Springer Spaniel showing aggression to other dogs

My Springer Spaniel is very aggressive towards other dogs. When he was a puppy he was scared of other dogs but with socialization he absolutely loved all other dogs, especially puppies.


Then at 6 months he was attacked by a BC cross and he showed aggression for the first time, and it all went downhill from there.

He now can't be let off lead around other dogs without a muzzle, hes so scared of being attacked himself that he attacks first. We have tried socializing him again but just when we think its working he goes to attack again.

Off-lead he only goes to attack when a dog comes too close, but on lead he goes mad whether a dog is close or not. We really have tried everything, he is not interested in treats when on walks at all and just ignores them or spits them out. He isnt interested in toys while on the lead at all. We are at a complete loss now as to what to do, hes only 18 months old so there is still the chance to change it. Anyone got any ideas?

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Jan 07, 2018
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Puppy lead behaviour NEW
by: Wayne

We have a 6 month old Springer, she seems to have issues with being on the lead. Whenever we put her on the lead and come across another dog she becomes aggressive do we have to move out the way and let them pass.
We have also seen that this can happen when we need to pass people, she gets very jumpy and barks so we have to make sure we have her on a very short lead.
Firstly we were using a harness and a bungee lead but she would always pull so we have since changed to a slip lead, thinking this would give us more control. To go a step further we have now started putting a figure of 8 in the lead and placing it over her snout, like a Halti.
She still can be aggressive with both people and other dogs.

The biggest concern is that if we let her off the lead and don't notice another dog, will the aggression end in harm to another dog/person?

When we walk with my parent's or brother's dog she is fine with them but can still show signs to 'strangers'.

Can anyone help?

Sep 13, 2013
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2 year old springer NEW
by: Anonymous

My 2 year old springer was attacked by a greyhound who was a rescue dog, she was only a pup and she was shaken from side to side and she came out very nervous and then a Jack Russell attacked who later got shot by a farmer for running off, so she is now scare of most dogs and attacks.
She walks with my mates collie and other spinger but any other dog she attacks with such aggression.. sometimes a dog comes from nowhere and next all I hear is her attacking, I am very stressed when all I need is relaxation.. Losing my father and bringing up a 5 year old on my own is hard enough wothout all this hassle.

~Help what do |i do

Aug 02, 2012
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Reactivity NEW
by: Anonymous

In my opinion it can only be fear based. Not getting into the whole debate, but it can be dangerous if you dont see it that way and treat it differently. I compete with my dogs and have met hundreds of 'aggressive' dogs over the years and all of them were clearly reacting to fear. It could be in the form of insecurity where they might be completely friendly in some situations but aggressive in others. Springers are known to be insecure, and because theyre outgoing they express it more by lunging and barking than any other way.

Regarding the exercise, be careful with this too. Springers need lots of exercise, but reactive dogs need to be gradually introduced to there fears, if you walk in populous areas this can be a contradiction. I only walk my Springer at quiet times and if he only gets an hours run a day then so be it. Hes happier as hes less stressed. He does get 2 hour plus walks too, but I have to be so careful because all it takes is one dog running over and thats our training set back. The more a dog does a behaviour, the more there reinforced by it and so the worse it gets. Managing walks by not letting the dog get into a situation where they feel the need to react is the only way to teach a dog not to react.

Sorry if Im going on a bit but Ive been told so many bad methods over the years and my dog suffered for it. I wish Id had someone tell me the right methods from the start! A dog is never just aggressive, there is always a reason which is always going to be fear based.

One last thing, have you taken him to a vet for a check up? Thats the first thing you should do, ive heard many times of dogs which are reactive for no apparent reason and it turns out there in pain. A behaviourist will usually say this to be the first thing to do anyway.

Good luck, and enjoy your dog. :)

Aug 02, 2012
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Aggression NEW
by: Michele

In my opinion it could be either fear based or aggression. Either way it must be addressed or it only escalates and you don't want that!

Someone else mentioned that Springers are highly active dogs....that's an understatement! They need lots and lots and lots of exercise. Did I say lots?! Also, Springers are very intelligent dogs and they need to stay busy. There are lots of treat driven puzzles for dogs that are fun for them and entertaining for you.

You said you are looking for a behaviorist so you are certainly headed in the right direction. Don't give up on him - they are wonderful dogs! I have two, plus a collie and I just love their personalities. Good luck to you!

Aug 01, 2012
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Reactive dog NEW
by: Anonymous

Its fear based, it wont be dominance. This question was originally mine and since then weve started a programme where im introducing him to his fears slowly and gradually, not letting him feel threatened enough to react and 'be aggressive' in the first place. Its a full time commitment managing him so he doesnt react on walks but worth it, seeing him gain confidence and improve. Make sure you find a behaviourist thats right for you, Im not with a behaviourist for the basic reason I havent found one that works for us. Thats okay though, as ive done my research and know what im doing but when you first start its best to get help. Be careful though, some trainers arent as good as others. Find one which discusses everything with you and uses only positive, kind methods.

Since I wrote this question about 2 years ago ive taken on a rescue dog who is also reactive, less so than my Springer but Ive used the same training methods and they work.

Good luck :).

Aug 01, 2012
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Aggression NEW
by: Anonymous

Thanks Michele, we are currently speaking to a behaviourist about him but in your opinion, if it's not fear based could it just be a dominance thing?

Jul 20, 2012
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Aggression NEW
by: Michele

You need to contact a dog behaviorist / trainer. The issues you've described do not get better without training. They can get worse and that's not at all what you want.

Even if you have had your dog in a training class before, you need a do-over. Training for dogs is continuous throughout their lives.

Jul 20, 2012
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5 year old male springer NEW
by: Anonymous

Hi, we have a similar problem but there seems to be no real "reason" behind it. Harry wasn't ever attacked and was well socialised as a puppy but he is aggressive towards younger dogs and fearful around pretty much all dogs we encounter.

We also have a major problem with recall which we have worked so hard in and getting nowhere fast! This means it's becoming increasingly difficult to walk him anywhere off lead as he won't come back when called and we can control where other dogs are walking!

He was neutered as a pup and has 2 or 3 walks a day (1 off lead for approx 1 hour).He's not interested in us at all and will not bring a ball back to us although he loves chasing one! We are at our wits end as we have a small baby now to and just don't know what to do. Any advice would be gratefully received.

Apr 24, 2012
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1 year old springer NEW
by: Anonymous

My little springer was attacked by a large rescue dog greyhound and then 2 little dogs and since then she has become aggessive towards other dogs.. I walk her in fields on her own and play with ball and she is fine but she sees another dog and its barking and wants to kill... Maybe shes scared.. or protecting... She is a great retriever... Had her from a puppy... So know what you are all going through..Maybe we should put them all together and see lol

May 18, 2011
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Springer aggressive towards other dogs
by: Jill

We too have a Springer Spaniel who is aggressive
to wards other dogs, making walking him off the lead very difficult.
We had Ben as a puppy and he was very sociable, but then a dog knocked me over to get to play with
him, and also another dog attacked him, since these incidents, he has changed dramatically.
He has been neutured but that has not changed
anything.
Difficult to see with him whether he is frightened
and therefore attacks first, or whether he is
protecting us.
Strangely if we tie him up outside the shop, and other dogs walk by, or on the odd occasion,even get tied up with him he does not react at all!
I am feeling better knowing we are not alone in this problem!
A nicer dog in every other way would be hard to find.

Oct 28, 2010
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Springers
by: Anonymous

The problem with springers is they are working dogs and need to be worked and exercised daily to use up their seemingly limitless energy. Mine showed aggression towards my other dog who sadly we had to rehome as the wouldn't stop fighting but as he has got older and has been worked daily he has totally changed he is good around other dogs and only barks at other people for attention so they will fuss him or play with him ( work him) so in my opinion for what it's worth don't give up hope just work him like he was intended

Aug 17, 2010
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dog aggression
by: Anonymous

Sounds very similar to my Springers aggression (the one the post is talking about). With a Springer it is unlikely he will be completely friendly again by the sounds of it, but my Springer can be trustworthy off-lead with some dogs now so it is possible. What we did is we let him off-lead with other dogs with a muzzle on and let him socialise and realise no other dog was going to hurt him. If its fear aggression, this could help? Or, something else we tried which really worked, was I sat with him while other dogs were around and when he looked at another dog without reacting treated. You could start by having a dog far away and treating and building it up. I know how difficult it is, but it is possible. My Springer still lunges at other dogs, but no longer tries to attack every dog he meets, its more just barking now. I hope this helped :).

Aug 17, 2010
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aggressive springer with other dogs
by: Barry Dog (charlie)

I have a springer spanial hunting dog,but has never been used for hunting always a pet, hes nearly 3 years old ,he is aggressive to other dogs even on the lead when we meet other dog walkers,he even tried to attack a puppy beagle, fortunatley he was on his lead,he has been like this for about 8 months now ,we got him when he was 1 he lived with about 6 other dogs,all different breeds and sizes so its not as if he wasnt used to being around other dogs.When we first got him he was fine but the last 6 months have been a nightmare we find it very hard to even let him off his lead now as we are so scared he will attack other dogs.We avoid our local public park and other popular dog haunts,we dont trust him with other dogs and it is very embarassing when he becomes aggressive, he pulls that hard on his lead once he got free and attacked a bull dog. Please has anyone got any suggestions we our at our wits end !!

Feb 22, 2010
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Thankyou
by: April

Thankyou you so much for your comments.
Yep he is neutured.
As a puppy he went to obedience classes and that helped a lot, but it was during the time we went to obedience classes he got attacked, so he was friendly with dogs he knew at obedience because he knew most of them and was in an environment he knew, once outside it was completely different.
Now he goes to flyball, he doesnt do flyball but at the end all the dogs are let to run around and play so I let Indi join in with a muzzle on. Some dogs he attacks, some dogs he doesnt but it is the only way we have of bringing his confidence up around other dogs at the moment.
Also, yesterday Indi came on a walk with me, my other dog, my nans dogs and plus 8 Border Collies he'd never met before. He was off lead without a muzzle on the whole time and didnt attack once, and was friendly with all the dogs. One of the dogs came into his face and he was completely friendly! He had a bark at a Jack Russell we saw but came straight back and didnt do anything more than bark. Definantly an improvement, I was absolutely over the moon with him!
Thankyou so much for all your ideas. Its good to know I'm not the only one whos had this problem. If anyone has anymore ideas please let me know!

Feb 22, 2010
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aggreesive behavior
by: Guythegardener- twitter

I hgad exactly the same experience with my Springer Bobby. He was badly attacked by another dog and afterwards became aggressive towards other dogs. He was very young at the time (18 months). It was only by gradually introducing him to other dogs that he eventually got over it. My main approach was to stay calm, asserive and let him be with the other dogs for as long as possible without letting him become too aggressive. I found that a lot of it was just nerves rather than real violence. I was lucky in having other dogs that I could do this with. My main advice is that the dog picks up on the way that you react in these encoounters. Don't shout or become nervous yourself. Hope this helps. Guy

Feb 22, 2010
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Aggression
by: Michele

Aggression is something that needs to be handled asap. If allowed to continue it usually gets worse. At this point he's fearful of other dogs and showing aggression is his way of trying to warn them off.

It sounds like you have the right idea to get his attention focused elsewhere with toys or treats, but it also sounds like that isn't working. I've had some aggression problems with my 11-year old Springer, but that was directed toward me.

If I were you I would look for a good obedience class. I would give them a call and tell them the specific problem you're having and see if this is something they are able to help with. If not, ask them if they can recommend an animal behaviorist to you.

My personal experience is to avoid obedience classes given at pet shops. Instead, try to find a local dog training club. A good, reputable kennel may also offer obedience training. Another thought - if you purchased him from a breeder you might try calling them. They usually are involved with dog clubs and at some point have experienced the same problem you're having.

Don't give up on him! As you said, he's young. He just needs some redirecting. Post back and let us know what you've come up with. Good luck!

One more thought....is he neutered?

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