Aggressive Chow

A friend of mine has a chow that is becoming aggressive with her.  Such as he barks at her when she gets out of the shower, etc.  She just moved 2 weeks ago and his environment has changed.  She said her concern is the fact that chows tend to have an aggressive nature anyhow.  She was wondering what she should do.  Thought I would let you take a stab at it.

Any time you are talking about aggression, there are many factors to consider.  There is not nearly enough information to assess this situation.  However, the first thing I’d look at is the barking – barking is not usually an aggressive act and if that is the only thing he’s doing to worry her, it’s probably not as serious as she thinks.  There are four reasons for a dog to bark:  alert barking (something is going on that is unusual), demand barking (I want this, and I want it now!), boredom barking, and spooky barking (something is not right and it’s scary!).  This could be any of the four, but most likely it’s either spooky or demand barking.

Since your friend just moved, it’s very likely that the dog is under stress and it may take a little while before he feels comfortable in this new environment.  I would recommend paying attention to the situations where the dog is acting differently and see if your friend can figure out what is triggering the dog.  Then expose the dog to the situation gradually, using food and praise.

Chows do have a bad reputation (not totally deserved), but if she’s lived with this dog for any length of time and his behavior has just changed since the move, it’s more likely that this is a stress reaction.  If, after one or two weeks, your friend is unable to figure out what is going on and the behavior continues or gets worse, I would recommend going to www.ccpdt. org (Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers) or www.apdt.com (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) and finding a trainer on their trainer search.  Don’t let it continue to get worse – it will only be harder to fix.

Raising Canine has a school for dog trainers which focuses on operant training for dogs, dog behavior, working with clients and addressing client compliance, and the science behind behavior modification.