Champdogs Information Exchange
Hope you can help - having taken the big step of getting a new animal companion after losing our working cocker boy aged 14 a couple of years ago, things aren't going that well! Our pup is just over 3 months old now - a working cocker bitch called Nancy. She was the runt of the litter and is still a bit small for her age but what she lacks in size she more than makes up for in attitude! She is not scared of anything, shows no submissive behaviour at all and WILL NOT take any notice of No! However, more worrying is the aggression she is showing, particularly towards me - it's not all the time and she will happily sleep in my arms like a little puppy angel. But, she is always a bit nippy - hands, etc., but frequently escalates to outright aggression by going for my trouser leg, shoes, etc. growling and won't let go. It sometimes seems to start when she gets onto her back and you can see the white rim round her eyes and her face changes - looking more foxy (if that makes sense!). I am trying all the tips - standing still with no reaction (difficult to maintain!) - stopping play immediately with a strong NO and putting her away onto the floor, distraction with another toy to chew on, isolating her (if I can catch her!), holding by scruff or collar, etc., etc., - nothing seems to work, she just comes back for more and then will do it again another time. She is better with my husband - he is quite a bit firmer I guess and pushes her away quite strongly - and although she nips him a bit she doesn't really go for him. I am worried that this bodes badly for the future and wonder what to do - she is very bright and is already obeying lots of commands, sit, stay, wait, etc., and apart from this is a beautiful little dog so it really hurts (more mentally than physically!) that she will not understand and obey NO. All advice is very welcome and thanks.
17.02.17 11:53 GMT
Is she being aggressive or just playing too roughly?
17.02.17 12:14 GMT
Sadly puppies don't understand English and she doesn't understand what No means. Some puppies are worse then others over nipping and biting and it can come as one hell of a shock when you have a puppy in the house again after many years of an easy going adult dog, as I can testify!
My way of halting the biting from my GR when she was a pup was to fold my arms and go and stand tightly into the corner of the room, literally pressing me nose into the corner (wear tough jeans for this) and totally ignore her until she stopped. That and leaving her alone in the kitchen, was the only way that she began to understand that biting meant I left either physically or mentally (standing in corner and ignoring). I had to be very consistant and persistent before she caught on. I also engaged those busy little teeth in something very tasty to chew and one of the best things that kept her occupied for ages was calf hooves, not the filled kind.
The trouble with pushing them away and shouting No is that it all becomes a big game and will make her worse.
Working cockers can be very lively intelligent dogs who never know when to stop. Occupying that busy brain with some training, particularly clicker training, will help. Take a look at the Kikopup videos on her website.
It's not done in play - it mostly starts for no real reason or sometimes if she's not getting her own way (like this morning she was trying to chew my shoe laces and I pushed her away saying 'NO and LEAVE IT') I was sitting eating breakfast at the time so not moving around or doing anything to wind her up and she started going at me so I put her in the kitchen.
17.02.17 12:34 GMT
This is not aggression. It's a confident pup with plenty of working drive. Just the sort I myself prefer to keep. :) Even my toybreed pups like to hang onto trousers and growl. But the sort that does not necessarily make a pure pet. She needs to be kept occupied with training. This is an excellent article about puppy biting: http://www.pattesdouces.ca/acces_clients/dog_bite.htm
17.02.17 13:21 GMT
>she was trying to chew my shoe laces and I pushed her away saying 'NO and LEAVE IT'
Pushing a puppy is usually considered (by them) to be an invitation to rough play - "You push me, I bounce back harder!" so in that respect her response is perfectly normal and expected. As a working cocker rather than from a show line she's likely to have a very strong working drive and is demonstrating that she needs plenty of mental stimulation to prevent boredom. Do you plan to work her at all?
Cocker spaniels are nicknamed "Cockerdiles" for very good reason as they are extremely mouthy as youngsters.
I always suggest Cocker owners should read "The bite stops here" by Dr Ian Dunbar.
From what you are describing this does sound like normal behaviour for a confident cocker puppy; certainly not an aggressive puppy. Cockers are very sensitive souls so you must use only positive training with her or will you will be creating issues for the future adult. As she is a working cocker she will need lots and lots of mental stimulation to wear her out as a puppy so plan 3-4 play sessions into your day.
Thank for comments so far, I have read that article and tried to follow the advice - but she is fierce and determined and I'm just worried that the behaviour may happen with a child or elderly person if it's a character trait. We start puppy school on Sunday so that will also help. To give you an idea of what a fearless little thing she is - she climbed out of her puppy pen on the second night of us having her and made her way upstairs (never having been up there before!) to finally go to sleep under the bookcase! I do admire her spirit but at the same time she needs to learn some boundaries!
17.02.17 13:41 GMT
I seem to attract the nutcases but have also found the worst behaved pups are the best behaved adults most of the time there have been exceptions and they get any with whatever they can but it's just part of their personality for me.
Just a matter of waiting it out with some it last a lifetime.
17.02.17 14:08 GMT
Try to keep a house line on her all the time so she cannot "get away" then if the sillyness starts you can just pick up the lead and put her in a time out alone for a little while. She will learn but it takes time.
PS it saves having to battle those nippy teeth if you can just grab the lead.
17.02.17 14:29 GMT
Like you jogold, I've had a hard work pup this time round, drove me up the wall at times and I thought she would never stop biting me and grabbing bits of clothing, but she has turned into a brilliant adult dog. It was worth the tears of frustration (and pain from my bitten hands).
17.02.17 16:11 GMT
Great post from Jodi.
17.02.17 16:20 GMT
I use redirection - teaching pups what they can chew/rag. It helps to have lots of toys all over. It's much better to teach them what to do rather than what not to do, in my experience.
17.02.17 16:24 GMT
Does the biting happen most when she is overtired? They often don't know when they need a nap, and they need plenty of naps while they're babies so perhaps try putting her in her bed (in an enclosed/escape proof place).
Also, is she starting teething? she might need some soothing chews to help through this stage - you can buy teething toys which can be soaked and frozen, or tie some old teatowels in knots, soak them and freeze them for her.
My most recent pup became bitey when he needed to poo, so you might consider that.
The bitey stage does pass, but it's awful while it's happening
Hi Barneysmum, I've had lots of spaniels and gundogs of most breeds and can confirm they are the most bitey of all dogs, just be thankful you don't have a Flat Coat. If this was my pup I would be thinking about this from her view point. You say she was the runt of the litter, therefore she has probably had to fight for every suckle and bite of food she ever got from her Mum and siblings. This will make her a full on dog ready to fight her corner but not necessarily aggressive. She needs to learn that she doesn't have to fight for her food, or her bed, or just a place to sleep and rest. That she now has a home of her own, but with rules.
Working Cockers are super dogs, they can be taught the off switch in the house and be lovely companions, but with this wee one you may need to put in a lot of ground work. Your pup will hate being ignored, so when it misbehaves I would simply leave the room. Come back in a minute later, if she does it again leave. Keep this up, be consistent and she will learn.
I wouldn't use a houseline, but re-direction on the chewing front may help. Although you need to be careful in giving her a chew so she does not associate chewing your shoe (or whatever) to getting a reward straightaway.
With my pups, when they wake me in the morning, if it's 3am, 4am or whatever out to the toilet in the garden and then it's our time together. That's when I start retriever training, in my kitchen, no distractions, throw a ball, toy or whatever comes to hand and once the pup brings it back lots of cuddles and praise. Your pup will enjoy this and it's a good start to training a gundog. Enjoy this time together and build on it and you will have a wonderful companion, but please train her to enjoy what she was bred for, retrieving and using that nose. Also do not be afraid to 'give her a row' in that you can raise your voice to her, and tell her when she is seriously out of line. As she has been the runt of the litter do not ever make her feel she has to guard her food, as that would raise her need to protect her food and possibly then become aggressive around feeding time. So, don't ever take her food away but if useful to bond with your pup you could hand feed her sometimes to reinforce you are the source of food. Always try to think of things from her point of view, a small puppy, always behind the queue, and now trying to find her way in a strange world. I'm not saying you should indulge her but be consistent, firm and show her she is safe in your house, and there are rules!
Hope that helps.
18.02.17 19:32 GMT
I don't consider this to be an aggressive puppy. Perfectly normal in my book.
I well remember being pulled along by my trousers by Beardie pups.
Thank you Jodi and jogold you have given me hope! My GR boy is 13 months old and has been a nightmare at times. Still is at times!! Totally different to my other dogs (Lab, GR and Maremma, sadly now all passed) who were absolute angels compared to this one. Even our lovely vet calls him "a total nutcase". Hanging on in there though(sigh) and waiting for the day when he finally matures.
My sheltie does this. She treats me like the other dog and grabs on to trousers jackets and clothes when she is excited. To her it is just excited play, but I regret to say I have not been able to stop it. i can stop it at the time but then the next excitement starts all over again. No aggression at all. if she can grab my shoelaces and pull them undone that gives her great joy! but as soon as we set off for the walk it stops, or even putting the lead on.
Thank you for your oh so useful post! All the posts here have really given us reassurance and we will take on board all the advice. I think the main worry was that there was such a difference between her and our boy as he was never bitey or showed anything like the 'spirit' that she is showing. As I said, although she was the runt even her breeder called her 'naughty Nancy' as she was always first at the food and bossed the others - so she's certainly not a 'back of the queue kind of gal'! Still a slight concern that the biting does start for no reason and at lots of different times - she growls a lot as well! In all other respects she's super - so bright as I said before so we will persevere! Thanks again.
24.02.17 10:37 GMT
Do you intend to work her? It would be worth getting her along to classes as soon as you can. Bright dogs needs lots of mental stimulation and I think that once you divert her attention on to something specific, things will ease for you.
We don't intend to work her, we have started Puppy Classes and intend to keep going with this maybe into agility or fly ball later on - and we're doing lots of training and games at home as well.
agility and flyball is counted as work in this context and would be great for bright little working cocker. also remember to allow down time and being clam . its good to try and work on a settle or stay command . just ting amounts each time . I have only recently learned that clam is as important as exercise and mental games. I had missed the importance of calm in spite of many years of having dogs
It sounds like she is marking her territory. Don't sweat it. They will soon get along.
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