Archived Message

aggressive behavior

by Karen

About five months ago we adopted a seven year old unnutered male maltese who had been living in an assisted living facility with his elderly owner. He seems to have had few experiences and has thrived on car trips, walks and visits to extended family and friends. He has been wonderful with me but is very aggressive to my husband - barking whenever he enters the room and cruising for a fight. In turn my husband is good to him, feeds him regularly and play with and pets him, Nothing seems to stop Dudley's aggression. Should we get him nutered at this late date? Does anyone have any other suggestions?


Karen, I am wondering if in Dudley's past there was a male human being who hurt him in some way. Maybe someone who was an employee of the assisted living facility? I've noticed with Lucy that she tends to put a little distance between herself and some of the neighborhood children and when she was just a little thing, one of them dropped her. I think she remembers, so is careful. Something similar may be going on with Dudley. Another thought--was his former owner a woman? Maybe he feels protective of you because he had to be protective of her? At any rate, I would imagine that with lots of love and persistance on your husband's part Dudley will "get" that he's an okay part of life and give up the growling.
-cathy brown

Sounds like the previous owner 'had a grudge against the opposite sex'! Does Dudley behave this way towards all men or only your husband? First of all, I would not accept Dudley's suspicious nature, he can be corrected from this. In some cases when dogs have been cruelly treated by men or women, the resulting agression is purely and simply a natural fear. The only thing to do is train the dog firmly enough to make fear a thing of the past. Sympathy could only make things worse. Some things to try:

  1. When ever you see your husband, greet him joyously in front of Dudley, and praise Dudley [both of them should enjoy that one! Dudley should naturally pick up your feeling, just as he would pick up your feeling if you hated all men! Dogs mirror their owner's inner thoughts, more than their looks some people say],
  2. Have a friend or relative of the 'hated sex' come over. If 'he' is truly a real dog lover, get him to caress the dog and handle it as much as possible. Once the dog has got confidence in a member of the 'hated sex' you are halfway near curing it. The rest must come by constant mixing with people in crowed places where Dudley hasn't time to distinguish men from women.,
  3. You mentioned that your husband feeds Dudley, good. Another thing you could try is have your husband carry treats with him. Break them up in little pieces so Dudley doesn't get many full treats all day. Have your husband offer a treat to Dudley and praise him when he comes.
This works well for anyone that comes to your house where Dudley would feel anxious. Dogs would rarely hate the hand that feeds them. Best Wishes.

I have a similar problem with my 1-1/2 yr old, "Toots". She is a wonderful companion, totally devoted to the family, but does not like people outside the family. When someone comes to the house she barks and barks, and since we recently moved, has even snapped at people. She's always been this way - I'm convinced she's the product of bad breeding - my daughter bought her for me from a newspaper ad in another state. I adore this dog, and will never be without another Maltese, but it breaks my heart that others don't see the loving companion I do!

Copyright 1996, 1997© Maltese Only All rights reserved