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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20221
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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I have an eight year old Clumber Spaniel who is normally very

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I have an eight year old Clumber Spaniel who is normally very lazy and laid back until I try to treat his eyes or ears or remove fur balls. I used to put a muzzle on but now when he sees it he becomes very aggresive and I cannot get near him. He has got worse as he has got older. He has bitten me three times now but he needs his eyes treating and I am at my wits end.
Thank you ***** *****
Hi Carol, My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today. Usually in situations like this, obedience training is what the dog really needs so that you establish yourself as the boss. As the boss, you get to do what you want to him even if he does not want you to. So I strongly suggest obedience training. Let me go over that first then address what you can do in the meantime. The following site is helpful in helping owners train their 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. 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. He is likely uncomfortable when you are dealing with fur balls. Many dogs hate grooming because of this. They make a comb for horses that includes a blade that can be used when you encounter a mat to lessen the pain of grooming. See one such comb here: Once he realizes that you are not pulling on his skin when grooming, he may allow you to groom him without biting you. Since he won't let you use a muzzle anymore, you may have to fashion an emergency muzzle from a leash IF it is necessary to treat his eyes or ears. Here is instructions on creating an emergency muzzle from a leash. Since it isn't a muzzle, he should allow you to have a leash and not become aggressive. See instructions here: If you are just treating a cosmetic situation such as tear stains I would recommend you take him to a groomer on a regular basis. They can not only do the brushing and remove tear stains from his face on a regular basis and clean his ears and trim the hair there as well. If you find a good groomer and have a standing monthly appointment, they will frequently give you an excellent price since you are a regular customer and they want you back every month. You could at least do this until you have him obedience trained. Obedience training doesn't just treat commands though the dogs do learn commands. If a dog doesn't feel you are the boss, when you try and make the dog do something they do not want to do, they will growl, snarl and snap at you to make you stop. It tends to work since owners don't like to be bit. So training helps them see you as the boss. Now you can also get some thick leather gloves that may help you avoid the pain of a bite as well until he has enough training to behave again. You should also work on desensitizing him to the muzzle as well. If you do not have a basket style muzzle, you should get one. Normal muzzles restrict a dog's ability to eat, drink and even breath normally. A basket muzzle is less restrictive and still prevents bites. Then you need to put the muzzle on at times when you are not going to be grooming him or putting medicine that might sting in his eyes or ears. You should optimally put the muzzle on for a minute or two and then give him a special treat while he has the muzzle on like hot dog slivers or even raw liver pieces. Make the reward for having the muzzle on outweigh the discomfort of when it is needed for medications or grooming. It has to be a pleasant experience a lot more than an unpleasant experience. This helps him come to actually want you to put the muzzle on so he get the special treats. You can not use store bought treats as it has to be a high value treat. I hope this information is helpful to you. 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 . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer so I am compensated for my time. If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may click here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Since there have been recalls on certain foods, please check the following site to be sure the food your animals eat is not affected. If it is affected, contact your vet as soon as possible. Have your dog seen if they have any symptoms.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Jane
Thank you for your response, I think I knew the problem, he has always been very alpha even when going to obedience lessons ( actually he was very good in the end) but it took me and the trainers four months to get him to go down, I should have kept going. He was an only pup and never had the rough and tumble of siblings and has always been difficult. Anyway I think I will go to a professional trainer with him for a while as actually I have lost my confidence with him and need to get it back. I have another Clumber and she is the exact opposite to him I suppose he keeps her in place.
Thank you again***** *****
You are very welcome.