We have a snarling/nipping problem with our 7 year old mini-poodle Harley who is a little larger than the breed at 22 lbs and 18.5 inches. His temperament is affectionate and playful with a touch of willful attitude. He is very smart and understands several commands and phrases. And he easily communicates his needs for walk/ water/ food. Until he was 5 the only complaint we had was his excessive barking.
My husband does the night walk at 8 but then they both fall asleep in the den while watching tv. Harley snuggles into the corner of the sectional and rolls into a ball on the rug. After two or three hours my husband tries to wake him and move him to his bed in the kitchen- which is blocked from the house by a gate. Harley bares his teeth, snarls and nips if he gets too close. Last night his canine went in deep enough to draw some blood. My husband reacts by yelling at the growling dog. I've tried to explain about sleeping dogs to him and have made suggestions like walking him and then bringing to his bed with a treat. But if walked at the usual time Harley will keep barking because he likes this time with my husband and is accustomed to the routine they have. So I suggested letting him tv a while, walking him at 9, and sending to his place then- keeping some special time. I don't have this problem with Harley on the times I have to do the night walk. I call his name and give him time to be alert. Then he comes to me. But it is earlier since I'm recuperating from a broken ankle and like to be off my feet by 8 pm. And my husband is not home so the routine doesn't come into play.
Not to make excuses for his aggressiveness, but I'm trying to think what has changed in the last year and a half since this began. I was the one in charge before breaking my ankle. So that changed abruptly. I've had three surgeries in the last 20 months. So my husband and son have taken over his care for lengths of time. Could this be acting out against the change? Also Harley is very active for a 7 year old and still loves to fetch and runs just as fast as he did when younger. I'm wondering if he needs an earlier bedtime now that he's older. All my previous dogs just took more daytime naps.
Until last week this was his only aggressive situation. We took him to a farmer's market where he greeted people and dogs for over an hour. He was well behaved the whole time, until a large male dog started to sniff him. He started to jump and snarl. The other dog was doing the same. They did not engage. I was able to calm him quickly. He responded to verbal command to Look at Mommy. And then You're ok. He gets along with other dogs at dog parks and during social time at the daycare while we're on vacation.
Add to this that he is my emotional support animal since my injury and I need to be sure he is well behaved for travel.
My husband is willing to try to solve this problem but we don't know where to start.