You have done your best to raise your Pomeranian into a friendly and calm dog. Sadly it has begun attacking. What will be your next steps?
Your first step is always to determine the cause of the attack(s). Next, you will have to put a managing strategy in place and follow a training plan preferably designed by a professional.
This article will provide you with information on causes of aggression, possible strategies for managing and training, and professionals that will be able to provide help.
As with any behavioral problem, it is important to understand what is happening and why this is happening before you can solve it. There are generally a few options when it comes to an attacking dog, with a fear response being the lead cause for many attacks. Health issues in your dog can certainly cause an inappropriate response as well, and with some dogs it is simply learned behavior. For some dogs a high prey drive can be a root cause, but with Pomeranians this option is highly unlikely. Lastly, it could be overstimulation.
Has your adult or senior Pomeranian suddenly attacked without any history of reactivity or aggression, then health problems are the first thing that comes to mind. In this case, a vet visit should be your first step, but it can never hurt to let any dog get checked for health issues first.
Once you’ve had your Pomeranian cleared by a vet it’s a good option to call in the help of a professional. Especially when the attack hasn’t been an isolated event. While mild behavior could be corrected without help, it’s important to be right about the cause, as this determines the strategy that works best. It’s also important to learn the techniques you’re going to be using from an experienced person, as timing can make the difference between rewarding bad behavior and solving it. In most cases, these professionals can also provide you with a realistic view of how much progress you could be able to achieve with your Pomeranian.
When dealing with learned behavior calling in the help of a positive reinforcement trainer can be a massive help. They will often be able to tell you what the dog is achieving by their behavior, how you are unknowingly reinforcing it, and what steps to take to solve it.
With fear and overstimulation, it’s important to reach out to a professional that is well versed in dog behavior and psychology. This is because you are dealing with an emotion, which is often a lot harder to solve and calls for more knowledge than a regular trainer has. These professionals are often called (veterinary) behaviorists.
When changing the behavior of your Pomeranian it is important to make sure you keep attacks to a minimum. To do this, you will have to find out what triggers your dog to attack you. Were you touching it in a specific spot? Were you doing a particular action to the dog or away from the dog? Did you never wear a hat before?
Once you have pinpointed the trigger(s) you take a look at the need to do any of this while training or if there are ways to keep your dog from being present while doing it. If your dog for example gets triggered by you doing something in the kitchen you keep your dog from entering the kitchen while you’re doing so. A way to do that can be as simple as installing a baby gate.
Once you start working with your dog on the behavior you make sure to keep the environment controlled as much as possible. If your dog attacks you when he hears a particular sound, you make sure that the only one having control over the sound at that moment is the one training. For learned behavior, you will often find yourself teaching your dog alternative behavior in presence of the trigger, preferably with positive reinforcement training.
With emotional issues, you will be working to change that emotion. An often chosen approach is counter-conditioning where you link a certain emotional response to an unrelated trigger to the trigger causing the problem.
It can be very problematic when your dog attacks you. However, this behavior has a reason and in many cases can be effectively managed and/or solved.
A vet visit and calling in the help of a professional are advised, as taking the wrong steps can make the behavior worse.
With or without professional help you will have to determine the cause of your Pomeranians attacks. Management and training techniques like positive reinforcement and counter-conditioning will then be needed to change the problem behavior.
Hi! My name is Joan. I’m 25 years old, and I live in The Netherlands. I work in healthcare and study applied psychology. Besides this, I am helping my dog Chester recover from a bad start in life.