3 Springer Spaniels ages 12, 4 and 2

Posted by Frances-Ramsey
Apr 13, 2011
All three dogs are AKC Champions and have been trained and shown by their breeder. Adding the male puppy at 12 weeks was fine and he got his championship at 11 months. He is now 2 yrs. old and showing aggression to strangers and has attacked the 12 yr old neutered male. The 4 yr. female follows his lead. They get plenty of exercise on 20 acres and we let them have free run of the house via doggie doors. Our first problem started at feeding and we separated them. The 2 yr. old stalks and then attacks the older dog. He runs out at anything that passes and the other two follow him. We are considering an electronic fence so they can cotinue to run free on our property. We are also considering neutering the 2 yr. old. hoping to solve the aggression toward the older dog but would rather not if training would solve the problem. Any specific advice would be greatly appreciated as we love our dogs but we are at our wit's end.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Apr 16, 2011
Hi Frances,

Two years old is a common problem age. This is right around the key socialization period for dogs. While your pup might have been exposed to other dogs and noise, etc when he was very young, the showring and home might not have provided enough actual interdog contact and interaction for him to feel fully comfortable now.

Neutering may be the best bet to try and tone down his aggression, but trying to train his aggression out will hopefully help!

Keep on with seperating them for meals, a lot of multi dog households have to do this.

The aggression towards the older dog may be your young boys way of establishing dominancy and his role as the new alpha dog, now that he's "grown up". Dogs can sort this sort of heirarchy problem out by themselves usually, and you may see your older dog tell him off a time or two if he pushes the wrong buttons too hard. Then again, he might not fight back if hes ok with being put down the line, so to speak.

You should work on asserting your dominance over all the dogs, while still taking time to be with them individually. Make sure your 2 year old boy knows youre boss, so that if he gets carried away with aggression towards your older dog, you can tell him off. Dont hesitate to intervene, verbally or by removing your YOUNGER boy from the room. Whenever he gets going, he's the one to be removed and preferably put in a room alone to calm down.

You can try to help by giving the older dog a helping "one up" if you want him to be dominant over your younger boy. This means you should decide the order of your dog hierarchy and stick with it. Whoever is top gets fed first, gets attention first, gets toys first, etc. The other dogs see this. When its one on one time, the other dogs are told to get out so you can make sure whoevers time it is, is really good and bonding

If you're considering an electric fence, you could consider getting a noise collar (like a shock collar without the shock, it lets off a high pitched, irritating noise to the dog when you set it off) for your younger boy, to use when he takes off after something. If you set it off on a perimeter or by remote, you can use it to deter him from running off, thus the others hopefully wont follow.

You can also talk to your vet about anti-anxiety medications or a DAP pheromone plug in for home to try and help your boy calm down overall. These work really well for some dogs.

I hope this makes sense and is helpful. Feel free to ask more questions, other members probably have some more helpful, different takes on things Let us know how things go!