That can be a difficult situation for several reasons! I don't even want to imagine trying to explain it to a five year old! It is usually a dominance issue, and may or may not be affected by neutering. The question is, do you intend to breed your dog? If not, by all means, go ahead and have him neutered. It will make your life easier in the long run and your dog won't be a slave to his hormones when a nearby female is in season. All in all, it makes him much less vulnerable to all sorts of dangers, like running off and getting lost or stolen or hit by a car while following a female. In the meantime, and regardless of the decision on neutering, help your son take over parts of your dog's training. It is well within a five year old's ability to teach a dog; it might even be fun for both of them if you could set up a very rudimentary agility type course in the yard and let your son train your dog on it. Let your son be the one to give your dog his food and give him treats. It will be good for both of them; your son will learn about responsibility and the joy of accomplishment and will gain dominance in the most constructive possible way, your dog will learn that your son is ahead of him in the "pecking order," and it will help both of them form a wonderful, life long bond.
It's also helpful in situations where dominance is a critical issue to make the dog show his belly to the dominant person. When Bimmer started to mature, I realized that this would be more important than with a regular dog, as he is part wolf. I would roll him over on his back and rub his chest and belly, and on the few occassions I had to correct him, I made him give me his belly. He's a wonderful, loving best friend who is anything but cowed or subservient; I can trust him to act independently, knowing that he will obey me whenever it's necessary for his own safety, he's the best teacher for the other dogs, and I can trust him with my life.
teaching my son would be hard as he has special needs so he is mainly annoying the dog i.e pushing and jumping on him... its hard and always ends up with my son in tears cause the dog has nibbled at his elbow or bum.
i am hoping the dog will eventually grow out of it, i can only live in hope..
Puppies do nibble! Our Shiva nibbles our ears, and at her size it's not easy to deflect her attentions (lol). Part of that nibbling behavior is just how dogs interact with other pack members, to show affection or initiate play. I think they also think it's great fun to make us react.
You've got your hands full, don't you? I have a dear friend whose youngest son has hydrocephalus, along with all the special obstacles that can accompany the condition. Regardless of how difficult things get for him, he is absolutely the most charming, delightful young man you could ever imagine. I love listening to what he has to say.
Okay, this next story actually has a point, so bear with me:
My sister recently acquired three young half-children (sounds much better than step-kids, doesn't it?). The middle child kept doing things to annoy the family's Jack Russell, and the same type of dominance behavior was going on, along with one biting incident. My sis, her husband and all three kids love the Jack Russell, and he really is a great little dog, but the behavior was causing problems and she has missed having a German Shepherd like we had while growing up. She solved both dilemmas by going to a German Shepherd rescue organization and adopting an adult female Shepherd. Their Shepherd, being both a herding dog and a female - and already an adult, has taken on the role of the "nanny" and she has very effectively made the Jack Russell's dominance behavior with the kids a thing of the past, in fact, she won't allow the Jack Russell to be alone with any of the kids!
It's something to think about and discuss with the rest of the family and possibly your vet and pediatrician (regarding your son's learning not to annoy the dog). It's always good to have knowledgeable input to a problem. It doesn't have to be a German Shepherd, it could be any type of larger dog with a working or herding background, calm, tolerant disposition and nurturing personality. The key is being adult, and, to a slightly lesser extent, female, although the male Shepherds I have had all my life have had those characteristics. In your situation, though, especially given that your Spaniel is male, a female would probably be more effective. The right dog can be an immeasurable help and comfort, not to mention a treasured member of the family. But you know that, or you wouldn't be here, now would you?
One other thing: though I've never owned a Spaniel of any kind, I've had several friends who had various types of Spaniels, and the males have all had a decided proclivity to mount legs, much to the chagrin of their owners. Maybe some Spaniel owners out there might give you some good input?
I have a Cocker Spaniels right now, and I fostered an adult English Springer who was very much a puppy a couple years back.
I am one who is always for the neutering. I think if you're not a breeder it should be done, for reasons Renee said before plus a few. I think he might be a little more mellow with the dominance issue, which is what this sounds like to me too. IMO being a male or female really doesn't matter - ESPECAILLY if the dog is nuetered.
Dogs are quick to think that they are higher in the pack than kids. My brother is 11 and our 3 dogs think that they are over him, too, so I make him do some training often to remind them. This situation with a kid of specail needs and dog dominance issues sounds so familiar to me, but I can't exactly remember. It'll come to me later, probably. A good thing to teach your dog, which IMO is good for spaniels (and/or any type of dog really) Is "leave it" or in this case, leave him alone. Your should supervise your dog interacting with your kid anyway, so try teaching him to Leave It, and when you suspect the dog might take a nibble say leave it...
This is my favorite command bcz I use it most often, its saved one particular foster dog's life... (I was walking her down a friends driveway who unbeknownst to me had spilled antifreeze near the garage. I got the words out of my mouth just in time for the dog to stop only inches away... )
I hope this helped some... I wish I could remember though!
thank you all for your replies... the LEAVE IT method hasnt worked very well.. what has worked is filling up an old flashspray bottle with water.. each time he mounts my child i spray a little mist on him and say 'stop it'... he tries again and then gets fed up... he doesnt like water in his face...its not very nice but hes learning at least.
Actually, that's one of the kindest methods of correction you can use. It certainly doesn't hurt him at all, and it accomplishes what you want. Eventually, he'll probably respond to the "stop it" command just by association. Great job!