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Hello!

I have a 6 month old cocker spaniel. When we first got her she would growl, stand still and snap at myself and girlfriend if anybody went near her whilst eating or chewing a chew. We were told this was because she thought she was dominant over us, we took her food away whilst she was eating, ensured she thought we were eating first and made her sit and wait until we were ready to let her eat. This worked amazingly! She has been perfect for the last few months.

However... last night she was in the garden and wouldn't come in when called, i found her sniffing and eating some grass (this is literally all she does) and when i approached she snarled, growled, barked and bared her teeth. I told her off and told her to "get in" and she went straight inside. I made her go on her bed and she continued to growl at me, at this point i grabbed her (not hard) by the back of the neck told her off and growled at her. (I was told by a trainer this exerts dominance over them) We had a stare off and she backed down quite quickily.

About 20 mins later she was laying on the sofa and my mother tried to move her and the same reaction was had from her.

I was hoping for some advice if possible to see if there is anything else i can do, the one thing i dont want is an agressive dog. Is it just her trying to be dominant or something more serious.

She has recently (7 days ago) been spaded. Would this have had an effect on her?


EDIT - Thank you for any help in advance
 

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Oh dear. First of all, your dog is not displaying "dominance". Pack theory is very debunked, you should go to a new trainer immediately. One that works in positive reinforcement.
As far as the eating food, and not wanting to move, she is doing something called Resource Guarding. Dogs can resource guard a large multitude of things: people, food, special treats, space, other dogs, a leaf, a tree...you name it.
By taking away her food, forcing her to move, and grabbing ahold of her you are teaching her one thing: she is right to guard her stuff you're going to steal it from her!
You should never punish a dog for growling. When a dog is growling they are letting you know that they are uncomfortable and they may resort to biting if you keep pressing. If you keep punishing her, she will skip growling, and go right to biting.
There are TONS of stickies that you should definitely look into.
 

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Dominance trainers are using very old information that has been disproved. Sounds like you have a serious problem already in such a young pup. Look for a positive trainer. There is a lot of science behind the positive method.

If she has something that you want or if she is were she shouldn't be, try luring her with a treat. Practice touching what she has, then treating for that. After she is comfortable with that, try taking the item away. If she grows, take a step back on work on just touching the item. Once you can fully take the item away from her, praise her a lot! Treats and saying good girl. If the item is safe for her to have, you can give it back to her and keep practicing. That way she knows she'll get it back anyway.
 

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It's not dominance. Probably the most important thing here is that you realize that and stop manhandling her.

Cockers tend to have interesting temperaments that are, at the core, due to insecurity. Instead of trying to prove you are "alpha" you need to build her confidence.

I can't type too much right now, but look up trading games for resource guarding to start.
 

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As other have stated this is not "dominance" and manhandling will not make anything better (if anything it will make it worse). Please stop grabbing her and "staring her down", both of those this are signs of aggression in the Dog World.

Growling and looking away are ways of AVOIDING CONFLICT but the longer you engage in "rude" behavior towards her the more likely you are that she will escalate to CONFLICT.

As others have also said she is merely Resource Guarding items and there are many Stickies here on helping with that.

I would IMMEDIATELY find a new (positive) trainer.
 

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She's a resource guarder and what your trainer taught you to do confirmed that she was right, you are out to steal her stuff and she should guard it. Been there, done that, and basically got the same results as you. My boy would stop for awhile then go right back to guarding.

Dogs that resource guard are not trying to be dominant, they are insecure and are desperately trying to hold on to whatever they value. The correct way to handle them is to teach them that us humans are not out to steal their valuables, that if we come near when they have something they value we will likely give them something even better.

Here's our sticky on it, it'll teach the the correct way to handle her http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/resource-guarding-causes-prevention-modification-7511/

Here's our sticky that will explain why what your trainer taught you to do is so bad http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/suppression-modification-shutdown-fallout-4776/

Here's one loaded with information about Dominance Theory http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/dominance-dogs-4076/

And a final one on why you should never punish growling http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/growling-86338/

For getting her off the couch teach her an off command rather then physically moving her.
Here's a video on how to train it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DAzZVRYYXY
Here's a sticky on the proper way to use treats. You do not want to end up with a dog that only obeys if he sees you have a treat http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/thoughts-training-food-1219/
 

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Hi, welcome to the forum. I hope with some new techniques and maybe a better trainer this can be helped, but I just wanted to add something about Cocker Spaniels. Cocker Spaniels used to be one of the best family dogs you could get. Lovable, sweet natured, not too hard too hard to handle. However, in the past two decades or so there have been a fair number of inbred Cockers that are, quite frankly, emotionally unstable with a prickly nature. This does not mean your dog is definitely one of them, or destined to be a nasty dog. It's just that sometimes if you end up with a dog like this you just have to work a little harder, but it can be done! I just don't want to get discouraged if you don't end up with a perfect pooch or feel like you're working harder for less results than other dog owners. You seem like someone who really cares and I'm sure you can get some good results with work.
 

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Hello there,

Everyone's already given you some really sound advice so I just wanted to say we've all been there and please don't give yourself too hard a time.

When we first got Jax my mum (of all people!) told me to use a shake bottle to stop him barking at the front gate, as a first time dog owner I didn't know any better, my mum has had dogs all her life and I trusted her advice.

Luckily I used it for less then a day before deciding there must be a better way of doing things and that's when my journey began!

I decided I wanted to learn and so that's what I did, I've got a million miles to go but rest assured, I will never use another aversive in my life and nor will my Mum as she's now learning a better way too.

This is where you are right now, the start and by the sounds of it you've got your head on straight enough to take everyone's advice on board and start educating yourself, it really is the best way you can apologise to your dog for what was simply a mistake and like I said, we've all made them!

Good luck! X
 
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