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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20222
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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We have a nine year old Cocker Spaniel who we got as a rescue

Customer Question

We have a nine year old Cocker Spaniel who we got as a rescue dog at
The age of three. His behaviour did not start until about 6 to 7 months later.
Visitors were not welcome, especially if they came for a meal. We have not been able to sit around the table and have a meal for years. His behaviour has got worse as he gets older.
This would manifest in climbing to the top of the settee behind our heads, scraping at the door,going in corners not leaving us alone
Nervous shivering and generally behaving badly. When our guest have gone this behaviour
This has become a real problem as we have to book him into a kennel if we
have a important event we cannot even have our son around without this behaviour happening
“Previous to this he was fine with him” it is getting worse
We have probably spoilt him and loved him too much. He is just happy when he is alone
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.
Hi Securitas,

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.

In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.

It sounds like you allow him on the furniture, is this true?
Is he neutered?
Have you done any obedience training with him?
Do you take him for walks?
Is the place you take your meals when company is over a place your dog likes to be when company is not thee?
When you state going in corners are you referring to urination?
Did your son used to live with you before and now doesn't or used to come over more frequently?
When you attempt to put him in a room when company comes over, he would scratch non stop at the door?
What else have you tried to stop the behavior?
How does he react if you go with him to friend's houses?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes we do allow him on the furniture normally one half of the sofa.

He is not neutered we have not done any obedience training with him

We do take him for walks.

We normally take our meals on trays infront of the tv in the lounge he eats in the kitchen but is allowed biscuits in the lounge. When we have visitors it is on the table in the dinning room. We dont really eat in the dinning room.

We dont have a problem with urination he goes in the corners behind furniture and squeezes through gaps as if he is either trying to escape

or wanting attention. This only happens when we have visitors. My son

used to take him for walks and spent a lot of time with him. He says the dog got on with him very well because he realised my son was the boss?He thinks there is no boss in the house either myself or my husband he may have a point? My son has not seen Scoopy for some time so his behavour towards him is a recent factor. We have shouted at him tried to keep him on his bed in the lounge with no effect. If we leave him in a seperate room when we have visitors he

would climb on furniture even chew electrical cables and most of the time jump up at the door and scratch it. We have stopped taking him

to any friends house we cannot trust him he acts in the same way.

We are at a loss how to change his behavour.

Many Thanks

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.
Hi Securitas,

I tend to agree with your son. The behavior seems to be more of a dominance issue. Dogs will eliminate in areas that they feel are their territory to mark it. Outside it shows other dogs that he lives there and what he says goes. However, it might also indicate that he has some fear of these visitors and when you remove him some separation anxiety. The separation anxiety would explain eliminating and scratching when away from you, while the fear portion would explain him having to be right up on you and shivering. It can also lead to elimination as well depending on the amount of anxiety they have.

In either case, obedience training will help this. It will not only give him a strong leader in the humans and better control over him, but gives him self confidence as he learns what you expect of him when you give commands. Formal classes are best because they also help socialize him around other dogs and people in a controlled atmosphere. This helps him learn that he doesn't have to be scared of other people. It is your job though to stop them from trying to touch him or pet him. If anyone tries, tell them you are here to help with his people anxiety, so you would rather they didn't quite yet. Most people are understanding and will comply.

The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog until you can get into classes. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

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.

Unfortunately, the site does not allow me to make clickable links, so to view the supporting websites, you will need to copy and paste the link into a new browser window or tab.

If possible, you should get a crate and crate him when you have visitors over until his training is completed. This will limit his behavior to the crate and help make the evenings a little more enjoyable and protect him as well. To help him adjust to a crate, start feeding him in it with the door open. He will start associating it with his food and not with any form of punishment. It isn't punishment but just a place that is just his.

Once you think he has mastered the obedience and is a bit better, you might move his crate to an area where he can see you and the guests without any real interaction. At this point, if he isn't exhibiting any fearful behavior, you might allow them to give him some small vienna sausage slices or liver slivers so he starts associating them with the special tasty treats.
It will not be a quick fix and will take a lot of work on your part, but it can be corrected. You might also get some DAP diffusers or a collar. They emit a pheromone similar to the one a nursing mom emits to calm her pups. They can have a positive affect on dogs with anxiety issues when coupled with training.

Between the training and dap collar and working with him around other people, I think you will find these techniques helpful. In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques I describe, you may have to consult a professional behaviorist. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.

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 .