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DakotaSouthFive, Other
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 12280
Experience:  Therapy Dog Evaluator,AKC Evaluator, 27 years dog behavior,modification, Emergency Pet first aide in disasters
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6 yr old working cocker - new to us 2 months - unpredictable

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6 yr old working cocker - new to us 2 months - unpredictable with other dogs, sometimes picks a fight, sometimes not - when fixated on something, e.g. cat will not come back when called
JA: I'll do all I can to help. Have you tried anything so far that helps the dog with this aggression?
Customer: Tried to precipitate by noticing body language & get on lead but one minute she's playing, next fighting so hard to know what to do! I think she is a highly strung dog and wants to be the alpha female.
JA: What's the dog's name?
Customer: Elsa
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know?
Customer: No, we've taken her to our vet, had her vaccinated and checked over - everything OK other than (probably) mild allergies that irritate her feet so she chews at them so on Piriton which seems to help. She was spayed before we had her. Was re-homed as didn't get along with son's dog

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Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ as well as an assistance/service dog trainer, specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today.

I am reviewing your question now.

Cocker spaniels were bred as flush dogs so their prey drive can be high when it comes to other small animals. This means they need longer training.

As well, you have only had the dog 2 months , so it has not settled into your home fully. Rescues take a long time to take in new surroundings. (new people, new neighborhood movements, new smells and sounds)

There are a few types of aggression and I will put them below. Sometimes what may look like alpha is really fear. Most alpha dogs just don't start acting out, they take the time to gauge the other dog.

With any of the aggressions , a dog needs much longer training than the normal six week course. Training is continued and the dog needs to be actually trained in every area you intend to bring it.

Aggressive behaviors

There are a variety of aggressive behavior names , leash aggression, territorial aggression, protection, frustration ,redirected and prey. All can usually fit under one of the below aggressions. Much depends on a dog’s personality. For instance, if a dog is fearful it will become aggressive to that which it fears. This means it can fit into categories such as leash aggression, frustration, or redirected aggression.

Protection aggression would fit into possession aggression and so on.

Fear aggression. Dogs with fear aggression usually only take to one person and do not trust others , even if the dog has been around them for life. They see things humans do as threats to them. Eye contact, talking to, reaching out toward, or walking toward. If they feel trapped by what they fear, they will act on instinct and bite.( Leash aggression, fence/barrier aggression)

Possessive aggression. Dogs with this will take ownership of items and will growls or snap if someone tries to take them away or they get too close to the possession . They can be possessive over items, food, people and space thus leash aggression because it may feel possessive over the human. Fence/barrier aggression as they are possessive over property.

Alpha aggression. Dogs with alpha aggression you will most likely see them taking it out on other dogs in the home. They want to be the top dog so they continue to go after other dogs in the home or dogs on the outside to put them beneath them.

Fear aggression needs to be treated with care to prevent bites. It is important for people to teach and use commands with a fear aggressive dog so the dog knows what you are going to do as you near it. For instance, if a dog is laying on the couch and you walk up to it to take if off the couch, the dog will growl/bite because it does not know why you are touching it. Another example would be: your dog is standing next to you while you are talking to a guest/stranger. The stranger drops his keys to the ground. You know that the logical thing to happen next is that the stranger is going to bend down and get their keys. The dog does not have this forethought. What the dog sees is someone is bending over it and reaching out toward it. The dog does not have the forethought to know the stranger is just going for the keys.

So, it is important for you to teach the dog through commands what may happen when you come upon it. You would teach the dog the difference between jumping up on something and jumping off something. (commands: Jump up and Off) This way you are telling the dog to move off of the couch before you sit. The dog gets off, it knows what you want and it goes somewhere else or if you then call the dog to jump up and pat the couch, the dog if it is not afraid will likely sit next to you.

Fear aggressive dogs need to be ignored by those it does not trust or know , especially if there are no commands in place. Doing any of the challenges can result in a bite if the dog feels it cannot run away from the situation .

Positive obedience training such as clicker training should be kept up with through the life of the dog.

Sometimes doing behavior adjustment training can help also.

Possession aggression is pretty much self explanatory, whereas the dog will not relinquish what it feels possessive of. In this case the dog should be trained daily and put on the nothing in life is free program. All things the dog may feel possessive of should be put away. The dog should be taught to go to a bed or crate in the corner if the room and stay there until you release it when company comes, especially with children as children do not understand a dogs body language. Training a possessive aggressive dog to give up an item is also a good idea.

Alpha aggression. This should be treated the same as possession aggression. It is up to the owner to be the lead in the home not a dog, so in this case you want to train daily and put the dog on the nothing in life is free program. Sometimes we get a new dog and see right away they want to take over the group of dogs. This should not be allowed to happen. We do not need to punish the dog, but rather take charge of all of its wants and needs. Then it sees you as being in charge.


Start your training in non distracting areas and gradually move to more distracting areas slowly. If at any point you move to a more distracting area and the dog acts out, then you have to go back to the last spot the dog was listening and train longer there, before moving forward.

Also, always remember as you start moving to more distracting areas, you need to up the ante of reward. So, for non distracting areas you can use kibble, if there is no interest in that, then soft dog treats broken up to smaller pieces. When it is more distracting you need to up that reward to chicken or hot dog slivers.

Clicker training Positive method of training

If you have never used a clicker , you have to load it first before you start training. This just means you do 10 to 15 repetitions of clicking and treating so she knows that after the click sound, a reward comes. The click sound, as you train, is actually a marker that shows the dog it has done the right thing. The clicker costs about 2 dollars in a pet store.

Zac George -loading the clicker

Clicker training/positive method training/ print off

For more videos of clicker training other commands go to google search and type in “clicker training videos”

use a variety of items for training leave it so the dog knows it pertains to everything in its sight. Include using a remote control car for moving items. If there is a high prey drive then also attach a stuffed animal to it.

clicker leave it

clicker maintaining focus

training Give

Nothing in life is free program (possession & alpha aggression)

Training method -Behavior Adjustment (fear aggression)


DakotaSouthFive, Other
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 12280
Experience: Therapy Dog Evaluator,AKC Evaluator, 27 years dog behavior,modification, Emergency Pet first aide in disasters
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