Why did Gorgeous George attack the lady – twice?

Published by Theo Stewart on

George had growled if approached when lying down or asleep since since he was a puppy, months before the first attack.

The family have learnt not to touch the 10-month-old Cocker Spaniel when he’s asleep.

George may also guard the area he is in or space around himself.

If he is in a room first, their other dog will sense something and refuse to go through the door. He would read George’s body language; he would hear him growling.

Then came the first severe attack.

George had been playing all day in the snow. He had become extremely excited and tired. The lady was on the floor. George, beside her, began to chew a chair leg.

The man quite gently told him No.

George lost it. He flew at the lady and in the attack she received multiple bites.

The second situation that ended in an attack on the lady was just the other day.

They say George is like Jekyll and Hyde. They don’t know just when he may suddenly change personality and begin to growl – or suddenly attack.

We looked at the common denominators and there is a pattern.

It’s always when he is over-aroused.

So the first thing is to cut down on all unnecessary arousal like hands-on play from the men – they have two young adult sons – and all the ball play when they are out.

When he comes back from a walk he’s more fired up than before he left. It should be the opposite.

He doesn’t need to be all fired up chasing things. He can do what spaniels do best – run about sniffing and hunting.

Since the attack the lady has been walking on eggshells.

They will break his growling habit when someone comes into the room. To do this they will place a pot of food by the door. For now, anybody coming in the door will call George to them. They will reward him for coming, dropping the food for him to pick up.

It will also work better for their other dog CJ if George isn’t first into a room. CJ can go in first, and George can follow.

Wearing him out has the opposite effect.

Keeping him a lot calmer and giving him as much enrichment as possible will make all the difference to George’s demeanour. They will ditch exciting activities designed to ‘wear him out’ and replace with things that involve his brain, along with sniffing and chewing.

The only way to change a situation with a dog is for the humans to change what they do.

I am very hopeful that, given time, the lady will be able to relax without fearing another ‘out of the blue’ attack.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help

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