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Fiesty Cocker Mix

Rob n Cody
January 15th, 2007, 09:54 AM
HI all
A friend of mine just got a cocker spaniel mix (puppy) who is the sweetest little guy. All has been going well (she got him about a week or two ago), but for some reason, he seems to get agressive when her sister comes over and she is not at home. He doesn't have this problem with anyone else, and her sister assures her that she's not doing anything that should make him react this way.
Does anyone have any thoughts as to why this may be happening, and if there is anything they can do to change his behaviour toward her sister?
She is going to call a behaviourist if nothing happens soon, but I thought I would ask here on her behalf and see if anyone else has had this problem.
Thanks in advance

January 15th, 2007, 11:02 AM
Is could be a number of things that he's afraid of (big shoes, jacket, umbrella, etc), or it could be that someone scared or hurt him that looked like her, or it could be territorial.

Also, if whenever the puppy gets aggressive, and someone else picks him up, that behavior is being reinforced (snarling at her gets me picked up) so he's likely to do it more.

When your friend is home, I would tell the sister (no eye contact), and to stand still at the front door and just let the dog sniff her. Once he sniffs her and walks away, she can come in. Once she's in, tell her to sit on the couch or floor (no eye contact yet), and let him sniff her again.

When she is not home, the sister needs to "claim the room", and not worry about what the dog might do. Puppies especially will match our energy so if she is nervous or tense about the situation, the dog is likely to get more aggressive.

NB. Getting advice about aggression over the internet is always dangerous since we can't possibly know what the cause of the aggression is. But if he does this with just her, it sounds like he's either afraid of her (for whatever reason), or he's protecting the house... in which case, he needs to be taught that she is welcome in that house AT ANY TIME. Allowing him to check her out before she enters the house when people are home, is a good first step. But if the problem is territorial, after he "welcomes" her when his master is home, he needs to do the same when she's not (he can't be in charge of when she's allowed in and when she's not).

I'm late for work, so hopefully that made sense. :)

January 15th, 2007, 11:09 AM
I agree, could be something as silly as the sister wearing something that is frightening to the pup. When my dog was a pup, my trainer advised me to wear all sorts of things, so the pup got used to it. i.e. - put on my winter parka (even in july!), wear baseball caps, hoods, sunglasses, big boots, etc... you'd be surprised how something as trivial as a winter coat or baseball cap can really freak a puppy out.

how old is this new pup?

Rob n Cody
January 15th, 2007, 03:13 PM
Thanks Spirit and Jessie
Puppy is still less than a year, but was a rescue pup, so maybe she looks or smells like the person that wasn't nice to her. Maybe I'll suggest also leaving something that smells like her near his bed so he can get used to her smell. She's probably getting anxious now when she comes over, and he may be reacting to that as well now.
I'll keep you posted.
Thanks again!