Help! Dog Aggression Problems

Hi, everyone.

We have a 3.5 year old Mexican Hairless (named Kelsi) who gave birth to four puppies 6 weeks ago. In the past two weeks, she has started having some aggression problems. When we first got her 2.5 months ago, she did not have any aggression problems. I could take treats from her mouth without any resistance. My wife and I live with her parents, and she seemed to be scared of my father-in-law, but didn’t show any aggression toward him. As her pregnancy progressed, she started growling and barking at my father-in-law and any strangers that would come into our “family room”, where she and my wife spend 95% of our time. My wife is sick and stays home all day every day with Kelsi. After having puppies (the puppies stay in our family room all the time in a wire enclosure), the growling and barking is getting steadily worse. She won’t growl at anyone if she is downstairs, away from the room with the puppies. If a stranger comes in our room, she will growl and bark as they approach the room, and stop usually 30-90 seconds after they come in. Then, she’ll generally start wagging her tail and seem normal (except with my father-in-law).

Last weekend, my sister-in-law and her husband were visiting, and while she usually would be fine with them, she did not seem to want the husband in our room. She kept growling at him, and when he went to hug my wife, Kelsi “bit” him. It didn’t hurt or break the skin or leave any mark. He said it didn’t seem like she was trying to injure him, just let him know that she meant business.

Yesterday, she started growling at my mother-in-law (whom Kelsi normally adores). She has also started growling at me if I put my hand near her when she has a rawhide bone. This morning, my mother-in-law went in to feed the puppies and noticed that Kelsi was only half under her blanket, so she went to cover her up and Kelsi snapped at her. Again, it didn’t seem to have the intent to harm.

I should mention that we do not tolerate any of this behavior and we tell her NO sternly and loudly. We have also tried “nipping” at her neck with our fingers at the same time. I’m very upset about this decline in her behavior. At first, I thought it was normal for her to act a little weird about strangers in the room because of the puppies, but this recent aggression toward my mother-in-law and towards me when she has a treat is very unacceptable.

Does anyone have any recommendations, or should I really be consulting a professional at this point? I’d rather not have to spend hundreds on a dog behavior specialist, but it’s not acceptable to me to have a dog with aggression issues.



When asking for informed opinions or shared experiences, it’s better to start the thread in IMHO.

Moved. samclem GQ Moderator

If aggression is unacceptable, euthanasia is the only approach that will 100% stop the behavior. The changes you are seeing are common in post partum bitches. It is one reason why I tell clients that pets should either be pets, or used for breeding. Trying to play both ends often does not work.

There are drugs that can have a positive effect in situations like these. I would discuss pharmacological treatment with your veterinarian, with the understanding that treatment can be difficult and unpredictable.

Thanks for responding, vetbridge. You may or may not recall that when we rescued her we didn’t know she was pregnant.

What’s bothering me so much is that she had no aggression issues until about a week before the puppies were born. She’s had 2 litters before this one, so is it possible the aggression will fade with time? We’re having her spayed ASAP (our vet advised that we wait until the puppies were at least 8 weeks old to spay her. Is it possible that her aggression will fade after being spayed?

Thanks for your help!


Yep, very likely. In fact, it is probable that her behavior will be more normal once she is done lactating.

That’s good. Well, the puppies have been eating puppy food for about 2 weeks, and haven’t had milk in about a week and a half. Kelsi’s breasts are almost completely empty now, except for the two farthest to the back. The puppies will still try to nurse every once and a while but we don’t let them.


vetbridge – In your opinion, when is the soonest we should have her spayed?


Yesterday. They’ve been weaned for 2 weeks, if it were my dog I’d have removed her sutures already. :slight_smile:

I don’t know if I am representative of the profession or not, but at the end of each day I pretty much forget about the cases I’ve seen/dealt with. I have detailed medical records, so it works out fine, but I run into people out and about who say, “remember Muffin?”. I never do.

I always tell people it is kinda like expecting the burger cook at McDonalds if he remembers making their burger last Tuesday. :slight_smile:

Heh, don’t worry about it. That sounds pretty normal to me.