By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Canine sleep aggression is not that uncommon. We’ve all heard the expression, “Let sleeping dogs lie”. There’s an element of truth to that.

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Let’s face it, negative reactions to sleep disturbance is certainly not uncommon, even in human beings, so it’s only natural that the same thing can occur at times to dogs as well.

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A dog that may growl upon being disturbed while sleeping is not generally considered to be an aggressive dog, considering, of course, that he doesn’t exhibit any other aggressive behaviors. These dogs then, can be well adjusted, sociable, affectionate dogs in all other aspect. Even a healthy, well-balanced dog may exhibit some form of sleep aggression due to a number of stress factors including being a newly adopted dog, unfamiliar surroundings, change of environment, changes in the household, physical ailments, divorce or separation, addition or loss of family members or the loss of other companion animals, etc…

The best rule of thumb is to not ever surprise him/her by waking your dog from a deep sleep with a touch. Instead, the best way to deal with it is to call your dog’s name loudly or clap your hands first to waken him.

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Desensitize him by petting him gently when he is in a calm resting state (e.g. after a walk) but not yet sleeping. Work on leadership exercises daily. Provide daily walks. Keep your dog balanced by providing strong, but loving and gentle leadership in a calm way on a consistent daily basis.