Think I've made a mistake.advice please.

(41 Posts)
Whatdog Wed 13-Nov-13 22:40:36

Hi,

Really would appreciate some thoughts. Lost our old, easy going mongrel a couple of months ago, and the doc were desperate for another dog, especially as they've only ever had an older dog.
I'd been looking at different breeds, and finally decided in a working cocker. Went to look at one two nights ago, last one in litter, very timid, but relaxed and very sweet after I sat with it a while. Sellers offered o let me try it at home to see if he picked up and if he was good with the kids.

Anyway, he is very good with me and the dc, but very nervous with new people, and growled at one today. He's 13 weeks and not been socialised prior to coming here.

He is on the whole very sweet, but not very active - he's starting to play but not a huge amount.

My other concern is that whilst I'm a SAHM at the moment, with the amount of exercise he will need, it will really restrict me getting any job in the future ( which I know I should have considered before now).

My oldest dc likes him a lot, my middle dc loves him, and my youngest isn't so keen.

I'm really asking what I should do - send him back to the farm I got him from tomorrow, or stick with and hope for the best?

Whatdog Wed 13-Nov-13 22:49:07

I've got to decide tonight, partly because the dc are in love, but also tomorrow is when I was going to officially buy him.

Whatdog Wed 13-Nov-13 23:01:10

Please help

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Wed 13-Nov-13 23:02:57

If you're not ready I'd say no for the moment. Your children will just have to understand. A dog really deserves a bit more commitment than that, which you obviously realise, and you don't sound like you're quite there yet.

It's still quite early. See how you feel after a bit more time.

Whoknowswhocares Wed 13-Nov-13 23:03:44

13 weeks? That's pretty old to still be awaiting a new home if the breeder is sound and recommended. The best ones will have a waiting list for a litter, not have pups left behind. Also a reputable breeder would have been socialising the pup if there was good reason for it being with them still at that age.
The cynic in me says that pup is quite likely to have been returned once already.
Your gut feeling is unlikely to be wrong. If you think you've made a mistake, you probably have. Sorry.

fruitpastille Wed 13-Nov-13 23:04:35

I think you know what you want to do. Send him back if you ard feeling unsure imo. Not an expert though but know living with a growling dog is not relaxing!

bluebirdwsm Wed 13-Nov-13 23:11:42

Pup does not sound well balanced and confident, for whatever reasons [maybe homed before and returned, and certainly not socialised properly].

I think your instinct to be worried is right, there is something to worry about and you would know if you were completely happy with a dog.

Take your time in choosing and feeling comfortable with your educated, thought out choice. I think you've rushed in a bit too soon.

LadyTurmoil Wed 13-Nov-13 23:26:34

From my limited experience, doesn't sound a good idea to take on a nervous pup, having heard similar stories that nervous pups turn into nervous adult dogs who need a lot of work. With children, perhaps work in the future, I would reconsider. Also, although many people are hesitant of rescue dogs, one that has been fostered in a family environment, slightly older with basic training, might be a better bet for your family situation.

Whatdog Wed 13-Nov-13 23:29:12

Thank you for your thoughts. I knew at the time I was not making a sensible decision- lots and lots of red flags. Trouble is, he is lovely with me and my older two dc, and is playing away happily as I type. I guess I am just very worried he'll end up as a neurotic dog, and we'll have that stress in our lives for the next 12 years or so.

Whatdog Wed 13-Nov-13 23:31:31

If he was grumpy with us it would be an easy decision, but he's been incredibly gentle with the kids( apart from biting the youngest one's pony tail, and trying to get her socks off.

CoolStoryBro Thu 14-Nov-13 02:32:56

I have a dog who adores us, and kind of likes a very limited amount of other people. He absolutely HATES everyone else. Having a fear aggressive /neurotic/whatever dog is not easy. I have friends who work for shelters that have frequently told me that people rehome their dogs for far less reason than we deal with.

If you are going to keep him, get out and socialise him right now. Every single day get him out there and let those puppy loving dog walkers touch him, stroke him and make him feel at ease. Take him to Petco (or whatever it is in the UK), the dog park (if it's safe), wherever people who like dogs (and love puppies!) are.

It's not impossible to keep him but it is a bit of a tiring exercise. You will spend the rest of their lives being vigilant for any aggressive behaviour. I think if he hadn't been our first ever dog, I would have sent him back. But he was the first ever dog and I felt that I would have failed the children if I hadn't made it work. And now, I wouldn't be without my completely neurotic bunch of fluff.

CoolStoryBro Thu 14-Nov-13 02:35:12

Also, I should add, our dog is 12 lbs and his head is no higher than my knee. He couldn't do any real damage if he tried. I think I would think differently if it was a more poweful, stronger dog.

Whatdog Thu 14-Nov-13 05:09:16

Haven't slept and feeling sick. Pretty sure I'm going to return him. My dd is going to be devastated.

Whatdog Thu 14-Nov-13 08:20:43

Bump for more advice

MonstersBalls Thu 14-Nov-13 08:28:28

I'm no expert but surely at 13 weeks his character is not set in stone. Could you get him assessed by a behaviouralist and see if he can be trained out of his anxieties at new people?

Don't be pressurised into making this important decision. Either your breeder has someone else already lined up, in which case pass the pup over with no qualms, or else tell the breeder you need more time to assess the dog.

Tiredemma Thu 14-Nov-13 08:36:35

Working Cockers are very 'clever' dogs. I think even at 13 weeks you will have a chance to 'train' and mould into an ideal 'family dog'. We have a working cocker- she is hard work because of her nature (wants to explore etc etc), but she is equally a very loving dog.

Trying to get your DD's socks off? thats quite normal- that still happens in this house and Belle is 2 now.

I personally wouldnt give up just yet- get her out on walks, socialise her.

I got my working cocker at 13mths she was totally unsocialised and a total nightmare TBH. Back to basics and lots of training later and she is a lovely easy dog now still steals and eats socks though

Tiredemma Thu 14-Nov-13 08:51:34

I think the 'stealing' thing is a WC trait.

To date we have lost-
A small speaker
A baby G shock watch (childs)
A baby G Shock watch (adult- found buried in the garden though)
A brand new gum shield
lots of baby dummies (again though, all found 'buried- not consumed thankfully)
Most embarrassingly- a few pairs of my knickers, found by the window cleaners behind the bin in the garden
too many socks to count.

Lovely dogs though.

Whoknowswhocares Thu 14-Nov-13 08:53:54

It all boils down to your tolerance of the risk.
You may find that the pup develops her confidence and becomes the perfect pet. Not by magic obviously, but with a LOT of hard work for you!

What you need to work out is how it would impact you and your family if he grew up to be a bigger version of what he is now. Sort of worst case scenario. Are you prepared to live with a nervous, possibly aggressive (with fear) dog for the rest of its life and manage his fears?
If not, it isn't fair to you or the dog to keep him.

JaxTellerIsAllMine Thu 14-Nov-13 08:58:30

I have a 20wk WC he is lovely, slightly timid with strangers who 'leap' on him, but friendly, loving, funny and fine with other dogs. We have socialised him since he was tiny, every day, every situation imaginable.

He is also a fabric stealing loon. Boxer shorts, towels, pants, bra! His most favourite is socks. The stinkier the better. They get sucked and chewed. Gross. Wouldnt be without him though and he ADORES my GSD and the feeling is mutual between them. It is very sweet to see. My big, scary shep not really fast asleep with the choccie cocker on top of him/curled into him.

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Thu 14-Nov-13 10:24:21

I have very little experience, being a first-timer, but ArseDog was much like that when he came to us at 8 weeks. He was nervous of some people (though he had been well socialised), very nippy and a terrible thief! But very quickly (a couple of weeks?) he got used to us all and we soon realised that the biting was part of puppy play. If he nibbled too hard we'd shout: "Ow" very loudly so he soon got out of the habit. Ours loved pulling socks off too, and though aged 2.5 he no longer does that, he will occasionally sneak a sock off the washing line and hide it under his chin on his bed.

I'd be inclined not to take him back but to resign yourself to the fact that for the next 6 weeks you'll need patience and time to do plenty of training. I'd agree with the poster above who said his character is unlikely to be set in stone as yet.

The work/exercise thing is another matter though. I can't help with that, I'm afraid. I work FT but DH's work schedule is very changeable. He primarily works from home but on the days that he is away, I work ArseDog for an hour at 6am before getting the DCs up and out for school and heading off to work. Then the lovely dog lady picks him up around 10.30 and he's with her for a couple of hours until she drops him home, and the first DC is back from school by 4pm. That works for us a couple of times a week anyway.

Booboostoo Thu 14-Nov-13 11:09:28

A working line puppy is an odd choice for a family pet. A nervous puppy is a gamble. A nervous puppy which has not been socialised at 13 weeks (your window of opportunity closes at 14 weeks, 16 weeks at a push) is a huge gamble. You won't really know what kind of problems he has until he is about 18 months old but he will have problems you will need to overcome. Walk away now while you can.

By all means get a pup, but find a breed suitable for family pets, a breeder who breeds for temperament and keeps the pups in a family home until about 8 weeks and then put a lot of work into socialising until 14 weeks. It's not a guarrantee of a well adjusted dog but it's a much better bet than what you describe.

RunDougalRunQuiteFast Thu 14-Nov-13 11:41:26

If you do decide to keep him, check with your vet if they do puppy socialising classes - ours do. Pups go along and meet other dogs and owners, little bit of basic training etc.

Floralnomad Thu 14-Nov-13 11:45:22

Our puppy was 15 weeks (ish) when we got him from Battersea ,he has issues with other dogs but is a perfect family pet so I do think its perfectly possible to 'mould' an older puppy .We think ours had missed the early socialising with other dogs as he has no idea how to behave with dogs despite me taking him to puppy classes and training. Without sounding mercenary are you getting this puppy at a reduced cost ?

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Thu 14-Nov-13 13:30:34

How's it going Whatdog?

If you're prepared to put the work in and realise that he's a big commitment for a while, it is perfectly doable. Depends on you, really.

Let us know how it goes either way.

By the way, my dog is a working cocker and he's wonderful. Working breeds do tend to want a lot of exercise though.

mrslaughan Thu 14-Nov-13 17:07:07

Why did you want a working cocker in particular? from everything I know of them, that is a high maintenance choice to start with.....

Then the behavioural stuff is a gamble.

Having said that we got our dog at 5 months...but we knew he had been socialised, but the first few times I walked him he growled at other dogs - it scared the bejesus out of me (he is a giant breed). I think the reason for this was two fold - I was stressed and nervous, and that transmitted too him, and secondly he had had his life turned upside down, and was used to being walked with other dogs. He is the best family dog we could ask for, he is also the softest with other dogs.

picnicinthewoods Thu 14-Nov-13 17:23:02

What did you decide to do?

We have a 21 week old GR who has been timid from day one. We have come a long way (at least he doesn't shake constantly when we're out) but he still growls at the kids sometimes and he is still frightened of people without dogs. We are going down the behaviourist route.

If you haven't committed to him yet, then take him back. You already sounds very doubtful, that is not a good start. Unless you are a supremely confident dog person, be kind to yourself and save yourself a lot of heartache.

Vibbe Thu 14-Nov-13 18:29:46

My parents have a working spaniel, I have a show cocker. I would never ever get a working spaniel unless I wanted to use the dog for hunting or other work it was bred for.

Working spaniels are lovely dogs, but they are hard work. They require so much exercise and training, and without it, they become hard to deal with.
My parents' dog is now around 7 years old, and she still needs hours and hours of exercise and training every day - if she doesn't get the exercise needed, she's absolutely awful in the house.

I've trained my dog in the same way my parents trained their dog. But my dog is happy with 30-45 minutes of training a day, and is fine if we skip training for a day or two.
My parents are shocked that the difference is so big - they told me not to get a spaniel at all because their dog is such hard work (and they have no kids at home anymore). They dog-sat my dog for a couple of weeks and they found her to be so incredibly easy compared to their own dog.

I would - in your situation - take the dog back. If you really want a dog, I really would recommend not to get a working spaniel unless you're determined to spend the time training and exercising the dog as much as it needs - and it can really be a lot.

JumpingJackSprat Thu 14-Nov-13 18:35:31

I wouldn't get a puppy that old if it hasn't been socialised.

Whatdog Thu 14-Nov-13 22:59:48

Well, thanks for all your replies. I spent the day discussing it with various friends, and letting him play with all their dogs and he was really good. The growling that he did was in situations that most pups would have found threatening. He's been great with the kids too. My plan is to keep him, and spend the next few weeks arranging as many group walks as possible, and see how he gets on. The change in him has been huge just in the few days we've had him, so I do think there is a good chance we can get past this. I'm a sahm, so my plan is train and train, including classes.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Fri 15-Nov-13 00:55:25

Oh that's lovely Whatdog! I'm actually quite pleased for you. smile

Hang around on Mumsnet, there's loads of good advice on here. Keep us informed on how it goes!

Oh and Vibbe,

My parents' dog is now around 7 years old, and she still needs hours and hours of exercise and training every day - if she doesn't get the exercise needed, she's absolutely awful in the house.

Really? Jee-sus! That is one high maintenance dog! Is there something wrong with it? An hours exercise or training a day for a small spaniel is plenty! God your poor parents. grin

Booboostoo Fri 15-Nov-13 08:28:39

Good luck OP! Getting him to training classes asap is a really good plan and see if there is anyone around you who also trains in a 'natural' environment, e.g. walks in cities and rural areas, so that he sees as much as possible.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme that sounds pretty normal to me for a working dog. The people I know who have working strains of spaniels, labs, collies, GSDs, etc. all actually work them, so they do spend a lot of time during the day training/working with their dogs. A collies is a relatively small dog, but a working collie will be out on the farm from sunrise to sunset working in all weathers which is difficult to replicate in a city environment. All the people I know who've had working spaniels were farmers/lived ruraly and were very involved with the shoots, so they were out everyday training.

Floralnomad Fri 15-Nov-13 09:00:08

I have friends who have a working cocker as a pet ( I think they got him by mistake ) ,he doesn't get vast amounts of exercise and he's not too bad in the house .

Vibbe Fri 15-Nov-13 13:54:25

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Nope, there's nothing wrong with the dog. She's bred for working/hunting and therefore she has a lot of energy. That's the whole point of working dogs - they need to be able to be out in the field all day without getting too tired to do their job. It's completely normal for a working dog to be like that - I've met several working dogs and their owners and they all say the same.
At home, she's lovely if she's been exercised well, but if not, she'll be destructive and annoying - stealing things, ripping newspapers into tiny bits, scraping on the carpets and in her bowl, bringing her bowl with food into other rooms then spreading the food all over the floor.

The dog is walked 3-4 times a day, as my parents (and I for that matter) think that walks are better for the dog than just being let into the garden. Then there's the exercising - it's many hours of going to the beach/fields/parks where they train retrieving and so on. And then riding the bike with the dog running next to it. It's every single day.

My show cocker is happy with 30-45 minutes of training/exercise/playing with dogs, as well as the 3-4 walks a day. But she isn't bred for working all day, so her energy levels are much different.

JaxTellerIsAllMine Fri 15-Nov-13 17:00:12

hmm - there is such a thing as too much exercise for dogs. It can make them crazy, highly strung, high maintenance. Possibly the case for your parents Vibbe.

The best thing you can do OP is get into good training classes, reward, fun classes. It will do wonders for your dog, for your self esteem and your bond with the dog. And you need to need to do training every single day. Even just 5 minutes here and there, it helps.

Good luck, there is plenty of working cockers in the doghouse. grin

Vibbe Fri 15-Nov-13 18:33:36

JaxTellerIsAllMine I doubt that it's the case with the dog. If she's well-exercised, she's awesome at home. During the day, when my parents are working, she's perfectly fine - she's not crated, not destructive and doesn't cause any kind of problems. And she doesn't bark or howl.
But if she has not been exercised (which my dad does after work and after dinner), she's annoying until she gets exercised.

My dad has always been very careful with the amount of training and has always been very keen on the softer methods of training. He has changed training classes because the trainer was too harsh on the dogs. The dog was bought and trained for working it in the field, but he has never pushed the dog to the point that you are describing. He has at all times been aware of not over-working the dog.

It is a very good working dog with working dog parents/grandparents that are just the same as she is - and the rest of the litter is exactly the same. She's bred to be like this.

My last dog was a b collie from working lines (though he was a rescue, we didnt have him from a pup). Our circs were very different then and I had six hours a day devoted to the dog. We ran 15 or so miles a day, (was I really that fit, ha not now!), obedience trained, agility trained and he was a flyball champ. He could have done the whole lot thrice over each day and still gone more. A working dog not 'worked' can be an utter nightmare so Vibbe clearly isnt exaggerating! (sp?)

So happy I found greyhounds grin

Booboostoo Fri 15-Nov-13 21:01:46

Try a Husky for insane exercise requirements. They can literally do a 6 mile run pulling a slay and still be up for more!

Once you've had greyhound you never look back grin.

The foster home our grey was at backed onto another huge country pile house, they had two wolf hybrids. Apparently you can pay to go walking in the woods with them and doing all kinds of strenuous activities! Cumbrian wolf walking or something on google. They were beautiful but my god, the exercise! <faints>

mrslaughan Fri 15-Nov-13 22:25:17

Just remember, that like a baby he needs time out and time to sleep.

He also needs to learn he won't be constantly exercised, and entertained.....even (especially) a working dog needs to be able to just chill and wait.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Fri 15-Nov-13 23:06:04

My dog is a working gun dog. He has an hour or two of walks a day. He doesn't need training every day, he's already trained. And when I say already trained, I mean it. We can do no working for ages, take him out with a gun and he will sit on the peg and go and pick up whatever I shoot. He's brilliant. smile

He's a clever little dog and doesn't need constantly reminding of what to do. We don't shoot all year but we do go out quite a lot and he's just such a reliable dog. My DPil borrows him sometimes and he works just as well for him. We don't really brush with him much, he's getting on a bit now and it's too much excitement for him (he had fits as a puppy), but he's the best little peg dog ever. Yes working dogs need lots of working and time with their handler but it shouldn't be a full time job. Some people say the less time together the better as it makes them keener to work for you. I'm not sure I agree with that! smile

And he is also from pedigree working stock with FTCH parents and several generations back. They are bred for their quality, ability and bloodline, not bred to be bloody hard work, and if I had one that was as time consuming and as much a pain in the arse as Vibbe describes I'm afraid I probably wouldn't be furthering that line. That sort of high level maintenance and time consumption isn't ideal in a working dog. Especially if you have lots of working dogs.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now