Ask The Dog Guide: Aggressive Behavior

June 28th, 2007 by Dan

Question: We have an 8 year old cockapoo. He occassionally suffers from fits of random rage and will viciously attack and bite family in the face. Immediately after the rage fit (which lasts less than 1 minute) he will be extremely apologetic and beg to be cuddled and lick whoever he just tried to maul. The trigger for his rage is usually if he is lying on a bed in the house and you lean over him or bring your face too close to him. What should we do to prevent this behaviour (which is distressing for him as well as us) and what should be our response to him growling or attacking? He is a very good-natured dog, very intelligent and much-loved, and does not exhibit any other forms of ‘normal’ canine agression, i.e., he’s not bothered if you take his food, tug his ears or play with him. He does show aggression to visitors, especially if they speak to him. But, he listens to us if we tell him to calm down or stop. We love him dearly and really want to put an end to his rages! Please help!

Answer: Well, this sounds like a difficult situation for everyone. It sounds like this behavior is fairly recent (hopefully it hasn’t been an unanswered concern for 8 years!). There are a couple things to consider doing immediately: see your vet and get a full checkup, including an eye exam, and speak to a good behaviorist. Given the situations in which he is displaying aggression, it’s possible that his eyesight is failing. Both Poodles and Cocker Spaniels are prone to genetic eye disorders. Or, there may be another physical ailment causing his rages.
A professional behaviorist will be able to objectively study your household and notice triggers that you haven’t, and will certainly have ideas on how to control/eliminate your dog’s aggressive behaviors.

One Response to “Ask The Dog Guide: Aggressive Behavior”

  1. karen Says:

    I could really use some help. We have an 18 month old cocker who is spayed at 6 months. She is usually a loving dog but since my husbands heart attack in October, she has become aggressive. She has become nippy and when our 7 year old grandaughter hugged her and for no reason she went to bite her on the fore head, I really do not want to put her down but what other kind of recourse do we have? Is there a way that we can modify this behavior or what?

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