Trevor’s story is all about relationship, the relationship between the three-year-old Cocker Spaniel Beagle mix and the man.

All was fine until Trevor began to growl when the man approached the dog when he was in their bed.

Their relationship went downhill

They then employed a trainer and the relationship between the dog and the man went downhill from there. I would say that everything they were advised to do was the opposite to what I would advise. The trainer even had the young lady in tears.

Believing this to be the only advice, they have spent the past couple of years doing their best to follow his instructions.

Night time advice was to shut the dog in the crate but they just weren’t happy with that. Now he’s in the open crate but when the man comes up to bed he will growl and rush into his crate like he’s scared.

If I can find nothing to change, then things will stay the same. I’m always pleased like in this case to find many things to do differently.

So they have done their best to stick to the trainer’s advice since – and Trevor has, if anything, become more hostile to the man as the months have gone by. The relationship went downhill much to the man’s upset.

Growling when approached

He then began growling at other people including the lady when they approached his bed – or when he was lying down.

What did they do when he growled? Told him off sternly as instructed. He had already looked away, licked his lips and given various gestures that he wasn’t comfortable with someone looming over his bed, so growling was inevitable.

If he can’t growl, then what next?

Yes, and once he did bite the man.

My advice: have a ‘social distancing’ zone around Trevor’s bed – or an imaginary bubble around him when he’s lying down. He can be called to them, they don’t invade his space.

If the man needs to walk past, without looking at Trevor or pausing, he will drop food. It’s important Trevor learns to welcome him nearby, knowing he will not to invade his space.

Relaxing and building up trust

Given time, Trevor should relax and trust him – consequently becoming less protective of his space.

The man was told to do everything for Max, not the lady. He has to feed him and play with him. Before the man puts Trevor’s food down he must show who’s boss.

My advice: Let Trevor work for his food in Kongs or scatter feed. Sometimes the man feeds him, sometimes the lady. Relax!

At present he is totally ball obsessed. He’s an addict, constantly fired up. Now they will only play very short, controlled games with a ball. They now need other activities to replace the addiction.

A relaxed and calm dog is a lot less likely to be worrying about his space being invaded.

The trainer advised the lady put a slip lead on Trevor and force him to sit beside the man.

My advice: Allow Trevor choice. To only associate being near the man with good, calm and unthreatening things. No force or discomfort.


So now the man will back off. He will allow Trevor choice. They will all relax and be a lot happier in each other’s company.

Immediately after our online meeting this is what the lady said: ‘I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can love my dog like I should again without feeling like I am doing something wrong.’
A week later: “Hi Theo, there hasn’t been a single growl…..”

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