Springer Spaniel Aggression Behavior Problems

My 15 month springer who has been castrated is aggressive towards family and strangers for no apparent reason. He can be very loving one minute and bite the next. i cant get him out of the car because he bares his teeth and goes to bite so we have stopped going in the car. when he is out he is fine if there is no body about but if he sees other people or dogs he hides behind me or jumps up at me as if to say help. we have had him sinse he was 6weeks old and at the beginning took out everywhere to mix with people and dogs he was fine but has gradually become very difficult to handle. I have not taken him to classes maybe I should have, he is good off lead will recall easily will sit and stay wait for his food and loves to play ball. He doesnt like you toutching the top of his head much and growls when hes had enough and does not like you holding his collar to stop him doing something he shouldnt.I am afraid he is going to bite someone seriously if I don’t do something soon I have to put him out if my 18 month old granddaughter is here he will then just keep barking.

Our Response

Hi Janet – I’m really sorry for the late reply but I have been on holliday and not about for the last six weeks – but I’m back now – nice and tanned!

Yes this must be a very upsetting problem for you and a behavior problem that you want fixed as soon as possible. Ok so lets get started…

1) It’s unusual for a dog to be more agressive after castration – it normally calms them down and helps to stop dogs from roaming etc. So firstly I would check that there isn’t a medical reason why your dog’s behavior has changed. Sudden behavior changes are normally down to medical reasons. However…

2) If it isn’t a medical problem i.e. illness -then it may be due to a condition called ‘Springer Rage Syndrome’. Some experts class this as a behavioral problem that can affect some Springers, and other experts feel that it may be genetic. The bad news is that it is a problem that many people don’t really understand or sometimes acknowledge(remember I am not saying this is what your dog has, I am simply adding my own thoughts). ‘Springer Rage’ is thought to occur when a Springer Spaniel has entered an altered state of consciousness (genetic) which may lead to strange behavior. However, as we will discuss below some experts feel that it is due to dominance aggression more common in Springer Spaniels.

3) Springer Spaniels are unfortunatly more likely to bite for no reason than many other breeds but if your dog has ‘Springer Rage’ then this is obviously a worry. As previously mentioned many experts feel that the condition is genetic due to the ‘altered state of consciousness’ that sometimes occurs at the point of aggression.

To sum up, some experts feel that the dominance and aggression associated with ‘Spinger Rage’ is either due to your dog being a certain breed i.e. a Springer Spaniel – therefore more likely to exhibit aggression, and others argue that due to their sometimes being a patterin in the dominance and aggressive behavior – the ‘Spinger Rage’ is due to a genetic problem.

I would start by visiting your vet and discussing the problems with him or her. After medical problems have been ruled out – ask to be referred to an expert in this field – you should ask to be referred to a ‘board certified veterinary behaviorist’ or ‘certified animal behaviorist’. Rather than looking at dog obedience training they will look at the reasons behind your dog’s agressive behavior – one on one which is something I am unable to do.

I hope this helps a little, and remember this is only my opinion I am not a vet or trained medical practitioner – so please visit your vet and follow the advice I have pointed out.