Colin snarls.

This is a strange story.

Cocker Spaniel Colin spends most days with the gentleman who is at home all day. The lady is either working in an office in the front of the house or else out at work.

Colin is the perfect companion. Very social with other dogs and friendly with people.

When the lady is with them all that can change.

Colin snarls and goes for the gentleman.

Flashpoints are in the bedroom first thing in the morning and in the sitting room in the evening.

A common denominator is Colin’s general state of arousal. There are things in his life that get him very worked up, and in this state of mind he will be far more reactive.

Morning

In the morning the man comes down first to make a cup of tea. As soon as the man opens his crate Colin runs upstairs to the lady. The man then takes morning tea upstairs to his wife.

To quote the man, Colin ‘takes over’ his side of the bed. Sometimes when the man enters the room Colin snarls and warns him. He becomes more aggressive as the man nears the bed.

On the bed or not?

The man suggests Colin should be banned from their bed. The lady would like to keep him coming up in the morning as she now misses her evening cuddles on the sofa.

Evening

It’s a lot worse in the evening.

The couple used to be on the sofa with Colin over the lady’s lap. Due to his behaviour whenever the man went to get up, Colin now lies in a bed on the floor. It makes no difference to the snarls.

The man usually goes up to bed first.

As soon as he starts to move, to get up, Colin snarls threateningly. As he walks towards and past the lady to go upstairs first, Colin launches himself. The man has to be quick.

He can no longer bend over his wife to kiss her goodnight.

Other things at play.

Many nights the son comes home late and lets Colin out. He over-excites him and takes him to his bedroom. Each time the lad arrives home there is great excitement. He may lift him in the air. There is no doubt they love one another.

Colin is too pumped up. On a high, he will react to anything and ready to ‘go’. Stress plays a big part. Now the young man will help to keep Colin calmer.

Colin also goes mental when he hears the letter box. They can resolve this with a letter box outside.

The sitting room evening plan

The man goes to stand up to make a drink or go to bed. Colin snarls.

Now he will go to rise and sit down again – each time throwing food to Colin. He will get Colin’s attention first. He will stand still and drop food. He will move slowly, dropping food. Rehearsing each thing over and over, one at a time.

No kissing for now (sorry to affect marital relationship!). They can work on Colin being happy with kissing later.

The man said how tempting it has been to use a rolled newspaper on Colin but I’m so glad he hasn’t. That could escalate things into a whole new realm of aggression and confrontation.

Colin’s not naughty but troubled in some way. Success will come through helping him, not punishing him. Something which can seem illogical but I firmly believe.

The bedroom in the morning plan

This will involve the man calling Colin off the bed from the doorway and giving him food. Colin will jump straight up onto the bed. The man will call him off again. Reward. He will get into bed himself and invite the dog up.

Should he be on the bed at all? It probably makes no difference. The dog simply has to feel ‘Oh good, here is the man’.

A habit

This has been going on for a couple of years now so will be a habit. Habits take time to break. Colin is so lovely most of the time and ‘out of the blue’ starts snarling.

One last thing with any behaviour that involves aggression is to get the dog checked over by the vet for pain. Constant niggling pain can shorten the dog’s fuse.

A couple of days later: ‘we should have done it sooner he seems a lot calmer and he hasn’t growled or snarled at J once. I’ve also noticed today when he barked as he’s heard a noise outside he is settling quicker, may be a coincidence as early days but I don’t think so.

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