Why does my English Springer Spaniel not like me?

by Ryan
(Chester County PA)

My English Springer Spaniel is about a year old now. I have owned him since he was 9 weeks.


He started growling at me when he had toys that he really liked. I stopped giving him those toys.

He began to growl at me for what seemed like almost no reason. He now growls at me whenever he feels like it.

If I want to pet him at this point, HE WILL BITE ME. He only acts like this toward me. He is great with other people and other dogs. I live with one other male, and my dog loves my roomate.

My dog also loves by mom, dad, brother, and sister that live a half hour away. I feel like my dog does not like me. He does not want me to touch him most of the time.

He never wants me to cuddle with him. He will kiss me occasionally but he really doesn't seem to like me very much. He listens to what I say, sit, stay, lay down.

He is crate trained, potty trained, even partially gun trained. He is a good dog. But he growls at me, and if I get closer to him as he is growling it gets worse, and he will attack me.

I need help PLEASE.

From Anna@love-springer-spaniels

Hi Ryan
This is a dominance issue, you are not showing him who is boss so he is showing you he is boss. I will give you a summary of the things you need to do here but the links in the text are to full articles, read them all and live it and you should have no trouble.

The Springer Spaniel Pack Mentality needs to be reinforced

You need to start thinking and acting as the Springer Spaniel Pack Leader

Sleeping
Have no go zones in the house that you control, eg don't let him on the bed or sofa, always sleep higher than him, check out the Springer Sleep Guide that can help you establish yourself as the boss

Feeding
When you feed him pretend to take food out of his bowl and eat it before you give it to him. By doing this you are sending the message that you control food and space, check out my springer spaniel feeding guide that again can help you establish yourself as the boss

Pack leader Mentality
He needs to defer to you make him think you are the Alpha and the Springer Spaniel Pack Leader there are tips and guidelines in here to help you achieve that. Don't back down when he growls at you, stare back at him and stare him down; he is challenging you and you cannot back down. Its the same with the toys if he growls continue to take it away, you are the boss you can take anything from him

Is he Castrated?
You may want to consider this as it will reduce and dominance aggression behavior.

Exercise
How much exercise is he getting? Is he off the lead? If you are walking him off the lead (ie in his language going for a hunt) it will reinforce the bond between you. Try swimming with him, Springers love to swim and retrieve balls and will love you for throwing the ball for him.

Diet
How is his diet? Try and put him on a hypoallergenic food as this can really calm down a Springer. I see you are stateside I have some recommendations on my dog food page to help you

Let us know how you get on, and if we can help you out any more. Good luck


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Apr 07, 2017
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Male springer oreo NEW
by: Jeanne

Update on Oreo who is now almost 9.
He is on prozac and it does help him. He still has a ton of energy so don't rule it out with out trying it.. Over the years I have tried weaning him off a bit to see if was really necessary and for him it seems to be. He hides and growls more without it. Still has his don't bother me mentality when it comes to petting at times. We do not let him up on furniture and he goes to agility and scent classes weekly.
I guess some of this breed are just a strong personality. Mine definately needs limits to keep him in his place, I just wish I had a cuddler.

Apr 07, 2017
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springer spaniel NEW
by: Poe mom

English springer spaniels are not aggressive I'm sure your doggo was poor breeding! You should give your papers to local breeds and animal control to stop this! Inbreeding causes anger in animals!y spring won't even bark at strangers these are hunting animals people are not prey so he won't bark!

Feb 26, 2016
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Reply from original poster NEW
by: Ryan

The dog died over a year ago. He was 5 years old when he died. Blood vestle cancer caused liver failure. We had done several procedures at upenn vet research center and it was ultimately too late.

He became my dads dog around age 2.5. He was happier with him my mother and brother. Sometimes sister. Though he had dominated each of them at times.

I think some early suggestions had regard to Louie's health as a possible reason for aggressive behavior. While this is a possibility, I have ruled it out in my personal situation for reasons i would be willing to discuss with anyone having a similar issue or those interested.

I say this because I believe the true reason was simply, dominance aggression.

I appreciate the most recent suggestion. It helped me find this old post and reminded me of my first dog I had owned by my self.


Feb 26, 2016
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You have to be the alpha NEW
by: Anonymous

Like people dogs can detect weakness and will manipulate it, too be honest I think you have shown to be under him. Being leader means you give rules he knows to abide by and he knows his place. If he doesn't respect you as a pup you need to harden up.


And show he is under you. This doesn't mean neglect. A simple move us making a paw before you give a treat, that shows you have control. They learn quickly.





Apr 17, 2014
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Many reasons NEW
by: Anonymous

I agree with the others that it could be mental issues, excercise, or just lack of respect.

Have your dog checked out at the vet then work on reastablishing yourself as the 'alpha' head of the household. Get on a strict schedule of eating, walking, and play and be sure you only do those things when you are ready, not your dog.

Best of luck,

Help!>http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I31OSQA

Paps
http://newdogtimes.com/border-collie/

Nov 30, 2013
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Just an Idea NEW
by: Anonymous

Your dog might have a mental problem and need medication. People sometimes have mental problems, and animals also. I understand if you disagree.

Jul 07, 2012
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Follow up on Oreo NEW
by: Anonymous

Oreo...I took Oreo to a specialist Vet. Because I had already done all the behavior modifications to tell his who is boss, we put him on prozac. He is less aggressive, and still does have energy. He will still let you know with a growl when he just does not want affection, but it if far less often.
He is also 3 1/2 now so maybe he is just more mellow because he no longer a puppy.
It's sad to hear others have these same issues with their springers, they are so wonderful otherwise!

Jun 21, 2012
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Feeling your pain NEW
by: Anonymous

I have an 11 year old female spayed springer. She was my dog for 5 years, never had any problems, then one day she started to dislike me kissing her face. It was never a problem before. I stopped doing it, then it escaladed to her growling at me if we layed on the couch together and I moved my feet and it bothered her. Then, she, just like your dog, didn't want me to pet her, if she came to me on her own terms, it was ok, but if I go to pet her, she growls. Then, I met my husband, she never liked men at all, but when she met him she was instantly "his". How heartbreaking. He can do anything to her, and she lets him. She never growls at him. And now, if I hug or kiss him, she barks non stop until we quit!! He laughs, and calls himself the "Alpha" male, but it is totally true. She has never bit me or my children, but it is clear that we are "under" her in the pack. She is now 11, so I don't do much to correct it now, I realize the mistakes I've made in my raising her, won't make the same mistakes again!! I love her anyway....but totally see your frustration!! Good luck!!

Mar 10, 2011
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Meds
by: Ryan

A vet would try her on Prozac. Although it will minimize aggression, the aggression will still be there, just not as much. And your dog will not be as excited and active. I tried it for a few months and was heartbroken at the fact that my 2 year old sport dog became lazy.

Mar 10, 2011
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Springer Issues
by: Jeanne

Hi,
I can relate to all that was written below. We have a 2 year old male field Springer "Oreo" Have had him from 8 weeks, socialized, agility,trained and done all the things you mentioned to show I am boss.
He does not really like being petted. He will move away, does not seem to like affection. When he was 1 year old, he bit a child who came up on him quickly when he had a treat. That was the first sign of possessive behavior. I do not give him treats unless he is isolated. He tends to guard his space. If you approach him and he does not feel like being bothered he will growl. He sometime even growls while wagging his tail. last night my husband went up to him to play, was on the floor with him, he started growling and when my husband sat up he lunged and bit him in the face. He growls at my kids as well and I worry constantly...
We really wanted a family dog. Now when kids come over to play I muzzle or crate him. I understand that he does better when he approaches
than when we go to him. We want a dog we can interact with, who actually likes and welcomes our affection on our terms not his... We have felt all along that something is not right with him. My husband is ready to give up, but our kids 10 and 12 and myself would be heartbroken.
I'm considering medication before we get rid of him. I don't know who to go to that would know the best type for his problems. I don't really care for the behavioralist we worked with prior.
Why type of medication do you think best for aggressive behavior such as his? yes he is castrated and healthy..
any help appreiated, Jeanne

Mar 04, 2010
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Behavior Problem
by: Michele

Hi Ryan -

I can totally relate to the problem with your Springer since I've had this problem in the past with my own female Springer. I think you have been given a lot of good advice and I would like to add a couple more ideas.

First - a trip to the vet for a physical and possibly some blood work. It could be your guy is sick and you may not be aware of it. While there, explain the problem you've been having to your vet. He or she may have some ideas to help you out.

Second - the glazed eye look you describe sounds like what some people refer to as 'Springer Rage'. I'm not sure I believe in that, but there are many articles written about it and you might want to do an internet search for it just to give you an idea of what the symptoms of that are. As I said, I'm not sure I believe in 'Springer Rage', but that doesn't mean it can't be!

Third - you said you work at a pet resort so you have a lot of dog experience. I understand your line of thinking as I am a vet tech, which sometimes leads me to believe I already know the answers and know more than anyone else! I'm not suggesting you face the same dilemma, just saying that it never hurts to look around for someone who might have other solutions. Since you do work in a canine field have you considered a behaviorist consult?

As you know, dogs who growl, nip or attempt to bite do so for a reason; fear, illness, dominance issues. And this is a behavior that will normally progress and worsen and you certainly don't want that. Good luck to you. I know how hard it is to admit our 'best friends' might have a behavior problem.

Mar 04, 2010
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Another Suggestion
by: Springer Rescue

Hi Ryan

It appears to be when you go towards Louie that he feels his space is invaded. Consider stopping that and call him to you to be petted. That way you are taking him away from the area he is in and therefore removing him from the situation he doesn't feel comfortable in. I wouldn't pet him on the top of the head either some dogs are very uncomfortable with that.

I appreciate he has fun with you on walks, in the field etc. but you could try building the bond playing games with him where he is interacting more with you.

I wish you luck.

Mar 03, 2010
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3 of 3
by: RYAN ORIGINAL POSTER

Whenever I am out with Louie 1 on 1 he seems to always have fun. He is a sport dog, and when I release him in a field, he plays. He loves when I take him to work to play. He loves when I bring him to the woods to track scents. We have fun together. When he is playing at work and he sees me walk by on the other side of the fence, he stares at me and cries and wants me to come play with him, sometimes. He is a really good boy, and I think he does really like me, and like playing with me.

I think Louie is having uncontrollable outbursts:
When Louie is having this problem I posted on this website to get help for he seems to be in another world.
Louie looks at me. His eyes get that half moon look. Then they Glaze over. He starts to make a very soft growl. If I stare at him, the growl gets progressively louder. The lips start to curl. He shows the teeth. Sudden movements on my part at this point cause him to feel really on edge. In this mode that he is in he is very alert. Ready to bite. He does not seem him self in this state. I can instantly snap him out of it with a command he respects such as sit, or come. He INSTANTLY snaps out of it. His eyes get normal. He shows me respect. Looks at me for direction. And above all else: he seems to have no recollection of what just happened 5 seconds ago. He snaps out of this mean mode so quick when I say sit or come in a firm commanding voice. It seems to me like he cannot control this problem. My father suggested it is sort of like epilepsy, or a seizure. Where the dog immediately after the incident has no idea what happened. I heard this is similar to Springer rage syndrome.

How do these events start?
I get out of the shower. Louie is lying on the ground outside the door. I get dressed. He watches me get dressed. I say hi to him, go to pet him, and he starts the soft growl, and weird eyes. Then it’s on...

How else?
No reason. I will look at Louie. He will start to have weird eyes, and growl.

How else? Louie is lying on his bed in the corner of the living room. I pet him on his head. He looks at me with weird eyes... soft growl. If I don’t get away than the whole thing escalates. This is a situation I try to avoid. I respect his little space that he has to be able to feel comfortable.

How else?
Come home from work. (7am-7pm) I am tired. Louie is tired. He is my dog. I go to pet him. He gets weird eyes....

I hope this gives you all a better understanding of exactly who I am and who Louie is, how we operate on a daily basis, and what exactly the problem I am having is. The problem is really awful. I am not sure what the trigger to the problem is. It starts off really slow and his rage gradually increases in intensity.

Thank you very much for your help.
Ryan

Please ask me questions about my self and Louie to figure out how I can stop this behavior. Please leave comments offering suggestions.

Mar 03, 2010
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2 OF 3
by: RYAN ORIGINAL POSTER

Louie eats Purina Pro Plan for Puppy’s (chix +rice). I do not like the idea of hypoallergenic food to "calm down" my Springer. I don't want him to be calm if his personality is excited. That’s not fair. Unless you REALLY suggest this I want to keep him on Purina Pro Plan.

As far as the Springer pack leader goes. I am pretty sure I am the leader, but I will try to reinforce this from now on. Louie enters and exits rooms and doors after I do. Louie eats after I let him. If I am walking and Louie is in my path, he gets out of my way. He follows my commands. I feel in control. I think....



Louie lets other people touch him. He always has. He likes other people. He will act toward my dad how he acts toward me. That is on the rare occasion I visit my parents for a few days. With in those few days Louie usually will growl or do something weird and aggressive toward my dad. With me. Louie growls at me almost every day.

Louie doesn't have many toys anymore. He has toys, but he does not guard them. He knows the toys are more fun to play with, and share. He likes balls, and bird decoys. I throw them for him, he retrieves.

I will try adding some food to his bowl while he is eating to show him "hey, I can be your best buddy and give me more food.... IF you are nice to me"

Mar 03, 2010
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1 OF 3
by: RYAN ORIGINAL POSTER

First off you all should know I work at a very nice pet resort (dog kennel). I say this to try to avoid going to the vet to get him checked out for some sort of pain. I take care of dogs all day, I am pretty sure Louie is in perfect shape. Also my co-workers would notice that something is wrong with him because they associate with him almost every day. I bring Louie to work with me 4 days a week. I do not think a vet visit to confirm he is healthy is beneficial at this point.

That being said, Louie loves the pet resort. We have 3 group play yards: Small, Medium, and And Large. Louie plays in all yards depending on what day it is. He is great with ALL dogs. He really gets the idea of the pack order when it comes to other dogs. He submits to dogs he needs to, and shows other dogs underneath him in the order how to act in a mentor type way.

Louie may think he is the Springer pack leader over me, but I really do not think so.

Let me tell you why I think I am the Springer Pack leader:

I sleep upstairs in my bed. Louie sleeps in the basement in his crate. This is how it has always been. I plan on keeping it his way. I do let him on the sofa sometimes, I will not allow this anymore.

I control feeding. I make Louie sit for his food, and wait. I make Louie lay down, and I put a handful of food about a foot away from his face. He really wants the food, but he will not touch it unless I allow him to. I sometimes hand feed Louie. Louie eats 2 meals a day. I leave him alone when I allow him to eat his bowl of food. Sometimes I watch, but for the most part I leave the room once I give him his food. I also try to eat in front of him before he eats as much as possible to enforce the idea that I get to eat first because I am the leader.

As far as not backing down to him: I usually try to avoid the situation if possible. If I feel he is trying to dominate or scare me by growling or staring at me, I will not back down to that. I always win those situations. They always end the same way, him in his crate.

He is castrated, has been for months.

He gets 4-6 hours of intense playtime with 10-20 dogs, 4-5 days a week. This is the group playtime I spoke of earlier. I do not walk him ON THE LEAD very much. We both prefer off the lead, and he listens well. I will walk him on the lead when I have time. But I usually am not walking him on a lead.

Mar 03, 2010
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An Alternative View
by: Springer Rescue

Ryan

I would suggest you try to avoid confrontations with your dog as it will only result in a biting incident.

You need to build your relationship with him but if you force it you will put him under too much pressure.

I've said on here before that I am not a fan of the dominance theory so I am just putting forward an alternative view.

Does he let others touch him - if not is that a change - if it is get him checked by the vet incase he is in pain somewhere. If it is just you he doesn't like touching him- is it a new thing and if so try and think back to when it started - did something happen that may hve given him cause not to trust you or did he think you hurt him even it was unintentional.

For the guarding issue with toys why don't you try swapping with him so to get the toy he has try giving him something in return - could be a different toy or a treat. Don't leave loads of toys lying around so then he won't guard them all.

When he's eating don't try to take his food away from him try casually passing by and throwing some extra food so he starts to associate "person near me when I am eating is a good thing". Rather than "person near me when I am eating they want to take my bowl away". If someone took my food away from me I would be cross!

Why don't you do some fun training with him so he starts to associate you with having fun and you can slowly build your relationship with him from there.

If you still have issues with him I would suggest seeing a good behaviourist who works on positive reinforcement as they may see what triggers it. It is difficult to give advice without seeing it happen.

I've attached a couple of links that may be of interest to you

http://www.clickertrainusa.com/Webpages/Well%20Being%20Training%20System/resourceguarding.htm

http://www.wolf.org/wolves/news/iwmag/2008/winter/alphawolf.pdf

Good luck I'm sure you will get there with him and start to enjoy each other's company again.


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