The Most Dog Friendly Community Online
Join Dog Forum to Discuss Breeds, Training, Food and More

Jekyll and Hyde Bichon

Grandad 99

New Member
Reaction score

Join our free community today.

Connect with other like-minded dog lovers!

Login or Register
When our rescue Cavalier King Charles died we started looking for something similar. We are both in our eighties so looked for an older small dog that would not need long walks, any breed apart from terriers. When our daughter's friend died from cancer and her family could not take her bichon frise he became ours. That was 3 years ago and he is now 10.

During the last few years with his first owner she was not able to care for him properly, no proper routine, lots of time in kennels and not many walks. Just before coming to us he had to have 14 teeth extracted.

He settled in with us from Day 1, very lively and quickly became particularly attached to my wife, following her as she moves around the house although she is a bit disappointed that he is not a lappy dog, preferring to lay at her feet. He quickly learned our various routines and is now the centre of her life.

He has always been a bit stubborn but over the last few months this has developed to become a serious problem. Before going out for a walk I put him on the utility room worktop to brush and comb him. For some reason he has taken a dislike to this and also to having his harness or lead put on. It has now got to the point where he has bitten both of us when we try to pick him up or even just put his lead on – I've had 2 visits to A&E.

95% of the time he is the perfect pet but the increasingly unpredictable 5% is a constant worry.

He has been checked by the vet who can't find any physical problem, and he now exhibits this aggressive behaviour at other times when something upsets him. I suspect that it could be that he now sees himself as the pack leader, but whatever the cause is we have a severe problem. We have had advice from a professional trainer and numerous doggy friends but nothing has worked.

The problem is compounded by what the effect on my wife's mental health will be when he is no longer with us She will just about cope when we lose him to age or illness but I dread the thought of what having to part with him for any other reason will have on her. She is already coping with a gradual loss of sight and increasing immobility.

The only solution I can see is to have all his remaining teeth extracted. I know that dogs can cope with no teeth. Drastic, but it would enable us to keep him without the constant worry of what else will provoke him or the almost unthinkable consequences to my wife of having to ask a rescue centre to try to rehome him.

I would appreciate any thoughts on this.
Please dont think he is trying to be pack leader this is an outdated way of thinking ...i wonder if he is picking up on your wifes anxieties /declining health ...i certainly don't think extraction of his healthy teeth is a fair option ...there is something wrong with him for his behaviour to have changed so rapidly ...
I would get a 2nd vets opinion check up and ask for full blood works ...
+1 for a second vet opinion.

As Tinytom says, the pack leader dominance theory has been thoroughly disproven and widely discredited, even by the person who developed it. It was based on flawed conclusions drawn from poorly observed evidence. The wolf pack was not a real pack, it was a group of individuals thrown together and the situation (captivity rather than wild) skewed the data as their behaviour was not natural. And dogs are not wolves anyway, any more than we are chimpanzees - in both cases there was a shared ancestor but the species evolved in different directions. That's why we have humans AND apes, wolves AND dogs.

However, I wonder if he has been giving you signals that he disliked being picked up / brushed / handled for some time. Dogs give a series of signals that they are unhappy, but unfortunately most people don't recognise them because they can be quite subtle. To begin with there is often wide eyes, lip licking and yawning. There is also muscular tension in the body. Then the ones we sometimes do see - growl, snarl, nip then bite. If the early signals are not seen (or, in the dog's view, ignored) he won't bother with them because us stupid humans pay no attention anyway; so he may go straight to the bite. So it's important never to ignore the early signals or reprimand the dog for giving them; stopping the dog from giving them would be like taking the battery out of a smoke alarm.

The bites that resulted in hospital visits are serious, for that reason I'd suggest you need help from a proper behaviourist who can observe what is actually happening. But I cannot stress enough how important this is - this sounds to me like a dog that is not aggressive but rather scared or in pain, so please find someone who uses up to date methods - NOT pack leadership or dominance. If you can say roughly what area of the country you are in, we may have suggestions. You may also find your insurance covers the cost.
Can only agree with both the above. My extra input would only be the fact you said the aggression is happening when you pick him up to brush him before you put harness/lead on.. maybe as Judy suggested he has been finding the brushing uncomfortable/painful and has been trying to tell you but being ignored has caused him to escalate to where he is at now. Does he display aggression any other times?? If it does stem from the brushing then it would make sense the harness or lead going on directly after would be associated by him as part of the same process.
Just a thought...
Along the lines of Flobo’s input. Some years ago a cat walked in on us - about 2 years old, long haired, muscular and a heavy psi when he bit. Stroking him was dicing with death. Trying to comb him was signing your own death sentence. Eventually I discovered that his undercoat was heavily matted so as I held him (wearing heavy duty leather gauntlets) my wife cut away at the matted fur. Eventually his fur was no longer pinching him and Boyo and I became best mates. If you can, have a deep look into his coat - it may be as simple as that.

Welcome to Dog Forum!

Join our vibrant online community dedicated to all things canine. Whether you're a seasoned owner or new to the world of dogs, our forum is your go-to hub for sharing stories, seeking advice, and connecting with fellow dog lovers. From training tips to health concerns, we cover it all. Register now and unleash the full potential of your dog-loving experience!

Login or Register