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Previous Next Up Topic Dog Boards / Behaviour / English cocker RAGE
By zoelynne [gb] Date 07.02.12 15:31 GMT
I have a nearly 13 months old  ALL BLACK English cocker spaniel, we got her from a proper kennel when she was months old and have had her since ... But she's shown signs of this cocker rage? Which we never knew about when we ot her ... She just gone worse guarding things and goes all aggressive !! Shes booked in to get spaded Monday which were hoping to calm her down but the vets said if she's got it It won't work .... She's our baby and the last thing we want is for her not to be here which the vet actually adviced . Were just stuck on what to do if this doesn't help .... Anybody else know ??? :-(((
By Stooge (***) [gb] Date 07.02.12 15:39 GMT
I think we need a lot more detail before people can offer advise on this.  Can you be more specific about her behaviour?
What do you mean by a proper kennel?  Do you mean she is Kennel Club registered? Did you meet the breeder before booking her and get to meet her dogs?  Did they all appear to have typical, merry cocker temperaments?   What does the breeder say about this?
Is she from show lines or working lines?
By tillyandangel (**) [de] Date 07.02.12 15:44 GMT
Many years ago i lived with a friend who had a Cocker Spaniel. She was aggressive, bad tempered spoilt witch. I have no doubt this is ecause my friend allowed her to continue with the behaviour rather than addressing it and dealing with it with advice from a behaviourist. I dont think this bitch had Cocker rage she was just spoilt and did as she pleased if not she snapped.
By Stooge (***) [gb] Date 07.02.12 15:50 GMT

> I dont think this bitch had Cocker rage she was just spoilt and did as she pleased if not she snapped.


There is no doubt Cockers can be very willfull but from a responsibly bred, typical litter you should expect nothing worse than selective deafness if not trained firmly and consistantly.  Anything else and I would be suspicious of the breeding although like you I would not consider Rage the most likely cause these days.
By tillyandangel (**) [de] Date 07.02.12 15:54 GMT
Although i cant remember the lines, i do know a friend of hers had a litter sister who was the sweetest thing, so in this case it was definately a case of lack of training.

Have you sought advice from a behaviourist? I dont think a vet is necassarily the best person to comment on if she should be PTS before seeking proffessional advice.
By zoelynne [gb] Date 07.02.12 16:08 GMT
Yes it's kennel club registered , noo we never met her mum or talked to the breeder just got her straight from the kennels there was about 5 of them when we chose her they all seemed fine , for example she takes our clothes ,  oven gloves, plastic bags and just random stuff & she let's us know shes guarding with a growl at fist we was just like naughty girl, get off told her off and was straight outside ... Then she did it again and again more agressive she will bite if we went anywhere near her ... Then we eventually get her away from what' she guarding with a treat even though it's like rewarding her it's the only way we can get her away without her goin for us ! Then we move whatever shes guarding and she just snaps out of it like nothing ever happened ! We do tell her off if she naughty and she doesn't get away with anything !  :-(
By Stooge (***) [gb] Date 07.02.12 16:09 GMT

> i do know a friend of hers had a litter sister who was the sweetest thing, so in this case it was definately a case of lack of training.
>


Oh, I am sure there was lack of training but I do not think you can rule out bad breeding just because one puppy was blessed with the correct temperament.
By tillyandangel (**) [de] Date 07.02.12 16:13 GMT
ok stooge  :-)
By sillysue (**) [gb] Date 07.02.12 16:13 GMT
She just gone worse guarding things and goes all aggressive !!

What makes you think this is Cocker Rage, it sounds more like bad behaviour and possibly a lack of training. Any breed of dog can show the guarding instinct and growl any time someone approaches, but to call it Cocker Rage may be just an excuse when a bit of time spent on training would overcome this problem. To consider putting a dog to sleep for this seems so wrong IMO.
What other aggression has your dog shown?
Properly trained humans can be a dog's best friend.
By Stooge (***) [gb] Date 07.02.12 16:14 GMT

>noo we never met her mum or talked to the breeder just got her straight from the kennels


Then I am afraid to say you have bought from a puppy farmer and they will have certainly bred any dog or bitch regardless of the temperament.  I doubt you will ever be able to turn her into the cocker you expected but maybe the vet will be able to recommend a trainer who can help you to turn her into something that you can live with.
If it comes to it and you have to let her go and you get to the point where you would wish to replace her with another of what you expected of this breed then please, please, please follow the advise here.
By Nova (****) [gb] Date 07.02.12 16:22 GMT
Think you need advice from someone who is qualified to give it, spaying will not help and may make matters worse because you do not know why she is behaving as she is and if it is from lack of confidence then the removal of some of her hormones could make her less confident or if full of her own importance it can increase that as well.

You say you got her at months old, how many months, were the pups with the dam when you saw them and if not why not. This pup could be suffering from a mental problem but at the moment it sounds to me she needs training and that training must be of the right kind, telling off a bitch who thinks she can do no wrong will not usually help and may make matters worse.

Is she from working stock or show stock?
Jackie H
By zoelynne [gb] Date 07.02.12 16:23 GMT
We didn't think it was cocker rage , we never even knew about it until we took her to the vets for a check up and told him how she had been been behaving , he then said it could be cocker rage .... We went home and read about it an got really worried !! We would NEVER of though of putting her down it was the vet that said most people can't  cope an get them put down, she also guards food but I've been stayin right next to her recently while feeding her and she doesn't seem to be as bad ... she just seems to have a split personality.....
By zoelynne [gb] Date 07.02.12 16:36 GMT
She was 8 weeks when we got her and there were just a few siblings , so should we get her spaded or not ??? :\
By Stooge (***) [gb] Date 07.02.12 16:39 GMT
The term is spayed not "spaded" :-).  I would get her spayed eventually but it is not going to affect the behaviour she is showing at the moment so I would seek professional training advise first.
By PennyGC (***) [gb] Date 07.02.12 16:42 GMT
I certainly wouldn't advise getting her spayed at the moment until you've sorted out what the issues are.  She needs the hormones to come through this to maturity, getting them spayed can and often does make the temperament worse.  It certainly seems like you've bought off a puppy farmer and without seeing the mother you wont know what temperament she has.  There are really two reasons for not showing you the mother - they haven't got her, they've bought the litter in from a puppy farm or the mother is of such poor temperament they couldn't trust her to meet you.  Either way the temperament may well be the issue and you'll have to put in a lot of work to get her reasonable to live with.  It's critical when buying a puppy that you see it and it's mother in the environment it was brought up in - sounds like she was unsocialised with a mother with a poor temperament.  It doesn't sound like 'rage'.
Agility is fun
By tillyandangel (**) [de] Date 07.02.12 16:43 GMT
Seasons can affect behaviour, but i think in this case her being entire isnt the cause of the problem.

You should look for a qualified behaviourist to help you deal with her. Cocker rage is quite rare so i doubt it is this.

Do you do much training with her?

How much is she exercised?

Next time you want something she is guarding dont take it off her swap it for something she likes, wether it be a toy or a treat. Dont see it as bribery just as, you now have the item she was guarding. When she drops the item say drop and give her a treat. Its so difficult for people to advise on a forum you really need to have someone there with you and giving you advice when they can see her body language.
By Goldmali (****) [gb] Date 07.02.12 16:50 GMT
for example she takes our clothes ,  oven gloves, plastic bags and just random stuff & she let's us know shes guarding with a growl at fist we was just like naughty girl, get off told her off and was straight outside ... Then she did it again and again more agressive she will bite if we went anywhere near her ... Then we eventually get her away from what' she guarding with a treat even though it's like rewarding her it's the only way we can get her away without her goin for us !

That is called resource guarding and is very common in all dogs, has nothing whatsoever to do with breed, and can be sorted out. Giving her  a treat isn't rewarding it, look at it like a straight swap instead -you get whatever item she has taken back, she gets something else instead. Don't tell her off as it will only make her guard things MORE -after all, you want to take them away from her so she needs to make sure you can't... But first of all, make sure she can't GET the things to start with! That will make life so much easier. Think of the dog like a toddler; any item you don't want the child to be able to get old of you place out of reach, it is the exact same with a dog.

Here's an article on how to work with resource guarding dogs: http://ahimsadogtraining.com/blog/resource-guarding/
Marianne. Dogs are not our whole lives, there are cats too!
By Stooge (***) [gb] Date 07.02.12 16:51 GMT

> getting them spayed can and often does make the temperament worse.


Gosh, I would hope not.  Or do you just mean when the temperament is not typical?

I have always had my cockers spayed, although generally rather older than this, and never found the temperament to be compromised at all.

Cockers are a fairly precocious breed and would generally be mature enough to spay at this age if it were not for these other issues.
By zoelynne [gb] Date 07.02.12 16:52 GMT
She gets excersied daily and shes a great dog apart from this aggressive side she shows , she's good on lead and she comes straight back when she's off lead ... She sits and waits for her food then gives paw before receiving she never does her buissnes in the house it's always I'm the garden and so on .....
By theemx (***) [gb] Date 07.02.12 17:25 GMT
Right - the chances are this is NOT Cocker Rage Syndrome - Rage syndrome is classically displayed in a sudden switch to EXTREMELY aggressive, violent behaviour with NO obvious or even less obvious trigger. Your dog quite clearly has a very predictable trigger - resource guarding.

I have to say, its more than likely you did not buy her from a reputable, responsible breeder and actually fell into the trap a lot of puppy farmers and disreputable breeders create - not your fault but you know now.

Back to your dog - it is likely that the resource guarding has become worse because you have been telling her off. That might sound crazy, but when she has something, it IS hers. You will no more teach her that it isn't than you will teach her to drive a car or read Latin. Do not bother.

She resource guards because you want to 'steal her stuff' - she has no idea that its your stuff (its in her mouth or by her paws, its hers) nor that it is dangerous or expensive or you don't want her to have it for other really good reasons. All she knows and understands is this:

"I have something. They will take it. Even if I make it clear with my body language and noises, they will STILL try to take it, so to keep my stuff I must use aggressive behaviour'.

The more you tell her off and try to take things from her, the worse she will get.

So - first of all hold off spaying - its not going to help this problem, and it may make it worse.

Next - tidy your house until it is like some minimalistic show home - if that means hiding things in random drawers and cupboards, do it - do not leave ANYTHING she might take within reach.

Next step - if she does get hold of something, no matter what it is, I don't care if its a 12" carving knife, a stick of Acme Dynamite or the Holy Grail... you must say NOTHING and you must WALK AWAY.

Go into another room, make noises like you are getting food or picking your keys up or picking up a dog lead to go out, or you have a squeaky toy - anything that makes her think 'hey? I got NO attention from this AND... they are doing something I'd like to do in there...'.

Then follow through with that promise, so if you jangled the keys then you take her out. If you picked up the leash, you take her out. If you rattled some food, you give her a treat. Never lie to a dog, they won't let you do it very often! You don't have to take her for a long walk or give her a huge fist full of treats, just sufficient for her to be satisfied, and then YOU are back in control of the situation, you can put her in another room and remove whatever it was she had.

You again probably think this is nuts, and that it is either not dealing with the issue or it is even rewarding her for it - it isn't, please believe me. If she DID have a 12" carving knife in her chops and you confront her, whats going to happen? Calmly handing over the knife, no damage done? Or mental crazed dog running about the house snarling, biting and wielding or worse, tryign to swallow, a sharp knife?..  The same applies to practically every situation you could find yourselves in here - a dog with a dangerous or valuable object is MORE dangerous when you confront her, threaten her and she rushes about defending her goodies or trying to 'get rid' by swallowing.  Even if you DO manage to wrestle the object off her, you just teach her to be more dangerous and aggressive and quick to react the next time.

You are also NOT rewarding her for the behaviour - by leaving the room and luring her out to do something else you are changing the subject, once shes dropped the item and come to see what you are doing, the 'she stole something' situation is over, finished, dealt with. As I said before, since you won't ever be able to teach her that taking things is 'wrong', there is no point berating her after the fact and it will just make things worse (it already has!).

This however is just a management strategy - this is not the cure in and of itself.

To address that, once you have the management in place, ie, you are preventing her from doign it as much as possible, when it DOES happen you know what to do to keep the situation safe and not make it any worse... you need to teach her that giving you stuff and leaving stuff is VERY rewarding for her to do.

This is as much habit as it is training - thats why it is crucial that you take steps to get rid of the old habit first. It will die, IF you let it - if you constantly challenge her for things and take things from her forcibly then the habit of suspecting you will do this (and being right) and then needing to defend things will remain.

What you do is you teach her, starting with REALLY low value items (ie, nothing shes ever taken and guarded, things she is already happy to hand over) you teach her to swap.

You start out with swapping the low value item for a really high value item, that is right there in your hand, she can see it. In other words, outright bribery.

Thats a piece of cake - who wants a boring thing when they could 'drop it' or 'give it' and earn a TASTY thing! Easy peasy.

Do that in every room of your house - dogs do not generalise well you have to train in LOTS of locations before they will generalise.

When she can give/drop/leave an item in every room in your house, for the high value reward you have practically under her nose, then you make the game a little harder.

You can EITHER, make the item a bit more interesting, OR make the treat a bit less bribey (ie, hold it in a closed fist, further from her). Pick whichever you think will be easiest for her to figure out.

When you can do the exercise in all rooms with that change in place, introduce another change, again make the item a touch more interesting OR make the reward a bit less bribey.

It is SUPER important that you do NOT change both the value of the item she is trading AND the value/level of bribery of the treat she is trading FOR at the same time - change one variable at a time only. When you get to super hard items you may even need to drop back down a few levels on the other aspects - for example say in six months you are working on her swapping you a raw steak... and shes been working for kibble hidden in another room, it would be advisable to go back to using warm stinky cheese under her nose. 

Anyway I think thats enough info for now - you will get brain-overload otherwise. The key points right now are DO NOT CHALLENGE HER, and to manage her so she cannot do this.               
By zoelynne [gb] Date 07.02.12 17:34 GMT
That's great thankyou very much !!! We just needed advice we've cancelled her vets appointment and there's professional help comin round next week to help with her behavior  :-) thankyou very much
By furriefriends (****) Date 07.02.12 19:11 GMT
brilliant post theemix. I hop ethe behaviourist is a good one with similar ideas
By Nova (****) [gb] Date 07.02.12 20:10 GMT
Spot on theemx, IMO the best and only way to go - resource guarding is not that unusual and is made worse by chasing and shouting, just becomes either a game or a threat.

Reading your post reminded me of a story told by the owner of one of my breed.

They had taught their pup to drop things stolen and the owner was standing at the sink washing up when they saw out of the corner of their eye the young dog rush past the window with something in its mouth, they shouted drop and the dog did - a very expensive cut glass vase!!!!!

Moral, teach give it is a better choice.
Jackie H
By Carrington (****) [gb] Date 07.02.12 21:13 GMT
Knew it was worth popping in for a quick browse

***STANDING OVATION!!***

What a fabulous post Theemx, written so well and easy for the OP to follow. :-)
By Brainless (*****) [gb] Date 08.02.12 01:00 GMT Edited 08.02.12 01:04 GMT
Agree, it is by far the safest method, and if started right at the start stops it ever getting established, very useful when you have small children like I had with first few dogs.

Puppies adore stashing 'stuff', so I always used distraction, call over for a fuss and a treat to get items back without them even knowing I had done it, then progressed to giving up bones, chews and toys.

It also stops clever pups getting your attention any time they are inclined by running off with your underwear etc, and playing the 'chase me game'.

Briefly regarding guarding her dinner, she has to think someone being near her food means good things, so if she shows signs of guarding it, then give a smaller amount and put food into her bowl, so she knows being near her dish means more goodies. 

Alternatively if she already guards and there is any risk she might snap use several bowls, at least three and split her meal up into them, and give her another before she finished the first and then the third before she finishes the second and then back to the first and so on.  You only need to put down the other bowls far enough away to safely pick up the one she was eating out of.
Barbara and the Grey Curly Tails.
By theemx (***) [gb] Date 08.02.12 01:07 GMT
*shy* *hides*

Do please remember, if the professional who comes around starts talking about dominance, or suggesting ways to punish her - SLING them out on their ear, get rid, superfast.
By Jeangenie (*****) [gb] Date 08.02.12 07:35 GMT

>there's professional help comin round next week to help with her behavior


Take care - not all behaviourists are good. Hopefully it's one your vet has recommended, or is from the APBC. There are behaviourist 'franchises' which have a less-than-ideal reputation, and base their advice on the out-dated and disproven 'dominance' theory.

You might want to consider contacting someone from the APDT as well; they give very good training advice.
A closed mouth gathers no feet
By Pookin (**) [gb] Date 09.02.12 12:14 GMT
Lol, don't hide, it was a brilliant post I really enjoyed reading that, it would make a great mini-leaflet.
More dogs please
By tooolz (***) [gb] Date 09.02.12 13:46 GMT Edited 09.02.12 13:49 GMT

> for example she takes our clothes ,  oven gloves, plastic bags and just random stuff & she let's us know shes guarding with a growl at fist we was just like naughty girl, get off told her off and was straight outside ... Then she did it again and again more agressive she will bite if we went anywhere near her


This isnt classic Cocker rage - which I believe is all but bred out now.
This is a behavioural issue which can be addressed by training......sorry just skimmed and missed the excellent advice given.
By penfold (**) [gb] Date 09.02.12 14:11 GMT

>This isnt classic Cocker rage - which I believe is all but bred out now.<br />This is a behavioural issue which can be addressed by training......sorry just skimmed and missed the excellent advice given.


It is indeed an excellent post. (along with many others as well)

I just find it really frustrating that the vet in question saw the breed and straight away pointed the finger at 'rage'   grrrr!  Some owners may have panicked and this young dog may have paid with its life :-(  

Let us know please how she gets on. :-)
By roscoebabe (**) Date 09.02.12 15:44 GMT

> I just find it really frustrating that the vet in question saw the breed and straight away pointed the finger at 'rage'&nbsp;&nbsp; grrrr!&nbsp; Some owners may have panicked and this young dog may have paid with its life :-(&nbsp;&nbsp;
>
>


Yes I agree with you re vets. A girl I sometimes work with has an 8 month old gsd x that has been food guarding and as she has been told off for growling has now started to bite. Was taken to the vet who promptly told her there was nothing to be done and recommended she be pts! Another girl suggested she ask me for advice,so after a long chat on how to sort it out I had a lovely text from her thanking me for helping and though it's early days the signs are good that it will be a happy ending. Sadly a lot of ordinary pet owners take their vets word as gospel and usually it's the poor dog that pays the price.
Kind Regards
Lorraine
By Nikita (***) [gb] Date 09.02.12 15:59 GMT

> I just find it really frustrating that the vet in question saw the breed and straight away pointed the finger at 'rage' 


I've worked with a couple whose vet told them their siberian X malamute had rage because he bit the woman :-( He didn't, of course - he was incredibly stressed to breaking point and finally just snapped.

Vets have no business making a diagnosis like this unless they have a strong behavioural background as well AND have done a lot of blood tests.
Remy, River, Saffi, Paige,
Raine, Linc, Phoebe & Willow :-)
By JeanSW (****) [gb] Date 09.02.12 16:17 GMT
I wish I could explain things with such clarity.

theemx
I have to salute you.  Excellent, excellent post.  I love it when you give sound reasoning for folk to understand and digest.
The hurrier I go - the behinder I get!
By Dill (****) [gb] Date 09.02.12 23:27 GMT
Brilliant post Em! :-D :-D :-D
Neither a Psychic, nor a Clairvoyant!
By happyhoundgirl (**) Date 10.02.12 20:34 GMT
Brill post Theemx well put and thank goodness the spay is cancelled, will heighten any guarding instinct.

Hope behaviourist is good and gives you some answers and methods.

Vets, vets bloomin vets!! Hang my head in despair!! Not all the same but they do have terrible habits of generalising behaviour traits to every dog of that breed and colour!! I wish I had half the luck getting dogs at my group to generalise as quickly!!

And as for rage syndrome.....never been proven!!! Lots of differing opinions, probably will turn out to be a form of epilepsy and the other cases tarred with it will turn out to badly behaved dogs!! 
By Dude Dog (**) [gb] Date 12.02.12 13:22 GMT
I worked with a red show type cocker bitch from a puppy farm a few years ago now. She went from very calm to violently agressive and even half way through clipping a lead off her collar she would flip and try to bite your wrist.

I only went to this person for one session and offered similar advice to above post with regards resource possesion and with the lead to just drop it and walk away if she started to show the tiniest bit of 'still' behaviour. I also sugested she went to the vet for a full medical.

Anyway to cut a long story short this dog already had the label of 'rage cocker' before I went but the vet found a tumour behind her eyeball which was putting pressure on the brain. Unfortunately for this dog the prognosis was poor and she was pts but at least the owners got to come to terms with a real medical reason rather than just oh its rage.
By happyhoundgirl (**) Date 12.02.12 14:25 GMT
Thats sad but positive at the same time Dude Dog glad you got it sorted in a roundabout way.
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