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.