English Springer Spaniels are generally characterized as fairly calm and quite loyal dogs. If an English Springer Spaniel behaves aggressively, it may not be just a temperament issue. Many believe that English Springer Spaniels are susceptible to a rare disorder called rage syndrome. Though some contest that the illness exists; it is something to consider.
The syndrome is a form of epilepsy that causes a dog to viciously attack without reason or warning. It can be treated and is a medical condition, not a temperament issue. Before purchasing or adopting an English Springer Spaniel, potential owners may want to ask about a history of rage syndrome in the bloodline. It can be hereditary. If your dog is acting unusually aggressive, consult a veterinarian. Some aggression is normal in young dogs. Don’t assume its rage syndrome, but get a professional opinion.
Dogs exhibiting signs of rage shouldn’t be left alone around children, strangers or strange animals. Even if it isn’t rage syndrome, English Springer Spaniels attacking without reason need help. If after consulting a veterinarian, it is determined the actions are the result of lack of training, consult a behavioral trainer. Don’t ignore the signs.
If a veterinarian determines your English Springer Spaniel does have rage syndrome, don’t panic or give up on the dog. Gather as much information as possible on the condition. Be prepared for the unexpected. Dogs with rage syndrome may attack without warning. They can wake from a deep sleep and attack. Usually after an attack, they will appear confused and disoriented before returning to their normal behavior.
Treatments for rage syndrome vary. Therapies used have ranged form B12 vitamin therapy to the use of anticonvulsants. Some other treatments include changing the dog’s diet and environment. If your veterinarian prescribes a medication you feel uncomfortable with, get a second opinion. Try different treatment methods if necessary and if symptoms persist, consult a behavioral therapist. If after consulting a veterinarian, it is determined the actions are the result of lack of training, work with a trainer to establish your dominance over the dog. Rage syndrome is classified by random attacks where the dog appears disoriented and unaware of its actions. If an English Springer Spaniel lashes out at specific times, for specific reasons or in defiance, it probably isn’t rage syndrome. In any case, if an attack results in a flesh wound, it is best to go straight to a doctor or hospital.
If your dog is diagnosed with rage syndrome be proactive and cautious, don’t give up hope. The syndrome is still the subject of debate. Work with your animal to ensure it has every opportunity possible to recover. Quite often there are things that can be done to salvage peace in your home while protecting your dog’s quality of life.