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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20217
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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My dog Hogan is a 6 year old Sprocker who had a cruciate op

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My dog Hogan is a 6 year old Sprocker who had a cruciate op in Jan. For the last year or so he has been showing his teeth if you go near him (not all the time mainly if he is tired) but since his op he has been snapping and i don't know why! I am concerned about him so took him to vets who checked him over but found nothing wrong, no pain. I moved in with my partner year past Dec, she has 2 cockers but they do get on. We bought a new house in November last year but he seems to have settled ok. He has been getting fed Canin Cocker Spaniel since i moved in with my partner so wondered if i should try another dry food?
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.
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.
What obedience training has your boy had?
Is he neutered?
Is he allowed on furniture?
It sounds like this is toward humans, is that right?
Is he also snappy with the other dogs?
If so, what sex, age and reproductive status are they?
Is the above items you mentioned the only thing you have done so far?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi yes he has been neutered. He was at puppy obedience training as he is a puller and we had to take him to some more training last year as he was possive with his food and toys. Yes it is mainly with humans. We have 2 cocker spaniels as well a boy 9 and a girl 4. Since his op he has been on a lead so not the greatest at speaking to other dogs just now. He doesn't come onto the furniture as he likes his bed.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes hogan has been neutered. When he was a pup we took him to obedience training as he is a puller and we had to take him to some more training as he became possive with tiys and food. He is allowed on furniture but doesn't come up as likes being in his bed. We have 2 other dogs both cockers boy 9 and girl 4who he is fine with. Since his op he has been on his lead so sometimes boyhers with smaller dogs and sometimes not. It is mainly towards humans and has only started about a year ago, looks really vicious. He eats canin cocker spaniel food now as thats what the other 2 get so wondered if it was worth changing his food?



Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful. If the vet has not performed a thyroid panel, you should have that done. This is a condition that requires special tewting. Hypothyroidism can lead to sudden aggression in a dog and cockers are prone to it. Read about medical causes for aggression here.


It sounds like your dog may be having issues with dominance aggression. Many dominant dogs are described as well behaved until you try to get them to do something they do not want to do, and then they reprimand you either with a growl or bite if you don't heed the growl. When he was in pain, he may have found that acting like this got humans to stop doing things or to move away. Things like taking away something they want, making them move when they don't want to, waking them up, etc can cause them to reprimand (bite or snap at) you.


There are ways to regain the dominant position in the house. The best way is to start obedience training back up. While a formal training class is great, you can start obedience training without a formal class. Before you can get into classes, I am including links to a couple of other sites that teach some good methods of training. Be sure and read both.

The following site is also helpful. 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.


I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well your dog does with additional training if no medical conditions is present. Dogs love the little paper thin slices of hotdogs that I use for treats while training. Give this a try and see how it works for you.


Additionally, I would suggest you get a basket muzzle and make him wear it anytime children are around or visitors are there. Be sure to use the leash to make him obey you. If he growls give a short tug to get his attention and a firm "NO" to let him know, you are not going to allow his aggression. If he is sleeping, give a little tug to let him know that someone is there so he isn't startled when being woken up. .


In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques on the previous website, 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 would not change the food unless your vet wants him on a special diet. If he is overweight, I would get him back to his suggested weight by cutting his portion in half and increasing exercise until he is at the desired weight. Overweight dogs can be snappier due to discomfort from strain on the joints, etc. Hypothyroid dogs often are a little overweight or have that appearance.


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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