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Hi, about a month ago my family adopted a half boston terrier half cocker spaniel from the shelter. Today, when I woke him up by petting his head he growled and snapped at me, and stared into my eyes while showing teeth, growling and snarling. This has happened before when I was watching tv and I accidentally dropped my blanket on him. I was really scared but I know I'm not supposed to let him show dominance over me. After, I made him go in the back room we pen him up in at night and lay in his bed. Also, we have had constant issues with marking and we are buying him a belly band to aid that. I am hoping there is a way to discontinue these behaviors, especially what happened this morning. He is also very aggressive with other animals but usually extremely sweet with humans.
 

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He's not trying to dominate you -- you simply startle him when you wake him up suddenly. Not all dogs react that way, but some do, especially if they are generally a nervous/insecure dog (which isn't at all uncommon with Cockers and why he's probably "aggressive" to other animals).

Imagine you're asleep and someone comes in and smashes two trash can lids together. Would you wake up peacefully, or would you jump up screaming? Obviously just touching him doesn't seem like the equivalent but in his mind, it is.

I'd start by not allowing him to sleep anywhere that someone could accidentally wake him up. So, get him a comfy bed and let him sleep on it somewhere else in the room. If he likes dens, a crate could be an option.

When you do have to wake him up, don't touch him or go anywhere near him. Try calling his name. If that doesn't work, try a bell or some other noise that may bring him around (you may have to experiment here). Give him some time to wake up and get a bearing on his surroundings before you approach him.

He doesn't mean to act like this, it's just a reactive response. If you give him a chance to be aware and think, he'll be back to your sweet little pup.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Do you have any advice for building confidence in him and stopping aggressive reactions to nervous situations?
Thanks!
 

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With most shelter dogs, you just know so little of their past, who was in their lives, and how they were treated. You have only had him for a month, which is not a very long time. Keep treating him gently and with respect, for his space, and I'm willing to bet he will slowly come around to be the loving and trusting dog you want. Remember trust can only be earned over a long period of time. In his mind, you are very much still on trial.
 
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