View Full Version : help! My cav is being aggressive to other dogs!

6th April 2009, 07:19 PM
My black and tan cav, Winston, is 16 months old and has recently become aggressive around other dogs. He is our only dog, but my in-laws have a cock-a-poo and their neighbor has a lab and he adores and gets along with both of these dogs really well when he stays with teh in-laws. He has also stayed at a friend's home with their cav and a lab and has done fine. We had him in puppy obedience classes when he was smaller and he was fine around other dogs and still is when we take him to petsmart and most other places with dogs around. We have another neighbor who has a dog that barks all the time and he never engages or even reacts to that dog. BUT if we are outside playing fetch with him (which is his favorite game EVER) he gets super aggressive if any dogs show up. We were just outside our grad school and a fellow student brought over his adorable 4 month old scottie puppy and Winston was so mean to her. He ignored, then growled and snapped at her. THis is NOT my sweet dog that 6 months ago was acting EXACTLY like this puppy was acting!

What is your advice on how to handle this situation and teach Winston that snapping is NOT ok and that he cannot treat other dogs like this, he did it to a full grown golden retriever a few weeks ago.

He is amazing with people and children, and is fine 75% of the time with other dogs...I just don't know how to tell when he is going to be a little jerk and I don't want any dogs getting hurt.

6th April 2009, 07:38 PM
Did he mosty just meet lots of other dogs when he did his puppy class, and now really only sees those dogs he knows for any length of time? That is probably your problem -- socialisation is a lifelong activity or some dogs can easily (too easily!) become really shy or fearful or alternatively, aggressive. Also: snapping and growling at puppies is quite normal for adult dogs -- puppies at that age are just reaching the point where puppy behaviour is no longer a 'get out of jail free' card where they can get away with their playing -- which many adult dogs find rude and annoying (much as many adults find unrestrained toddlers quite annoying! :lol:). Adults are an important part of teaching puppies manners -- and like people, dogs vary in their level of tolerance of puppies. I have two dogs that like puppies and two that find them a pain and will snap to warn them to mind their manners if they get too rambunctious.

But really what I'd suggest doing is making sure your dog meets different people and dogs *every day* out on walks and around the home, and I'd also suggest a dog this age would benefit from a structured, fun, rewards based training classes -- if he has only done a puppy class when he was very young, that really is a minimal level of training and socialisation and this would be a great time, and your concerns a good reason, to do something further :) . Also, you really need a pro trainer to tell you whether your dog is moving towards true aggression -- we cannot make this call from a discussion board and joining a class would enable you to get a proper assessment. :thmbsup: FWIW, to me, it sounds like you are seeing the beginning of a potential problem of resource guarding -- eg he is defending his 'turf' which you really do not want to be seeing at all. The thing is that a lot of people think they are seeing aggression when they are seeing normal behaviour and vice versa -- someone who knows what to look for needs to see your cavalier mixing with other dogs. Look for a CPDT or APDT certified trainer who uses rewards, never punishment, choke chains, etc.

PS you can get some great advice and understand puppy and adult dog behaviour by checking out trainer Dr Ian Dunbar's excellent site: www.dogstardaily.com

6th April 2009, 08:46 PM
I would recommend that you read


The Natural, Commonsense Guide to Understanding & Correcting All Common Dog Problems

It has really helped me understand dog behavior and how to deal with it. I decided a while back that if I was ever going to get another dog I would first learn about dog psychology. This book has been the most helpful so far. Its an easy read only 300 pgs, and you can get it at half-price books pretty cheap.

7th April 2009, 11:05 AM
I wouldn't reccommend Cesar Milan, personally I think he's a joke but we won't get into that. Lets just say he relies way too much on the pack theory and doesn't seem to have grasped the concept of evolution.

I don't use training books as such I get any info I need of the internet particularly here:


There s a section on fighting which I hopw will be of some use to you.
Good Luck!