How to Train Your Cocker Spaniel Dog to Not Bite

Hard
1-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

For as long as you can remember, you've always loved Cocker spaniels; something about those gorgeous silky ears and large brown eyes. It was, therefore, a huge thrill when, as an adult, at long-last you were able to get your very own Cocker. However, you soon learned the hard way that the Cocker is a strong-willed dog that, married with a degree of anxiety about life, can lead to snappiness. 

This didn't bother you too much, although at times it does make you a bit wary of the dog. However, things have changed recently with the arrival of a new baby. You aren't so much concerned for the present time as you are about what happens when the baby starts to crawl and then play with the dog. It leaves you with an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach. 

Fortunately, you are facing up to the situation now and have plenty of time to take things in hand. 

Defining Tasks

Cocker spaniels can be mouthy dogs, who are sometimes prone to nipping or biting, especially when stressed. 

In an ideal world, prevention is better than cure and by teaching a puppy to have a soft mouth future problems can be avoided. However,  if you have missed this opportunity, even adult dogs can often be rehabilitated with some patience and know-how. 

For those dogs that are aggressive or you feel out of your depth with, always seek professional help. Your vet can put you in touch with a certified animal behaviorist who can look at all the relevant factors to put a strategy in place to keep everyone safe. 

Getting Started

Teaching a Cocker spaniel not to bite is as much about knowledge and timing as it is about equipment. By understanding what not to do, along with techniques for teaching self-control, it's possible to teach a puppy to have a soft mouth and reduce the risk of an adult dog biting. 

To do this you need basic equipment and motivators such as: 

  • Pea-sized tasty treats
  • A treat bag or pouch so those rewards are always handy
  • Toys to distract the dog
  • Tug toys or balls for remote play

The Soft Mouth Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Understand the idea
Young dogs, and puppies in particular, can be trained to have a soft mouth and not bite down during play. This is done by yipping or crying when the puppy's teeth contact your skin. Then let your hand go limp. This is similar to what would happen if the puppy plays too rough with a litter mate, and helps him to understand biting is not appropriate and ends the fun.
Step
2
Play with the puppy
Play with your pup, being especially vigilant for times when the puppy mouths your hand. This is usually not aggressive behavior, but just a young dog's way of investigating the world. However, teeth on skin is not appropriate under any circumstances and you need to teach him this.
Step
3
React to teeth on skin
In the heat of play, if the puppy bites your hand or skin, you must yelp, yip, or make a high-pitched 'pain' noise. Then let your hand go limp and stop the game. The puppy will soon realize that biting too hard ends the game, and since the puppy wants to play, he'll be more careful to keep his teeth away from delicate human skin.
Step
4
Turn your back
If you yelp and the puppy still keeps coming back for more and won't leave you be, then withdraw from the game completely. Either fold your arms and turn your back, or leave the room completely. Again, withdrawing attention and leaving the game is teaching him that fun stops when he plays too rough.
Step
5
Watch for over-excitement
Some puppies get so over excited that they simply can't control themselves, which leads to mouthing and biting behavior. You need to teach these dogs some self control. This is best done by playing in 15 second bursts (time this on a watch or phone) and then stopping. Only resume the game once the puppy is calm. This way if the puppy bites during his play session, he is sufficiently calm to respond to your pain signals.
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The Dos and Don'ts Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Don't: Smack or punish the dog
Avoid punishing the dog for biting. This will only serve to get him more excited or to become fearful of you - neither of which is a desirable outcome. Instead, if the puppy is being particularly mouthy say "No!" in a firm voice and withdraw your attention.
Step
2
Do: Play act
Now is not the time to be bashful or self-conscious. When the puppy mouths you, go for the full dramatic effect with an Oscar-worthy squeal of mock pain. The better you act up and whimper, the sooner the puppy gets the message.
Step
3
Don't: Wag a finger at the dog
Some people advocate wagging a finger at the dog or even striking his nose with a finger. Again, this is counterproductive as the dog is liable to see the finger as a moving target and part of the game. Hence, you may encourage him to bite rather than inhibit him.
Step
4
Do: Seek professional help
Biting is a complex topic and not one that always has a straightforward explanation. Be wary about making the problem worse and rather than experimenting, get the help of a professional, accredited dog behaviorist. They will watch how you and the dog interact, looking for trigger factors and what motivates the dog to bite. This enables them to design a protocol to help reduce the risk and rehabilitate the dog.
Step
5
Don't: Be brave
It's important that you react to teeth against your skin. Don't be brave , thinking "That wasn't too bad", because if you don't react the puppy will think that level of contact is permitted. This is all very well, but if as an adult dog he uses the same amount of force with adult teeth, he could do serious harm. No matter how minor the mouthing, react as if you lost a finger, so the dog gets the message that dog teeth on human skin is a no-no.
Recommend training method?

The Teach Self-Control Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Understand the idea
Adult dogs bite for many reasons (some of which it's essential to get professional, accredited help with). For some dogs, especially Cockers, it's a matter of being impulsive and carried away in the moment. You can help these dogs by teaching them some self-control, so that they redirect the impulse to bite into a more appropriate outlet such as playing with a toy or listening to your instructions.
Step
2
Redirect to a toy
Cockers love having something to hold in their mouth, which just might be your hand. If this happens, redirect that instinct to hold by offering them a toy to carry. Offer them the toy and then praise them for taking it with an excited "Yes!"
Step
3
Desensitize to pats
Some dogs are quite reactive when it comes to being touched. Their response to being fussed or petted is to mouth the hand doing the stroking, especially as a moving hand is an inviting target. Help reduce the dog's reactivity by offering small treats in the free hand, while stroking them. This occupies the dog's mouth and rewards him at the same time.
Step
4
Avoid direct contact games
Take a look at how you engage the dog in play. If your rough-house the dog using your hands then this is tantamount to inviting him to grab your hands. For the mouthy Cocker, distance yourself by engaging in games such as "Fetch" or by using a tug-toy so that his teeth are at the other end of the game.
Step
5
Beef up basic obedience
A dog that listens to his master is less likely to get himself into trouble. Engage in regular (several times a day) training sessions and strengthen basic commands such as 'sit', 'stay' and 'down'. This allows you to take control of most situations using your voice, and with the dog listening to you he's less like to lose control and bite.
Recommend training method?
author-img

Written by Pippa Elliott

Published: 01/03/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Ted
Cocker Spaniel
1 Year
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Question
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Ted
Cocker Spaniel
1 Year

Ted has bitten 3 of us in family, quite badly. He seems to go from growl to full on maul if you try to take something from him. It's tearing family apart as my husband wants to get rid of him. He is feisty but can be very gentle.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I suggest you call in a professional trainer used to dealing with aggressive dogs. With the severe biting issue, you really have no choice. The trainer can assess Ted's behavior and personality and formulate lessons and a plan that can attempt to combat the aggression. Please do so without delay, as this is something you cannot fix on your own. There are many resources for trainers online. All the best to Ted and to your family!

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Jasper
Dachshund
6 Years
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Jasper
Dachshund
6 Years

When some else that’s not in our family walks in the front door Jasper runs up barking and then bites the person and I recently had a baby and he actually started snapping at my kid and got him yesterday. How do I get Jasper to stop biting

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
841 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alanna, First of all get Jasper used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle. To do this, show him the muzzle and give him a treat. Touch the muzzle to him and give him a treat. Hold the muzzle against his face briefly and give him treats through the muzzle's holes. Hold the muzzle against his face for longer and give him treats through the holes. Finally, put the muzzle on him and feed him treats through the holes while he is wearing it. Only put the muzzle on him for a minute, and gradually increase the amount of time that he wears it for while he is being rewarded. Practice all of this over the next couple of weeks, until he is comfortable wearing the muzzle. Go slow and do not move onto the next level of touch with the muzzle until he is comfortable with the current amount of contact with the muzzle. He needs to be wearing the muzzle when he is around the baby and when people come over. A soft silicone muzzle will still allow him to open his mouth, receive treats through the holes, and it will conform to his face and be more comfortable to wear. He needs to wear the muzzle for other's protection but also to learn that biting does not get him what he wants. Since he has bitten numerous people or times, he has learned that he can control the actions of others with his mouth. He needs that control taken away from him. Look up Jeff Gelhman from SolidK9Training. He is an expert in aggression and has a free YouTube channel with videos demonstrating aggression treatment protocols. They are far more complex than what I can get into here. I would highly suggest hiring a professional trainer to come to your home though, especially with the baby there. Aggression is one issue that I recommend people hire a professional for. It can be complex to address and often involves a combination of obedience for management, classical conditioning to make something that the dog dislikes pleasant to him, and boundaries and discipline to teach the dog that he cannot control people and he needs to trust and respect his owners. There is not one quick fix. Look for a trainer who uses both positive reinforcement and fair discipline and has extensive experience dealing with aggression. Also, check out Jeff Gelhman's videos for practical things you can be doing in the mean time. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Ferdi
Cocker Spaniel
12 Months
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Question
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Ferdi
Cocker Spaniel
12 Months

Our cocker Ferdi has always been mouthy, he’s always used his mouth when you stroke him and play with him. Recently this has tailed off but he now bites ( nips) more aggressively when he’s not in the mood for being stroked. He doesn’t give a warning growl either. We have two children and always have their friends over. His nipped both our little girls and drawn blood. He’s also possessive over the post when it arrives and growls if he try to get it off him.
Can we train him to stop this behaviour? I’m so worried about him hurting someone. We live in central London so any recommendations would be great.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
841 Dog owners recommended

Hello Victoria, The mouthing is normal for a puppy but can be a bit rude...The biting when you go to pet and guarding the paper is an attitude issue though. He probably needs an attitude bootcamp. To help with overall attitude you can practice the following: Place for 1-2 hours at a time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Working method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Resource guarding protocol: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19RnH9dLip0&t=1120s Once the attitude improves when you deal with the resource guarding (which I would hire professional help with that), you can follow up the training by helping him associate people being near objects he used to guard as good, by practicing approaching him and tossing treats, approaching and tossing treats, holding one end of the paper - giving a treat - then giving paper back. You want to make giving and taking things a fun game associated with rewards to build trust around things he wants as well - but the respect issues need to be dealt with before you can move onto the positive stuff that follows it up. The same goes for handling/touch. Once you have worked on him working for things, structure, boundaries and things to build respect, then you can build trust by pairing his daily kibble with touch. For example, gently touch an ear while you give a treat. Gently touch a paw - give a treat. Gently hold his collar - give a treat. Practice these types of touches with all areas of his body gently, using his entire meal, one piece of food at a time, as often at meal times as you can - put the food into a baggie you have and grab from there - don't stick your hand in his bowl of food to do this. Work on establishing respect first so he is less resistant though, and take precautions like a basket muzzle if you feel you may be bitten - a basket muzzle should let him open his mouth still and have holes to pass treats through if you get a good one. Look for a trainer who is very experienced with a variety of types of aggression - more than just fear-aggression, but also dominance/resource guarding/genetic/ect..., has good client reviews, is good at communicating, and uses both positive reinforcement and fair corrections balanced in training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Stanley
Cocker Spaniel
12 Months
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Question
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Stanley
Cocker Spaniel
12 Months

Stanley just loves to bite our hands,arms etc during play or to instigate play. He knows commands but just doesn't listen to them when hes in play. Please help.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
841 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I suggest teaching Leave It and Out commands. Leave It method for biting: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out command (Out means leave the area): https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Work on those commands until he understands them both well. When he starts to get mouthy tell him to "Leave It" in a calm but no-nonsense tone of voice (not angry, timid, or excited). If he obeys, reward him with a chew toy he likes to hold in his mouth instead. If he doesn't listen (which he probably won't some of the time at first), then tell him "Out" and use the "How to use it to deal with pushy behavior" method from the Out article linked above. You will essentially make him leave the room by calmly but firmly walking toward him until he backs out of the room AND backs two feet away from you. Imagine that you are a firm brick wall when you do this and your attitude should mean business but also be calm. He will probably try harder to get your attention when you do this, but when he does, walk toward him again until he has to back away. Don't worry about bumping into him if he doesn't move. He needs to learn to respect your space, but do be careful not to step on him. Shuffle your feet instead of take steps if you have to - to avoid his paws. You want him to learn that when he doesn't calm down when told to, people will get boring, the fun will end, and he will have to leave the room. The Out command tells a dog through your body language also to respect your personal space. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bailey
Cocker Spaniel
8 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Bailey
Cocker Spaniel
8 Months

Bailey is nipping a lot and has been neutered. It can come out of nowhere that he will start jumping and nipping/biting or going for feet. This happens to both adults and kids in the family.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
841 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brendan, If the biting seems to be roughhousing and play, then check out the video and articles linked below. First, teach Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Jumping - Step Toward or Leash methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcwvUOf5oOg If pup is trying to mount people or showing signs of true aggression, opposed to just excited playing roughly or seeking attention, I highly suggest hiring a professional trainer to help you in person, rather than addressing this on your own. If you are unsure, I also suggest hiring a trainer who is experienced with aggression and behavior issues, and comes well recommended by their previous clients, to evaluate pup's behavior in person, to determine what's going on. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Oscar
Cocker Spaniel
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Oscar
Cocker Spaniel
8 Months

Oscar is still biting & nipping, follows us around trying to nip.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is some information on nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Question
Mqble5
Cocker Spaniel x labrador
10 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Mqble5
Cocker Spaniel x labrador
10 Weeks

Mable cant stop biting me and the children she is fine one minute and the next at our ankles hands ect.. we could just be walking passed and pounce she is on us thanks sam

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hi! This is a very typical behavior of puppies this age. With that being said, it is a good idea to stop the behavior now so it doesn't become a habit that follows her into adulthood. Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

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Bruce
Cocker Spaniel
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bruce
Cocker Spaniel
4 Months

He protects toys and random items by growling and nipping

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Question
CoCo
Cocker Spaniel
1 Month
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
CoCo
Cocker Spaniel
1 Month

He is so young yet he is very aggressive and mouths me
What do I do to explain him not to mouth

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is some information on how to correct nipping/biting in puppies. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Question
Tillie
Sprocker Spaniel
9 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Tillie
Sprocker Spaniel
9 Weeks

Biting. Constantly nipping and biting. If she’s not getting attention she goes inside and does a wee or poo. This may not be linked but seems a bit strange.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to send you information on the nipping/biting. As far as the potty training, they often don't realize they need to go until they have a little bit of quiet time or time away. Puppies that young just haven't regulated themselves yet. Your best bet right now to curb that behavior is when you have to leave your puppy unsupervised, put her in a crate or confined space so she doesn't have free roam of the house. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Question
Marlo
Cocker Spaniel
16 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Marlo
Cocker Spaniel
16 Weeks

Hyper active continuely bites my other dog . He is hard to settle .

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
841 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jo, First, I suggest crate training the puppy. Use the Surprise method from the article linked below to gradually help him learn to be calm in the crate and to relax by using rewards for being Quiet. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Crate pup at night and when you leave, and you can use an exercise pen with some toys in it also. When you cannot directly supervise the dogs together, puppy should be crated or in the pen. If you want pup to be free but don't want to chase after him while you are home, you can also clip him to yourself using a six-foot leash, so that he has to stay near you and not wander near your other dog. When you are supervising, teach both dogs the Out command (which means leave the area) and make whoever is causing issues leave the area as needed (like pup pestering your older dog). Out command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ I also recommend teaching pup leave It: Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Whenever puppy enters the room, give your older dog a treat while pup is not looking. Whenever he is calm, relaxed or tolerant of puppy also give him a treat. Try not to let puppy see you rewarding him though so that he doesn’t run over and overwhelm him. Decide what your house rules are for both dogs and you be the one to enforce the rules instead of the dogs. No aggression, no pushiness, no stealing toys, no stealing food, no being possessive of people or things, no bothering another dog when they want to be left alone, or any other unwanted behavior - if one dog is causing a problem you be the one to enforce the rules so that the dogs are NOT working it out themselves. For example, if pup comes over to your older dog when he is trying to sleep, tell pup Out. If puppy obeys, praise and reward him. If he disobeys, stand in front of your older dog, blocking the pup from getting to him, and walk toward pup calmly but firmly until pup leaves the area and stops trying to go back to your older dog. If your older dog growls at your pup, make your older dog leave the room while also disciplining pup by making them leave for antagonizing if they did. Be vigilant and take the pressure off of your older dog - you want him to learn to look to you when there is a problem, and for puppy to learn respect for your older dog because you have taught it to him and not because your older dog has had to resort to aggression or he has to hide all the time. To help with energy, spend a little time everyday teaching pup new things and working on current commands - that can help with communication, management of pup's behavior, but also it will help tire pup out every day to be focusing and working mentally. Puzzle toys, and stuffing chew toys with pup's dog food and letting pup work for their food can also keep pup busy some. Good commands for helping with self-control are things like: Out, Leave It, Heel, Place, Down, Sit-Stay, Watch Me, Quiet, and Wait. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Harry
American Cocker Spaniel
5 Years
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Harry
American Cocker Spaniel
5 Years

Harry is our 5 year old American Cocker Spaniel. He is a beautiful dog but occasionally will react to a visitor to my home or my Mum’s home and give them a reactive bite. We have noted it is usually if he is startled or awaken suddenly by them OR if he doesn’t know them well and they are near food he may be wanting and when he jumps up on them they wave their hands at him and he quickly gives them a bite. His canine teeth are very sharp. It seems when he wants something and doesn’t get it and the person reacts to him jumping up at them by telling him to get down and as I described, waves their hands at him. I see in your earlier advice to others the hand becomes a moving target and his brain reacts so very quickly to either protect himself or to dominate this person for not giving him what he wants??
Another situation is if the person goes over to assist my elderly Mum, who he is very attached too he also can become protective if it is someone he does not know??
How can we stop this as it doesn’t happen often but it seems the common denominator is the waving of hands and the person cautioning him using his name ‘Harry’ especially as explained if he is awaken and startled or he wants some thing like food nearby and he jumps up on the person and they react to him by telling him to get down and wave their hands, usually ending in a quick bite. Often the people are friends of Mum’s or neighbours of mine and their older skin is crappie and the bite mark breaks the skin😫🥴🐕‍🦺Other than that he is 90% of the time absolutely the most beautiful, loving dog with me, Mum and family members that are not nervous of him....he can be very stubborn.
Any advice we would be great full
robbiecranfield1@bigpond.com
Sydney Australia

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello there. It sounds like you have your hands full. I am going to provide you with information on how to correct this behavior. You won’t be able to solve your dog’s overprotective behavior in one day. In the meantime, you don’t want to put your life on hold. You can still invite guests into your home as long as you prioritize managing your dog’s behavior. You’ll need a short-term strategy to start showing your overprotective dog what behavior is unacceptable while also keeping your guests safe. There are a few ways to do this. Leash: Keeping your dog on a leash while friends are visiting gives you control over your dog’s actions. Leash him up before the doorbell rings and keep him close as you greet your guests. During the visit, you can let the leash drag and only use it if you have to. Muzzle: If you feel his behavior warrants the use of a muzzle for the time being while you work on solving this problem, then it may be a wise choice. Separate Room: Your dog won’t get better without practice, but sometimes you have to weigh the risks versus rewards. If your overprotective dog is in the beginning stages of training, keeping him separated from guests might be best. You don’t want to put a friend’s safety at risk or needlessly stress out your dog. As long as you keep working toward stopping the behavior, separating an overprotective dog from company is a temporary management solution. Start Obedience Training Obedience training is a must for every dog, and it’s especially important for overprotective dogs. Working with your dog on things like “sit-stay,” “down-stay,” and “heel,” will help build his impulse control. He’ll start seeing you as a capable leader and will turn to you for guidance. A mistake many pup parents make is stopping obedience training once their dog masters the basics skills. Being well-trained is about more than knowing how to sit when a person holds a treat in front of their face. It’s a lifetime lesson, and even senior dogs need regular training. Commit to training your dog several times a day for short periods of time. Make Your Dog Work for Affection You can’t help but smother your dog with love every time he’s within petting distance, but that isn’t always what’s best for him. He will start to feel entitled to your attention, and that’s part of the problem. To remedy this, initiate a “work for it” program that allows you to show your dog affection as long as he earns your attention in appropriate ways. Make him sit, stay calm, and do whatever else you ask before doling out whatever it is he wants. If he’s excited for dinner, make him sit and leave it before digging in. If he wants in your lap, ask him to do a trick first. Never give your dog attention if he rudely nudges your hand or barks in your face. He needs to know polite behavior, and polite behavior only, is how he gets what he wants. You ignore everything else. Involve Other People in the Dog’s Life Most overprotective dogs choose to guard only the person they feel closest to. It’s usually the same person who fills their food bowls, takes them on walks, and handles training. They become obsessively attached, and a strong bond gradually mutates into overprotective behavior. Putting some space between you and your dog will help him learn to trust other people. Enlist the entire family’s help and take a step back in your role as primary caregiver. Have someone else feed the dog a few times a week, and encourage other people to engage her in playtime. This will help him be more comfortable with different people. Socialize Socialization is best done during the puppy stages, but even adult and senior dogs benefit from new experiences. Exposing your overprotective dog to new places, experiences, and people, will help him learn that not everyone is out to hurt you. Make sure each new experience is positive, and encourage your dog without forcing him to interact. If your dog is afraid, you don’t want to make things worse. Take socialization at the pace he’s comfortable with. If he seems overwhelmed, back up and try something a little smaller. These are some general ideas and they can be modified to fit your dynamic. These behaviors do take time, I am talking months, to correct. And sometimes the behaviors get worse before they get better. So just push through that time if that starts to happen. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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Bramble
Working cocker
2 Years
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Bramble
Working cocker
2 Years

Bramble has nipped the skin of my 2 children and most recently that of a friends son when visiting our home. They have all been surface bites and in fairly tight spaces. There are times when she will give a growl as a warning other times she will simply react. She is also very protective over me (the mother).
This is not something we want to continue and we want to be sure that she is safe around children.
What would you advise to help with this?
Many thanks,
Jo

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello. Here is information on puppy nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Covid
Cocker Spaniel
9 Months
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Covid
Cocker Spaniel
9 Months

My pup can be calm and then all of a sudden snap and bite me. Afraid of kids getting bitten. Is there something I can do or give him to relax. I have an appt to get him neutered next week.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Kenji
English Cocker Spaniel
3 Months
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Kenji
English Cocker Spaniel
3 Months

My cocker is very sensitive, he loves cuddles and kisses but when I try to correct him he suddenly switches from and angel to the devil, it’s crazy!! He starts biting and growling. How can I fix this behavior? I don’t want to yell at him or punish him, I try redirecting a toy from my hand whenever he tries to bite but he gets so upset.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
841 Dog owners recommended

Hello Joseline, How are you correcting pup? You may need to switch what you are doing if it involves anything physically rough using your hands. Keeping a drag leash on pup can help calmly enforce commands you give instead. Only keep it on pup when you can supervise to keep it from getting caught on anything. Also, work on getting puppy used to touch and handling. Use puppy’s daily meal kibble to do this. Gently touch an area of puppy's body while feeding a piece of food. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold his collar and give a treat. Touch his tail gently and give a treat. Touch his belly, his other paws, his chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. Check out the article linked below. I would work on gently building respect. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Pay attention to your reactions when pup growls. If you give them what they want then, pup learns that doing that works for them. Be careful to follow through with things, but also use methods of training that are calmer initially when you can. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bruno
Cocker Spaniel
4 Months
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Bruno
Cocker Spaniel
4 Months

Puppy only biting one person( Father of family) on occasion. starts off gentle mouth but may hurt .
Tried putting toys in place , turning away and putting out a cry when bites occur.

The puppy responds to father most , follows him round everywhere and takes every opportunity to sit with him.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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