Author Topic: Teenage working cocker  (Read 641 times)

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Offline Woolwitch

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Teenage working cocker
« on: September 04, 2018, 08:23:31 AM »

Hi everyone, this is our first post - I'm so pleased to have discovered this forum full of people with masses of experience and great advice on having cockers, it's so reassuring to read about everyone's experiences and words of wisdom :)

Our working cocker is 14 months, unneutered, and generally wonderful - he is super bright, like so many cockers, and full of energy and constantly 'on' - really high octane. He gets training every day, does gun dog training most weeks, and has two longish walks, on and off lead per day. He stays in our kitchen which is the heart of our home and one or more of us are usually down there (there is me and my husband and two teenagers). However, in the last few weeks he has started testing us more and I wonder if it is just teenage boundary pushing. He is really hyper, and particularly with me his behaviour is more challenging - I know cockers form very strong attachments and I am his main carer, but I am looking for advice on managing this and other peoples' experiences of similar behaviour.

For example, he barks and spins in circles really fast when I leave the kitchen to go and do anything elsewhere in the house until I come back. If I sit down in the kitchen bit where we have a TV, or in the garden, he tracks back and forth at high speed, although he doesn't do this with anyone else, and he doesn't switch off at night until about 10pm when he crashes out. He has also started barking every time he goes into the garden and it seems impossible to stop him. I feel like I'm flailing around a bit with how to deal with this behaviour - I have read a bit about boundary mats, and games, which may help when we want him to settle down - can anyone recommend any specific websites or trainers they have used please for these?

And with barking, it seems that teaching him to 'talk' and then 'quiet' may be the way forward - but given how crazy he gets when I leave the room, it's really hard to get him to focus on what I want him to do. Any thoughts would be much appreciated - we know there is a lot of training work to be done (we know it's an ongoing process that never really stops!) but we just want to be sure we are dong the right things really - it seems to be quite easy to get it wrong and inadvertently teach bad habits. Thank you so much - looking forward to hearing any thoughts :)


Offline Gazrob

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2018, 08:45:12 AM »
Hi my 2 year old working cocker lives with me and he is generally pretty calm although he has his moments. However whenever my mother comes to visit he completely changes and he's all over her like a rash and follows her everywhere. I think my mother is partly to blame for his behaviour. She makes a huge fuss of him when she comes to visit and I also believe that she feeds him treats when I'm not around. He changes into a completely different dog. He doesn't go on like that with anyone else including me his owner. I've tried to tell my mother that she is encouraging this behaviour but it's in one ear and out the other. I think what you should do is try and ignore him when he's doing something you don't particularly like and praise him for things that he does right. As for the barking I recommend staying with him as much as you can when he's in the garden keep him in his lead if possible and tell him no whenever he barks or take him back in the house when he does hopefully he will learn that barking stops his fun. This may not work but it's worth a try. My dog is also unneutered and he tests me every day but you must stick at it.

Offline Woolwitch

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2018, 09:01:31 AM »
Thank you Gazrob, I think the keeping him on a lead in the garden is good advice - a bit of the problem there is probably that he has had free access to the garden as it has been such a hot summer, and now it is cooler and the door is closed, when he does go out he is expressing his happiness!!

When you say yours is a completely different dog with your mum, it really resonates with me - that is just the case with ours when he is with me, although I don't give him many treats or fuss him (we are quite a calm house generally). I wonder if it is something to do with the fact that all his training and activities are with me, and he associates fun and busyness with me. Anyway, it's a process and it is great to hear from other people so thank you :)

Offline Gazrob

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2018, 10:28:29 AM »
I'm not sure why he goes on differently with my mum. He even gets upset if she leaves the room to go upstairs he never does if I leave the room. She is very soft on him she talks to him like he's a baby lots of baby talk I'm not so soft on him and I will tell him if he does something I dont like. I some times dread my mother coming over because my calm dog turns into a maniac and I don't like it. I know it's not always practical to keep dog on the lead in the garden all the time but if you do you can get him away from the situation very easily. Maybe he just likes you more than everyone else.

I recommend teaching a place command I did very early on if I want him to settle down I will tell him to go on his place bed. This teaches the dog to relax as he cant get off his place unless I let him.

Offline Woolwitch

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2018, 11:17:25 AM »
Thanks for the place command tip - we have been using place boards at training so he is familiar with them....I will work harder on this!

Offline bizzylizzy

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2018, 01:19:55 PM »
Hi and welcome!! My dog is a showline and compared some of the working lines, relatively laid back, so I‘m probably not the best to advise, there‘ll be others on here better experienced to advise you. Both show and working line do benefit from mental stimulation aswell as physical exercise however and 15 minutes brain/nose work can be equivalent to hour racing around outside. Finding hidden toys, treats etc which have been hidden in the house or garden etc is a great way of getting them to focus and concentrate, you can start off with relatively simple hiding places and then make them harder - higher up, in baskets with washing on the top etc etc. Depending on how well he will sit/lie and wait, get him  to sit in one room while you go off and hide something and then come back and give him the command to go a find. Its a fun way for the dog to learn discipline aswell.
Another thing to look at if you feel he is abnormally hyper, is the food - some brands can cause hyperactivity depending on the protein/carbohydrate content.
I was told Humphrey would start to calm down at the age of 3 and this has proved to be the case, so I do think the age does play a role (don‘t know if that‘s a relief or not!! :005:), but they do indeed start to test the boundaries some what in puberty, and that is the time to stay firm and consistant.
I‘m sure others will be along soon with more concrete advice, you‘ve certainly come to the right place!! Best of luck! Keep us posted!!

Offline Woolwitch

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2018, 09:53:48 AM »
Hello bizzylizzy, thanks for your advice. We do find that brain work is a good thing to do with Tali, although he can get super excited in anticipation :) He does seem to crash out (briefly) afterwards. I hadn't considered the food angle, but will look into this too.

I have a few other cocker friends and their dogs have calmed down to varying degrees at different ages, so we are hoping this will also be the case with Tali, although I am not banking on it. To be honest, I think the summer has disrupted our routine somewhat and I'm hoping that once we get back into the swing of things that we can go back to a more regular day routine for him too.

In the meantime, I really appreciate all the advice and will persevere :)


Offline Gazrob

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2018, 08:02:06 AM »
Woolwitch my dog is nearly 3 and he's not changed a bit. He's a maniac. I think that's just the way it is if I wanted a calmer dog I'd have got something else. I've basically accepted his nuttiness and I don't really want him to change.

Offline Pearly

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2018, 12:00:59 PM »
It sounds as though you have a fabulous cocker spaniel, full of enthusiasm for life!

I have one of those.....well four......

To keep some order in the house we have very clear rules.  Humans before dogs on moving around, through doors, gates, over stiles etc.  We don’t make eye contact or hands on affection until the dog is calm, that’s on leaving the house or returning.  Poor behaviour such as spinning and yapping is not ignored but neither of us acknowledge the dog (one does this) and we go back in to the house until she calms down.  All dogs have to sit before they get any form of affection or allowed to leave the house.  It may sound a bit hard but it’s basic manners and makes for a calmer house.

Have you come across Beggarbush Foundations, Gundog Training? Ben Randall has put together a series of video clips that one of my friends is using with his young cocker (now 9 months) with great success.  Might be worth having a look.

Offline Woolwitch

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2018, 05:06:50 PM »
Pearly, we have been very on it this week about good manners and behaviour, thank you for your tips. We do generally ignore until he is calm, and always mean to do the humans first rule but somehow fail....however we have restored a bit of order this week by being really focussed on this and it is paying off a little bit, so we are encouraged to go on with it. He has also had lots more brain training, which has made a difference too. I will look into the Beggarbush Foundation too, thanks for the tip :)

Onwards and upwards, hopefully....!


Offline Digger

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2018, 09:55:57 AM »
Hi there. Thought I'd say hi as I have a working cocker of identical age- our first cocker (much harder work than our Springer btw!)
It's interesting reading everyone's experiences on here as they all seem to have their little quirks. So far, we have been lucky in that ours pretty much never barks (so far....)- may be a couple of times a week. However, she is a total thief. You still can't put a bag down or leave anything lying around. We did the leave it command and she will sit there with a treat under her nose for ages until we say take it, but won't 'leave it' with the Lego or anything like that. Exasperating.
With regards to the behaviour in the house, a suggestion. Our pooch (Inca) was really difficult to train obedience wise because she would just get sooo excited she would start jumping and nipping so you had to stop ( she has been a terrible biter too but 99% out of that now) Consequently the training sessions were so short that she has taken a long time to learn stuff and there's still a way to go with manners.
What I have found though is its a good idea to not make the house an exciting place. Ours goes out for two (at least an hour each) walks a day- all off lead, including different terrains, other dogs, whistle work and ball games sometimes down the river for a swim. Outside is massive fun. Guaranteed. We come home and she chills out. Outside is for crazy. Home is for chilling out. I do still do a few sit stays, roll over etc  indoors sometimes but I keep it calm. She knows the drill now and is pretty much calm and quiet in the house in between her walks. If I see her getting a little eggy I distract her with a couple of instructions.  It is so true as so many have said on this site, that it's really hard to teach them not to do something-its much easier to teach them to do something, so maybe when yours is spinning, tell him to do something else- anything-'go and get your teddy and put it in your bed'. Literally anything-just an instruction to break the behaviour. If you can practice that, he'll get in the habit of doing it. I can't believe how routiney cockers are- it's hilarious.
As I write this, mine has just brought me my trainers, which must mean it's about 10 o clock!! Better take her out!
Best of luck with yours-he sounds lovely.

Offline Gazrob

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2018, 09:08:11 AM »
Yeah that's great advice digger. I never play any games in the house with my dog. He's calm most of the time in the house but he does have his moments of craziness mainly my fault I may add as I will sometimes try and get him excited but I'm trying to break that.

Offline Digger

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2018, 11:52:26 PM »
...and then there's your mum!! :005:
Just to empathise with you a bit, Ive got a really frustrating daughter who will come in and not even say hi to the dog so the dog then starts going all jumpy up to get her attention which she then moans about, meanwhile the dog has decided to do her best sit- but gets no reaction-so then a full on down position in complete calm and quiet looking up nicely. No praise! It really winds me up! It's hard enough training a dog without people ignoring how you're trying to do it. At least we are trying to be consistent.
Rant over. ph34r
Ps sorry to Woolwitch if this is a bit off topic but relevant to cocker life I feel ;)

Offline Woolwitch

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2018, 08:51:43 AM »
Digger you are so right about them all having their little quirks - one of the things that has made me feel better is that on this forum you get such a range of issues, and actually even though our cocker has some things we're trying to work on and change, there are so many other undesirable habits/behaviours he doesn't have :) Got to look on the bright side!

The barking and spinning is still happening, but we have been using other commands as distraction as you suggest - it is definitely the way forward to refocus his attention on another activity when he is being a monkey.

Our house is also pretty calm, and the fun is in the park - this has led to (just this week) him starting to bark wildly at me whenever we reach the park and he recognises the sort of areas we use for training (basically any wide open space!). Quite tricky to deal with this, as I can't leave the room, and turning my back on him means he just circles me. I will try some other method -maybe the alternative command thing but he is generally beyond excited at this point and hyper. Maybe putting him back on his lead would work. Anyway, I am sure again that we will get through this phase, and another will take it's place - this is so like having children, just at a much faster developmental pace :)

Thanks Digger - your cocker sounds like a great dog, it's great to hear that she knows to do a calm sit/lie down to get attention!



Offline Digger

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Re: Teenage working cocker
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2018, 10:02:31 PM »
Oooh. Well I am no expert at all but I have some thoughts on that if you want them!:

1) Sounds like yours is trying to manipulate the situation (mine tries this on aaaaalllll the time- little monkey) I reckon it goes hand in hand with their love of routine and also being an insufferable smartypants. Mine will get to the open space on our walk and go 'ah, were going to do  some training and ball now' so then she'll go and do what she thinks I want her to do before I've asked her to do anything. So, we are constantly jostling for position for who is the trainer and who is the trainee! Annoying though it is, I then feel I have to decide to do something else. Much as it is cute, I want her to do stuff because I asked her to, not because she has decided that's what we are doing. I am in charge please. :shades:

2) 're the barking/ spinning in the house: have you tried (and it will drive you mad because we spent half our life doing this when ours was bitey)...but the second he does it, storm out of the room and shut the door behind you. Stay out for one minute. Barking equals - the people disappear. If there are more than one of you in the room, you all have to go. We spent many a ridiculous Saturday night standing in the hall way with a glass if wine looking at each other. Sometimes we would put her in the hallway instead but you get the idea..
It did work for us. Eventually.
I think the general consensus on here is good behaviour= treats and loads of praise; unwanted behaviour= blank the dog

It might help. If not, you can't sue me-I already said I know nothing hahaha!
He is so cute. That definitely makes it worse.