at wits end with springer - advice needed

(27 Posts)
mk39 Thu 27-Dec-12 14:24:14

I bought my 10 year old son a springer spaniel for his birthday four months ago. He's a pedigree and is now 10 months old. He is the most adorable dog i've ever met, very placid and has never once growled when being "cuddled".

He was house trained when we got him and knew basic commands but since moving house a month ago, he's changed. He won't do a thing he's told and constantly barks (but only when im in the house).

We also have a year old cat and he constantly tries to get at him. We have to keep them completely separate 24 hours a day. Cat is petrified of him.

We don't want to find him a new home unless absolutely necessary as we adore him.

Any advice?

InExitCelsisDeo Thu 27-Dec-12 14:26:22

Post in the Dog house. Don't know what effect moving house has had on him but it has obviously done something. Exercise, exercise, exericse with a springer. Tire the bastard out.

BeataNoxPotter Thu 27-Dec-12 14:28:28

Is he getting enough exercise since the house move? At 10 months he's hit adolescence and is testing his boundaries with the barking and ignoring you.

Your vet will be able to recommend a Behaviourist who can work with you to train him.

Floralnomad Thu 27-Dec-12 14:30:24

Can I ask why you got him at 6 months old and why he was available at that age and from where as it may be relevant to his behaviour now. Also at 10 months he's turning into a 'Kevin the teenager' dog ,which is normal . Also how much exercise does he get ?

CajaDeLaMemoria Thu 27-Dec-12 14:33:12

Do you have much experience with Springers?

They are a very high energy breed, and not really the type of dog that tend to be great for children. They need a huge, huge amount of exercise and stimulation. Does he get several walks a day? Mental stimulation?

At 10 months he has just hit adolescence, and he will push his boundaries and defy you. He needs to be constantly tired out, and he'll behave much better. I've known some Springers that are fine with cats and some that can't resist chasing them...you might find that they have to be kept separate if he can't behave himself.

Is he insured? Some insurance will cover the cost of a behaviourist. Ask your vet for recommendations, and go with someone who understands current dog thinking (so not pack leader rubbish, or dominance theory). They will be able to make sure that he's getting enough exercise and stimulation, as well as giving you better ways to control your dog and deal with his naughtiness. It can take trying a few different methods to find one that will work, so a behaviourist will save you a huge amount of stress.

mk39 Thu 27-Dec-12 20:05:48

I got him from a woman who said he was selling him because she was going to work full time.

I work part time. He has a 40 min walk before i go and a 30 min walk when i get back then a 20 min walk before bed. Has loads of chews, kongs etc but has no interest in them. He's now started pooing in the house even if he's just been out.

As you all know between work and kids stuff there arent enough hours in the day. I give him as much attention as i can and he follows me everywhere. Tonight he had the cat by the tail and i had to prise him off. Cats now scared to even come in house.

I have a springer and theres no way he would be happy with that length of walk. He needs to be off lead running to be happy.
We usually walk for an hour off lead or will run offlead for 5 miles or so if I havent got much time.
I agree its probably got a lot to do with age. Mine calmed down a lot at about a year old. They are fantastic family dogs though if exercised enough

mk39 Fri 28-Dec-12 08:09:38

I used to be able to let him off the lead and he loved running around but since we moved he won't obey any commands, noteven in the house so i daren't let him off.

BigusBumus Fri 28-Dec-12 08:15:52

That's your problem then. A springer absolutely needs an hour off lead across fields and woods, twice a day.

Your dog needs more exercise than one and a half hours on lead walking. He needs to be off lead running about - springers are high energy, intelligent dogs.

There is no such thing as a dog who won't do as he's told, rather he has learned that he is allowed to ignore what you are telling him to do. Spend a little time listening to yourself; are you repeating the same commands over and over again before he does anything? Are you telling him to sit without insisting that he does it? Asking him to come without enforcing it?

You must go back to the drawing board and work on one command at at time. I suggest the three which are vital come, sit and wait - re-teach them.

With house training it's back to puppyhood and get him outside every half hour, after every sleep and every game. Reward when he goes in the right place and completely ignore any accidents. It should only take a few days of hard work to put right.

Ignore the problems and they will embed and become more difficult to fix.

I am ignoring the comment about rehoming. It enrages me.

You have a dog who someone has trained, but it appears you have little understanding of how to continue that training. I suggest you find some time to take it to a training class to stimulate that incredible brain and learn how to manage your dog.

SheilaWheeler Fri 28-Dec-12 08:34:29

Our Springer went through this at about 14 months, after I had a two week holiday to visit relatives. He ignored me completely, danced away instead of coming back, generally being a pain in the field. It's taken until now, so about 3 months, to negotiate a deal with him to come back!

Do you use lots of squeaky toys in the field, or frisbees, tennis balls? Mine won't recall for food at all. And will come back once for a toy then hurtle away with it laughing. I now know, that with patience and not stressing, he will eventually bring it back for a game.

Perhaps after the move you have to 'earn' his trust again - after all if you left his home who knows you won't leave him' (in his springer mind).

As for the cat - we have a special voice used for him to leave it - its a bit of a cross between the exorcist and a shouty dinosaur (!) - took a while but he got the message!

Yours is still only a baby. Get help from a good trainer and he will soon be a credit to you!

Will he chase a ball? You could replace the 30 min on lead walk with 30 minutes ball throwing or football kicking in the garden so hes running about, and the 20 minute walk with 20 minutes training, starting with recall. At 10, your son is old enough to do this.

If you could make the 40 minute evening walk a bit longer and offlead once you have worked on the recall it would be a big improvement.

This would actually take up less of your time and wear him out a bit more. I work part time too, have three kids and find it perfectly doable to fit in enough exercise for our springer, but theres no way I could do it if sticking to on lead walks.

mk39 Fri 28-Dec-12 19:40:51

Thanks everyone for advice. Ive always owned labs, never had a springer before. I have booked us into obedience classes in the new year. Hopefully he'll soon be back to the dog he was. Any ideas on how to get him to leave cat alone and how to cure constant barking?

Toearlytobeup - am single parent so cant do long evening walk. Do you think an hours walk morning and afternoon (offlead eventually) with half an hour before bed would be enough? Have tried balls etc but he's not very interested in toys except the frog we use for tug which he adores. Loves food though.

InExitCelsisDeo Fri 28-Dec-12 20:48:15

I think some Springers can manage with less. I used to be anal about my boy having 20 minutes off lead in a morning, an hour off lead at lunchtime and 30 minutes off lead at night, but as he has got older he is happy with less, but only if it is off lead. On lead he is a pain in the arse (and my back and shoulder).

Suprised he doesn't like balls - sniffer springers are trained with a tennis ball. Keep trying - in the summer I sometimes just throw the ball for him in the garden in the evening.

countrykitten Fri 28-Dec-12 21:02:16

We have two rescue springers, one of whom came from a family who had no understanding of what this breed requires. He came with a host of 'issues' one of which was chasing cats. We cured this through a combination of patience and reward and having him on a long line in the house so that any interest in the cat that was over friendly or aggressive could be countered by a tug on the line and a treat when he settled down. He now loves the cats and even grooms them! It did take time though land much love and patience.

Your springer sounds like a teenager as others have said but he also sounds very insecure which is why he may be barking. If I am right you are his second owner and he has moved house too so this is a lot of upheaval for a puppy. He needs lots of positive affirmation and clear boundaries. You might also consider castration at some point - both of ours are done as they are from a rescue and it is recommended for health reasons but may also calm him down a little. I am so glad that you have booked him in to training classes as this will help enormously - they are very bright and very, very active dogs who need a huge amount of mental stimulation. My boys are getting on now but our 13 year old is still happy to run for miles on his walks!

Please put in the time and effort with him now as it will pay huge dividends in the future - these dogs are loyal to the last and make wonderful family friends. Re-homing him should be an absolute last resort and I hope that you do not do so but if you do change your mind then please use a breed rescue such as NWESSR who know what they are doing and know the breed inside out.

Having said all of this I do question the wisdom of buying a puppy of a breed you seem to know little about f(learning fast though I guess!) for your 10 year old son as a birthday present.

countrykitten Fri 28-Dec-12 21:04:37

Sorry - that probably sounded overly harsh. I do a lot of work within animal rescue though and so many poor animals end up there due to being presents that were not thought through properly. I wish you luck with your springie.

We rescued our springer when he was 10 months - we were his 3rd home (4th including breeder.)

It appears that his previous owners were somehow unaware of how much exercise a young springer actually needs. hmm

He was indeed a handful - the rescue centre told us that this was the most common age to give up an energetic dog. Initially he had 4 walks per day with us, with some mega-walks over the moors at weekends. Now he's just 2, and is more than happy to sleep in between 2 long off lead walks per day.

He is gorgeous, very well-mannered and we couldn't be without him. Don't give up; work on the training so that he can run freely - it'll seem like a long, hard slog but in a year or so the hard times will be a distant memory and you'll have a wonderful springery friend!

InExitCelsisDeo Fri 28-Dec-12 21:15:01

My Springer was my first dog. I had broken my foot and could no longer ride, so decided a dog would be a good idea, and a Springer is the only dog that DH would entertain.

I used to cry frequently when we first got him.

I worship the ground he walks on.

When I revert to my usual username you can see him on my profile. I frequently refer to him as Bastardog as he is mad as a box of frogs, but oh what joy he adds to the sum of my existence.

Like Exit I cried lots at first. I thought my life was ruined.

Now I cry get a bit sad when I contemplate life without him one day. sad

He's only 2 ffs. blush

Love him more than I have words for.

InExitCelsisDeo Fri 28-Dec-12 21:33:04

Oh don't Cake My boy is 5. I look at his eyes and cannot remember what life was like before they were there, and cannot imagine what life will be like without them. It is as if they are integral part of my being.

sad sad sad

InExitCelsisDeo Fri 28-Dec-12 21:33:39

And other breeds just don't cut the mustard.

SrirachaGirl Fri 28-Dec-12 21:39:33

I have a 12 month-old Springer and we're going through the adolescent thing too right now. I run for an hour with her in the morning at the off-leash park and then she gets another off-leash walk in the afternoon and a twenty minute on-leash walk In the evening. I try to vary the locations to keep her stimulated and sometimes take her quail dummy to throw which she adores retrieving.
We're also going back to all the training basics to refresh her memory. Liver treats are your friend smile.

I think it's pretty normal for Springers to follow you around the house; if mine was a human I'd have to get a restraining order...she follows me everywhere grin.

I think if you can get him offlead again that would be plenty, its more than mine gets and he is very calm in the house smile

Im not a single parent, but my husband works away from home a lot of the time so I'm in the same position as you.

The dog fits in with me and the kids mainly. We dont do long on lead walks all the time but he comes with us when we are doing other stuff and gets his exercise that way. For example I will drop the kids to an activity and use the hour to go for a run with him, or if my son is playing rugby/football I will throw a ball at the side of the field. We go to playgrounds with space around them so the dog can run while my girls play.

He doesn't care that its not a regular 'walk' all the time as long as it is a good hour when he can run around somewhere different and wear himself out and hes happy to be with us smile

Oh and like the others we really cannot imagine life without him now. My 5 year old was recently bawling because she realised he wont live as long as her and she never wants him to die. He is 18 months old.

They are such fantastic family dogs, so loving and loyal. He will pay you back over and over again for the time you put into training him

InExitCelsisDeo Fri 28-Dec-12 21:51:58

<weeps>

TwoFacedCows Fri 28-Dec-12 22:12:41

OP, you can borrow my bastard psycho dog beating cat if you like?!

The first time my dog and cat met, my cat was munching on one of my other dogs giant knuckle bone things. new dog went over to cat and started growing at him. Cat stopped eating the knuckle bone, turned round and swiped the dog across the chops. He has never ever bothered the cat again wont even walk past him!

mk39 Fri 28-Dec-12 22:53:26

Countrykitten - i should have done my research i know but my mum had just passed away and my son haf always wanted one so i guess it was comfort for us both.

Its my fault really. Ive spoiled him by letting him on my bed, on the sofa, even though people told me not to. I thought he'd pine for his old owner but he
never did, it was as if he'd always been with us. I look at him cuddled up to me and i love him to bits, he always makes me laugh, he's a nutter. Couldn't stand to lose him and my son adores him.

I guess i just couldnt understand why his behaviour had changed all of a sudden. He's had three homes in 10 months so maybe he's unsettled.

SrirachaGirl - whats a quail dummy and i know what u mean. Where i go, he goes

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