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Cocker Specific Discussion => Puppies => Topic started by: Leigh123 on November 21, 2019, 05:23:23 PM

Title: What to do for the best
Post by: Leigh123 on November 21, 2019, 05:23:23 PM
Hi - been looking on this forum for the last few weeks and can see that my issue has been brought up before so apologies in advance but I hope some of you can help me out.

I had an English Springer 20 years ago and had him for 14 years - was under quite a bit of stress when I got him (unemployed and planning a wedding) but really wanted a dog (had one when I was growing up) and wanted a companion, as my fiancťe was working at sea at the time. My Springer (Sam) was busy, active and pretty mad at times and I didnít really pay much attention to training other than the basics - crates werenít in general use at that time so I confined him whilst toilet training him to my small kitchen and left him for 2-3 hours at a time when still quite young with kongs stuffed with cheese, and lots of cardboard boxes to destroy and he was fine. He grew up into a loving dog and would be ok on his own when he was (much) older for 8 hours at a time (although this was not a regular thing). What Iím trying to say is he never stopped me working, going to Uni etc.

Since he died, I have wanted another dog and wanted one that would get me out lots on walks and to training classes, maybe agility or scentwork etc and be another companion so decided on a WCS so picked up my pup at 9 weeks from a breeder- he is now almost 20 weeks and itís been one of the most frustrating and exhausting times of my life! I had one book about raising Springers when Sam was growing up but now there is the Internet and it provides a wealth of very conflicting information 😕 

Positives are that heís never pooed inside the house and Iíve had very few wees. He sleeps well in his crate from 10/10.30pm until 7.30/8 am and does not cry at all during this time - I had him in his crate in my bedroom for 3 weeks at first and took him outside to toilet when he showed signs of needing to go. He knows sit, down, and Iím working on stay but he pulls like crazy on his lead and Iíve not been brave enough to let him off yet as heís so unfocused on me and distracted by smells/other people when out on our walks. I have a long line for him and have been recommended a book called The Pet Gundog which I have ordered, as well as a recall whistle, so I will be starting on that soon. I have also booked into obedience classes in January and they also offer scentwork classes as well as different forms of agility as I know he will need a Ďjobí to do as he gets older.

My main issue is leaving him for periods of time during the day - if I leave him in the kitchen out of his crate, he will either tear paper off the wall or tip his water bowl over unless I leave him with a Smartbone or the like. I only leave him out of the crate if I go into the living room for a meal, or to do chores, and itís maximum of half an hour. When I need to go out, I crate him with a frozen Kong to keep him busy but have recorded him whilst out and heís fine for the first hour but then barks on and off, and sometimes for more than 10 minutes. Again, much differing information out there as to what to do - some some leave him to cry, others say this will damage him and cause other problems later on. Some of my friends say I should be firm and not let the dog rule me but Iím not, I just donít want to traumatise him. Iím off work at the moment but this is not going to be forever so will need to crate him for 3-3.5 hours at a time as I can come home for lunch and let him out/walk him before going back again, and am more than willing to pay for daycare some days and for dog walkers to take him out.

I also have an issue with him mouthing/nipping me still. Itís when heís excited, or when I reach for one of his toys to throw for him. Iíve read about guarding so am now hand feeding him only and offering swaps for toys, and am also following advice from Ian Dunbarís website about saying ouch and leaving the room when he mouths/bites (have to say the biting has very much improved over the past 3 weeks as he was awful and often drew blood with his puppy teeth!).

It has been bloody hard - I know it was a very long time ago but I do not remember Sam being this difficult. What I really want advice on is will he ever be a dog that accepts crating for the hours Iíve mentioned, or should I be kind to him and return him to the breeder who will then find him a more suitable home possibly where he is worked? I am willing to put the time in but worry I will damage him more by crating and leaving him when I have to return to work so should I give him back now whilst heís still relatively young or work on him in the hope he will be more tolerant of crating the older he gets?

Please believe me when I say I have totally beaten myself up about what to do and will feel the most incredible guilt if I do end up returning him but kind of know I may get slated for getting such a lively dog in the first place and not fully researching his needs 😔
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Gerryjane on November 22, 2019, 10:34:16 AM
I feel your pain. Itís all normal pup behaviour but some are worse than others 😀

I would very much recommend a Facebook group called Dog Training Advice and Support. Itís a learning group with a wealth of the most up to date science based training and behaviour advice. You can post your own questions if you canít find the answer you need in their units. Itís run by behaviourists and Vets who were concerned at some of the out of date myths being perpetuated by many owners and trainers.
We have followed their advice with both our dogs .... our first was a difficult and aggressive retriever....and it changed our lives.

I love much of Ian Dunbarís methods but the ouch approach often makes things worse. Long tug toys everywhere are much more effective  :D
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: lescef on November 22, 2019, 12:46:45 PM
Hi. I actually think you are doing incredibly well.  He is only five months old so still a baby with lots of developing to go through yet.
I can relate to how you are feeling. When we got our first cocker over thirty years ago, we were both working and she completely ripped up our kitchen floor in one go. There were hardly any training books, no internet or dog walkers. We bought a crate!
Our second cocker lived to be fifteen so when we got our third puppy she was an absolute shock to the system. She was a really bad mouther. We found walking away worked best for us. It does pass!
Keep building up the time you leave him,  he really is very young yet. The fb group mentioned above is very good for tips. 
You are trying really hard with him and I think you will get there.  It just takes time working at his pace.
 There are fields that you can rent out for an hour that are totally secure so you can practice your recall safely. I'll try and find the name. Good luck
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: lescef on November 22, 2019, 12:55:45 PM
Try Dog walking fields on fb.
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Leigh123 on November 22, 2019, 04:28:19 PM
Thanks to you both for your advice, suggestions and encouragement. I have requested to join the training advice group, and have found a (relatively) near enclosed dog walking field and contacted the organisers of it so will be able to safely let him off lead to run around :)
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Tigerlily on November 22, 2019, 05:33:37 PM
Poor you!  I have a 17 week old WCS so can slightly understand where you're coming from - having a spaniel pup is hard work.  You didn't say much about walking - do you walk him for at least an hour before you go to work in the morning, and again in the evening?  It is sad that you can't walk him off lead, it is so much more fun for them.  I have areas near me that are relatively secure but I find actually that she won't go more than about forty feet from me because I might run away or hide! I've never needed to use the lead for that reason.  I also walk, quite regularly, with someone who has two Springers so my pup walks with the pack and they don't go far away so that has taught her too.  It's not perfect - when we get near the car, she knows I will put the lead on her so she won't come near enough to do that so I have to have a squeaky ball in the car and she can't resist when I squeak it!
I feel that 3.5 hours twice a day is rather too long to leave a pup crated - one time would be okay but twice is tough.  If I have to go to a meeting, I get someone to call in after 1.5 hours to take her out to poop/walk/play for an hour or so, then put her back in the crate and I will return after no more than two hours - might something like that be possible?
I cured Lily of the 'mouthing' by stopping play or yelping loudly.  Now I have to stop her from jumping up at people, really hard for such a happy and social dog!
Wishing you the very, very, best of luck and unending patience xx
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Ben's mum on November 22, 2019, 07:48:51 PM
Welcome to the world of cockers  :D
I have found them completely different to other breeds, so much more demanding, bitey, stroppy when they don't get their own way, needy, clingy, exhausting but the most amazing dogs you could ever dream of owning  :luv: I think the bond between cockers and owners is really deep because they are so needy for love and attention. Our first cocker Ben was a horrible puppy  ph34r I spent so much time wondering if we had done the right thing, and being convinced we had a complete nightmare of a dog but once the biting stopped, Ben became the love of my life (sorry to my OH  :005:) he was a complete cuddle monster and so affectionate and loving. I still miss him so much.

What i am trying to say is give it time, and it will improve. I can't advise on the seperation anxiety as thats not an issue we had, but there is lots of good advice on here.
Do you do much brain work?  That really helped us. I used to hide Bens food and he had to use his nose to find it, kept him busy for ages.  You can make it really quite tough they are so clever. I used to do a lot of trick training and clicker training just to give him something to think about. Each toy had a name and i would send him to retrieve his toys one at a time as i called out the name. He would 'tidy' his toys by putting them in the toy box on command. There is lots you can do it takes the bouce out of them and distracts from biting.  Be wary of walking to far to soon, stick to the 5 minute rule, we found mental activites just as effective as physical in the early days.

Having Ben put me off puppies  :005: so we rescued our next boy at 8 months, but to be honest I regret missing out on that early bond you get with a pup (not that I would swop Harry), its hard work but will be worth it.

Good luck x
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Leigh123 on November 23, 2019, 08:42:34 AM
Thanks Tigerlily - when I do have to crate him I would be taking him out for a walk beforehand and in my lunch hour. I also intend to look into doggy daycare for at least one day a week and have someone come in to take him out again in the afternoon on the other days so hopefully that will break it up for him. Iím keeping on with stopping play if he mouths me and it is improving unless he is overstimulated or tired.

Thanks Benís Mum - I had read about clicker training him with naming his toys so will do that as brain work for him. Iím not taking him for long walks at the moment as he pulls - I mainly allow him lots of time for sniffing!
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Digger on November 24, 2019, 07:30:21 PM
My goodness. Did I write that post??!!

Had to chime in on this one.
I too had a Springer for 15 years. Got him at 8 weeks, he was a bit of a pain in the backside until he was about 6 months old and then was just the best dog anyone could've had for the next 14 and a half years. I was utterly devastated when we had to say goodbye. He was such a good boy-He never bit, whined, guarded, took things he shouldn't have or had a problem with anyone or anything.

The house was just too empty without him so we thought we would repeat the wonderful experience by getting another spaniel. Just a tad smaller for the camper van but a similar bouncy fun dog... or so we thought...

I did masses of research into wcs as a breed and everything you read says that they are energetic (no probs), biddable, easy to train and eager to please..(???!!!).

I did very little training with our Springer. I have spent hours and hours with the one and she is still a work in progress.

We have had really long on going biting, guarding issues, snappiness, arguing, flagrant disobedience, bogging off after pheasants, picking up everything she shouldn't have, being stroppy with other dogs, overprotective, chasing the cat, killing birds etc etc. It has been very hard work indeed.

Sounds like I don't like her very much but despite all this I would not be without her now. We have a bizarre relationship some days but like Henry's mum said-You can't help but have a really strong bond with this little bundle of hell thats demanding your attention! I do love her and although sometimes she has looked like she was trying to kill me, I think I am actually the centre of her little universe.

Things have improved massively and continue to do so. I do feel like we've turned a corner now that she is two (yeah, two). I think with this breed you either get a good one or a difficult one, although I'm sure all under about 9 months are going to be hard work.

I suppose my turning point was when I realised that she was just not like my other dog so I had to suck It up and get on with it or pass her on which I didn't think would be fair on her, as she is so attached to me (sometimes with her teeth..haha).

There are some very plus points though. Our dog is so affectionate. She adores all people-men, women and children. Everyone who meets her falls in love with her smoochy wiggly bummed greetings!
She is also very quiet. Hardly ever barks.
 We do leave her sometimes and I never crate her. She is left in the kitchen/family room which is clear of dangers and she has a dog  flap so she can go out to the loo. When she's on her own she doesn't do anything naughty. I think all her stealing/chewing is totally attention seeking. I caught her snuggled up with the cat in front of the wood burner the other day-
 I wouldn't worry about the chewing etc at your dog's age-that's pretty standard for that age I would think. Leave the redecoration until it's a bit older. The bitter spray stuff you can get from the vets works. Spray when dog is out of the room.

The only thing that works to discipline our dog is to exclude her.
It took months of leaving the room before she stopped biting in the evening for instance.
Ours now has a big hour plus off lead walk (fields, woods, friends and ball games) in the morning and half an hour or so in the evening. In between these she's just chilled right out, snoozing on the Sofa etc so no problem leaving her if need be in between times.

On balance I have  to say that our particular dog has been pretty hideous to start with but I do think she is going to be fine long term, and a dog is for life after all.
The first two years have been really hard work and not for the faint hearted. I have had to be quite brave at times but I am still currently winning! At the end of the day, she could live to maybe 17, so a couple of years hard work and training and then 15 years of a good dog...doesn't seem too bad in the long run. We were just spoiled by our first dog.

Sorry for the long and Frank essay but I think you need to know that it is possible it could take quite a while before you get on top of things. I do think ours was particularly bad, so my story is probably worst case scenario but my little shadow is snuggled on my lap as I write this and has just spent the afternoon with our 3 yr old granddaughter.

If you can tough it out through that first bit (especially the first year!) then things will start to feel much better and should keep improving month on month as long as you can keep up some reinforcing work.

Best of luck with your pooch.

Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Leigh123 on November 25, 2019, 11:31:36 AM
Thanks Digger - I had read your posts about your experiences and realise that it could be a long road for me and Ollie (thatís the pup) but I want to give it my best shot and persevere with him, as when heís good he really is good. I remembered how much my old Springer liked destroying big cardboard boxes so have started this as enrichment with Ollie and he likes the challenge of ripping them open to find a few treats inside them.

My daughter thinks heís really improved over the last few weeks and I can kind of see it but am with him most of the day so I tend to remember the bad behaviour and not the good so must try and reframe my thinking - have watched a fair few Ian Dunbar videos now so that advice is also helping.

Out of interest, a few people I have talked to have said I may see a difference if I switch to raw feeding so I wondered what peopleís views on this were? Heís on Skinners grain free puppy at present and seems to enjoy it.

Thanks again for the advice in the replies to my post - it does give me hope!
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Digger on November 28, 2019, 09:40:53 AM
Hi again-

Just regarding the diet.. Ours was on skinners field and trial to start with. She went off that so we have tried some very snazzy and expensive diets but I have to say, no perceivable correlation to change in behaviour.
She is actually now on a decent kibble with a bit of chunks in jelly mixed in just because she loves it.
I will say, however that we have not tried raw (well, she has, but we didn't buy it!)..
but I do steer away from 'junk' treats. I think stuff with red colouring in and dentastix or any of those greasy looking treats seemed to hype her up.

Beware the treats-we all think so carefully about what we're feeding our dog and then by the end of the day they've had half a hundredweight of biscuits!!!

 I make my own liver cake in a baking tray, cut it up and freeze it- costs about £1 and lasts a couple of weeks- just grab some on my way out of the door-it defrosted in your pocket in minutes. (No it's not wet) If I run out of that, plain dried tripe sticks.

If you do try the raw diet I'd love to know if it affects ollies behaviour.
Keep us posted!
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Tigerlily on December 03, 2019, 10:39:24 PM
Funny you said your pup was on Skinners and 'went off it'.  The breeder gave me a sack of that stuff and I think perhaps they gave me a different flavour from the one the pup had been used to, but she wouldn't touch it!  I had some raw cat food in the freezer (from looking after my son's cat), so defrosted some and offered that and she LOVED it!  We had a journey then because I'm vegetarian so struggled with the raw meat thing and worried about doing it properly, but have now found a company called Wolf Tucker and they mix up the right quantities of meat/bone/offal plus some fruit/veg/kelp and other stuff and my pup ADORES it!  Two or three days a week I replace one meal with a chicken wing or lamb ribs or other non weight bearing bone and my little girl is very fit and happy I think/hope.  It is great to have smaller and fewer poops which hardly smell and an amazingly shiny coat and sweet smelling breath too!
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Digger on December 07, 2019, 01:19:58 PM
Ooh I might try that!

We don't eat meat either and I did try her on 'fish for dogs' which looks really good and she loved for a few days but then went off it.

Apparently a raw chicken wing is meant to be really good for anal their anal gland.

Did I just say that? Honestly the things you end up talking about when you've got a dog!

Hope the behaviour is under control and you're managing to have some fun too!
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: phoenix on January 21, 2020, 10:12:11 AM
Iíve had both breeds. Totally different.     Tell a springer, ask a cocker !
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Digger on January 25, 2020, 01:05:23 PM
Loving that note from Phoenix - how true that is!

Just wondering how you're getting on..?
Ours is 2.5 now and becoming much much better. We had Xmas tree out this year with presents and she didn't touch a thing.
Hope yours is improving.
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Lobo do Mar on February 05, 2020, 02:24:22 PM
Hi Leigh (cool name ;) )
all I can say is see my post 'Salty AKA the Piranha-Cockerdile hybrid '
As you can see, I am no expert and am learning the hard way but we thought very, very hard about whether to rehouse Salty various times, but now there is no way he is going anywhere despite some pretty horrendous behaviour :)
I definitely wouldn't say I wouldn't change anything about him, but I definitely wouldn't exchange him
At least he isn't boring  :lol:
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Leigh123 on July 31, 2020, 05:53:37 PM
Hi - so this is me coming up to almost a year after that first post and although he still can be a little b***** I can tell you that Ollie is still safely with me and is soooooo much better! Looking back at my first post, I do recognise that I myself was in a bit of a state mentally and that certainly didnít help. Ollie is now one year old and his recall is pretty good when out and he pulls so much less on the lead now. He goes to daycare twice a week and is then walked/let out by friends/family on 2 days and I work from home one day a week so his care is sorted. Heís an affectionate and playful boy who lives the company of other dogs and I wouldnít be without him now ❤️

Thanks to all the other contributors who gave advice - it meant a lot and I am really grateful for your wisdom and knowledge.
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: ejp on July 31, 2020, 06:49:07 PM
Thank you so much for coming back and posting an update.  Pups are hard work and cockers can be little  >:D but you made it!  And everything seems better organised and steady, a routine makes a hug difference.  Hindsight gives you 20:20 vision. 
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: Barry H on August 01, 2020, 09:28:15 AM
Iíve had both breeds. Totally different.     Tell a springer, ask a cocker !
More like, tell a springer, ask a working cocker, but with a show type you have to submit an application form that will be considered in due course and acted upon when deemed appropriate...

"Everything is hard before it is easy" - Goethe

I wish you and pup all the best...
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: bizzylizzy on August 01, 2020, 09:37:12 AM
Iíve had both breeds. Totally different.     Tell a springer, ask a cocker !
More like, tell a springer, ask a working cocker, but with a show type you have to submit an application form that will be considered in due course and acted upon when deemed appropriate...

I wish you and pup all the best...

  :rofl1: brilliant Barry!  :lol2: :lol2:
Title: Re: What to do for the best
Post by: ejp on August 01, 2020, 01:32:24 PM
Barry, that's a classic summary and I am stealing it!  :lol2: :lol2: :lol2: