Mean Puppy HELP

by Angela
(Markham, VA)

Hi!!! I wanted to see what I should do..

I have Flynn, a beautiful black and white cocker spaniel. He is 5 months old, he is awesome, loving, house trained, but very aggressive.

Since we brought him home at 12 weeks, he acts like he rules the house. We have a 9 year old golden retriever and a 6 year old beagle. Flynn will snap at them if they go to the water bowl, and he will growl at them and my 2 sons (9 and 2) if they come within a 2 foot radius of him while he has a chew toy.

Last night he was sitting at my feet between me and the sink (I was doing dishes)with a toy, my 2 year old runs behind me to the living room, and Flynn attacked!!!
For no other reason than he had a toy and my son came near... He marked the skin in 5 places, broke the skin really bad on one. I do not know what to do.

I will be heartbroken if I have to get rid of Flynn. But he's always growled and even snapped at my 2 year old, and if I hadn't been right there, I know he would have bit him, but last night there was no warning.

Please tell me what I should do, is there help for Flynn to stay with me?


Answer

Angela, first of all you need to keep your family (kids and other pets) safe. This means that you can't leave Flynn alone with the kids or the other dogs. Put him in a separate room and think about having him muzzled if you are not there paying 100% attention.

Second, I recommend you find a good positive trainer to help you. There is a lot of information in this website and people can help you with advice, but when kids start getting hurt it is time hire someone with experience that can show you how to train Flynn to be better.

Try the Association of Pet Dog Trainers to search for a certified and positive trainer near you.

In the mean time you can start learning about Systematic Desensitization and Counter Conditioning.

These are two training techniques to train fearful and aggressive hounds. They sound like big words, but the implementation is easy with a little practice.
Because Flynn has already bitten, start training with a muzzle. Always think about safety first.

Third, you can also try Clicker Training. It is a great technique that can speed up communication between you and your dog. Here is a book I highly recommend on how to use the clicker to treat aggression in dogs:




I can't promise you that Flynn will become a great gentle dog, but with training and patience things can get much better and safer.

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