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Cocker Spaniel Aggression – What You Should Know And How To Stop It
The Cocker Spaniel inherited many wonderful traits that make it the perfect family pet. They are smart, quick to learn, playful and want to please everyone. They were originally introduced as a hunting dog or gun dog as some may refer to them. Their job was to extract and retrieve fallen prey for hunters. Due to their genetic history, unwanted aggressive behavior can sometimes develop. Here’s what you need to know about Cocker Spaniel aggression.
Most aggression problems stem from either mishandling the dog or allowing the dog to develop aggressive behavior or tendencies. The most common cause is lack of companionship as a puppy. All dogs should be properly socialized with people, other pets and children as puppies to avoid developing aggressive behavior.
The reason for aggression against foreigners
The reason for aggression towards strangers is that the dog has never had the chance to get used to them. Fear of strangers can be overcome by socializing as much as you can. The same goes for pets or other dogs in the neighborhood. When walking your pet, it is best to advise people not to approach the dog, instead let them wait until the dog comes to them before petting and greeting. After a while you will notice that your dog is more relaxed with strangers as they have built up their trust. Fear of the stranger is at the root of this problem. Cocker isn’t sure what to expect.
The two main reasons for aggression towards family members are:
1) The dog is trying to protect something of its own from a potential threat. This could be any number of things, including his food, a toy, or a bone.
2) The dog is not satisfied with the handling or treatment by you or other family members. There has been a disruption in the pack order and the dog is trying to assert its dominance.
It is important that you never hit, physically punish or shout 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 should be part of the pack, but if left to question who is the pack leader, they will begin to challenge rank and show dominance within the home. This is where you have to step up to take on the role of pack leader as the alpha dog. You need to create a strong and solid home by demanding respect from your dog in a calm but firm manner.
Where to Start
The first place to start is by taking control of your home. Be aware that all dog family members fall in the pack order somewhere. In your dogs eyes he lives in a pack and needs to know where he falls within the range. If it is not clear who is the leader of the pack, the dog will try to assert its dominance and will be difficult to control.
The next step is to set boundaries. Start by taking back control of your personal space. Do not let the dog sleep with you. The top dog always has the best place to sleep. Do not allow your dog in the future or in any room where you would not want your dog to be.
Feed your dog on a predictable schedule, this will help prevent the dog from developing food aggression.
Never react if your dog shows aggression towards another dog and do not pay attention after a show of aggression. The best point to follow is to separate the dogs and re-introduce the dogs after you have established a calm state. This can be done with a simple pull of the leash to break their mind and waiting for a quiet moment. You can further show your dominance by either breaking the behavior with a word of your choice or a sound you make. Just be consistent.
Aggression towards children or family members
If the aggression is directed at a person or a child in your home, it is advisable to immediately seek the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They will help you 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 powerful dog and can cause serious injuries. Don’t take this for granted.
Make sure your dog is getting the right amount of exercise. This will help your dog become neurotic and overly anxious, which can lead to aggression.
Cocker Spaniels can sense your mood and how you react to things. If you show fear, they will become anxious, which can lead to aggression. However, if you are calm, relaxed and assertive, you can show them that you are in charge. Cockers want a safe home and reassurance that the pack leader will protect and care for them.
How dogs think
Dogs usually do things in a series of actions. For example; Before the dog bites, it will normally curl up its upper lip, growl, bare 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 prevent further actions by breaking the momentum. Dogs think in the moment. As the pack leader, you must tell your dog that the behavior is unacceptable with a firm command.
There are many forms of aggression. Dominant aggression is the most common. Your dog is most likely to exhibit this aggression behavior during the behavioral maturity stages between the ages of one and two. Correcting this behavior at this stage is quite simple if you work with the dog early in development and on a daily basis.
Aggression in older dogs
If you are experiencing aggression in an older dog, the first thing you should do is 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 can be a bit more difficult, but it can be done. You will need some patience.
Aggression can disturb a dog owner and family members. However, with some simple observations and adjustments, most problems can be corrected. However, it’s 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 turns out to be more than you’d like to handle. If you don’t know where to look, try calling your local vet for suggestions. The sooner you correct the problem, the happier everyone will be, including your Cocker Spaniel. A dog with an aggression problem should be taken seriously with immediate action to correct the behavior.
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