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Pet Tip of the Week: A Change in Status (

Angieby Dawn Watson


   I sometimes encounter a client whose main complaint about her dog is that the dog has suddenly become aggressive. While evaluating the dog I discover that the owner has experienced a change that is exacerbating the dog’s behavior.

   For example, “Karen” has recently undergone a change in job status. She must now work mandatory overtime and dislikes her new boss. She is often angry and suddenly, Fido has started marking indoors and barking at neighbors during his walks.

   Clearly, Fido’s new habits are a direct result of his owner’s emotional turmoil. Emotions travel down the leash; Fido is feeling Karen’s anxiety and is now reacting to it.

   In another example, “Jason” has had a change in marital status. His wife left him and has taken one of two dogs with her. The remaining dog, Taffy, has begun to growl and snap at Jason.

   Taffy is reacting to the loss of two important members of her pack (Jason’s wife and the other dog). She is now asserting herself as the Alpha in the family by attempting to dominate Jason.

   Ideally, Karen and Jason will seek professional help, both for themselves and their dogs. A change in lifestyle often results in the family dog being surrendered to a shelter; if the dog has a history of growling and snapping he or she may be euthanized. Sadly, this is often the case and one session with a professional trainer would have solved the dog’s behavior issues.

   If your dog’s behavior has suddenly changed, ask yourself if a change in your lifestyle might be the cause. If you need help with this, or any other dog-related issue, please call me. I am here to help you.


Wado udohiyu, (thank you very much in the Cherokee language)

Dawn Watson

Owner, Brother of the Wolf, LLC


Located in historic Gloucester City, NJ

Pictured: "Angie"