14 Week Old Cocker Growling

by Shannon
(Colorado Sprrings, CO)

Help! My Cocker Spaniel Puppy Is Growling!

Help! My Cocker Spaniel Puppy Is Growling!

We have a 14 week old cocker spaniel who has started to growl at my husband when he tries to pick her up or move her.

She doesn't always growl, it's mostly at night, and my husband has tried growling back and grabbing her by her muzzle, but this seems to escalate the situation. Eventually she will relax and start licking my husband's hand, but they can have quite the stand off at times.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)

Hi Shannon,

It sounds like your little puppy needs to understand her place in your household! :-)

Fist of all, I don't recommend you use any sort of force or 'aggression' on your puppy. You are right to discipline her, but you don't want her to fear you - that will only result in trouble later with fear aggression and biting. Cockers can be sensitive little things!

If and when she growls, or nips, a firm 'No' (and the 'pointy finger') should be enough. If you're holding her when she does this, put her onto the floor immediately.

Your puppy is young and needs to be trained and given boundaries. If you've not already done so, read this page on obedience training.

This is also a crucial time in her socialization - you only have a short time to really get this working for her. Introduce her to lots of different men, women and children, wearing hats, glasses, men with beards, etc. and lots of different sounds and experiences - the more the better and right now, don't delay. You can read more about socialization here.

If she's allowed on the couch, for the time being, I would restrict her to the floor in her own bed, (unless you're giving her a cuddle) better still, use a crate and don't let her sleep on your bed.

I wholeheartedly subscribe to the NILIF philosophy - Nothing in life is free! Make her work for everything she gets. For example, ask her to sit and wait before you feed her, ask her to wait to let you walk through a doorway, don't allow her to walk upstairs before you, make her sit before you put on her lead, etc, etc, etc.

(See the Alpha Dog).

A tired puppy is a happy relaxed puppy. Exercise her well and exercise her mind too by giving her lots of interesting toys to play with.

If you apply all of the above you will see a definite improvement in your little girl.

Good luck, I hope this helps.

Kind regards,

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Growling Cocker Puppy
by: Josh

Yes, don't let her get away with any growling at all because this will spell danger later when she's older. I think the best thing to do is to put her to one side each time she growls at anyone in your family. Don't play with her, don't give her treats, just ignore her.

I really wouldn't smack her or hold her muzzle in case she becomes frightened of you. You really don't want that do you?

If you refuse to have anything to do with her when she growls, she'll begin to see cause and effect; each time she growls her 'pack' don't want anything to do with her.

You don't want to scare her into not growling because there will be times when you want her to growl. A dog that doesn't give a warning growl before it bites is a dangerous dog.

Best of luck with your little girl!

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