Today’s online session was for a young Cocker Spaniel called Theo! My namesake!
Cocker spaniels that guard and growl
I frequently work with Cocker Spaniels that guard resources and growl.
The two main ingredients for changing this behaviour are less arousal and the humans changing their own behaviour.
Theo will mostly guard and growl when he’s worked up. It doesn’t happen so much when he’s calm. He also jumps up and mouths when excited.
The young couple simply excite him too much.
The young man is an enthusiastic, playful person and naturally arouses Theo. He plays rough with his hands. He disturbs Theo when he’s asleep.
The young lady too behaves in ways that get the dog very excited, particularly when she comes back into his presence.
Both young people need to do things differently. If the humans don’t change, the dog won’t change.
We discussed activities that would calm rather than excite. There are ways Theo can work for his food. It’s made a bit more tricky because if given an item like a Kong, he may guard it and growl.
Leave him strictly alone
I have suggested gating their kitchen and only giving him items in there – and then keeping away from the room themselves. He may growl if someone walks past him when he’s eating. They will now feed him out of the way.
From now on they will show no interest at all in items that he has. They will leave him strictly alone.
At present a growl will result in their scolding him. This can only make things worse and will ultimately push him into biting. See this: Why Growling is Good
Now, instead of the young man pushing or trying to manhandle Theo off the sofa, for instance, they will concentrate on motiving him to do as they ask. They will use tone of voice and food.
They will find, as have most of my other growl and guard cases, that if they can calm the dog down and give him more healthy enrichment, his need to guard resources and growl will naturally reduce.
The pair have done some great training with Theo. People they meet out on walks envy them their well-behaved dog.
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