5 year old spaniel now hates other dogs

(11 Posts)
nevernotstruggling Wed 12-Feb-20 09:39:04

Please don't tell me off I was horrified. I think ddog bit a shi tzu on a walk. Or the shi tzu made a huge fuss because ddog barked at him I can't be sure. There was no blood and the dog was white.

My show cocker is 5 and the last couple of years has become more hostile to other dogs. We had him from a puppy and went to puppy classes etc. He is fine with other dogs he knows well though.

If he is off the lead and nose to the ground sniffing and a dog comes up behind him he hates it and barks a lot.

If other dogs approach him and he can see them it's not always this reaction. Sometimes he lies down and wags his tail and plays.

He won't tolerate being approached when he is off the lead but I can control that easily and don't allow him to get near.

I'm at the point of considering a muzzle.

He has always been fine with humans and is very loving. He just isn't sure about other dogs.

What can I do?

OP’s posts: |
EmeraldsAtDawn Wed 12-Feb-20 09:58:41

Muzzle training is a sensible option for any dog so you won't do any harm by buying a basket muzzle and patiently working on getting your cocker to accept it. Then you know you can use that, if you need to. Make it fun and it will also help bond you and your dog back together as problems like these can easily chip away at the bond between you, because they are so stressful.

Working on dog reactivity happens in stages:

Step One: Get a vet check. Rule out medical conditions, such as pain, that could be causing or contributing to this.

Step Two: You stop him having to interact with any dog. When you see one out and about, you go out of your way to avoid it. Turn around, cross the street, jump into a hedge. Whatever. Your dog needs to start to trust that no one is going to force him to get close to another dog ever again, if he doesn't want to. It will take a little while but keep this up and you should see if become less and less worried when he sees a dog at a distance because he knows he is not going to have to get close to it.

Step Three: Start to partner other dogs with something he likes (typically food). Try and set up or choose scenarios where he has seen the other dog and then gets the food. If you can eward hhim for looking at the other dog then looking away even better. Here he is starting to learn that other dogs means nice food for him and ignoring them means even more. Do this enough and he will start to look for his food upon seeing another dog. He will expect it.

Step Four: Then you can move onto getting closer and loser to other dogs, gradually. Do it over many sessions and never get closer than your dog is comfortable with. If he barks, lunges, growls then you are too close and need to back up a lttle bit next time.

Step Five: accept he many never be a social butterfly and will always need his distance from other dogs. But hopefully by following the above you help himnot be so scared he reacts badly if one happens to get too close.

There is also a good FB page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1633448230248202/) for helping owners of reactive dogs. ots of great tips and support there too.

frostedviolets Wed 12-Feb-20 10:52:36

Please don't tell me off I was horrified. I think ddog bit a shi tzu on a walk. Or the shi tzu made a huge fuss because ddog barked at him I can't be sure. There was no blood and the dog was white
He may have nipped him rather than bitten.

My show cocker is 5 and the last couple of years has become more hostile to other dogs. We had him from a puppy and went to puppy classes etc. He is fine with other dogs he knows well though
Many dogs at adulthood only really like to socialise with those they know.
Much like us.

If he is off the lead and nose to the ground sniffing and a dog comes up behind him he hates it and barks a lot
Mine would also hate this, if a larger dog or a group she'd likely growl/lip curl.
Recall immediately the second you see that other dog would my advice here.

If other dogs approach him and he can see them it's not always this reaction. Sometimes he lies down and wags his tail and plays
Don't fall into this trap.

With my dog I didn't act anywhere near quick enough because it wasn't every dog at first and people kept telling me crap like 'ah she's just setting boundaries' or 'oh don't worry he needs telling off'.

Pretty soon it became every dog, any breed, any size, any age, at her worst she would get tense at old people in popular dog walking areas with walking sticks (I think she thought at distance the stick was a leash) and the occasional growls off leash turned into air snaps and super tense, confrontational body language on lead at the sight of any other dog at considerable distance away.

Your dog needs time to decompress and relax.

Then he needs keeping away from other dogs otherwise it will get worse and worse.

I'm at the point of considering a muzzle
Two things, first of all muzzles only stop bites.
Dogs can still punch with a muzzle on and on a small dog that can crack ribs.
Secondly, you'll find public perception very different.
I tried one briefly when my dog was at her worst, I was totally unprepared for the level of fear from people.
Plus dogs hate them, they need careful desensitisation training to wear them.

He has always been fine with humans and is very loving. He just isn't sure about other dogs
Mine too.

What can I do?
I have tried pretty much everything.

CARE I do not recommend.
She got worse over time not better.

I don't think she ever actually really connected the food and started feeling happy and anticipatory as expected.

The food was a distraction not a cure imo.

I have tried 'balanced' training/corrections.
Also would not recommend.

I found this eye opening:


For a couple of weeks I didn't walk my dog, nor play any stimulating/exciting games.
She just mooched around bored.

When I did take her for a walk, something amazing happened.
I was tying her up to the gate (school run) when out of nowhere I saw another dog touching noses with my dog.

Someone had a cocker on an extending lead and thought it was a good idea to let them meet (WHY?! My dog sitting tied up to the gate, narrow path, noisy schoolchildren absolutely everywhere, my 5 year old stood right next to my dog 🤦🏻‍♀️)
She should have gone absolutely ballistic but nothing happened.

Since then I have walked past at heel every loose dog on a path with no incident and when it comes to off leash, I recall her if it looks like another dog is going to approach.

She has so far had one out of control dog race up to her off leash and I wasn't able to recall quick enough.

She did have a raised tail when they met which made me anxious (her body language with other dogs is often very confrontational) but she met this dog very politely, even play bowed and tried to invite chase then got a bit sad and whiny when it decided to ignore her and jump at me instead..

We have also met a dog out of a group of three dogs her size.
I would never normally have let them interact, she is particularly uncomfortable with groups of dogs but I felt unwell and needed to sit down on a bench and these three were approaching on the path.

The other two walked past her while the other one wanted to say hello.
They interacted fine, no problems whatsoever.

I absolutely wouldn't risk letting her freely interact with other dogs, I don't consider her 'cured' but keeping her off walks for a period of time and keeping her away from others appears to have reduced her stress levels to a point where she can cope and interact nicely now with the odd unexpected dog.

FooFightersFan Wed 26-Feb-20 18:14:49

frostedviolets I was so amazed by that study, and by what you posted about your dog that I’m on my third day of keeping my dog indoors.
My dog is (well I believed) a hyperactive mutt, who needs a couple of walks a day and plenty of ball throwing to wear him out.
When I read the study I was stunned that I was doing the complete opposite of what it suggested.

So, as I say, I’m at the end of my 3rd day of my dog being kept indoors (apart from toilet breaks in the garden, obviously).
He has been much calmer, far less agitated and bossy with me. He’s just been happy to snuggle up and sleep. Or watch me whilst I work. The best bit, it seems that his barking has reduced considerably, even in the garden. He’s hardly reacted when my family have come in from school and work. Although the post does still turn him into the Tasmanian Devil - albeit slowed down a tad.

It’s all going so well. BUT... omg I’m so nervous about talking him out for the first time. I’m planning to take him out the day after tomorrow. In the evening. In the dark. On the lead. Just for a walk around the streets. So it’s not overwhelming.

Any tips??

If this is successful I think I’ll consider walking him only every other day in future.
And although he adores chasing tennis balls, I’m wondering whether to give this up completely. Or else limit it to a couple of times a week for a really reduced period of time.

Thanks for linking the article. It was a revelation.

frostedviolets Wed 26-Feb-20 20:36:35

It’s amazing!
It does go against a lot of what you are told about owning dogs, especially if you have an ‘active working breed’ like I do but yes I was astounded at the change in my dog too.

I think your plan sounds great smile

See how he gets on with a nice, calm evening walk with no other dogs nearby then gradually start reducing the distance of other dogs would be my advice.

So start walking with them as a mere speck in the distance at first and very slowly over many weeks reduce the distance until eventually he’s walking past them on leash but do not allow interaction with them ever.
Just walk merrily past on leash, with him at ‘heel’ (so he is focusing on you), calmly give treats, act as if it’s a complete non event.

Tennis balls, I don’t know about your dog but my dog gets unhealthily obsessed with balls.
As in walks with eyes glued to the ball completely zoned out and unaware of her surroundings obsessed.
I do have a ball thrower but I use it very, very rarely now.
Literally maybe one or two walks every few months.

frostedviolets Wed 26-Feb-20 20:45:31

Oh and try and make sure he is calm, well, as calm as a dog anticipating a walk can be before you leave, have him sit nicely to have his lead clipped on and try and walk out nicely, no lunging forward and dragging you out the door!

FooFightersFan Wed 26-Feb-20 21:57:22

Oh the tennis ball is his obsession too. Today he was pawing at the drawer where I keep them in the house 😆

He’s very hit or miss with other dogs. Male puppies he hates! Very growly and will pounce on them aggressively. That is definitely something I’d like to remedy.
With other dogs he can go from ignoring them completely to provoking them to play with him. He’s a real Jekyll & Hyde in that respect. Although it’ll be interesting to see how he is now he’s purged his adrenaline.

Yeah it’s going to be like starting again. And I’m keen to make the last few days be worth staying in for. But without a doubt I shall be reducing the length of his walks and reducing his stimulation.

Thanks again.


nevernotstruggling Sun 01-Mar-20 01:54:49

Gosh mn buried this thread I've only just seen the replies!!!
Thank you so much! I think the desensitisation might work with my boy he really loves just trailing me at home. Going to organise some working from home and try this z

OP’s posts: |
FooFightersFan Sun 01-Mar-20 10:32:03

never just an update from me... no walks for my dog from Monday through to Friday last week. Took him out on an evening walk on the Friday, just around the block, so lots of sniffing but he was on the lead the whole time. He was so good! Although we bumped into two dogs we know and they were yappy ☹️ Which set my dog off. But... he was ok and once we got home he just settled and fell asleep.
Saturday morning, again a short walk on the lead and that was enough for him.
He’s become quite settled and doesn’t seem to badger me as much during the day. Happy to just pop into the garden as and when, and happy to just mooch about the house. We have a game of tug of war a couple of times a day too.
Honestly, he’s a different dog. I’m calmer. He’s calmer. It’s a total win-win.
Although I’ve not let him off lead in our park yet, and that will involve other dogs and possibly lead to my dog stealing a tennis ball if he can. That’s the bit that I’m not looking forward to. But I’ll just try and get the ball off him, lead him up and give the ball back.
Good luck

nevernotstruggling Sun 01-Mar-20 11:43:57

@FooFightersFan thank you I'm really inspired. Great nn too!

OP’s posts: |
itadakimas Sun 01-Mar-20 12:56:14

I've just read this thread; I'm not in your situation, so can't offer up any advice.

Please don't beat yourself up! When you've got a dog, and they're with you a lot, and you love them to bits, it's hard to remember that they're an animal. At least in my case! So when they do something that we certainly wouldn't do, and is out of character for them, it's totally shocking isn't it?

The advice you've been given sounds excellent. I think muzzles are good as long as the dog 100% needs one - I'd certainly use one on my dog if needed. You'd definitely be given a wide berth (not always a bad thing wink). Would you consider a 'nervous dog' lead/collar? Could that be somehting that may help? It's a least a warning to other owners. If you live somewhere like me, I am CONSTANTLY coming into contact with/or seeing other dog handlers that think it's acceptable to allow or even send their dog over to any other dog/adult/child, and then look shocked if it's not thrown a welcome party.
If you're interested in the lead, I seen them at PAH, but they can most likely be found online.

Good luck with your pooch!

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