TIPS for aggresive dog

I had a new sit that ended up well after it was all over but on day one after pet parents left, the dog freaked out, showed his teeth, growled and jumped on me (golden doogle) and bit me. Luckily, I had a sweater on, he did break skin but it wasn’t too bad, but it made my heart race for sure. I called for my partner and he came and sternly told the dog “NO” and rescued me. I later realized I should not have been looking the dog in the eye and “sweet talking him” but that was after the incident. ANYONE got any tips on what I may consider doing in the future if this were to happen again???
btw, the owner said he isn’t usually aggressive but he bit his new groomer a week prior. This 5 yr old dog was moved from his home just a month prior and then we was left with us strangers, so I felt bad for him after I thought about it.


I am so sorry! Doesn’t TH have a policy against dogs know to be aggressive ? If not they should. Yikes. I think it’s terrible that the homeowners didn’t forewarn you when this has happened before. And I know that puts you in a terrible position since as has been discussed here at length, mentioning it in the review exposes you to retaliation. But really future sitters should know !


Hi @heartgirl,

@MojaveForever is correct we do not allow dogs that bite on the site. Please reach out to our Membership Service team so they can handle.


it was actually a friends dog …it was not a THS member dog. I just need TIPS to deal with this if it were to ever happen again. I figure this is the BEST place to ask my question


by day 2 the dog was relaxed and by the end of my stay with him, he was hard to get him away from me…we bonded BIG TIME. This was a sit for a friend of mine who has a great home by the beach and I needed a getaway.

1 Like

That’s scary stuff. Usually dogs immediately take to me, but on two occasions I was growled at at out first interaction. It doesn’t feel good at all and a bit scary, so I can’t even imagine a bite.

When they growled, at that moment I back out and give the dog some space. Then I try again later, but firmly/sternly tell the dog there will be no growling - I’m still cautious at this time and might also give a small treat to get their attention and to show goodwill.

But usually after the first meal (when they realise you know where their food is!) they settle down. These two have warmly accepted me after our first incident.


That must have been scary for you @heartgirl !

I think that the thing that went wrong here, was actually the decision to leave the dog to be looked after by your friends. The dog had been with them only a month, so there’s no way he’d be relaxed and feeling at home after such a short time. Too many changes in too short a time. And as you noticed, looking in the eyes and sweet talking was just too much for him.

So, I wouldn’t lable the dog as aggressive just yet. Give him a half a year or a year to adjust and he’ll most likely be behaving different. Unless he’d had some bad experiences in his first home.


Sounds like you acted in the right way :+1:

The dog growling is not a bad thing though. It doesn’t mean the dog is aggressive, but is a way to communicate that they feel uncomfortable. Most likely they’ve tried to use some other signals first (looking away, licking their lips, adjusting their ears etc.), but if those go unnoticed, they growl. If the dog is not allowed to growl when they’re uncomfortable, they just skip the warning stage and may snap. So, please respect the growl.


So you were watching someone else’s dog on the THS sit or was this not a THS sit at all?

My dog is very reserved/suspicious of strangers and while she’s not the type to jump at them, maybe my experiences will help anyway. I’ve boarded her with Rovers for years and been on THS for the last two years, and she’s done so well with sitters following these guidelines.

When meeting new people I tell them to completely ignore my dog at first. She prefers to take her time very thoroughly sniffing them and will be all underfoot, and during this period she would be startled and maybe feel threatened if they reciprocated her interest! After ten minutes or so (about the length of a house tour during handoff), I’ll bring out the training treats and have the new people call her over to do simple tricks.

In general I tell people:

  • not to lean over her or crowd her (especially if she’s settled in her bed or in a corner), and instead to squat down if they want to be on her level
  • to let her choose when to approach; they can invite her to come over, but let her make the decisions about proximity at first

If my dog doesn’t seem ready for interaction yet, I ask new people to stand back up and go about their business of ignoring her again for a little while. I also try to point out body language to be aware of: it may be different for other dogs but for mine, who is normally pretty expressive and loose, you can tell she feels threatened when she’s standing very stiffly and staring at you. Those who aren’t experienced with shy dogs can misinterpret her stillness as her accepting the interaction.

With sensitive dogs, the name of the game is not to push them out of their comfort zones or force interactions they’d rather not have yet. It can be a funny thing: my Cortana actually warms up more quickly with people who only like dogs than with people who LOVE LOVE LOVE dogs, because the former ignore her for so much longer!


@heartgirl I am sorry that you got bitten, that must have been very unnerving for you.

I think as others have said the dog only being in the home for one month and new people being introduced can be quite overwhelming for any dog.
I got my rescue at 6 months old and he took a few months to settle and really get used to us.

We fostered a pit mix that was due to be put to sleep at the shelter and she was super sensitive and needed lots of decompression time when we first got her. We had some help from a trainer and what worked for us was ‘No touch, no talk and no eye contact’.

So when new people came to the house we asked them to follow those rules (basically ignore her, it was actually direct eye contact that seemed to unnerve her the most) and to wait until she was ready to come to them. They then gave her a treat that was only reserved for new people - some warm hot dog, this was a super high-value treat for her, got her nose engaged and hot dog people that took it slowly seemed to be okay in her book! It really helped in our situation.


@adelia this is terrific advice that anyone should follow at any given time upon approaching a furball. One never knows the real reaction they may have and there is no sense in making it harder for them or dangerous for you.

I will never forget a tv anchorwoman in Colorado who was interviewing a handler with a rescus pup for adoption. She immediately bent down to snuggle the dog and he leaped up and took part of her lip off…on live tv. Very sad as she required surgery and I am sure that dog was very difficult to secure a new home…if he ever did at all!

Always better to be safe than sorry.


yes…it was a favor I was doing for a friend.