Question by Linda: “fear” aggression or “anxiety” – what’s difference?
I adopted a 1.5 yr old sm long hair dog who is well-trained & loving EXCEPT when he’s being groomed. He clinches his teeth & tries to bite. Use to try & bite me but now tries to bite the comb or brush. He’s 100% better than when I got him 5 mos ago, but still a problem. 1st groomer wouldn’t take him; 2nd one said he bit her twice before she muzzled him; the 3rd groomer has done him 3 times & said he still “smiles” at her, so we need to keep his hair very short. It’s when he’s being brushed & combed – OK with baths. Tried to bite me while taking burrs out of his coat & bit me when I went to move him while sleeping on the couch. I’m thinking I need to read up on fear aggression, or is it anxiety? I don’t know the difference & I’m quite concerned that he is continuing to exhibit this behavior after 5 mos. Otherwise, he’s a very loving, quiet dog. I don’t want to give him up & feel guilty just thinking about it, but I fear he will bite one of my grandchildren
I never back down & quit when he tries to bite. I emphasize that I AM the pack leader & won’t stop what I’m doing at the time. Like I said, he’s 100% better than when I got him – he’ll let me comb him most of the time now, but will try & attack the brush more than comb. Again, I won’t stop because he’s showing agression. I am able to get him groomed & he shows less anxiety than before. It’s obvious he had some horrible past grooming experience. I was told he was an insecure puppy & rec’d professional help at that time. He’s also made alot of progress in self-confidence since I got him. I also have a “perfect” 2.5 yr. old long hair dog that knows I’m the Pack Leader! The two dogs get along great.
Thanks for all who responded w/good suggestions. I realized that my dog isn’t as “agressive/anxious” as I thought. I just need to work with him more often on his grooming since he keeps getting better & better. Today at the Vet’s they cut his nails w/no problems. Since he is tolerant of baths & ear cleanings as well, it’s just the combing of his hair. He’s a coton de tulear w/hair like dense cotton which mats/knots very easily. I think his prior owners let him get so matted that the grooming appts were a nightmare for him. Thanks again for your input!

Best answer:

Answer by nancy j
little dogs who are insecure or fearful learn how to manipulate people with there teeth. If you are apprehensive or back away from him he is controlling the situation and learning how to not get groomed by biting. You need to work with a dog behavior specialist or trainer to help u remove his POWER. He needs to learn that when u decide to groom him its gonna happen weither he likes it or not. Being his source, meaning he looks to u for direction. This means u need to step up and be the pack leader, start dictating his behavior. If you dont have the skills then I would say try to hire a good trainer to help you. If you dont address these issues it will only get worse.

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