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Pomeranian Aggression Issues

 Aggressive Pomeranians

This breed generally has a very loving personality and naturally friendly behavior. The Pom, throughout generations, has always been a companion lap dog...

Therefore it is in the bloodlines to not be combative or have strong guarding instincts (although some can be protective of their humans despite their own diminutive size). 

Even when you look back into the origin of this breed, the Pomeranian's ancestors, large Spitz dogs, were gentle sled dogs. However, just like any other dog breed, some Pomeranians can have aggression issues.

Don't worry, help is here! When a person expects to have a cuddly and sweet ball of fluff and finds themselves with an aggressive Pomeranian, this can be very overwhelming. With proper training, you can get your Pom under control.

With an aggressive Pomeranian, there can be 2 forms of this behavior:
Pomeranian with different colored eyes
Angel, 3 months
Photo courtesy of owner: Lora Vadasan
1) Aggression toward people. This can be strangers walking by or this can even be toward other human family members. This may involve growling and/or nipping - both making contact with skin or snapping in the air close to someone.

2) A Pomeranian may show aggression toward other animals. This problem will seem most severe if a Pom is aggressive toward other household dogs or pets.
Toward People - Overview

This can be a very frustrating situation; however training can help. Why would a Pomeranian show aggressive behavior toward people? There are several reasons, including:

Fear - Your Pomeranian may be afraid of strangers and the unknown. This can make a dog protective and then show outwardly by growling, nipping and even trying to bite people.

Improper Status - When a dog is aggressive towards human family members, this is often a sign that the dog is confused about their place in the family. 
Health Issues - When any dog that is normally well behaved suddenly becomes aggressive, this very often is because the dog is suffering some type of health issue. When a dog is in pain, he or she will nip, snarl, growl and even bite those who love him. Why? Because a dog cannot tell you that he is ill or in pain. Feeling very vulnerable, a dog will then lash out at humans who become perceived as threats to him or her while in a weaken state.

If your dog becomes aggressive when his normal behavior is calm and happy, you should take your Pomeranian for a full and complete medical checkup at the veterinarian. Even if your last appointment was 3 weeks ago, something may have happened from then to now. Please do not try any of the following training methods until you are 100% sure that your Pomeranian is completely healthy.
Training Tips - Aggression Toward Strangers

This is a socialization issue. Your Pomeranian needs to learn that as long as he or she is with you, strangers are a normal part of life and good behavior is expected. It is natural for a dog to be verbally aggressive (to some degree) toward true strangers, those who may come to your home to sell you something for example...and having your Pomeranian bark and show some aggression toward these types of strangers is not necessarily a bad thing. In the case of a break in, your Pom's barking may just scare off the intruder.
Pomeranian with teenager
As long as your dog calms down once that person has left the property, all should be fine. If you approve of your little Pom protecting the home as a "watch dog" you can say "good dog", give a pat and then show your dog that all is well by resuming the day and speaking in a matter-of-fact manner.

However, when you are walking your dog or in a social situation, you will want your Pom to behave. This must begin by slowly teaching your Pom what is expected and what is not acceptable.

You will need helpers for this. Try to round up friends, neighbors and family members that your dog is not used to. Explain to them that you will be starting a training program for your dog and see if they will agree to take turns in helping you with this.
Once you begin training your Pom, it should be done every day until the training is complete. This will begin by having someone arrive at your home. Whoever arrives should have dog treats in their pocket. When you know that your helper is to enter, have your Pomeranian sitting down beside you, with his leash on. Open the door and teach your dog that all is fine. This is done with calm words and slow actions. Have your dog see that you greet your visitors without any tension.

Have your helper give your Pomeranian a small treat, making sure to save some for later. The goal of this training is to reward your dog with good behavior and to socially isolate your dog for bad behavior. When your Pom interacts well, even for just a minute, you must behave as if your dog just did the most wonderful thing in the world. Give treats, pats, happy words and praise.

Any time that your Pom shows aggression, bring your dog into another room that is not occupied where he has a view of you but cannot reach you (placed in a playpen for example). You must then implement social isolation for 5 minutes. This means that you must ignore your dog completely. Do not say "bad dog", do not say his name, do not talk to him. Simply stand and allow him to see that life is certainly not fun when he does not behave. After the 5 minutes, attempt to have your dog interact with your helper again.

Each action, good or bad, must be acted upon with either praise or isolation. Have the 1st visit last for about 10 minutes. Have different helpers come to visit on different days. Increase the visits by 5 minutes per day until the maximum time of 30 minutes. By following this training method word for word, your dog should be very used to "strangers" and much better behaved within 2 weeks or so.
Training Tips - Aggression Toward Family Members

If your Pomeranian is completely healthy and is aggressive with human family members, the most probable explanation that he is acting this way is because of a dog’s innate instinct to be the “alpha dog”. When dogs ran in packs, there always was an “alpha dog”. There had to be 1 dog that was in charge of the pack, for the good of all.
Pet dogs also need to have an “alpha” in their pack, which in current times is their human family.

A dog needs to know… “Am I the leader?” “Is he the leader?”. Without this being obvious to them, a dog may become confused. As stress mounts and the dog does not know if he is in charge or not…
The dog may test family members to see who backs down, who takes charge and if anyone is going to face up to him to take his place.

The methods that teach a dog that his or her true leader is the human(s) is to always follow these rules:
  • The humans eat first. Any time that humans are to eat a meal at the same time as the dog, they should begin to eat for roughly 30 seconds. Then, one owner will rise, give the "sit" command. Only after the dog obeys, his food is set down and everyone finishes eating.
  • Humans enter and exit first. Any time that owner(s) leave the house or come back into the home with the dog, humans must be first, followed by the dog. This is accomplished by manipulation the leash so that the Pomeranian must wait his turn. This sends a strong message about who is the leader of the "den" which is the house.
  • Taking time to teach commands build a great relationship of dog to owner. Teaching respect and offering a wonderful way to interact and have fun while established the human as the leader who must, by canine instinct, be obeyed. 
Cream and orange Pomeranian
Teddy, 10 months old
Photo courtesy of owner: Titi
Training Tips - With Other Dogs

This is a socialization issue. Life will be a lot easier after you train your Pomeranian to behave well around other dogs. Aggression toward other dogs can severely interfere with walks for daily exercise, trips to the vet and so much more.

Try to find a friend, co-worker, neighbor or family member who already has a well behaved dog. Set up a "play date". Do talk to your helper and explain that you are implementing a training method. Not much will be accomplished in 1 day. This type of training must be instilled in the dog over and over, for several weeks usually...until your Pom fully understands how to behave. Rushing this training will surely lead to failure. Having patience will ensure success.

The dogs should both be on leashes and be sure that your Pom has a harness on; do not just attached the leash to the collar. Have your helper come with treats already in their pocket, you will have treats as well. Have your Pomeranian sit. When the other dog is led into your home, talk in a calm and happy voice. Allow the dogs to sniff each other.

If your Pom barks or acts aggressive toward the other dog, he or she should be taken back via the leash (roughly 10 feet or so) and 100% completely ignored. You should not say their name, pat them or talk to them. Once barking has stopped -and it will, it is a matter of "waiting out the dog" - then walk your Pom to the other dog again.

Each time your Pom acts aggressive, lead them away to distance them from all involved, while ignoring all barking or attempts to gain attention. This teaches a dog that there will be zero interaction, zero attention and certainly no fun when aggression is displayed.
Each time your Pom behaves well in the presence of the other dog, give praise every minute or so. Give both dogs treats. And continue to keep an eye on both.

The first "play date" should only last about 10 minutes as not to overwhelm and to end the session on a good note. Each day, try to increase this time by 5 minutes. If possible, this will work best if after a few days, you can introduce other dogs as well so that your Pomeranian becomes used to all types of dogs, big and small. Consistency is the key to this training.                             

If your dog does not respond to these training methods, the aggression may run very deep and it is highly recommended to find an experienced dog trainer who will help turn your aggressive dog into that little, cute ball of fluff that you know he or she can be!
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