Golden Cocker Spaniel Aggression

by Louise
(Somerset, England)

Max - Golden Cocker Spaniel (Site Owner's Dog)

Max - Golden Cocker Spaniel (Site Owner's Dog)

I have two cocker spaniels, both female and spayed. My black cocker is five and my golden spaniel is four and I have had them both from pups.

My black spaniel has the most beautiful temperament and is wonderful in every situation.

My golden spaniel however, is nervous around unfamiliar people and guests, and barks at them in the house and when out on walks.

Worst of all she has started to attack my black cocker. She never does this when it is just the three of us, but if we are going on a walk with someone else, someone she likes, such as my parents, my partner or our very good friend, she can, for no reason at all, attack my other cocker.

She does this by placing her jaw on the back of her neck, then grabbing her flesh and shaking her head. My other cocker fights back and they are very hard to separate. Yesterday when walking with my partner, she did this and as he tried to separate them he got bitten.

She can be a lovely dog at home, and when it's just me, my partner and both dogs at home, everything is fine. I need to stop this behaviour now, please can you help?

Thanks.

Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)

Hi Louise,

First of all I really must point out that you need a professional dog behaviourist to help you with your problem and I am not qualified to offer you any solid advice.

If you speak to your vet he or she will be able to (hopefully) rule out any underlying medical problem which may be causing aggression and refer you to a behaviourist in your area.

I recommend you do this as soon as possible because aggression problems like this can quickly escalate and get out of hand.

My unqualified opinion though, is this:

I don't think the problem is alpha related, I think it's fear related.

Because your golden cocker spaniel is nervous around other people, I believe it sounds like a fear motivated aggression which is being redirected onto your black cocker.

Fear motivated aggression is a defensive reaction to someone or something that triggered a fear in a dog and the dog responds by barking, snapping, nipping, biting or a full blown attack.

It sounds like your dog's barking was a reaction to being frightened of strangers, and now it's escalating.

Now comes the 'redirection' bit - because your cocker is nervous of people and she knows she can't bite them, she's redirecting her fear onto your black cocker instead of biting the 'object' of her fear, ie another person or a stranger.

You mention that she can react that way even in the presence of people she likes. It's strange that she should be frightened of someone she likes. Are you sure there weren't other people around in the park when she bit your black cocker? That would 'explain' the attack.

Anyway, that's my (unqualified) opinion, but I really do ask you to speak to a professional.

In the meanwhile, I would limit any opportunity for the problem recurring until you can speak to an animal behaviourist, because the more often this happens, the worse it's going to get and it could be more difficult to resolve.

Personally, I don't think a muzzle is necessary because I think your partner was bitten 'accidentally' - it was not intended, but you might like to consider it until the problem is resolved.

Please let me know how you get on Louise. I'd really like to hear how it turns out for you all.

Good luck.

Kind regards,
Pauline

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Golden Cocker Spaniel Aggression?
by: Anonymous

I had a beautiful good-natured golden cocker spaniel from 8 weeks until she died at 15 years. While I had heard of possible issues with 'golden' cockers and the possibility of them being or becoming a bit 'psycho', I never experienced this.

She was the only dog in the house and was in my eyes number 1 and spoilt rotten.

Cockers prefer humans to other dogs. So I wonder if the aggression that people are writing about is more about jealousy?

I did have many friends whose dogs 'sleep over' which my cocker tolerated but no way could they come too close to the bed - out of character barking would occur.

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Not just nervous aggression?
by: Mike

We've problems with aggression in our own (UK / English) 2.5 year-old golden cocker spaniel and in looking into our options, it's becoming clear that golden cockers are getting a (deserved?) reputation for unreasonable aggression.

If you're reading this page while researching which type of dog to buy, based on our experience I can only advise you steer clear of an English golden cocker. Her sociability issues have taken much of the joy out of owning a dog and it looks like we have hard choices ahead. :-(

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Raged Golden Cocker
by: Anonymous

Hi, I have two cocker spaniels, one is black one golden and the other is black. The black one is 7 years old and the golden is 6 years old. I've had both since they were ten weeks old.

In the past year the golden has become very aggressive to anyone walking by, driving by, post man etc. We have a run for them and he started breaking out so we attached a wire on top. He got a shock and has been troublesome going in since, shaking uncontrollably to the point of me having to lift him in.

This morning I called him out of the kitchen he wouldn't come out so I went to him (as I have done all last week) to grab his paws, at which stage he usually comes along himself. This morning however, he flew into a rage, lunged at me and snapped at me. I don't know what to do, I rang the vets and their suggestion is neuturing straight away so that's arranged for next week, but if there is any other advice it would be very much appreciated.

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Possible Food Aggression in our Golden?
by: Anonymous

We have 4 male cockers and they're all neutered. Three of them are American cockers, and the youngest is a golden English cocker, called Angus.

Angus has tried to dominate everything since coming home with us nearly 2 yrs ago. He turns 2 next month. He can be the sweetest dog, and is super smart, but for no reason, will attack one of his "brothers". It's usually when food or toys are involved.

One of the dogs isn't kind and they would fight to the death...blood has been spilled. He has never bitten or snapped at a human or a strange dog, only his packmates.

We are at a loss. Such a sweet and highly intelligent puppy. Not sure what is driving this little guy to pick fights......

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Dog Aggression
by: Anonymous

I agree. I see this behavior every day when I walk my dog. I walk him past a house which has a high garden, fenced off with chicken wire. There are always two Alsatian dogs in this garden and because the garden is elevated, the dogs are about my head.

As soon as they see me and my cocker walking towards their garden they begin running along the fence towards us and they bark really loudly and aggressively. My dog just ignores them. They don't seem to bother him (perhaps because he knows they're contained and he's safe?).

Anyway, when both dogs reach the edge of the fence (and the corner of the garden) so that they can't follow us and there's nowhere else for them to go, one always turns on the other and starts to attack it. It's really scarey to see - I'm just glad that they can't escape!

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