Is My Cocker Spaniel Too Protective?

by Nicola
(Yorkshire)

Is My Cocker Spaniel Being Protective?

Is My Cocker Spaniel Being Protective?

I have a 14 month old Cocker Spaniel, she is lovely natured and a great family pet.

She is very well-behaved with my daughter aged 6 and, in all other aspects, behaves just how I would like her to behave.

My problems are:

  • When another dog comes to our home (usually my brothers as they also have 2 cocker spaniels) she has to be the dog in charge so to speak. She is very vocal (barking) and does often play too rough with them. She snaps at them as to give them warnings all of the time, but she has not bitten them or started a fight with them.

    When we all go out for a walk she is then fine.

    I am always telling her "NO" when she acts like this and take her out of the play for a while but cannot seem to get past it!

  • She has always been fine with other children at my home and I do have people here quite often playing with my daughter.

    They all like to pet her and my spaniel loves this, however, on 2 occasions she has growled and then snapped at 2 of the children.

    The first time just seemed to be for no reason at all. The boy had played here all day and she was fine with him, he was then walking into the room she growled, he proceeded to walk in and she snapped at him.

    The second occasion, a girl was chasing my daughter about, my spaniel began to growl, my daughter came over and stroked her and she was fine, the girl came over to stroke her and she snapped at her.

    I don't think she would have bit either of them, but do feel like she was warning them off and feel that she may be acting protective(?).

I think when the other dogs or other children come to our home, she gets into her protective mode and keeps an eye on them at all times showing she is boss!

I am not happy with this as I don't want her to ever bite as she is a much loved pet.

How can I deal with this, especially the children part, as up to now I tell her no and take her outside for a while. She does stop but I can see her watching them at all times!

I am becoming nervous when the children are around her and I'm trying to keep them away but I don't want to as this stops me then from telling her again that it's wrong and from being able to tell if she has learned a lesson.

I feel though that I need to protect the children ...just in case! It's very upsetting!

Thank you for any advice!

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Dog Growling At The Children
by: Ted

I suspect your cocker is trying to be the alpha male when the other dogs come over - that's perfectly natural and they will settle their own hierarchy.

Not all dogs like to be handled or stroked, but will often tolerate the family stroking them. Do your daughter's friends know the ground rules for being around and handling dogs. If not, I'd make sure they do.

In the meanwhile, until the dog begins to behave, I recommend you ask the children not to touch, talk or look at the dog. They will be much safer that way.

If you know the kids are coming round, make sure the dog has been walked and her energy levels are low.

Keep an eye on her when she's around the children. Watch her body language. If she's backing away or growling it's because she's trying to tell the children something - she's warning them. If they don't heed the warning....

I would recommend you get professional help with your dog's behavioural problems, particularly because there's children involved. They won't get better on their own.

Sorry I couldn't be more help and good luck!

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