need advise on controling aggresive behavior

Posted by cecizam
Sep 12, 2008
I have a 6 month old english cocker spaniel (mix) who is learning to obey commands and he is really good at the dog park or areas where there are a lot of people. I got him when he was 4 months old and so I have no idea what the previous owners did with him as far as training. He does have an issue with strangers that walk by, he barks and growls at them and sometimes launches too. It is frustrating for me cause I tense up a little when we go for a walk and I am sure he can sense that; and I feel uncomfortable inviting people over cause I dont know how he will react. He has improved thou, this only happens like 30% of the time compared to all the time a month ago. I have been ignoring him and kept on walking when he growls at people and then if he doesnt I tell him in a cheerful voice "look, who is that?" and I give him a treat. But he really doesnt like the element of surprise (people appearing out of nowhere when turning a corner) and doesnt like people baby talking to him if they dont have a dog present. Now, if there are dogs present, he is a different dog. He can even play with one of the neighbors that has a dog and be nice and then next day, we find that same person without the dog, and he becomes aggressive. Any suggestions?
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Sep 13, 2008
Hi cecizam,

Your puppy must be really cute and I understand people like to baby talk to him.

I am a bit concerned that he growls and barks at strangers. This is what I think happening:

You've had him for about 2 mos and that is about the time most of adopted dogs start feeling that this is his/her home and this is his/her person. In other words, your dog now has a sense of possession of you. I don't mean that he is dominant or alpha. What I mean is that YOU are becoming precious to him so that he doesn't want anybody to take your attention away from him.

In the mean time, I don't think he has had a lot of exposure to other humans because you said you are discouraged to invited friends over because he barks at them. This is going wrong way. If he is not well socialized with people you would want him to have more opportunities to meet people before he gets too old. He is now 6 mos old so I would really like you to socialize him soon.

You said he behaves well with dog owners so off-leash parks will be a good way to start. Ask some of the other owners to give treats to your dog.

As you get more comfortable with this you can start inviting your friends who have dogs. Do the same thing. Then, friends without dogs. By this time, you will know how well/poorly your dog can handle meeting strangers. More people he meets, more friendly and confident he should become unless he has a major issue with certain kind of people, such as trauma or terrible experience in the past. However, I don't think it will be his case.

As for his barking and lunging during the walks, you can hold the leash short and tight and have him sit while the other walker passes by. Praise him and treat him. I hope this will help.

Good luck