Why does my dog show signs of aggression by growling and biting at me after sitting on my lap? How can this be stopped?

Original Question: When my dog sits on my knees for a while he starts growling and bites me out of nowhere. What can I do to stop this? - Nicole

Why does my dog show signs of aggression by growling and biting at me after sitting on my lap? How can this be stopped? Apr 25, 2018

Hi Nicole,

Thanks for your question.

Behaviour problems like this can be challenging to figure out. First, I would suggest having your dog examined by your vet to rule out any possible medical problems or sources of pain. Once physical causes of behaviour change have been investigated, then you can consider primary behavioural disorders. Dogs can develop aggression (growling, biting) problems for many reasons – including fear, resource-guarding (such as protecting a toy or food source) and protecting their human guardians. Consider focusing on what happens right before the behaviour – see if you can find a pattern. Then, what happens after? How do you react? These observations are key to figuring out how the behaviour developed and how to reduce it in the future – but it will take commitment and practice. If you need further guidance, your vet is a great resource. You can also consider consulting a professional dog trainer or having your vet refer you to a specialist veterinary behaviourist. There could be medications, supplements and other adjunctive products that could be helpful, but will require a consult with your vet to determine which is the best choice for you and your dog.

Best of luck!

Dr. Kim Hester

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