Sep 28, 2015
A working mother and her son in his early twenties, after National Service full time, came to get their 4-month-old female Cocker Spaniel vaccinated the 3rd vaccine.
"You phoned earlier to make an appointment to get the dog spayed?" I asked. The son had phoned but I advised spaying at 6 months or 2 months after the heat. "The dog's private parts will not develop to adult size if she is spayed at 4 months. She may have some difficulty in urination later. Since she is a house pet, it is best not to spay her at this age, although dog shelters and some sellers of pedigree dogs do that to prevent breeding."
As I opened the puppy's mouth to examine it, the Cocker suddenly snapped at me.
"This is a domineering female," I explained. "At this impressionable age, you need to train her to stop biting anyone. When she is in her rebellious adolescent age which is at 6 months, it will be very difficult to control her biting. She would have focused rage and anger and would bite anyone in the family if she does not like their petting. In Cocker Spaniels, there are male, not neutered dogs who will bite family members anytime when touched or when he does not like it. This is reported in some Canine magazines to be Cocker Rage."
The mother was surprised to know that there is a Cocker Rage condition. "My daughter used to tug at her toy from her mouth and she would growl," the mother said. "My daughter thinks it is fun to play tug of war."
"At 4 months of age, this behaviour must be stopped as she is receptive to training before the sexual hormones cause a dangerous killer adult dog. Dogs become adolescents at 6 months unlike people. If the puppy shows anger, grip her muzzle with your hand and say loudly "No." I demonstrated (video).
Some people will smack the muzzle over their fingers as they train the puppy not to bite people."
After the demonstration, I cautiously open this puppy's mouth. She did not snap at me but protested with whimpering sounds. I asked permission for making an educational video with the son being the video-grapher.
As you can see in the video, the puppy did not bite me. But as I repeated this action, she did revert to her aggressive behaviour and snapped at me.
Training needs time, perseverance and rewards to show the puppy that she is loved but the family members are the pack leaders. So, the daughter has to stop the tug of war play.