View Full Version : Our 1 yr old boy is getting snappy

14th October 2010, 03:01 PM
Hi - I haven't posted before, but I'd love some thoughts on some aggressive behaviour from our 1 yr old tri-color boy Oliver.

The background is - Oliver is our first dog; originally we adopted a dog from a pound but had to return him 2 weeks later because of issues towards all children (we have 2 kids). The experience taught us that we still wanted a dog but needed a gentle breed from a reputable breeder. After much research we brought Oliver home when he was 8 weeks old and immediately crate trained him and then started him at puppy school, where he was gentle but curious and graduated with flying colours. He was neutered when he was 6 months old.

He is a very friendly boy, adores people and other dogs and we absolutely adore him. Oliver will do absolutely anything for a treat, but without a tasty treat in your hand it really is luck of the draw if Oliver will sit etc.... though there is always improvement - especially with me. Really Oliver is a delight, and in most cases I feel that he makes himself very clearly understood and understands us.

So the problem - I noticed it when Oliver was 16 weeks. We used to let him sleep on our laps in front of the TV in the evenings. But then if we tried to get up he would growl aggressively. So we don't let him snooze on us anymore - strictly floor only. He would also get nasty if he had a tasty chicken wing or bone. So he stopped getting those. (He's fine with his food bowl). I thought he'd grown out of this behaviour until last week when I gave him a yummy chew treat. It took him a whole day to demolish this treat and in that time he was a very unfriendly pet. Tonight he hid under one of the kids beds (we don't usually allow him in their rooms but we were in a playful mood with him) - it took quite a bit of growling and snapping before I could get him out. A minute later he was back to the lovable rogue we know and love.

Anyone who meets him thinks he his the most perfect dog. I get discounts at the groomers because he is so easy and when we are in the park I have never heard him growl or even pull back from another dog or human.

Some people I speak to say he is just being a dog and I should just avoid the triggers - and then I read websites that say aggression is unheard of in Cavs.....Any advice please....

14th October 2010, 03:54 PM
Some Cavaliers can be very possessive of toys or treats - it would be useful to train him to swop things. You need to train a swop to start with with a lower value item - swopping for something really yummy like dried liver or a piece of chicken.

It would also be useful to put a houseline on him so you can remove him from somewhere without having to drag him by the collar and risk getting hurt.

When he was hiding, was it after something had happened? Was he frightened by something?

Sometimes Cavaliers can be aggressive due to pain - has Oliver been checked over by a vet?

One condition which Cavaliers suffer from is Syringomyelia which is very painful - http://sm.cavaliertalk.com/ and http://cavaliermatters.org/ are good sites to read

14th October 2010, 11:20 PM
Some people I speak to say he is just being a dog and I should just avoid the triggers - and then I read websites that say aggression is unheard of in Cavs.....Any advice please....

Hi there,

Any dog can resource guard, of course, you see less of it in some breeds, but it can happen, they are all a study of one:) You can do some desensitization and counter conditioning around food and teach him to feel more comfortable and less defensive. You might find Jean Donaldson's book Mine! which is all about resource guarding really helpful!

Vicki Ronchette, CPDT, CAP2

27th October 2010, 07:39 AM
Thanks so much for this advice. Logic told me that at the end of the day a dog is a dog, and a dog doesn't really care whether it is a Cavalier, Labrador or Pit Bull, it's just doing what comes naturally. Your comments and advice have been a relief and Oliver has been a really good boy since I posted and I've really just been avoiding situations where Oliver has been known to react.

If any thing Oliver is starting to listen to me more and actually comes when I call (if he thinks it's worth his while anyway!!) and is being extra playful and affectionate.

Oliver's due for his yearly check up at the vet, but I have been watching for early signs of Syringomyelia and haven't seen any, he loves having a good tickle, especially behind his ears and when he has stopped for the occasional scratch, his paws make contact with his head.

Thanks again

3rd November 2010, 09:24 PM
We had similar reactions with our tri color charlie when he was young. When he was sleeping on our lap in the evening he would get grumpy when we moved or we tried to pick him up. He would also get grumpy when we tried to pick him up when he had one of his many bones.

We found telling him no in a firm voice slowly got the message across and he seldom gets grumpy at all now (at 9 months).