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Think I've made a mistake.advice please.

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


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?

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.

TooOldForGlitter Fri 15-Nov-13 20:34:44

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!

TooOldForGlitter Fri 15-Nov-13 21:11:43

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.

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