Fred is becoming increasingly disturbed when one of the children enters the room. He growls, barks and lunges at them. He’s not yet bitten.

Fred is a beautiful 15-month-old Cocker Spaniel.

Now is the time to do something so it never comes to biting.

For a start, they shouldn’t scold growling. He is warning them. He is telling them how uncomfortable he feels with their approach.

He is worse with the boy, age 11, than he is with the little girl, 9. He is particularly reactive when either child approaches their dad.

He also has now started barking and lunging at the children when they walk past his crate. Now they are scared.

Why worse with the young boy?

Why is the behaviour only directed at the children? What do they do that the adults don’t do? Why is it worse with their son than their daughter?

It’s to do with excitement and activity. The little boy is noisier and faster than the little girl. He also played quite roughly with Fred when he was a puppy.

The lovely children took part in the whole hour-long consultation. We worked out a plan for the boy in particular.

He needs definite instructions – positive actions rather than being told not to do something. For example, he’s currently told not to run into the room. Now we have given him positive instructions how to enter the room.

If he wants to kick his ball in the garden, he can first call Barney in and give him something to chew.

How can we get Fred to welcome the children approaching him?

Food! Fred is very food driven.

I worked with the young boy. Firstly, he will do his very best to enter the room quietly (difficult!). As he does so he will call Fred to him and drop a piece of food from his own treat pouch.

He will keep going in and out of the door, rehearsing this.

Next he will walk towards his dad, dropping food. If that works well he can sit by his dad or hug him – dropping food. Dad can drop food also.

Passing Fred’s crate

Now when either child walks past his crate, they will drop food in passing. They can do this over and over.

Keeping Fred calm is key. Because he’s worst with the most excitable member of the family, the child’s challenge will be to act calmly around Fred.

They need to work hard on this before it becomes an even more established habit to break.

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