April 17th, 2009, 10:12 AM
I am hoping that some of you seasoned dog owners can give a little advice to a
novice! Cody, a 3 year old Cocker Spaniel, seems to have become more
aggressive toward other dogs over the last year. During our walks, if he sees
another dog approaching or even on the opposite side of the street, he will
start to growl, bark, and try to lunge toward the other dog. This used to happen
only when he encountered larger dogs, but lately I have seen the behaviour even
with smaller ones. He is fine with dogs that he knows well, but getting pretty
bad with strange ones. I have read many things on the internet, and of course
the range of advice is overwhelming!
I appreciate any training tips you can give me, or perhaps some advice on what
reading material would be a good place to start.
April 17th, 2009, 10:42 AM
I think a vet visit is in order to rule out any medical possibilities. This IMO should always be a first step when dealing with aggression as it can be a symptom of many possible health issues.
Health aside, from what you have written it looks as if this behavior has been present for quite some time and has steadily progressed. What have you been doing when he's been going after small dogs in the past?
April 17th, 2009, 10:54 AM
How is your dog on walks? can he walk with other dogs without showing the agression?
April 17th, 2009, 11:06 AM
I personally recommend that you contact a dog behaviorist. We started working with one a month ago and can already see the changes. We were going through the same thing as you with our guy, and the improvement in the past month is great.
April 17th, 2009, 11:19 AM
I agree with Blackdog , should get him checked out and make sure nothing medically is bothering him.
I use to have this problem with my Newf Maggie the first couple of months I got her last year. It's totally embarrassing when a dog acts like this, for Maggie she's about 110 pounds so she actually looked a little frightening. I could not understand why she was acting this way and I just assumed it was dog aggression.
I was all kinds of wrong. She was acting this way because she wanted to go over and greet/smell the other dog. She was frustrated . I ended up getting a Gentle leader head halti . She really hated it , but it allowed me to have more control over her when passing other dogs she could not go up to as well as controlling her enough for me to ask owners if I could bring her over to smell their dog. I also (which probably is what did the trick) started taking her to the dog park so she could make some friends. She has been much better now. I don't even use the GL now because she can walk on by with maybe a little bark but she has not lunged in months.
Dog parks are not for all dogs so if you don't think he can handle it maybe you can just start off with play dates with dogs he already knows. Also a good dog trainer never hurts either . Good luck :thumbs up .
Link to a GL since I mentioned it in my post:
April 17th, 2009, 12:06 PM
don't give up, it can be worked out, we worked with a trainer for over a yr before our dog would accept another just on the same side of the street as her, and we had another dog living in our home at the time, they had to be kept apart (but in sight) for the full year, it took another 8 months before we could allow our two in the same room together, at age of 2 1/2 she finally allowed us to walk with other dogs. So find a great trainer and go from there. (she also detested men so we also had to work on that)......oh and Daisy was a rotti/lab/gr dane mix
April 17th, 2009, 12:18 PM
Feisty Fido, Help For the Leash Aggresive Dog, by Patricia McConnell & Karen London.
A book that helped us tremendously (along with patience and practice, practice, practice) when we were dealing with the same issue.
April 17th, 2009, 01:41 PM
I never heard of that book! I think I'll look for a copy for future references, thanks LuckyPenny, and you said it...practice practice.......calmness AND patience *S*
April 17th, 2009, 03:04 PM
Feisty Fido is a pretty easy to understand/follow book...if you want something a little more in depth, there's Aggression in Dogs-Practical Management, Prevention, and Behaviour Modification by Brenda Aloff.
I've definitely had to find my share of resources :o.
Funny, as I'm sitting here now, all three dogs were barking at the front window just a few minutes ago (having an estimate done for the driveway)....two strangers are walking around the property. Not so long ago, Penny would normally have thrown herself at the window, snarling & barking aggressively. I just simply called her and she came running happily away from it to me :dog: :angel:. It does take time...but oh so worth it when you see the results.
April 18th, 2009, 07:17 AM
Many thanks to all for your replies and suggestions. I will find a copy of Feisty Fido and see what we can do from there.
To answer some of your questions, yes this behaviour has been present for a while now. It's one of those things that seemed to start gradually, and then one day I realized that it was happening more and more. Cody took a very basic obedience course as a puppy, but we never followed up with any further training. I used to take him to the leash free park when he was younger, and he would play quite happily. Now, as soon as we approach the area, he sees the other dogs and starts to growl, so I am afraid to take him in, as I'm sure the other owners would not appreciate it.
There are a couple of dogs in the neighbourhood that he knows quite well, and will walk very nicely with them, he actually acts more submissive than aggressive.
It is comforting to know that we are not alone with this problem, but as one of you mentioned it is quite embarassing! He is such a friendly looking dog, I think other owners are a little surprised by his behaviour.
In the mean time, until we can find a solution, how do you suggest I handle this? Do we avoid other dogs (as much as possible)? When the behaviour starts, do I say anything, or just continue to walk, dragging him away!
Thanks again for everyone's input.