Ask an expert
Question

26 Jan 2004

Snappy Dog
Hi Doc
Hope you can help. We had a black and White spaniel (Water Spaniel) who is 3 years old and has in the last 4 months stared to snap at and growl at my 9 year old's friends when they come and visit. He is fine with my 15year sons friends. He has been neutered and is an inside dog, actually quite a spoilt dog.
It has got so bad that I have to lock him outside when my small son has friends to play. He does also sometime growl and snap at my small son. Please help.
Answer 342 views
Expert
CyberVet
cybervet

01 Jan 0001

Hi Trish
First of all I suggest you have him checked by the vet, if you haven't already. This sort of sudden aggression sometimes occurs when dogs are in pain or discomfort. The other reason for this behaviour may be your 9 year old son's behaviour with him. Perhaps he plays a bit too roughly with him or teases him? It may not be intentional teasing, but it's worth keeping an eye on this. Perhaps something happened 4 months ago with your son (or a friend) which started the whole thing. It could have been an accident that your dog now associates with children. The only way to solve this is to change his association with children. You will have to spend time giving him positive attention, treats and praise whenever your son or other children are around, so he is not afraid of them and doesn't feel threatened by them. You can do this while he is on a lead or has a muzzle on (train him to like it first by giving him titbits each time you put it on for a few seconds only). While he is not supervised with children he can be put outside, but make this a positive thing by giving him a chewy toy or bone. Playing should always be gentle and non-competitive. It may be a good idea to ban playing with him for a while and spend time grooming him and taking him for walks. You may need to see an animal behaviourist if things don't improve.
Karen Gray-Kilfoil
ANIMAL BEHAVIOURIST
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.