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Canine Behavior/Recent agressive behaviour in Cavalier King Charles Spaniel


Hello. I've had a male Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for about 3 years now. It has always been polite and good natured towards family members, but it barks at strangers. It has very recently started to growl and snarl at me for no apparent reason. We took it to the vet to discard health problems and it's in very good shape. The first time it growled at me it was inside the house. The second time I was just getting out of the car and I tried to pet him like I always do as a "hello" sign and it growled again. After that it stopped for a while but now is more and more frequent. Last time it actually leapt at me, it didn't bite me or anything but he snarled and barked quite aggressively, I was standing up and it was like standing on it's hind legs and had a firm grip on my knee with it's front ones. My brother had to pull him away from its collar. There are 6 people in the family but it only growls at me. I don't treat him badly or anything, but I'm starting to feel nervous when it growls, I think it really is capable of biting now. I've been paying more attention now when it starts to growl as to what is making it angry but it appears it's totally random and for no reason at all.
My question is... why does it started snarling and growling all of a sudden and why only at me?
Any recommendation would really help.

Please answer some questions:

1.  Are you the dog's actual owner
2.  What sort of training have you done with the dog (describe)
3.  Is the dog neutered
4.  Are you the only adult male in the house, and the one "in charge"
5.  Can you try to identify when the dog started this behavior, what you were doing, under what circumstances
6.  What do YOU DO when the dog growls and how is that changing
7.  Are there young children in the house
8.  Is the dog significantly attached to anyone in the home with whom you may have had an argument (normal, but sometimes dogs acquire all sorts of fear aggression when people argue)
9.  Describe "random and for no reason at all" as fully as you can.  Give several examples.

I will try to explain why the dog is behaving this way and what to do about it once I fully understand the situation.  Thank you.  Please use followup feature so I can see original question/answer and try to answer the questions by copy/paste.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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