Is My Cocker Being Aggressive Or Playful?

by Kelly
(Atlanta, GA)

Aggressive Or Playful Cocker Spaniel?

Aggressive Or Playful Cocker Spaniel?

I have had a 3-month-old solid chocolate brown Cocker Spaniel for 1 month. Her name is Mary Jane and she is so pretty. She seems to be very smart, she's already learned to sit, is 90% potty trained, sleeps at night, and behaves moderately well most of the time.

We have been trying to teach her not to bite us and that is much better than when we first got her.

So my question is, every night she gets so hyper that she runs and growls and barks and lunges to bite us.

We have tried a lot of things, saying no, pennies in a can, trying to ignore it but she acts like no one is even talking. It can be a bit frightening when she is jumping at us to bite.

Is this a normal thing for her age or is there some other issue, and in your opinion have you seen this behaviour before?

Also, what kind of things can we do to stop this behaviour?

Please help :)

Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)

Hello Kelly,

It sounds like Mary Jane is a bit of a handful at the moment, doesn't it?

It also sounds like she's a very intelligent Cocker Spaniel, so don't worry, between us, I think we can get this sorted.

Puppy biting is perfectly normal behaviour, however, it needs to be tempered and stopped. Her mother and siblings would normally teach 'bite inhibition' but since she's not with them, it falls to her owner to teach her that biting humans hurt and is unacceptable behaviour.

Before we move on to teaching your puppy not to bite, can I suggest that when it's nearing her bedtime you try to calm things down a little - give her the equivalent of a 'bedtime story'!

Tire her out with a little exercise, play some puppy games with her, or give her a toy to chew on, and then a little cuddle (she may fall asleep in your lap) and then bedtime.

Just like children, young puppies need to wind down and settle before bedtime.

Rather than duplicate content, I recommend you read this article which explains how to stop your puppy from biting.

Aside from explaining how to stop your puppy from biting, it also offers some useful 'Do's and Don't s' - I think you'll find it quite helpful.

Because your puppy is still biting at 3 months old, her habit may be a little more difficult to break so it may take a little longer for you to get to the bottom of it. However, if you follow the advice in the above-mentioned article, stay focused and persevere, you will get there.

As for her lunging and jumping up at you - I recommend you stop that behaviour immediately, otherwise you will have problems later when she's an adult dog. Even at this age, if she jumped up at a young child she could cause serious injury - just imagine what she may do as an adult dog!

The next time she goes to jump up at you, take a quick step back or to one side so that she's jumping into the fresh air.

An alternative to that is to turn your back on her as soon as you think she's going to jump.

At the same time, keep your hands up out of her way, perhaps crossed on your chest.

If she continues to jump, give her some time out and put her in her crate (not as a punishment, but just to help her settle down). Alternatively, place her in another (safe) room for a couple of minutes. Time out will eventually teach her that each time she jumps or becomes too boisterous, play stops and she's isolated. Once she realizes that's not much fun she'll stop.

All throughout these training exercises, stay calm and don't shout (other than to say 'No'). She'll soon learn that you won't accept her behaviour and will begin to toe the line.

By the way, I'd only use the pennies in a can as a last resort, and then after taking advice from a canine behavioural therapist - they can cause more problems than they solve.

Good luck!

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My Puppy Bites Too!
by: Anonymous

My puppy is doing exactly the same as yours - sometimes it's really painful. I'm not scared of my puppy, but if he gets any bigger and he's still doing it, I will be!

I'm going to try the advice given by Pauline.

Fingers crossed.....!

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