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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19590
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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Hi I have a 8 yr. old Cocker Spaniel (Memphis) which we are

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Hi I have a 8 yr. old Cocker Spaniel (Memphis) which we are having a behavior problem with.
When we got him (Memphis) we had already had another dog "Baby" a N. Elk Hound. Then we rescued another Cocker Spaniel (Charlie - 5 mo. old from an Amish farm). Baby was the oldest and had passed approx. 2 yrs ago . Since she had passed we wanted another larger dog to adopt. We found a German Shepard puppy. We adopted her (Baily) about 1-1/4yr ago.

When we first got Bailey, Memphis did not warm up to her. Charlie and Bailey became good friends. We thought as she became a part of our pack and she matured Memphis would accept her / not be best buddies -but except her. As she got bigger he remained cold towards her (Memphis does get along with Charlie) Charlie and Bailey have become good friends.
Here we are Bailey is now 1-1/4years old and Memphis growls at Bailey s soon as she walks anywhere near him. She (Bailey) for the most part is submissive to Memphis and will walk the other way, but I can see she is getting tired of his grumpiness. We do not leave them alone together. When we leave the house she is crated in her room for fear if I leave her out with Memphis and Charlie -she will put Memphis in his place and not sure what I would come home too :-( She has tried to initiate playing with him but Memphis will have none of it, but Memphis will play with Charlie.

What can I do besides getting rid of 1 or the other. I so just want Memphis to except her! I am not looking for best friends but I can't even let them both sleep in our room together a night. (Bailey sleeps in our son's room) I am afraid she might want to cuddle or something and Memphis would start his grumpy dog b.s. and I would end up with a dog fight in the middle of the night.

Can you give us any suggestions to help us.
Hi JaCustomer,

My name isXXXXX've professionally worked with animals for over 16 years dealing with both health and behavioral issues. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

I need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your responses, it will likely take 30-40 minutes to type my response. I hope you can be patient.


Can you tell me which dogs are spayed or neutered?

Have any of the dogs been obedience trained by you?

Is Memphis along on furniture?

How about the other dogs?

When was Memphis' last health exam?

Was bloodwork done?

If baily is not spayed, is he in heat by any chance?

Is this a recent problem of pretty much present from the beginning?



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Jane,

This not a recent problem. He has been cold and grumpy towards her from the beginning. We initially corrected him when he growled at her. but we changed/corrected our thinking on the issue and WE make Bailey adhere to his growls , which she does.


Memphis typically gives a low warning growl when she comes with-in a few feet of him. Baily then will go away from him.


Memphis - 8yr old Cocker Spaniel - neutered -allowed on furniture

Charlie - 5yr old Cocker Spaniel -neutered-allowed on furniture

Bailey - 11/2 yr old German Shpd. -spayed-no furniture - to big & fur


We have obedience trained them (not professionally) they listen fairly well. To regular commands


All have had their normal check-ups in spring. No blood work drawn.



Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful. I'd probably start with a vet visit to ensure there is no medical cause for the issue. I don' think it is but with an elderly dog, it would be a good idea.


Memphis is the alpha male of the house. It is his job to make sure the rest of the pack acts correctly. The problem is that he is a relatively small dog and Baily is a much larger dog. Since she is female, she will likely not challenge him for the alpha position, but may still test his authority which would lead to him growling at her. I really would work with both dogs daily on obedience. This helps each dog realize that you are the ultimate boss and if you say no growling or interaction, etc. they will be expected to comply with your wishes. While they listen good, I am going to give you a site that is helpful for obedience training. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.


Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dogs work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It also establishes you as the boss. It is outlined below.


You have been doing a pretty good job from your description, but I do think you need to tweak it a little. I would keep leashes on both of them and give reprimands to Memphis when he growls and to Baily if she disrespects Memphis either by jumping toward him, trying to get your attention before he does, taking his toys, etc. If you start reprimanding her for the things that he is reprimanding her for, he shouldn't have to act that way toward her. It will be difficult because you will have to keep a close eye on her. This reprimand should be a short tug and firm "NO". This is negative reinforcement for unwanted behavior.


I also want you to provide positive reinforcement in the form of hot dog slices when the dogs are acting the way you want them to. If you see Baily get a little too close, reprimand her but if Memphis didn't growl, reward him. If she starts to go toward him but stops and moves away on her own with no warning growl, reward both of them because they are acting the way you want. If by some chance they do play, praise them and give them nice tasty hot dog slices. I use them because most dogs love them and will work for them while they might not obey for just your every day store bought treats.


You will need to be consistent, but this should help the situation. I should also let you know that since she is maturing pretty fast, it would likely be solved on its own in just another year as she settled into adulthood.


In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques I've provided, you may have to consult a professional behaviorist. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.


I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .


If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may click here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.

Jane Lefler and 2 other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you Jane for your response. We will definintly start putting your suggestions to work. I am extremely glad that you stated:


"I should also let you know that since she is maturing pretty fast, it would likely be solved on its own in just another year as she settled into adulthood."


I had thought the same, but feel much better hearing it coming from someone in your position. I was just looking for some answers for the present that we could do now. I have booked marked the links and printed copy of your answer for us to start working with our furry ones.

Thanks Again,


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