Aggressive rescue shih tzu please help

Posted by Chrissyg
Aug 30, 2011

I adopted a shih from a rescue about 8 months ago. I fell in love with him when I saw him playing with a tennis ball happily at the shelter. No one informed me that he was aggressive and a biter until after I had already adopted him and he bit me the first day I had him! The rescue stated they hadn't seen this behavior because they simply had let him run in the shelter and he was basically just left to be part of the group.

He growls when you tell him no,Or try to discipline, He Then begins to escalate and bite incessantly until I Try to put him on his side and show him who's in charge. It's a fight. I try to remain calm. It has gotten worse since we left from out of town for about ten days then another week last month.

I do allow him to sleep on the bed and sit on furniture which I know has to stop. My husband thinks it's time to return him. Just this morning when my husband got back into bed at 3 am he started growling and biting and it took an hour for him to calm down. He then went and peed in the hallway. We have struggled with this for months. My husband wants to return him. I cannot bear thought of giving up on him. My other two non aggressive dogs run and hide when he acts out.

I am at my wits end. I do not want to give him up but this unstable behavior is unacceptable. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Posted by Cgregoli
Aug 30, 2011
Hi Chrissyg:

That sounds like such a commotion and nasty situation for you!

Since I'm pretty new here, I'm not going to give you any suggestions, but the aggressive chihuahua/terrier mix I'm working with (was my boyfriend's, now I have him) was doing a lot of the same stuff, and just got worse when we tried to discipline him. Turned out he was fear aggressive rather than dominant aggressive, so disciplining him just terrified him further, which made him worse and the cycle continued. Very ugly. You might want to take a look at the thread that I started and have been replied to by Caroline and MaxHollyNoah - their suggestions and the Alpha Dog training in the books have worked wonders in a very short time (although we're far from done) - don't give up on your rescue baby yet!!

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Aug 30, 2011
Thank you Cynthia for referring Chrissyg to your thread. I was just about to do that myself


I am sorry that you had such a bad experience with the shelter. Our rescue organization would never hide any issues with our dogs/puppies and in fact all of our animals are living with their foster families (I am one of them too) so we know each animal's temperament and issues need to be worked on. There is no perfect dog but on the other hand most of the issues are results of wrong approach by people.

Anyway, what I would like to suggest is the same thing I suggested to Cynthia so please read the thread. The very first thing you want your Shih to realize is that your hands are always giving him good things only. They will never used to hurt him.

Also, dogs are very sensitive and they can tell that they are not loved by you. If your husband wants to get rid of your Shih, he can feel that he is unwanted at your home so please get your husband's cooperation or make him very low profile (no involvement if not in a positive way).

It might take a long time but I am sure he will learn how to accept your love

Good luck and keep us posted!
Posted by KOPCaroline
Sep 1, 2011
Hey Chrissy,

Thats frustrating! I'm sorry the kennel didnt have better information, it is, after all, their job to get to know the dogs and try to work with them, instead of leaving them to it on their own. But, I'm so happy to hear that you dont want to return him just yet, thanks for giving him a chance!

I do think the thread being spoken of will help heaps, it sounds like a very similar problem. I will agree with what you already said - your pup needs to stop being able to get on furniture - the couch, and the bed especially. Crate training him may help a lot, especially if his crate is not in your bedroom. The crate becomes his safe place, and the bedroom becomes less of his shared territory with you.

The time out method of calming a dog down and acting as discipline/training may help - we suggested it to Cynthia with her chihuahua. If you can get your dog into a small, quiet, dark room on his own after his outbursts, and don't let him out until he's totally calm, then he might realize nothing bad is actually happening, he just needs to calm down.

Work on your trust with him every day - try hand feeding, practice just sitting and speaking in calm tones, while stroking him and working to be able to put your hands all over him without it being a problem. Hand him toys and treats. Basically you're working to get him to realize that you don't hurt him, you give him positive things - and any negative "punishment" is just a time out and a stern "no" command.

Let us know what you think, hopefully the other thread and this one combined can work to get him to a happy, less anxious pup!