aggressive about her people but there is also a territorial element in her behavior. When camped out next to a sleeping human, she takes ownership of the bed. This is a serious problem; even small dogs can inflict significant injuries. No household should be ruled by a dog.
You may be tempted to reprimand or punish your min pin, but that would only validate her hostility; dogs see any response from their leader (ah, that’s you) as a reinforcement for their behavior and emotional state of the moment. Taking charge will require canine-specific leadership. Your dog’s aggression must be completely ignored. But that doesn’t mean you’ll roll over and play dead for this hellion.
Dogs who park themselves in the wrong places should be moved while being treated as though they don’t exist. If your tiny tyrant always drags a 6-foot leash from her collar, you can totally ignore her as you pick up the leash and walk away. You can repeat this hundreds of times or you can booby trap those places with a Scat Mat.
Your beds are a different matter. From the canine perspective, the leader’s den (bed) is a privileged location. Some dogs respect their exalted ruler’s inner sanctum but your confused min pin has become its self-appointed dictator.
Remember the old saw, “Let sleeping dogs lie”? Give your girl a comfy bed of her own and allow her to take full title to it. If she insists on jumping onto a human bed, she can be tethered close to her own. This simple structure will provide her the consistency she needs to feel secure. Then all will be right with her world and yours, too.
Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). He cares for the medical needs of pets at the Petroglyph Animal Hospital in Albuquerque (898-8874). Question? Post it on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109. Unpublished questions may not be answered individually.