Please someone help! My daughter is heartbroken. We recently acquired a 3 month old King Charles Spaniel. I am the primary caretaker but I bought the dog for my 9-year old. Recently she has been showing signs of aggression and growling when I am not around. I know my daughter is not mistreating her. Does anyone know what is going on?
Growling in a young dog would either mean one of two things, the first is your dog just doesn't like kids, which is possible. The second, and this can be common to spaniels for some reason, is that it's a dominance issue. I'd go with the second personally. What I would say it is, is that your puppy, even though he is very young, is testing boundaries as far as what he can get away with. He's trying to 'rank' himself higher in the social pack order than your daughter is. This is, as you can probably guess, A Bad Thing. There are several things you can do to nip this in the bud. First off, Obedience training. It's never too early to start, and both you and your daughter can do it. Take him to a puppy class at Petsmart, call around and find classes in your area, whatever it takes. Have your daughter take over his feeding, if she's not doing it already. That way he learns that he has to look to her for his food. Start putting some discipline in his life, make him sit for *everything*. If she is going to feed his, she needs to make him sit down before you put the bowl down for him to eat. (you can help with this until he gets it) Taking him out? Make him sit before you go out the door. Don't let him sleep on the bed, this ican be a huge social order thing with problem dogs. Especially if he gets to sleep on *your* bed, and your daughter doesn't. To a dog, that can mean that he ranks higher because she's not allowed. Don't let him on the furniture. I know that its very easy to baby dogs, especially cute puppies, but you're trying to establish rules that organize his life and make him know what his place is. When he knows what his place is, then relax things a bit. Most importantly, try and let your daughter have as big a part of this as possible, it does no good if he doesn't recognize that she ranks higher.
i have to agree with what the respose before mine that obedience training will help but i would take it a step further.i would contact the breeder and ask if any of there pups have had this problem before or shown signs of agression.with some dogs it can be pasted along that is why you must reserch your breeder and there stock carefully.i know aggresion can be common in spaniels,but i have never heard of it in a king charles spainel most have great temperments.you could also try butter on the front of your daughters hands to teach kisses.and have your daughter call her and give her treats to know that good things come from her.i would not under any circumstances leave your daughter alone anymore with the puppy until you have resolved this.also are you crate training her this seems to help with establishing who is boss and it helps with housetraing.i would consult with a behaviorist you can find them in your phone book they could help.if all else fails your pup may just not like children and then i would suggest finding a new home for her with maybe and older coulpe or a couple that does not plan on haveing kids.
well said, to the previous poster. Actually after I read what I had posted, I realized I should have suggested getting in touch with the breeder as well, but was so tired I just went to bed heh. I have heard of problems with dominance in spaniels, but like you, not so much with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels as with American Cocker Spaniels. I have a friend who's having a heck of a time with hers right now.
Thank you all for the great advice, there are a few things I didn't mention, the pup only seems to growl when she is tired and my daughter tries to hold her and in our morning play time she kisses and licks her all over. My daughter is becoming quite distraught over this because she believes the dog simply doesn't like her. Any other ideas? This is breaking my heart too, beacuse my daughter has been dreaming about have a puppy for years.
There is a huge difference if your puppy growls at your daughter throughout the day or if it's just when the dog is tired. If it is occasionally throughout the day, it is a dominance issue. But if it is just when the dog is tired, it's trying to tell you daughter the only way it can that it needs some space to rest. Ask your daughter how she would feel if her friends came over and wanted to play non-stop. What if they just kept bugging her and bugging her. Wouldn't that get old? If you don't have a crate for you dog, then you need to get one. Let this be the dog's space where no one goes and bothers it. Don't allow your daughter to go and take the dog out of the crate if it goes in on it's own. If you don't have a crate, you can start by putting the dog in one when you see it start getting tired, and close the door. After a while, the dog will learn this is its place to get away from being bothered. Some breeds have a low tolerance for constant attention - especially when it come to children - so keep that in mind. However, they don't mind just setting beside you in a chair and resting. See if the dog will tolerate just laying beside your daughter when she does her homework, or watch t.v. Have your daughter occasionally pet the dog or rub its ears. This way your daughter will feel like the dog likes her, and the dog will learn that it can be around your daughter in a quiet mode, and she's not expecting it to always be playtime.
I have an update on my situation. My puppy has gone beserk. Now she is growling at me and everyone else in the family any time we stop her from doing anything unacceptable. I simply tell her a firm No! and redirect her towards appropriate behavior ( mostly chewing on the wrong things) and praise her with treats for doing the right thing, but she is consistently pushing my limilts and has begun to growl and lunge at me. This has all happened quite rapidly (within a few days) I can't understand what's going on because things were going wonderfully for the first month. Could she possibly be sick? Is aggression part of some disease? She still nedds some vaccines. The situation is getting out of control. What a pity, because she was our angel dog since we got her. Help!!
That is definitely a dominance issue then, and you need to start doing the things we suggested already immediately. Get the crate, and start putting some discipline in that puppy's life before she takes over yours. If she seems to be getting out of control, put her in the crate for a time out. At this age she's like a spoiled child who is testing the limits. Don't let her get away with that stuff at all, or it will only get worse. There are certain medical conditions that can cause behavioral changes, and you say you need some vaccinations, if she hasnt' been to the vet recently, take her and have her health checked. Distemper is a horrible horrible disease young dogs can get that can cause behavioral changes and is often fatal. Thyroid problems are possible too but I dont think these are common to Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, it usually shows up in older dogs. How old is the dog now? You said she was 3 months when you got her? Just from the other things you've told us, I'm definitely leaning toward behavioral problems, try the things we've suggested and see if it gets better. If you don't nip it in the bud, your 20 lb dog will be controlling your life. And talk to the breeder you got her from, and ask if he or she has seen similar problems out of other puppies theyve had and have some suggestions.
I recently acquired a Cavalier King Charles (3 months) and I too am having a similar situation. My dog has started to growl when being held. He does not like to be retrained. We brought him to the vet for his innoculations..and she saw this behavior. For the most part, my dog seems happy and energetic. I have a 90 lb. labrador who is pretty docile. The puppy wants to play all day with him. The problem occurs mainly when my children, who are 13 and 15 years old try to pick up or hold the dog. I too am concerned, because this dog was for my children. I did not do the smartest thing..as I bought this dog from The International Kennel Club..a step up from a puppy store. I have his papers, and I called the store owner who knows this dog fairly well. He said the next step is to call the breeder. He also suggested that we try to not pick up the dog in case he is hurt, and crate him more often. This I will do. Keep me informed with your progress. I have never heard of an aggressive Cavalier before!
I'd pick up a squirt bottle and fill it with 1/4 vinegar, 3/4 water and give him a squirt in response to growls. As I stated in earlier posts, this is dominance agression. I do not put up with my dogs growling at me for any reason. As far as your dogs growling at your older kids, I'd advise no one (including you) pick up the dog unnecessarily to lessen the incidence of this. Some dogs just detest being handled. Have your kids take the dog to obedience training and if they're not feeding him already, let them do so instead of you. Other than following the advise given in earlier posts, not sure what else you can do. But do NOT back down from the growls or snaps, all that does is reinforce the behavior. It makes the dog think it is the boss.
First of all you have to give your daughter and the pup some space. This pup is bonding to you and not her. If there is some way for you to stay away from the pup until he or she knows that your daughter is the boss then you have this whipped. I had the same problem and through professional advice I was told that while this pup is young it is looking for it's caregiver and all others are a threat. You don't fear the dog as a 9 year old does and this pup knows it. A newspaper on the nose never hurt anything either. At 3 months old this pup is confused. Plenty of one on one attention between your daughter and the pup will work wonders. Teach the pup the magic word for all pet owners(NO)and (NO BITE) Paper on the nose = bad dog! He or she will get the idea. Good Luck.....
she may be upset in her new surroundings or just an overlyn playful puppy. when she gets aggressive put you hand over her muzzle and hold it there for a few seconds and say in a low, deep voice "no bite."
I also have a baby cavalier she is only 9 weeks old and while chewing on her toys if I even touch her side she starts the growling thing. What I have started with her was just grabbing the back of her neck as if a mother dog would not lifting her up and using a very sharp NO! at the same time. I know this does not hurt her but startles the crap out of her and she lets out a cry and actually is getting much better I can now pretty much put my hand around her belly or roll her over with a chew toy in her mouth. They learn real fast when you show them who is the mama.. I wouldnt give up on her cavaliers are the best dogs in the world in my opinion..
Have the dog trained with your daughter as the primary trainer. It will teach the dog who's boss. She should also feed the do if at all possible to make the pup trust her a little more. King charles spaniels can be real people lovers and really sweet. I don't think this should be much of a growing problem if you nip it in the bud now. The dog's young enough to learn. Really work with the dog. Find a way that you can consistantly reprimand the dog for growling and nipping (if that ends up a problem).
" Paper on the nose = bad dog! He or she will get the idea. Good Luck..... " nini, you should never hit your dog in any way. It could cause fear aggression, someone could go and pet the dog, the dog, use to getting smacked on the nose thinks it's going to be smacked again, and bites in fear and protection of it's self. you don't want to cause the pup to fear anything...could end up really bad. i think what minniyar suggested, the vinger and water mixture in a spray bottle will work great...it smells like viniger, not water, so no need for the dog to fear water during a bath. Good luck with your pup!
Was your dog from a small litter and what age did the dog come to live at your home? If your dog is from a small litter (1 or 2 in the litter) then it would have not had to compete for food from the mother and would cause it to be more likely to have aggression. If your dog was taken at a young age (less than 8 weeks) from the mother this could cause aggression, as well. At any rate you have to stop the aggression. The vinegar/water squirt is a good idea. I would also get the dog used to being bothered in a safe way. This can be done while the dog is eating. Use a stuffed animal near your dog's size and attatch it to a broom stick. While your dog is eating nudge it with the stuffed animal. Do this everytime the dogs eats for the entire time the dog is eating. I know it sounds weird but this is a method used by a popular behaviorist. I would also use a time out for the dog when it growls at you. Everytime your dog growls at you keep it in a down stay for 5 full minutes. Keep a watchful eye to ensure the down stay is kept. This shows the dog your authority.
We are having the same problem with a new puppy we've only had for 10 days. We took it to the vet, thinking maybe if it was hurt that would explain the frequent growling at my son and wife. But the puppy was not doing this because it was hurt - the vet talked about aggressive behaviour and the obedience training you need to control this problem. This isn't going to work for us - the discipline it takes, the fact that we have a hyperactive son and lots of other kids over frequently, two cats - we need an animal we can trust and, to be honest, what he described isn't the kind of relationship we want to have to build with a dog to 'paleate' it and overcome this behaviour. For another owner, it may work, but not us. Has anybody been in this situation before? The breeder is refusing to take the animal back. What is the normal 'solution' between buyer and breeder for something like this?
I have done a lot of reading on cavaliers, and they are "supposed" to be one of the sweetest and most non aggressive dogs out there. However they are becoming more and more popular and as always that means bad breeding. I would really, really recommend splurging some money and seeing a trainer or behaviorist. Dogs just don't start growling "for no reason", unless they are truly psychotic, and that is a very very small percentage. There can be really subtle signs before the growling starts that owners don't pick up on, as a result they think the problems with growling started out of the blue when they didn't. Again, cavs are supposed to be incredibly docile and sweet, I think training is the best way to go. You and your daughter may be inadvertently doing something that your pup is really uncomfortable with and growling is a dog's only way of letting you know they are upset and uncomfortable. Oh yeah, and I agree with whoever posted about not hitting the dog with a newspaper. That teaches nothing, only confuses the dog and gets them more aggressive. Good luck and tell us what you have decided!
ekigio my suggestion to you is if the breder won't take the dog back give it to a breed specific rescue and forget about getting another dog. perfect dogs aren't found they are made with lots of time, training and commitment. doesn't sound like you have time for any of it and you will be doing a huge disservice to both your family and the poor pup. stick with cats for now until your life changes and you can honestly meet the demand of a new pup.