The Cocker Spaniel inherited many wonderful traits that make them the perfect family pet. They are smart, quick to learn, playful and want to please everyone. They were first introduced as a hunting dog or gun dog, as some might refer them to. Their job was to flush out and retrieve fallen game for hunters. Due to their genetic history sometimes an unwanted aggressive behavior can develop. Here is what you should know about Cocker Spaniel Aggression.
The majority of aggression problems stem for either mishandling the pup or allowing the pup to develop aggressive manners or tendencies. The most common cause being a lack of socializing as a pup. All dogs need to be properly socialized with people, other pets and children as pups to avoid developing an aggressive behavior.
Reason for Aggression Toward Strangers
The reason for aggression towards strangers is that the dog has never had the chance to get used to them. The fear of strangers can be overcome by socializing you pup as much as you can. The same goes with other pets or dogs in the neighborhood. When socializing your pet it is best to advise people not to approach the dog, rather have them wait till the dog goes to them before petting and saying hello. After a while you'll notice your dog being more relaxed around strangers as they have built up their confidence. Fear concerning the stranger is at the root of this problem. The Cocker is not sure what to expect.
The Two Main Reasons for Aggression Toward Family Members Are:
1) The dog is trying to protect something of his from a possible threat. This can be any number of things including his food, a toy or a bone.
2) The dog is not comfortable with the handling or treatment from you or other family members. There has been a break in the pack order and dog is attempting to show his dominance.
It's important to never hit, physically punish or yell at your Cocker Spaniel as this will only instill fear in your dog and lead to the development of an aggressive dog over time.
How to Stop Aggression
Your Cocker Spaniel needs to be part of the pack but if left to wonder who the pack leader is they will begin to challenge rank and display dominance within the home. This is where you must step up to take the pack leader role as the alpha dog. You need to establish a firm and strong house whole by demanding respect for your dog in a calm but stern manner.
Where to Start
The very first place to start is by taking control of your house. Be aware that to the dog all family members fall into the pack order somewhere. In your dogs eyes he is living within a pack and needs to know where he falls within the rank. If it is not clear who the pack leader is the dog will attempt to exercise its dominance and will be hard to control.
In the next step boundaries need to be established. Start by taking back control of your personal space. Do not allow the dog to sleep with you. The top dog always gets the best place to sleep. Do not allow your dog on future or in any rooms you would not want your dog to be in.
Feed your pup on a predictable schedule, this will help to avoid the dog from developing food aggression.
Never overreact if your dog shows aggression towards another dog and do not give attention after a display of aggression. The best lead to follow is to separate the dogs and reintroduce the dogs after you have established a calm state. This can be done with a simple pull of the leash to break their mind set and by waiting for a calm moment. You can further show your dominance by either breaking the behavior with a word of your choice or with a sound you make. Just be consistent.
Aggression Toward Child or Family Members
If the aggression is directed at a person or a child in your home, it is advisable to seek the help of a professional trainer or dog behaviorist immediately. They will help you to quickly identify the specific source that is causing the problem. Never leave a small child with any animal without proper supervision. The Cocker Spaniel is a small but mighty dog and can cause serious injury. Do not take this for granted.
Make sure your pup is getting the proper amount of exercise. This will help your dog from becoming neurotic and over anxious which can pave the way for aggression.
Cocker Spaniels can pick up on your moods and how you react to things. If you show fear they will get anxious, which could lead to aggression. However, if you are calm, relaxed and assertive, you can show them that you are in charge. The Cocker wants a safe home and reassurance that the pack leader will protect and take care of them.
How Dogs Think
Dogs normally do things in a series of actions. For example; before a dog bites it will normally curl up its upper lip, growl, show its teeth and growl, sometimes bark once as a warning sign and then attempt to bite. Unfortunately most people only notice the latter. By picking up on your dogs early actions you can deter further actions by breaking the moment. Dogs think in the moment. As the pack leader you must let your dog know that the behavior is unacceptable with a firm command.
There are many forms of aggression. Dominance aggression is the most common. Your dog is most likely to show this aggression behavior during the behavioral maturity stages between one and two years of age. Correcting this behavior at this stage is fairly simple if you work with the dog early in the development and on a daily basis.
Aggression in Older Dogs
If you are experiencing aggression in an older dog, the first thing to do is to make sure your dog is in good health. Follow the steps above to determine the type of aggression and the cause to make the corrections. Retraining an older dog may prove to take a little more difficult but is can be done. You'll need some patience.
Aggression can be upsetting to a dog owner and family members. However, with some observation and simple adjustments most problems can be corrected. However, it is best to catch and start correcting the behavior early to keep it from getting out of control. Know that you can always get help from a professional trainer or behaviorist if the task proves to be more than what you would like to handle. If you do not know where to look try giving your local vet a call for suggestions. The sooner you get the problem corrected the happier everyone will be including your Cocker Spaniel. A dog with an aggression problem should be taken seriously with immediate action taken to correct the behavior.