Aggressive and Possessive Cocker Spaniel

by Emma
(United Kingdom)

Aggressive - Moi? Non!

Aggressive - Moi? Non!

Hello, I sincerely hope that you can help me and my cocker spaniel puppy.

I have recently become the proud owner of a black cocker spaniel bitch - she's a pedigree.

She's just coming up to 9 months old, and I am very worried about her aggressive and possessive behaviour.

I am sad to say that she has bitten me and my partner - badly enough to break the skin.

I have been training her, and she is very receptive to the training. I have followed all the advice I have been given - to the letter - but nothing seems to be working, she's still biting.

She usually bites when we're trying to take something that she's stolen, that she shouldn't have, or when we want to move her into another room.

In fact, any time she doesn't want to do as she is told, she becomes aggressive. Is there any advice you could offer me?

Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)

It sounds like your puppy thinks she's the pack leader, in which case, you need to change this. You (and your family) are her pack leaders. Don't worry, you can easily reinforce this in lots of different ways every day - you might like to try some of the following:

  • If your dog bites you, shout out loud (yelp) and let her know that she's hurt you and then place her in the kitchen or somewhere on her own. Alternatively, you could leave the room - leaving here on her own.

    She'll soon learn that if she bites, she's excluded from the pack.

  • Before you give your puppy anything, food, toys, playtime, treats etc - make her work for it, even if you only ask her to 'Sit'.

  • Don't always give her attention when she demands it, I know, it's not easy when you have an adorable little puppy wanting you to play with her, but please try it.

  • When you prepare her dinner, even if you're simply pouring kibble into her bowl, make her sit and wait, and then pretend to eat from her bowl, or eat a cracker. Your puppy needs to think that you have eaten first, because that's what happens in the wild, pack leaders eat first.

  • Always dictate when it's time to play, or go for a walk, etc., don't let her tell you when it's time to go out or play. (Unless of course she wants to go out for a wee in the garden).

  • Give your puppy plenty of time on her own, even when you're in the house it's a good idea to leave her in another room for an hour each day to get her used to being on her own.

  • Always walk through a doorway before she does - never let her walk ahead of you. That's what pack leaders do, they lead the pack.

  • Ditto when walking her on a lead, try and get her to walk to heel by your side. You should be leading.

  • Don't let her sit higher than you - again, it's a pack leader thing. Always stay above her.

  • Don't allow your puppy to sleep on your bed or sit on the settee with you as it will increase and reinforce her dominance - pack leaders get to sleep wherever they want.

Let any of the above slip and it's surprising how quickly she'll push her luck to see if she can become the pack leader again.

Another bit of advice - stay calm - don't shout at her or get frustrated (easier said than done!) she will only pick up on it. Persevere, and you will win her over.

It may take a little bit of perseverance and patience from you but I'm sure you'll get there.

I should point out that I'm not a dog behaviourist - I would recommend that you try contacting a professional dog behaviour therapist if you have no luck with the above or if the situation becomes worse.

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Understand the Cocker Spaniel Breed
by: Jamie

It is widely regarded that the English Cocker Spaniel is one of the most aggressive natured breeds in the world. This is not to say that they aren't wonderful dogs, but you have to learn their parameters.

Do not tease them. The only way to discipline them is to lock them in bathroom alone for a few minutes. They are naturally possessive. There is little you can do about it. They don't like to be touched when protecting something. Give them the space to be.

They don't like too much interference. They do like to be loved - but only on their own terms.

They are a wonderful gun dog breed. They come into their own when you take them for long walks. You'll see them shooting in and out of bushes, flushing out the birds. It's wonderful to see.

They are so energetic and highly skilled at sniffing out animals and getting to the bottom of the situation.

We love our English Cocker Spaniel. That being said, it is definitely an acquired taste and is not for the average dog owner.

This breed really requires a skilled and patient dog owner who is willing to see past their aggressive nature.

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