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Nutter of a Cocker Spaniel

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Carlosthejackal, Sep 5, 2020.


  1. Carlosthejackal

    Carlosthejackal PetForums Junior

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    Get a cocker spaniel we said , it would be fun we said. Boy do I wish I’d done more research into the ‘working’ breed before getting one. I knew they were highly energetic working dogs bred for hunting but didn’t realise they’d never stop.

    We have a 6 month old now who is very loving and we love him to bits however it’s starting to get to the point now where we are stuck and need desperate help.

    How do you get a working cocker to be calm? He’s only calm more or less when bed time is nearing. He has plenty of exercise and attention in any given day. Off leash runs with the tennis ball in parks twice a day. Then there’s his bed... ruined by chewing and the second you place it down on the floor, he pounces. He cannot leave it alone and just rest on it . As for his doggie blanket, he just likes jumping it. We are scheduling getting him neutered as soon as he reaches 8 months as our vet recommended. We are hoping this will calm him somewhat...

    Also if anyone has recall tips that would be great. He’s getting better but if he wants to bolt for another dog / person there is no getting him back. We use treat rewards for reinforcement. And when Its time to come back to the lead , it’s as if he knows and he will NOT come to me. He will stay near and around me and follow me, but I can’t get close enough to put him back on the lead as he just runs away. It gets very frustrating sometimes . Is it just a matter of practice? Be patient ?

    Thanks !
     
  2. Boxer123

    Boxer123 PetForums VIP

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    Hello and welcome. You have a working dog so he needs a job ! Look at adding brain games into the day and sniffy games. My dogs love sprinkles (hiding treats around the garden) Do you use kongs ?

    At six months I would be careful of to much running around with ball it can be damaging on the joints also can get them over tired.

    For recall use a long line don’t let him practice running away. If your in a secure area the let him off call him back a few times without putting the lead in so he knows coming back doesn’t equal fun ending.

    Have you done training classes ? Short training sessions can tire them out more than exercise.
     
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  3. Carlosthejackal

    Carlosthejackal PetForums Junior

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    Hey thanks for your reply. I play chase in the garden / house sometimes with some toys. The Kong doesn’t usually stimulate him for long enough , he’s a clever boy and extracts the treats in no time!

    Ok well he seems alright joint wise, like I said he doesn’t stop regardless of running off leash for the ball in the park. It’s never longer than 20 minutes a pop because he usually loses interest then. I appreciate the heads up though.

    Ye I think that’s a good tip, hiding the lead until I’m ready, that way he won’t sense fun time is coming to an end!

    The only training I do with him now is recall. He knows all the basics, sit, lay down, stay, leave it, down etc and is pretty good.
     
  4. Teddy-dog

    Teddy-dog PetForums VIP

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    I agree that I would give the ball throwing a miss or reduce it. The joint problems don’t occur straight away. Puppies don’t mature until 12-18 months and so their joints are still growing and maturing and ball throwing at a young age has been shown to cause issues later in life due to the way dogs have to brake and twist to catch the ball.

    It sounds like he has very high energy activities. Ball throw actually keeps dogs in quite a hyper state so they can find it difficult to calm down. I would do some calmer activities as @Boxer123 suggested like hiding treats and scatter feeding (on walks too!). Your dog is a gun dog so how about teaching it to go sniff out the ball instead of just chasing it? You’ll have to start easy at first but place the ball somewhere and get them to sniff it out.

    I would also keep him on a longline until you get the recall established - the more he practices running to other dogs or not coming back the harder it will be to get him out the habit!

    Puppy classes are fab for giving you some direction and help and motivation! You could look at joining some to help :)
     
    #4 Teddy-dog, Sep 5, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
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  5. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

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    Ball chucking is just going to make him more hyper not less! Ditch that (except for rewards) and get him doing something that stretches his mind rather than his legs (obviously a good off lead run is needed as well, just avoid all the arousing ball chucking).
    Spaniels are meant to hunt, so get him using his nose. Have a look at scent games you can play, brain games and enrichment, that sort of thing.
    Oh, and you need to teach him to be calm, you can't just expect him to be calm without you teaching him what you want from him, just like any other skill calmness is something you need to train. Crate him with a chew and basically just teach him that it means quiet time.
     
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  6. Ian246

    Ian246 PetForums VIP

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    I agree absolutely with all the above. Remember, he’s still a youngster - he will calm down a little as he matures...but he is a working Cocker and he needs to be kept busy. Sniffing games are great because they are good mental stimulation, quite tiring and also calming. I’ll dig out a link to some variations to ‘search’ activities for dogs and post it here soon.
    Take him to obedience classes. It will force you (and him) to focus on some formal training. And it’s good experience for both of you. Don’t rely on chase games to ‘wear him out’. He needs to get out walking - again, it’s that sniffing thing. Getting out in the neighbourhood and sniffing around is important for dogs - think of it as taking him out for a good sniff, rather than just going for a walk. At six months he should be getting no more than two thirty minute walks per day (5 minutes per month if age is the rule of thumb, up to twice a day). It’s all about not causing problems for developing bones and the growth plates. As has been said, the damage will not become clear now, but as he gets older. Trust me on this, or Google ‘puppy growth plates’ if you want to know more. Once he’s mature (About 18 months) he really needs 80 minutes to two hours if exercise per day.
    Don’t expect neutering to make a huge difference - it will only affect the ‘habits’ that are caused by testosterone and even some of those may continue if they’ve become ‘learned behaviour’.
    Don’t let him run up to strange dogs, please - lots of dogs (and owners) don’t appreciate strange dogs running up to them. It may get him into trouble if another dog does take exception (my rescue dog does not appreciate it at all.) As has been said, keep him in a long lead until his recall is improved; the more he learns that running away is fun, the harder it will be to stop him.
    With regards to him not coming back when you have the lead, he’s just learnt that lead means the end of the fun (running around, doing his own thing). So, when you do get him on the lead, take the lead off and let him away again, or play a game with him straight away. He just needs to learn that the lead does NOT mean that the fun ends.
    Hope that helps! Sorry, there’s a lot of “don’ts” there, but you kind of need to get control of this chap (in a nice way) before he gets completely out of control.
    Good luck! :) And do feel free to post a photo or two! My rescuers a Sprocker - love a spaniel: Frustrating in some ways, but superb in others!

    PS, here’s the link: easy ‘enrichment’ activities you can use. Make sure you reflect the treats or food that you use in his daily food ration.
    https://shaysdogblog.com/2018/03/30...-enrichment-activities-with-everyday-objects/
     
    #6 Ian246, Sep 5, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2020
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  7. Nova has always liked her ball too. Instead of throwing it, I would hide it and teach her to go find it. That actually tires her brain out quite quickly. I also think sniffing games and hiding treats are good. Are you freezing the kongs? You can put kibble in it, run water through and maybe put sown squished banana or whatever on top and freeze it. It’ll take longer to get out than just dry kibble of treats. Chewing and licking can be calming too - just on the right things obviously.
     
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  8. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    I think I'd also be working on some impulse control too.

     
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  9. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel Banned

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    A session or two with a gundog trainer could pay dividends - even if this is a pet dog. Gundog trainers will be able to teach you so many little tips and tricks to keep your dog focused on you.

    2 good activities i got from a gundog trainer were these

    1) put your pup in a sit (you can put a lead on and have someone hold him until he learns a good sit stay)

    And then have him hold that postition whilst you roll balls by him. Slowly at first then you can up the difficulty level.


    2) when out carry 2 balls. Drop one close to you at the side of where you walk. As the dog gives that back, throw the second one to the other side. This keeps your dog hunting close to you side to side but needs a good retrieve so might be too advanced to start.

    You could use treats instead.



    Another great game for any hyper pup is to go into your bathroom (if you have a loo seperate that works even better)

    Take treats. Clear towels, mats anything that can be grabbed. Shut you and pup in the bathroom. Sit on closed loo lid.

    And remain silent. Say nothing. Dont move. Your pup might yap, bounce about. Ignore it all.


    When your pup finally gives up (and he will!) When he sits or downs. Throw out a treat. That will start the bouncing again. Repeat.


    Play the game a few times a day and you will see your pup learns to calm quicker.

    When he gets good, delay the time between him downing/sitting and throwing the treat.


    Do not tell your pup to down or sit. This is a game where you dont talk at all. You can say good when you throw the treat. Apart from that stay silent.
     
  10. Ian246

    Ian246 PetForums VIP

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    if you go this route, do pick your trainer carefully. Some of them have rather...’old fashioned’ views on dog training.

    This can work really well. I used to do something similar with my Sprocker. With him walking to heel, I’d roll the ball ahead of us, then either walk past it, or go close and turn away, or any variation on that. He’s pretty ball obsessed, but his impulse control is better.
     
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  11. Sairy

    Sairy PetForums VIP

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    Try putting some cream cheese in and freezing it - that'll take him longer.

    20 minutes of ball chasing is far, far too long. IMO it's too much for any dog, but particularly a puppy. The fact that he is losing interest after that amount of time tells you something as well. I would use ball chasing as a reward only - when he recalls to you throw his ball straight away, then put it away again until you next need to reward him. As others have said, you may not notice any joint issues until further down the line so don't assume that everything is OK now because he is still running around. Apart from anything else, it's not a good way to exercise a dog. It gets them out of breath after a certain amount of time, but it fires up their brains so inwardly they are bouncing off the walls. Give him stuff to do that requires use of his brain, such as scenting activities and training games.

    Going back on the lead shouldn't equal end of fun. If you hide the lead until you put it back on him and then all fun ends when he's back on it then he will soon suss you out. He will learn that if you reach for a certain pocket, for example, then he's going back on lead and that's it. Instead, do the recalls as @Boxer123 suggested and sometimes put him back on the lead for a moment, have a game with him and release him again. When he does go back on lead at the end of the walk give him something nice (e.g. drop some treats on the ground for him to sniff out).

    Considering he is an intelligent and active dog, you really want to be doing more than just basic training with him. Have you considered doing any sports with him? As well as gundog trials, you could look at agility, competitive obedience, rally, hoopers and trick training. There are so many different options these days and these will help keep him out of trouble and hopefully be fun for you too.
     
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  12. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel Banned

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    That is a good point @Ian246 and i was going to post a link to the gundog trust which has/had a list of force free trainers throughout the uk


    BUT it seems to have disappeared!!! What has happened to the gundog trust i wonder?!

    OP


    If you google pippa mattinson and her totally gundogs site you should still find useful info.

    Ian is right in that there are some very hard old fashioned gundog trainers out there that really beat their dogs into submission if their dogs step out of line but id be very surprised if even they would go beating up your 6 month old.

    I have probably had a few trainers myself that have been hard on their own dogs but have been able to pass on some real pearls of info without harming my dog. There are a few positive gundog trainers now and more cross over trainers.

    And even more that are old fashioned but actually very kind and gentle souls.

    My tilly's first gundog trainer was a very gently spoken mam and was a cross over trainer. He handled my pup very softly indeed and was very kind, patient and gentle. His advice was really really spot on (if only i had listened!)


    Later, i was surprised to find he had parted company with the gundog trust as he just couldnt train his own dogs with wholly positive methods.

    So although he would be regarded as an old fashioned trainer he was still a very wise, experienced and gentle man with me and my pup. There must be many like him.
     
  13. Carlosthejackal

    Carlosthejackal PetForums Junior

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    Wow, thank you all for your overwhelming responses and support. I am very grateful for all advice given !

    I will definitely stop the ball throwing now when we’re out and had no idea the joint problems it could cause further down the line. I was just assuming it was good for him as it exercised his very highly sprung nature. Whilst we’re on the subject of that, how do I combat the bouncing around the sofa / chairs sometimes? He peps himself up sometimes without any encouragement... Surely he’s not doing his joints any good by doing this? Or is that different because he’s not actively sprinting for a ball?

    As for agility training, again isn’t that not just going to make his joints bad if he’s at a young age?

    I took him for a 30 minute walk this morning around my estate with the very long lead and when we reached the field area I just let the lead slacken all the way without actually taking it off. I placed treats in the grass when he wasn’t looking and then said ‘go find them!’ To which he was then frantically sniffing them out and succeeded. When I got home, I hid doggy treats all around my back garden which didn’t take him too long to find! Very powerful sense of smell...

    Once complete, I wanted to do some other things so he was placed in the kitchen to settle but that leads me onto another issue I need help with...

    As soon as he’s left alone and we’re out of sight he starts wincing, especially if we’re both upstairs. We HAVE to leave him in the kitchen as he will otherwise jump from our sofa OVER the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs. (We don’t allow him upstairs). I thought I’d given him plenty of stimulation this morning and despite it all he still couldn’t settle. As much as we’re all dog lovers here, we can’t spend every minute of every day with them, we have to live our own lives too. So yeah, any advice to cease the crying would be helpful and for him to realise he is ok and safe when we’re out of sight. When he was a very young puppy and being left alone for the first few times, we would always go back and forth so he could see us etc and that helped tremendously and stopped him crying when we left altogether. Now for some reason he’s gone back to his old ways, maybe going back to basics again is what is needed?

    I have seen a local puppy training company that I will be signing up to, anything like that is bound to help my wife and I improve our skills as dog owners.

    Thanks again!

    Carl.
     
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  14. Teddy-dog

    Teddy-dog PetForums VIP

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    I don’t have time to do a bit response but in terms of agility training. Most clubs do a foundation course teaching basic obedience type things which are all useful for agility in the long run. No obstacles so are suitable for young pups (I think most do from 4 months up). Then when they’re old enough they move onto doing obstacles and jumps. Tunnels are generally ok at a young age as long as they’re running straight not doing the sharp turns
     
    #14 Teddy-dog, Sep 6, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
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  15. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel Banned

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    @Carlosthejackal - have you ever tried crate training? @JoanneF has a good link as to how to go about this.

    If the idea of a crate doesnt appeal then you can teach a settle:






    Getting your dog hooked on kongs is a good thing to do, too. There are tons of ideas online of inventive ways to stuff kongs so they last a long time.


    Good luck with your dog - and hang on in there as cockers really settle into lovely dogs around that 2 yr mark.

    I used to give my pups raw knuckle bones (pets at home used to do these for online order only) they come frozen.

    They were actually fantastic at the younger age as they could only work at the bone and never break any off. Kept them going for hours (though i wouldnt advise going out of your house when your pup has a bone; upstairs is fine though)

    When mine got older, they learned to break and ingest the bone causing awful constipation. Stools like concrete!!!

    It is something to have in stock though for when you get to the end of your tether!!
     
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  16. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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  17. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel Banned

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    :Hilarious:Hilarious:Hilarious:Hilarious


    Now that has proper made me laugh, that has! And it's a long long time since anything tickled my sense of humour on pf.

    Thank you!:)
     
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  18. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel Banned

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  19. Carlosthejackal

    Carlosthejackal PetForums Junior

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    Thanks for that but we’ve just signed him up for just normal training classes in my local area over 8 weeks, hopefully I’ll learn something! If I feel the gundog training is needed in addition to that I’ll possibly do that too.
     
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  20. Lucy Van Pelt

    Lucy Van Pelt PetForums Newbie

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    Hi, sorry for the late reply but we have a 1 yr old wocker and I feel your pain! I was exhausted too but it will get better over the next few months...then you just have to get through adolescence :) Everyone has offered good advice above.

    What I would recommend is that if you have time is to hand feed him. By hand feed I mean use his food as rewards going through training drills, sprinkling it or hiding it around garden/patio, a few retrieves, etc. Our pocket rocket never gets his dry food in a bowl and each meal times last between 15-30 mins. I believe this helps use up energy, stimulate & work him plus it strengthens our bond. We have training/play sessions throughout the day too.

    Regarding exercise, if yours is anything like ours then he will be running 6x as much as any other dog in the park so I would keep to the "5 min for every month" rule. They do get overtired and will act out.

    He is 1yr old now and is still the most energetic dog in the park but people comment on how calm he is for a working cocker

    FYI - he started going through adolescence at 6-7 months, it peaked about 10-12 month. Id' say the main things were he would have a few days every so often of just not listening, he discovered girls, not as keen on puppies as he was, and needs the occasional 'alone time' with one of his toys . But we just kept on with the training and he seems to be coming through to the other side.

    Keep with it, wockers are really the most amazing dogs, so clever, so energetic and so loving. They're the best!
     
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