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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19755
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Hi we have adopted a 7 year old male cocker spaniel 2 months

Resolved Question:

Hi we have adopted a 7 year old male cocker spaniel 2 months ago. When he first arrived he was very clingy to my husband, wouldn't let him out of his sight. He is not so clingy now but checks all of the time myself and my husband are nearby. He has such a lovely nature and gets on very well with our 10 year old female cocker. The problem is a couple of weeks ago he has been snapping at other dogs when we are out for walks for no reason and will randomly bite people in our company, not severe, more like a pinch of the clothing. I have ordered a muzzle because I feel I can't trust him when in other company. As we don't know his history it is difficult. If you had any advice we would appreciate, thank you.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,

My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

Yelling at him really doesn't do much good. What he needs is discipline. He may be very well behaved but that is because he wants to be. Dominant dogs can be well behaved, but when you try and get them to do something they don't want to do, they growl or bite. If he feels he is the boss of the house, then he will start reprimanding people in the house. From his stand point it works. He doesn't want the people in his house so he nips at them and they don't bother him any more and in many cases leave.

If he feels he is the boss, he will also feel it is his job to protect the other pack members (you) so on walks he will challenge other dogs to intimidate them before they can challenge him.

You can correct this as long as there is no underlying medical problem which you can read about below.
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/medical-causes-of-aggression-in-dogs/page1.aspx
http://www.apdt.com/veterinary/assets/pdf/Dodman_MA10.pdf

You will need to work with him on obedience even if he is already trained. The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

Training serves multiple purposes including socialization around other dogs and people but it establishes you as the boss. Each time the dog obeys your command, it lowers them just a little more. Once they no longer feel they are the boss, they will be less likely to challenge other dogs because it is your job to protect them. The same goes for people in the house.

There is other training you can do as well. It will be helpful if you can find someone with a dog to help you once you have your dog listening to commands consistently. If you feel your dog already listens to commands well, you can start this step now. What you will do is have your dog on the leash. You will have your helper off in the distance. Your helper will gradually move their dog a bit closer to you preferably walking past your position in the distance. As long as your dog ignores them, you can give your dog praise and a treat. Give high value treats like fresh liver slivers and not ordinary treats. The second you see him fixate on the other dog or show any other sign of aggression (hair standing up, etc.) give your dog a correction by giving a short tug and a firm low toned "NO". It shouldn't take your dog long to realize you will not tolerate the aggression and that if he ignores the other dog, he gets treats. Once this happens you can repeat the training moving the other dog closer until he is no longer trying to lunge at other dogs. You will need to practice this when you and your dog are walking as well.

You can use the same technique for visitors in the house. You can use the muzzle to be sure he doesn't bite, but training will work once he sees you as the boss. Given his age, I would definitely have him tested to ensure there is no underlying medical condition such as a thyroid imbalance.

I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
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