Are you worried your pooch is showing signs of Cocker rage syndrome? Or is it simply bad dog behavior? Learn how to tell if your dog is showing signs of this very rare, but very scary, form of canine aggression.
Cocker rage syndrome is not as common as you may think - in fact, it's quite rare!
Cocker Spaniels are not normally aggressive dogs, but when they do
behave badly, their aggressive behaviour is often misdiagnosed as
'Cocker Rage' or 'Sudden Onset Aggression'.
We know the Cocker Spaniel's temperament is very gentle and loving, but there have been some recorded cases of Cocker rage within the breed.
It's important to understand, however, that Cocker rage is the exception rather than the norm.
When it is present, it's more likely to be seen in male, show breed dogs rather than working dogs and the condition is almost always reported in solid colored dogs (red/golden/black etc) rather than in parti-colors.
An episode of Cocker rage shows itself as unexpected, unexplained aggressive dog behavior; a sudden, unprovoked vicious attack, for no apparent reason, towards the owner or whoever is near the Cocker at the time.
Although not clinically proven, some research has shown that rage syndrome may be hereditary.
If you're worried it's going to happen to your pet, please don't. It really is a very rare condition. If it is going to manifest itself, it will do so before your dog becomes an adult, often around 8 months old.
There is a distinct, visible difference between an episode of Cocker rage and a display of dog aggression.
As serious aggression in dogs is often incorrectly diagnosed as rage syndrome, it sometimes results in the dog being put to sleep, when the problem could have been easily resolved with good training.
Although conclusive scientific evidence has yet to be offered, there are several theories regarding the cause of Cocker rage:
The bottom line is that there are many theories offered, but no-one really knows for certain what causes rage syndrome.
If your Cocker Spaniel is showing signs of aggressive dog behavior, it's probably going to be another form of aggression, such as dominance aggression, resource guarding, (guarding toys or food) and territorial related behaviors.
For example, your dog becomes aggressive when someone gets too near while he's eating, (dog food aggression), or if he growls when he's asked to get down from the sofa he may be trying to challenge your status.
Or it could simply be down to bad behavior.
Rage is very rare in Cocker Spaniels, however, if you suspect your dog is showing signs of Cocker rage, I strongly recommend you speak to your vet as soon as possible and explain your concerns.
Try to note down all the symptoms and events that lead you to believe your dog has Cocker rage. List everything that happened before, during and after an alleged rage episode to give your vet a better understanding.
He may be able to diagnose it himself, or he may refer you to someone who specializes in animal or canine neurology.
On the positive side, he may confirm that the problem is simply a training issue and recommend a dog behavioral therapist in your local area.
If it's bad news and your vet confirms your Cocker has sudden onset aggression, it may be possible to treat the condition with medication such as anti-epileptics.
Unfortunately, all dogs respond differently to treatment and medication may ultimately prove ineffective.
Because of the unpredictable nature of this condition, and for the sake of safety, sadly the only other alternative is euthanasia.
In the meanwhile, careful breeding by responsible Cocker breeders will eventually help to remove this problem from the Cocker Spaniel breed.
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