by Evette Pricilla
I'm Not An Aggressive Puppy!
Hi, my name is Evette and I just recently bought a 4 month old Cocker spaniel. My twin baby brothers play very rough with him and recently my spaniel has been growling and biting at them.
Is this normal?
Will he grow up to be an aggressive dog?
What should I do?
Reply from Pauline - Web Owner
I would never recommend playing too aggressively with puppies, particularly cocker spaniels.
I strongly urge you to teach your baby brothers how to behave around puppies and how to handle them.
Please don't allow them unsupervised access to the puppy otherwise there will be trouble. Take a look at this article and 'read the riot act' to your brothers or where any other children come into close contact with your puppy (if they're old enough).
That said, it's time to begin resolving the immediate problem.
The first step is not to 'rough house' your puppy, or allow others to; cocker spaniels don't usually like too much rough and tumble.
Puppies learn through play and interaction with their mother and siblings. When a puppy is removed from that environment it's then up to us to teach them what's acceptable behavior and what's not.
For example, if a puppy bites too hard whilst playing, the mother or siblings will yelp loudly and may not play with the biting puppy for a little while. This teaches the puppy not to bite too hard next time.
This is called Bite Inhibition and it's the ability to control how hard (or gently) the puppy bites.
You can learn more about bite inhibition and how to stop your puppy biting here.
Imagine if your puppy played as aggressively as he is now, when he's an adult dog. A nip or a bite, or even a scratch, from an adult dog is not the same as that from a puppy - it's much, much worse and could be very dangerous! It needs to be managed now.
In addition, if your puppy has aggressive tendencies, or even if he hasn't, I wouldn't recommend that you play tug of war with him - at least not until he's an adult dog. Find out why I don't recommend you play tug of war with puppies until they're older.
On the other hand, there's an argument to say that if your puppy is very well-trained and responds well to obedience commands (in all circumstances) then rough play may be okay but only on the understanding that all play stops immediately on your command.
You can find some great puppy training tips here.
I think your puppy is telling your twin brothers that they are playing too rough with him and he doesn't like it, and/or he's frightened. Either way, this can cause aggression in dogs.
A bit of patience, education, training and discipline (on both parts) is all that's needed.
I hope this helps.
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