Springer aggression

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Springer aggression

This is a discussion on Springer aggression within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hello all! Very worried about my springer, Leia. She is 3 years old and we have had her since she was 9 weeks. She came ...

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Old 04-14-2018, 07:16 PM
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Springer aggression

Hello all! Very worried about my springer, Leia. She is 3 years old and we have had her since she was 9 weeks. She came into our home after our other dog (a female lab, 2 years older) and they are a bonded pair.

Recently, Leia has been unexpectedly aggressive and I'm not sure why. The first time it happened, a friend of ours came over and brought their dog, a pug puppy. Our older dog was outside and we introduced Leia and the puppy. They did a very normal butt sniff dance and then out of nowhere, Leia lunged for her. We wrote that one off as perhaps female issues. The next incident was when we had friends over. She has always been wonderful with guests. Our friend's 2 year old son toddled into the room, not anywhere near her or our children, and Leia bared her teeth and growled at him. After both of these incidences, we told her no and redirected her and she seemed remorseful. But today, we brought home a new puppy, a mini daschund/yorkie mix (male). We introduced our older dog and that went fantastic. We introduced to Leia and we're lucky that my husband's reflexes are as fast as they are, because she nearly snapped the puppies head off.

She has had regular veterinary care and is healthy. She does have a strong prey drive, as most spaniels do. She gets lots of exercise and is loving and sweet to our family and her bonded mate.

I have lots of experience in raising dogs, but this is my first Springer Spaniel. I've carefully considered all of the variables in these situations, and none of the usual problems such as resource guarding or family guarding applied. I'm not sure what to do. Can anyone help?
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Old 04-14-2018, 09:57 PM
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Check her thyroid. My dog was suddenly aggressive a couple of months ago, got into some scuffles at the dog park. Barking at a guy he sees there all the time. He's three too.
Brought him in they checked him for Lyme and tickborne diseases which was negative. Thyroid was hypothyroidism. He's been on meds for over a month now and back to his happy laid-back self.
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Old 04-14-2018, 11:34 PM
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Hi! I have a springer spaniel as well and have researched the breed quite a bit before I decided it was right for me. I came up with something that is called springer rage syndrome. From my search on the internet it seems that it is possibly due to some sort of epilepsy but that there is no general consensus as to what the cause may be. It is described as acts of aggression with no identifiable cause, and can occur suddenly. I would definitely see a vet and also agree that you should check the thyroid as well! This rage syndrome is supposed to be really rare, so it might help if you have an experienced behaviourist evaluate the situation and perhaps they could pick out a trigger of some sort that you could not identify!
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Old 08-01-2018, 10:50 PM
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Hello, we are having this same issue with our springer who is just over 2 yrs. What did you find out?
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Old 08-02-2018, 12:48 PM
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I don't think it's rage syndrome- it seems to have very clear triggers and rage syndrome is random and doesn't have a clear pattern of triggers.

Two instances are towards puppies? Some dogs just don't like puppies. Puppies are rude, socially inept, annoying, and sometimes don't know when to leave older dogs alone. Or it might not even be the behavior itself, she might just recognize the puppy is weaker than her and want to take advantage of that for whatever reason- maybe she is being possessive of you, her space, or toys/food. Maybe she is uncomfortable with other dogs and that leads to her picking on the weaker/younger ones.

The incident with the toddler- was she ever socialized with toddlers/babies? Many dogs categorize small children, toddlers, and babies as different from older children and adult humans. They move differently- awkward, quickly, etc; act differently; make a lot of weird, loud noises; and look different. If you don't socialize a dog with toddlers and they haven't really experienced them before, they could be scared or uncomfortable with them. It happened when he just entered the room- he could have even surprised her. I would just keep her separated from toddlers and young kids if she is uncomfortable with them, and they can also act really unpredictably and roughly towards dogs. Could be a recipe for a bite.

Not all dogs love every dog and every person. Some are introverted, some are shy, some are aloof, some are fearful, and some can just be jerks. Just like people. I would be very careful with her around puppies and kids. Maybe do some counter conditioning in their presence in a controlled environment. Counter conditioning with an appropriate amount of distance- not letting a toddler pet her while you're distracting her with treats.

I would keep her separated from your new puppy for now and get an experienced trainer on board ASAP. See what a professional who can evaluate the situation for themselves thinks about it.
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