Small dog, repeated unpredictable aggressive behaviour

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sourced from: https://www.reddit.com/r/Dogtraining/comments/hd7hv3/small_dog_repeated_unpredictable_aggressive/

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Hello all, I'm having a nightmare with my mother inlaw's strange little dog that needs some help, and any advice you guys could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Background info, Male, Maltese X Bijon Frise, 4-5 years old, was bought online from a website known for dodgy "breeders" (SO was completely oblivious to the situation when she bought the dog, but puppy farms are a massive problem in my country)

Around the time that this dog turned 2 it started getting very nervous, and very protective, but at the same time seems to crave attention like any dog would. He always wants to be sitting either on your lap or at your feet, and always follows you around the house and puts his head on your lap looking for pets. But every once and a while, completely unprovoked and without warning, he will just start biting hands and ankles, then he growls and barks for a minute, and retreats to a corner with his tail between his legs, and spends the next hour shaking and shivering. He has bitten a few people at this point, but he's bitten me about 8 or 9 times throughout the last few years.

Is there anything that can be done to help? I feel like he's biting out of fear, but what he's scared of isn't exactly clear because it's completely unprovoked. He's always been massively spoilt and never been disciplined in any aggressive or violent way (as far as we know, but puppy farms aren't known for being safe places for dogs), in fact he hasn't been trained much at all, but I'd like to try and help train this behaviour out of him because the poor dog is a nervous wreck and it's only a matter of time before he bites someone and we end up in some legal trouble.

Other weird things he does that might give some insight:

He seems to bite when hands go near him, but he's happy enough to be pet and rubbed and scratched for a few minutes until all of a sudden he bites.

He sometime growls (and on occasion he bites) when someone greets and hugs his owner.

He spends a good five minutes barking at his food before he eats it.

He gets up in the middle of the night to bark at nothing, sometimes for hours at a time.

If he does ever get scolded, he goes up to his owners bed and urinates on her bed.

He has a few little spaces around the house that he cowers in after he gets aggressive.

He is far better behaved outside the house, friendly with other dogs out on walks, potters around without any trouble when he's out and about, nearly all aggressive behaviour is inside the house or in the car.

We've had a dog behaviour therapist to come see the dog and followed their instruction but had no success.

Again any advice would be a great help, thanks!

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