Irritability can be Overcome with Targeted Medical & Behavioral Treatment

Question:
We have a 7-10 year old rescue Chihuahua. Whenever we attempt to put on her harness, leash or Velcro coat/dress she attempts to snarl and bite us and it is getting much worse. Our veterinarian sees her for a cardiac, liver and allergy ailment. There is arthritis but we are ever so gentle. “Miss Luna” does not know how to play and cries like a child when left alone.

Dr. Nichol:
Preteen girls can be fussy. The dress is just so 90s and the leash and harness don’t even match. No wonder she’s cranky! There could be more. The inflammatory components in Miss Luna’s allergic and joint disorders, along with her liver and heart disorders, are providing a plethora of chemical imbalances. Her irritable aggression is no surprise.

Many dogs, often small breeds, learn to get their way by snarling snapping, and sometimes biting. It’s important to remember that dogs are different; they’re not little people in furry suits. They perceive any response from a leader as a reward. Verbal reprimands can cause fear and trigger defensive aggression. Instead, Miss Luna, your subordinate, should earn your attention.

Reduce this girl’s trepidation by getting small. Sit on the floor and reward her with a treat for coming when called. Offer another snack as you touch that odious outfit to her chest. Over multiple 3-4 minute sessions she’ll learn to allow that getup to touch more of her little self before you relinquish the coveted morsel. Withhold her meal prior to training so the pint-sized princess is really food-motivated.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not making light of pets who breathe rarified air. The Nichol family dog, Miss America, is mighty special. She gladly does anything we ask because there is always something in it for her.

Miss Luna, a beauty queen in her own right I’m sure, might also win Miss Congeniality if she felt better. Her liver may benefit from Novifit. Blood pressure management could improve her cardiovascular function. The antioxidant Myristol or an antiinflammatory/pain reliever like Rimadyl may reduce her joint pain. Managing the poor kid’s separation distress would also make a difference. She’s lucky to have you. She is not ungrateful, just confused.