Cocker Spaniel Aggressive Towards Strangers - Why?

by Ed
(San Diego)

Aggressive Cocker Spaniel? Not Me?

Aggressive Cocker Spaniel? Not Me?

Our Cocker Spaniel has been well socialized since we got him as a puppy and has always gotten along with every dog and only had issues with a few people (mostly small children).

We take him to the dog park at least 3 days a week at varying times so that he meets new dogs and dog owners and gets to play with his own kind as well.

He turned 1 this past November and in the last month or so, has become aggressive towards more strangers when he is on leash.

Usually trying to go at them and I have to pull him back multiple times and tell him NO.

He has also become aggressive towards people that knock on the door before coming in. For example the UPS man (which he has known his whole life), a new plumber and even some of my friends that he has met before. He has actually snipped at a couple of these people.

Any advice on what I can do to prevent this?

I feel like he is just being protective in these situations, but I definitely don't want him becoming too over-protective and biting someone.

Thanks in advance!

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Additional info
by: Ed

Thanks for the info. I think we are going to get him back into obedience training again.

Also, We are starting to think he is being more protective due to my wife being pregnant.

Looking back, he started being more aggressive towards strangers (when he is on a leash or if people are entering our house) around the same time my wife became pregnant. Is this normal?

We have already had him snipped and took him to the vet to get a full check-up and they said he is great.

Aggression Towards Strangers
by: Anonymous

I'd take your dog to see his vet so that he can check that he's okay. If you get the all-clear, then you know it's his only behaviour that needs addressing.

Many male dogs begin reacting this way at around 12 - 18 months. Sometimes all it needs is a little firm handling, ie don't allow them to get away with anything. If you ask him to sit or lie down and he ignores you - don't let it slip otherwise he'll learn that he can get away with not obeying you and will try to push the boundaries whenever he can. He will become more and more difficult to manage.

If you need to, re-start his obedience training and practice it a little every day.

To address his aggression, you need to understand why he's behaving this way. I don't know your dog or his environment (only what you've mentioned) so it's difficult to advise.

Your vet may recommend having him castrated as a way of 'calming him down' and behaving less aggressive towards other dogs.

Whatever you decide, you will need to take great care because if his behaviour is allowed to continue, he will only learn to do it all the more, making it more difficult to train him.

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