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Aggressive Cocker Spaniel

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Hi John,

I have a two year old male cocker spaniel.

When he was a puppy he had extreme anxiety around strangers as a puppy.  Someone would approach to pet him and he would scream like he was injured. He is now better but still very cautious and isn’t the type of dog that will just go up to a stranger. Once he knows them, he will get very excited to see them.

He still has some disconcerting behaviour that I would definitely like to learn how to control. If someone walks near the car he growls and snarls. I often go to my mothers in the country.  To get there we have to go through customs into the states.  He behaves this way towards the customs officers.  They take in stride, but sometimes they try to give him a treat but it doesn’t help.

Second problem is that he hates young kids, is very watchful of them and you can tell by his body language that he is on edge. A week ago he bit my nephew without breaking the skin. I am young and would like to start a family in the next few years.  I want him to be a part of that.  I love him so much.  In all other areas he is so well behaved and loyal.

Can he be re-socialized to like children?  I just don’t want this to be a thing we can’t conquer.


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