Golden Cocker Spaniel Aggression
Max - Golden Cocker Spaniel (Site Owner's Dog)
I have two cocker spaniels, both female and spayed. My black cocker is five and my golden spaniel is four and I have had them both from pups.
My black spaniel has the most beautiful temperament and is wonderful in every situation.
My golden spaniel however, is nervous around unfamiliar people and guests, and barks at them in the house and when out on walks.
Worst of all she has started to attack my black cocker. She never does this when it is just the three of us, but if we are going on a walk with someone else, someone she likes, such as my parents, my partner or our very good friend, she can, for no reason at all, attack my other cocker.
She does this by placing her jaw on the back of her neck, then grabbing her flesh and shaking her head. My other cocker fights back and they are very hard to separate. Yesterday when walking with my partner, she did this and as he tried to separate them he got bitten.
She can be a lovely dog at home, and when it's just me, my partner and both dogs at home, everything is fine. I need to stop this behaviour now, please can you help?
Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)
First of all I really must point out that you need a professional dog behaviourist to help you with your problem and I am not qualified to offer you any solid advice.
If you speak to your vet he or she will be able to (hopefully) rule out any underlying medical problem which may be causing aggression and refer you to a behaviourist in your area.
I recommend you do this as soon as possible because aggression problems like this can quickly escalate and get out of hand.
My unqualified opinion though, is this:
I don't think the problem is alpha related, I think it's fear related.
Because your golden cocker spaniel is nervous around other people, I believe it sounds like a fear motivated aggression which is being redirected onto your black cocker.
Fear motivated aggression is a defensive reaction to someone or something that triggered a fear in a dog and the dog responds by barking, snapping, nipping, biting or a full blown attack.
It sounds like your dog's barking was a reaction to being frightened of strangers, and now it's escalating.
Now comes the 'redirection' bit - because your cocker is nervous of people and she knows she can't bite them, she's redirecting her fear onto your black cocker instead of biting the 'object' of her fear, ie another person or a stranger.
You mention that she can react that way even in the presence of people she likes. It's strange that she should be frightened of someone she likes. Are you sure there weren't other people around in the park when she bit your black cocker? That would 'explain' the attack.
Anyway, that's my (unqualified) opinion, but I really do ask you to speak to a professional.
In the meanwhile, I would limit any opportunity for the problem recurring until you can speak to an animal behaviourist, because the more often this happens, the worse it's going to get and it could be more difficult to resolve.
Personally, I don't think a muzzle is necessary because I think your partner was bitten 'accidentally' - it was not intended, but you might like to consider it until the problem is resolved.
Please let me know how you get on Louise. I'd really like to hear how it turns out for you all.