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7 Reasons Why Your Shih Poo Is Overly Aggressive + Tips

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Worried because your otherwise adorable Shih poo is acting aggressive? As Shih poos are a mixed breed, they usually inherited the positive characteristics of each parent. But, that doesn’t mean that they won’t show signs of aggression.

Why Is Your Shih Poo Aggressive:

There is more than likely a trigger that is causing your Shih poo to respond aggressively. These triggers can be fear, anxiety, illness, memories of physical abuse, being territorial or attempting to show dominance. Find the trigger and you’re one step closer to stopping their aggression.

In this post we dive deep on the 7 most common reasons why your shih poo is behaving overly aggressive as well as some helpful tips to prevent the behavior from continuing.

With that being said let’s jump right in to help you discover what might be your pup’s trigger.

7 Reasons Why Your Shih Poo Is Overly Aggressive

1) Fear

When your Shih poo experiences fear, this is likely to manifest as aggression. If a Shih poo anticipates punishment or finds themselves in unfamiliar situations, this may cause them to act aggressively. 

You’re likely to also see your Shih poo show aggression if they are around unfamiliar dogs or if they feel that they are being cornered.

As with people, it’s within an animal’s nature to fight or flight when they find themselves in threatening situations. Like a cat is likely to hide when they hear a thunderstorm approaching, a Shih poo may show signs of aggression when fearful. 

Related Reading: 7 Simple Strategies To Help Quickly Calm A Reactive Dog

2) Anxiety

Some dogs are naturally anxious. Most anxious dogs are triggered by loud noises, travel, being home alone or being around new people. 

Separation anxiety especially has been known to occur in small dogs, such as Shih poos, and can develop when pups are taken away from their moms too early. 

3) History With Physical Abuse

Unfortunately, not all animals grow up in happy and loving homes, and a Shih poo with a history of physical abuse may show signs of aggression. 

Dogs rarely forget, and a Shih poo that has had traumatic experiences will be triggered to show aggression if they think that they might be in danger again. They do this as a form of protecting themselves.

Dog owners can prevent Shih poos from showing this aggression, by shielding them from circumstances that may trigger these bad memories. Dog owners can also speak to a dog behavioral expert, who will help a dog heal from a painful past. 

4) Illness Or Injury

Have you seen a behavioral change in your Shih poo, although they have no history of aggression? 

This may be due to an injury or underlying illness. If you can’t identify any other reasons why your Shih poo is suddenly acting aggressive, it may be necessary to take your dog to the vet.

Aggression has also been known to peek out its head when dogs get older. They may become aggressive due to the distress and frustration of losing their sight or hearing. This is understandable, and should be handled with as much love and care as possible. 

Related Reading: 16 Ways To Know If Your Dog Is Sick + Helpful Tips

5) Territorial

Most dogs are likely to show some form of territorial aggression at some stage, and Shih poos are no exception. They may be territorial over their space, their belongings, and you, their beloved human. 

Shih poos may also show signs of possessive aggression when it comes to their food.

Pets WebMD suggests using food aggression to your advantage to rectify unwanted possessiveness.

They state to place an empty feeding bowl in front of your Shih poo and to put some of their favorite food into the bowl by using a clenched hand. 

Before placing the food in the bowl, hold it in front of your dog’s nose. 

Repeat this process and place more food into your dog’s bowl while there are still a few morsels left. Push your Shih poo out of the way if necessary, and repeat about three times. 

This process will show your dog that you mean well when approaching their food bowl. It will allow them to trust you and, in time, stop growling or snapping at you when you approach the food bowl. 

6) Demonstrating Dominance

Have you ever heard of “small dog syndrome”?. This usually occurs when a small dog, such as the Shih poo, consider themselves as the leader of the pack, and act aggressive as a result.

Small dog syndrome usually manifests when a dog’s owner gives into all of their demands. This makes the dog believe that they are the leader of the pack (that pack being humans, who have to see to the Shih poo’s every need). 

This may cause the Shih poo to act with aggression towards any gestures by its owner, no matter how well intended. 

7) Frustration 

No matter how sweet and adorable your beloved Shih poo is, frustrating circumstances can cause anyone (including these adorable dogs) to show some aggression. 

When your Shih poo grows frustrated, they may show their irritability with a growl, a bark or even a shove and a snarl in your direction. 

Frustration can be caused by an empty food bowl close to dinner time, when you forget to take them on their usual 5pm walk, or even when they can’t access a part of the house that they are usually able to. 

You can prevent such frustrations by identifying what your dog’s specific triggers are, and doing your best to avoid them. For example, if feeding time is 6pm, stick to that schedule. Try not to disrupt your Shih poo’s daily routine. 

Of course, aggressive tendencies can also be prevented from a young age by enforcing rules, encouraging positive habits and sticking to a training schedule. 

Top 3 Tips To Help Your Shih Poo Become Less Aggressive

So, now you know why your Shih poo is likely acting aggressive, but how can you prevent this aggression from happening? 

Below, we discuss the top 3 tips:

1) Find The Trigger

The first step to helping your Shih poo become less aggressive is to identify what it is that triggers their aggression.

Is it, for example, that you are feeding them too late? Or perhaps they don’t like other animals in their space. Dogs might also show aggression when you try to take their possessions, or when you give attention to another animal in front of them.

Once you find out what the source of their aggression is, try to avoid doing these actions in front of them, or, keep them from landing in a scenario that may make them aggressive. 

2) Seek Professional Help

You can only do so much, and sometimes it may be to you and your dog’s best advantage to rather seek professional help.

This is especially relevant in cases where a Shih poo was previously abused and is showing signs of aggression because of this memory etched in their mind. 

An animal behavioral expert will more easily be able to identify why your Shih poo is acting aggressive, and make suggestions on how to cure this aggression. 

3) Take Them To The Vet

If your Shih poo continues to show aggression, it may be caused by an injury or underlying medical issue. Both of these scenarios can, understandably, cause a dog to become irritable and aggressive.

Note when your dog is acting aggressive, and give your vet all that you have noted on your next visit. There may be a simple explanation to your dog’s aggression, which a vet will be able to identify and address. 

Final Thoughts

Even adorable Shih poos can grow aggressive, especially when they are scared, feel threatened or want to show dominance. You can help your Shih poo to be less aggressive by identifying their triggers, seeking professional help, or taking them to the vet if you suspect an injury or underlying illness. 

Remember to be patient with your Shih poo, as addressing their aggression may take some time. Train them with love, patients and good leadership and their aggression will surely subside.

Other posts you might find interesting:

11 Ways Shih Poos Are Good For First Time Owners

9 Reasons Why Your Shih Poo Is Shedding More + 3 Tips

8 Reasons Shih Poos Make Great Apartment Dogs + Tips


7 Proven Ways to Calm Your Anxious Dog

Understanding Pet Aggression