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Cocker spaniel 8 month old aggressive puppy

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by HannahMarie13, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. HannahMarie13

    HannahMarie13 PetForums Newbie

    Feb 13, 2018
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    Looking for some advice and suggestions please. We have a cocker spaniel puppy who is 8 1/2 months old. She's always been a handful since we had her and is extremely hyperactive. Some say this is down to the breed and due to her being a working dog, others disagree. The hyper activeness don't get me wrong, can be extremely hard work, however isn't necessarily the issue. I am a first time dog owner so don't really know what I'm doing but my husband is much more confident. The issue is that she shows quite aggressive behaviour towards myself, which is becoming impossible to manage especially when I am looking after her alone. She understands commands such as no, sit, down etc and is actually a very intelligent dog. However when I tell her 'no' she chooses to ignore me and does as she pleases. If I go as far as trying to pick her up to move her away from something or take an item from her e.g. a shoe she might be chewing she will growl and instantly bite at me. The biting is getting harder and has drawn blood on occasions. Our puppy goes to doggy day care a couple of times a week where they don't seem to have any issues with her other than the hyperactivity which has been commented on. My husband is able to control the dog much better than I can, and she does tend to listen to him if he says no etc. I understand that this is something I need some help with and have started looking at training courses to help learn techniques. I am sick to death of being told "be firm" and "tell her no" or "ignore her" when she doesn't listen- When our puppy is in this biting/growling phase, no matter how firmly you tell her no she just doesn't listen. And in regards to the advice of ignoring her when she is biting- this is much easier said than done when you have a lot of very sharp teeth piercing your skin! I am struggling with what I need to do, and with my husband working shifts it is often me that spends the most time with her. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. My worry is that this behaviour may start to happen outside the house and she may really hurt someone one day.

    Thanks in advance
  2. Siskin

    Siskin Look into my eyes....

    Nov 13, 2012
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    This sounds more like resource guarding behaviour rather then aggression. Resource guarding seems to be seen most often in spaniels and handled wrongly can escalate. There is a sticky about this at the top of this forum.

    Rather then try and take things off her, which will make her guard the thing even more, try swapping the object with something better. Either have a treat that she particularly likes or a particular toy. Throw the treat or toy away so that she drops what she has and chases after it and you can safely remove whatever it was she had.
    My dog doesn't resource guard, but I don't push her at all into this way of thinking. If I want to get the last bit of a chew away from her before she tries to swallow a too big a piece, then I toss her favourite treat (in her case dried fish cubes) in the other direction. She spits out the chew and rushes off after it and I can go and pick it up without causing any upset. I've no doubt I could take it from her, but there's no point in making an issue of it.
    Read all you can on resource guarding so you know what to do in the future. If it continues to escalate you may need professional advice from a trained behaviourist.
    Burrowzig, ouesi, Sarah H and 2 others like this.
  3. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

    Feb 1, 2016
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    She honestly just sounds like a puppy that doesn't understand boundaries.

    'No' has no meaning for her. It's too broad a command - she is doing a multitude of things at once (sniffing, exploring, playing, biting, thinking) so she doesn't know what the 'no' applies to. So try asking for an alternative incompatible behaviour - for example if she is jumping, ask for a sit and praise her for doing it.

    Spaniels do seem to have a bit of a reputation for resource guarding. If I had something I prized and you tried to take it away, I would get quite growly too. The obvious thing is to not let her have access to shoes etc but there will always be things she gets that you need to remove - so have something a LOT better to swap - less stressful for everyone. Or of course she may think it is a big game. If she is getting nippy in a game, overexcited, give her some time out. It isn't punishment, it's just a cool off. Use the crate if you have one, or simply walk out. Any time teeth engage with skin, stop play and walk out. Once she learns that this behaviour results in the end of fun, she will restrict her nipping. But you and your husband have to be consistent.
    #3 JoanneF, Feb 13, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
    Lurcherlad likes this.
  4. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

    Jan 5, 2013
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    Instead of telling her No (which really means nothing to her) ask for an alternative behaviour.

    Use a house line so you don't have to pick her up or remove her, but gently encourage her and use a treat or toy to get her to come.

    Try teaching her to settle on her bed with a filled Kong to calm her down.

    If the daycare is a large, busy place with lots of dogs I'd worry that might contribute to her over exhuberance.
    JoanneF likes this.
  5. Rincewind

    Rincewind PetForums Member

    Jul 9, 2017
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    I do have a working Cocker spaniel is now 10 months old and the advice it’s already been given I’ve used all the time and it works The one that works the best for me is food treats if he climbs on the sofa I tell him to get off and when he does I rewarded with a treat , when he has something in his mouth but he shouldn’t have I asked him to leave it and treat him when it does . Works every time
  6. ouesi

    ouesi Guest

    As soon as I saw the title with cocker spaniel and aggression, my first thought was resource guarding.

    Please read up on this, and you may need to get a professional involved. Resource guarding in spaniels can get bad in spaniels and that he has already escalated to biting you at such a young age is IMHO concerning.

    Where are you located? There are several members who could recommend a good professional in your area.
    StormyThai likes this.
  7. Teddy-dog

    Teddy-dog PetForums VIP

    Nov 2, 2017
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    Definitely agree with the others, sounds like resource guarding. It could be in play, but no one would be able to tell you that unless they saw the dog. And to be on the safe side, I'd treat it as resource guarding anyway. Good advice on how to deal with it from others.

    If the pup is biting just in general (puppies often mouth), then don't just ignore it, get up and walk out the room. Then the dog will understand (eventually) that if it bites, the fun goes away. Or you could try redirecting onto a chew toy.

    My grandparents have a cocker puppy and he was terrible for biting, it took a long time for him to stop (this wasn't aggressive biting over an object, just over excitement and mouthing at hands etc). Cockers are very energetic and working cockers are even more so! They are hard work, my grandparents are on their second one now (show bred not working bred) and, though they are lovely dogs, and can be trained really well, you do have to put a lot into them!
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