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I have a 6 year old working cocker spaniel who has always been obedient and affectionate with our family. 3 years ago she had a litter of puppies one of which we kept and ever since she has displayed nervous and aggressive behaviour towards other dogs whilst out on walks. She never approaches other dogs when off the lead but reacts badly if they continue to pester her or our other dog (her daughter). She has never bitten another dog but howls and growls in an aggressive and nervous manner. I am worried the behaviour will worsen or be picked up by my other dog who is at the moment a very relaxed dog. We have tried to correct it by calling her to heel when dogs approach but this seems to only make her worse if a dog dog then comes up to say hello.....any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Cara.


Hi Cara,

Because your dog's aggression problem has been going on for a number of years now, I think if you were able to get a handle on it, you would have by now. Because this problem isn't going away, you should have your dog evaluated by a dog behaviorist.

If your veterinarian can't give you a referral to a dog behaviorist in your area, you may be able to find one here:

If you feel your dog might attack other dogs when outside, do not take your dog off her leash, as that is inviting a situation which you can't control, and somebody's dog could get hurt! You shouldn't wait for an aggressive response, as soon as you see another dog in the distance, you need to turn and walk away or go inside. You might also consider having your dog wear a muzzle. A "basket" muzzle is the most humane, it allows a dog to pant and also drink water while it's worn.

Best of luck,



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To date, I've owned 7 dogs, all of which have lived into old age. Having cared for them in all stages of life, I feel I can offer sound advice to other pet owners, and people considering getting a dog. I am knowledgeable about the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breeds, training and exercise, caring for sick and elderly pets, feeding, as well as many holistic treatments pets can benefit from. My only request is that you write me using standard English and punctuation.


My life experience in this field is more like "on the job training" rather than an actual degree in animal welfare. You may benefit from my experiences over the past 30 years. Aside from the dogs I've owned, I'm also involved in "breed rescue" and have fostered several dogs, all of which have been adopted to wonderful "forever homes". I find helping people who want a dog very rewarding.

Real life experience, based on over 30 years of dog ownership.

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