Our 3 year old Springer Spaniel bit my son without provocation. Any ideas?

by Springer Family
(Missouri)

We've had Zoe for three years now. We purchased her from a reputable breeder after careful research.


Her parents were both well behaved and wonderful. I actually knew the owner of the sire. Zoe has had children crawl all over her, been around other dogs often and cats and has never shown even one sign of aggression.

That all changed this week. I was sitting in my recliner talking on the phone to my husband. Zoe was sitting on the floor beside the recliner. My 11 year old son sat beside her and started scratching her belly.

I heard Zoe start to growl and turned to look at her. Within 2 seconds, she had bared her teeth, snarled and lunged at my son's face. The doctor said that my son received a "medium" bite from the dog.

I took Zoe to my vet to have her thoroughly checked out thinking that surely she must be sick or something. Everything came back clean and clear.

My first instinct was to have Zoe put down so she cannot hurt another person or animal. I can't help but think if it was my daughter (8yrs old), Zoe could have punctured her eye. The children are begging we give Zoe another chance.

I also have thought of bringing in a dog behavior specialist, but then could I trust my dog again? My question is - would it be wise to keep her? She's been through training and is very obedient to me.

When she bit my son, I stood up and did a "bite" to her neck. She immediately went belly up. She is extremely obedient of me. You can have a huge steak on the floor right in front of her and Zoe will not touch it until I say, "okay."

The Animal Control officer that came to my house grabbed her ears, tail, feathers, etc. and pulled on her and Zoe did nothing but wagged her tail and tried to get more love.

He did not like the idea of having her put down stating I had my dog well under control. Zoe is my heart and it's not by any means easy for me to think of life without her. But, is it wise to keep her when I know she's capable of inflicting a bad bite? One final note, Zoe is on the bag of Science Diet Sensitive Stomach... She modeled for it and did very well in that high-stress, command laden photo shoot.

From Anna@love-springer-spaniels.com

Hi There Springer Family
I am so sorry you are having to go through this and that your son was bitten. I can fully understand your concerns as I have two small children of my own.

I think getting some behavioural advice would be a really good idea, speak with you vet and see if there is someone who they recommend, especially in situations like this.

Make sure that Zoe has a place of sanctuary away from the children, George goes upstairs when he has had enough of my kids, as they sometimes need the break.

However the ulimate decision has to lie with you and what you are comfortable with, its very hard to live with a dog that you just don't trust.

I think working with the behavirouist as a family will be a huge help and is a great idea. Good luck and let us know how you get on

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Comments for Our 3 year old Springer Spaniel bit my son without provocation. Any ideas?

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Nov 28, 2010
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poor spaniel
by: Anonymous

with respect to your son,could he have hurt zoe when no-one was looking,dogs do remember.

Jun 07, 2010
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So glad to hear this
by: Patti

Hi Kathy,
I read this and knew exactly who was writing this. I have not been at work for quite some time, so I have not spoken with Ben.
I am so happy you figured out what was up with your girl.
The first thing I asked Ben was if you had taken her to the vet.
I am glad you were persistent and did not give up on Zoe.
I am sure the kids are happy as well. I am hoping to get a new puppy from Zoe's sister Laila. She was bred last week and we have our fingers cross that it took. I hope you have many happy years to come with Zoe.

Apr 16, 2010
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Springer Update
by: Springer Family

I am happy to announce that we discovered the issue with our little girl. Our foreign exchange student, not realizing how to handle dogs as they aren't common in his China province, had been lifting up our 45lb Springer and flipping her onto her back in his arms to carry her around. He saw this as a feat of strength and has done it often, apparently - sometimes one handed. Unfortunately for our little girl, this hurt her hips and back - causing that area to be sensitive. We had thought we corrected the problem when we first saw our foreign exchange student do this, but apparently he had continued when we were not around. I am relieved that we do not have to lose our Springer. However, we are still going through behavior classes with her and therapy to ensure she is back to her normal healthy self in no time. Special note to those out there who think they might have a "problem" Springer - insist on hip/back x-rays to ensure there isn't an underlying issue to your Springer's behavior.

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