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Cocker Spaniels/growling and biting while eating

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Willow (female)is ten week old cocker and recently has started to growl and bite when we try to remove her empty food dishes after she has finished eating.  We feed her 3/4 cup a day, at 1/4 cup intervals 3 times a day.  We remove the dishes because she will play with them and scoot them across the floor plus I like to clean them.  Her aggresion during this time has caught both of us by surprise and are not sure how to nip this in the bud immediately.

Answer
Hi Terry,
Ah..another baby cocker trying out for the top dog position. :)  Been there many times!

Now..what I'd like you to do first is put her food bowl down...sit on the floor in front of her and see what happens if you lightly pet her & chat with her while she eats.  When she's finished, pet her and just look into her eyes.    Do NOT get up...just take possession of the bowl while sitting in front of her.

If she growls...I want you to STARE into her eyes (think Clint Eastwood) and calmly but firmly..and a little threatening.. say NO...continue..do not move...NO....do not raise your voice.  When she breaks eye contact, you just won.  Be patient..don't give up.  It can take a minute or two.

What you're doing is literally staring her down (a big challenge) and it's exactly what an alpha dog in a pack would do to an annoying puppy.  First would come the low growl (our NO) and then the head would swing around with that "stare".  99% of all puppies will back off.

So try this first and never fear, I have other tricks up my sleeve for naughty little girls. :)
You're wise to be concerned and wise to want to address this now before this becomes a more serious behavior.

Let me know what happens.

Cocker Spaniels

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Delores Beck

Expertise

Health, nutrition, training. Please note: I used to highly recommend Innova products but, unfortunately, as with Canidae, they have sold out to Proctor & Gamble. This guarantees lower quality to a dangerous point so I will no longer be advising anyone to buy it.

Experience

20 years of owning this breed.

Education/Credentials
Psychology, MA

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