Cocker Specific Discussion > Puppies

New and a bit overwhelmed!

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Katrina:
Hi all!
I'm Katrina and I brought our new puppy Oscar home last week. He's a beautiful little Red cocker, 13 weeks old now and he's so cuddly and friendly. He's doing lots of new puppy stuff which I can see from other posts is pretty standard stuff... digging up the garden, eating grass/moss, trying to chew everything in sight... 

We've never had a dog before and I thought we had done our research but man are we exhausted!!!

He sleeps all night and is doing pretty well with toilet training so far. He's been outside for everything all day yesterday and so far today. He automatically sits when he thinks a treat is coming and I feel like he has such potential to be a delightful doggy!

However, I'm still struggling a bit. We have two kids (11 & 5) so the house is active and noisy. Oscar is really struggling to settle down to get some sleep whilst we're all around in the day. And then when he's over tired he really is a nightmare... just grabbing, air snapping, running everywhere and biting (just nipping really) if we try to stroke him and help calm him down. I dont want him to keep getting in this state... but I cant just stop family life to sit with him quietly (when I can I do and he settles well with me in the room, but if my 5 yo comes in to ask something, or there's chatter and movement he's up again). He does have a crate and sleeps well there at night, but in the day just wants to be with us all the time and won't rest. Any tips to help him get some rest??

We're all getting a bit anxious about his sleep/ over tired state and my 5 yo is often in tears when he's like this which adds to the stress.

We're trying a routine of in crate every couple of hours for about an hour-ish. He needs to wee every two hours. He always gets treats and fun stuff in his crate and seems to like it there. He goes in by himself sometimes and we're training in/out with treats.

Can anyone help please?

Ben's mum:
Hi Katrina I feel your pain 💕 George is 13 weeks and exactly the same.  He is our third cocker though and I know lots of people with cocker pups over the years so although it is exhausting this bit I was prepared for it (sort of)  when they lunge snarling and snapping itís hard to remember the cute puppy pictures in the books 🤣 it does get better and it is so worth it in the end xx

The grabbing and biting hurts doesnít it and in the evening when you are tired anyway it is such hard work!
Some of the things we find help:
Training with a clicker but not fetch or tugging games. We have done basics like sit, down, paw, touch with his nose etc things he has to think about they make him work and he is sleepy afterwards
We have a range of the brain games to find food and alternate them so he has different ones
Give him his tea in a snuffle mat so he is busy and working for his food
We have just given him his first puppy antler to chew that keeps him busy and his teeth clean. But I always swop it for something nice to take it away after a while so he doesnít guard it.
We also have an anco root to chew on
Some days this works and there are some days he has a blast of biting even if we have tried all this so he has time out but normally only a few minutes at a time till he calms down.

If all else fails we just let him rampage round for a few minutes while we sit with our feet off the floor so he canít reach us and nip them and when he realises he is not getting any attention he calms down.
Hopefully this stage wonít last too long xx

Katrina:
Hi Ben's mum,

Sounds like you're doing such a fab job! Thanks for the reassurance - it's good to hear that this won't last forever. I've had a few teary moments wondering whether we've made a huge mistake. But we all love him so much!

Do you train all those basics at once? I dont know whether we're supposed to be focusing on certain things at a time or just going for a few different ones and hoping he picks it up (or... more realistically... hoping I can recall them!)

It's a great idea to focus on training in the evening to calm him and wear him out too. My 11 yo would love to be involved too so that sounds perfect. I just need him to be calm enough to be listening!

Thanks for the snuffle mat idea too, my youngest would really enjoy hiding his tea in it  :D

Ben's mum:
Hi Katrina
How much you teach Oscar each time depends on how food motivated he is and his attention span. George is totally obsessed with his food so it makes life easier and I use his whole evening meal portion for training and brain games.
I always start with sit itís the easiest and I use a clicker.
I aim to do enough training so that he is tired but not too much so he gets board or frustrated and always end on a high !

We did sit and down for the first day or so, but I started at 8 weeks as soon as he came home, then added something new every couple of days so he has quite a repertoire now 😊 
So one handful of food is our evening tea
Some goes into snuffle mat, that takes about 5 mins
I would do 5 mins toys that hide the food inside
About 10 mins actual clicker training
Then the brushing game 🤣 so I still use the clicker but really calm and gentle with a puppy brush start to brush his back click and a treat, brush his ears click another treat, I work all over it takes about another 5 mins touching his paws and between his toes (click and treat )
Lift each ear etc etc to George itís the relaxing end to a game but it is getting him used to being handled and touched everywhere, very useful for keeping feet and everywhere tidy and trimmed. He is reasonably sleepy by the time we finish.
At this stage I keep the treats just quite plain like puppy biscuits, saving things like chicken or liver cake for harder situations like practicing Ďgiveí when you are outside and the stakes are higher 🤣 or recall outside.
Oh yes give is really useful, you can get them to spit out most boring stuff like socks, shoes, paper, leaves etc on the give command in exchange for a biscuit.
Hope that helps a bit xx

Katrina:
Thank you so much! This is so, so helpful and has given me hope that we can really get started on some of these skills.

I think we have a reasonable start to "sit" and toileting is still going well. I'm going to treat recall today and get his favourite treat out for "give" (cheese!) 

I'm going to go and get a clicker today - I've been praising with "good boy" and giving treats which does work. But I've done some Google games and can see why a clicker might well be a better/faster option. He absolutely loves his food and eats everything in sight... he can smell a treat a mile away and after a wee goes to sit in the kitchen by the cupboard the treats are on!  I can see how helpful this is going to be!!

Thanks again - it's so good of you to share your experience with me! I really appreciate it!!! Xx

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