Two-year-old Luna is a very easy dog to live with. She really is the model dog. And a rare thing – a very quiet Working Cocker Spaniel!

But the other day she nipped their nephew who is 2.

Her dislike of being touched  or cornered by little children started a year ago when the neighbour’s one-year-old child kept grabbing her ears. Luna had enough and eventually snapped. She had found it the only way to make the child stop.

Excitement or maybe fear also

Luna can be nervous. She sometimes does a little pee when the gentleman comes home. She is submissive with other dogs.

The family’s main aim is too find a way for Luna to be happy when young children come to visit so everyone can relax.

Children need teaching

Luna only ever has snapped when a young child has invaded her space. She generally keeps to herself around children.

They need to learn a dog’s body language. Look-aways, licking lips, and yawning are all some of the signs of unease. Little children don’t read this. So then she growls. If she’s scolded or the growling is ignored, next time it may push her into snapping. This seems to be where it’s got to now.

Creating a Safe Space for Luna

I recommend they put a baby gate in the kitchen doorway. Now she has a safe bolthole, separate from the guests or kids, especially if things get too much for her. If little children aren’t being watched, Luna can go into the kitchen and given something nice to chew. They will maintain a “safe bubble” around Luna, especially when she’s in her bed or lying down. They will educate children not to intrude into this space. Creative ways, like a chalk circle around Luna’s bed, can help teach kids this concept. When she picks up a toy when someone arrives, she’s self-soothing. Providing chew toys can be equally comforting for her.


Young visitors can also be trained to respect Luna’s space. using positive reinforcement methods. Rewards can help teach them to step back if they get too close to her.

When multiple guests are present, things can overwhelm her. ‘Trigger stacking,’ They will be her advocate and remove her at the first sigh of things getting too much. When little children are about, it’s crucial to always be observant. Train the children to listen for growls as immediate cues to stop what they’re doing. Use management such as the gate to remove the chance of Luna ever feeling she must snap. Over time I’m sure she will relax and become a bit more tolerant.

One week later: ” We found the online session so helpful and informative. You really helped to put into words how we can simply help Luna feel more confident around unfamiliar situations which will really be beneficial to her and everyone around her. So a massive thank you to you! “

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Luna.  One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important.  I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog.