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Anyone with experience of working cocker spaniels

(34 Posts)
ClariceBeanthatsme Tue 27-Dec-16 19:59:18

I have a 5 month old working cocker spaniel who is absolutely beyond me. She has been easy to train sit, paw etc and her recall is fantastic but her behaviour at home is unbearable.
No matter how much I exercise her or play games it doesn't calm her down at all. I know this is a tough phase with most pups but she just seems so much worse. She can't just walk calmly anywhere she just sprints around the house like an idiot flying from sofa to sofa stealing anything (we are in double figures for socks stolen, eaten then pooed out)
Please owners of working cockers tell me she will calm down, we have the opportunity to rehome her to a friend who lives on a farm where she would be worked and after meeting her have said she shows all the signs of being good at it.
I really love this dog but can't help thinking she might be happier with a more outdoorsy life out morning until night with a job to do.
Sorry for the ramblings, can any experienced dog owners give any advice I'm torn sad
Thank you

Chickenagain Tue 27-Dec-16 20:11:09

I'm so sorry for you - you have s tough decision to make. Working Cockers are highly energetic dogs - they are bred to be. They can & will stay on the go 24/7. Would your dog be happier with s more outdoor & active lifestyle? Depending on the new owners, undoubtedly... would it make your life easier - yes. If
Ifyou can look a year down the line & imagine how your life will be, with or without him & go from there. He is not at his energy peak yet and it will take a couple more years before he even begins to mature and if he isn't getting lots of exercise, he may develop psychological problems.
If you are able to increase his exercise, his training & keep him occupied he will improve. A kong is a good distraction, crate training as a time out - not as punishment or improdonment and investigate a lower energy diet.
Good luck, an easy decision.

Chickenagain Tue 27-Dec-16 20:14:53

Sorry for the typos! Should have been NOT an easy decision.
* phycological problems including incessant barking & digging, obsessions & food aggression.

momster Tue 27-Dec-16 20:17:04

We have a working cocker. He's almost 11 months and has also been hard work at times. He is however much calmer than he was a few months ago. We take him on 3 walks a day; play lots of hide and seek etc to excercise his mind as well as his body. He has a variety of stimulating toys and we make him "work" for everything so he feels useful. We hide things and ask him to find them etc. It does and will get better if you can get through it. We had moments of wondering what the hell we'd done but can now see the sort of adult dog he'll be. Hope it works out for you

sparechange Tue 27-Dec-16 20:20:52

I agree with the PP

You've bitten off more you can chew with this dog (and breed... resisting the urge to ask you what you were expecting when you got a puppy from a notoriously high energy breed...)

The dog is bored with you and/or isn't getting enough training. As a breed, they have excellent impulse control so should be able to be trained to resist the temptation to pinch socks.

It sounds like this potential new home would be better suited to the dog, and it will be much easier for the new home to get started on working training now than if you hang on for another year and then decide you can't cope

Sorry it's ended this way so soon but you're doing the responsible thing...

mummyflood Tue 27-Dec-16 22:03:30

Sounds like you have a typical spaniel pup on your hands. Did you research spaniels, especially working cockers? They are certainly not for the faint hearted, lol! Lots of people dont realise there are two different strains of cocker which are significantly different - 'working' and 'show', the show strain being lower energy generally.

Echo momsters post. Ours is also 11 months old. He is everything everyone warned us about and that we already expected from our research...mad as a box of frogs, high energy, needs loads of stimulation and company, but is very easy to train, eager to please, affectionate, comical and a spaniel through and through. Wouldnt have him any other way. After a lot of thought we decided on him following a recommendation from a friend who has/had two (having unfortunately now lost one to cancer) her remaining one being six now.

Incidentally it is a spaniel ''thing'' to pinch socks. As is grabbing the nearest item and strutting about with a vigorously wagging rear end to greet any visitor/family member coming downstairs, entering the room, etc. Most spaniel owners find it endearing - spaniels are not in general destructive, they just like to ''acquire'' things.

We also walk ours 3 times a day, two of these are off lead. At the moment this totals approx 2 hours a day. Now he is approaching a year old I am considering looking into agility/advanced training of some sort. To be honest we didnt bother with puppy classes as we found him a dream to teach the basics to ourselves, however if you have a good local one it may be of benefit to you for stimulation/socialisation purposes.

Unfortunately neither I nor any spaniel owner will tell you that she will 'calm down' any time soon, a spaniel is a spaniel forevermore! however from the several cocker owners we now know, they do seem to reach a bit of a plateau at around 18 months or so (once adolescence is well and truly out of the way)

I do hope you work out what is best for all of you, good luck whatever you decide.

hennipenni Tue 27-Dec-16 22:21:42

We have two spaniels, one show and one worker as well as a working lab. All 3 (including the show) are high energy dogs, pinch socks, on the go ALL the time if allowed and are definitely not dogs for the faint hearted. Our saving grace with all 3 is lots of brain games as well as their daily walks and training. They each work for their food (kongs etc) and the workers also go to gun dog classes, the show goes to ring craft, 2 go to flyball and all 3 do agility (2 compete).

None of them are calm dogs but they have been taught to "settle down" and they also have their own spaces away from each other.

With your pup maybe look at some classes for him- not advised to do agility/fly until a year old but obedience will help tire him out, also look at what you are feeding as well.

Good luck with whatever you decide- puppies are hard work.

foofooyeah Tue 27-Dec-16 23:11:30

I had a long chat with someone with a working cocker spaniel today. It was a beautiful dog, very calm and well behaved, but it was 7 years old and was just starting to calm down.
When it was younger they had been walking it 3 _ 4 times a day.
I know I would not gave that much time in my day so if it is too much maybe you should consider your friend. Or if you can devote more time to wearing your dog out am sure it will get better.

Hiawatha64 Wed 28-Dec-16 10:36:39

You poor thing and well done asking for help.
We have a working cocker, a Labrador and a border collie. They were all difficult and the collie is still a work in progress at 5 years!
I would suggest less stimulating activities and more mental activities e.g. Scent work, clicker training etc. I'd also suggest teaching your dog crate games which are fabulous. You can find some online but the Susan Garrett book/DVD (available on Amazon) are brilliant.
It is extremely hard work having a pup but the reward of years of pleasure is worthwhile. Good luck

TrionicLettuce Wed 28-Dec-16 13:01:22

With a very energetic breed like working cockers you'll often find that the more exercise and play you do with them, the more amped up and less settled they get. Rather than trying to wear her out physically (which you won't!!) you need to start working on teaching her an "off switch". This doesn't come naturally to a lot of dogs, particularly those from working breeds/lines. This Kikopup video is the first in a series covering training dogs to be calm and settled at home.

Rather than focusing on physical exercise or play when you interact with her do more to get her brain working as that will help calm her more than either of the former options. There's all sorts you can be doing with her; age appropriate trick training, body awareness exercises, impulse control exercises, scent games, etc.

A decent training class will be absolutely invaluable if there's one you can get her to. You could also look for puppy agility classes which teach the basics for agility like directional commands and contacts in a gentle way appropriate for puppies too young to start full training.

If your friend takes your pup would they keep her on even if turns out not to be a decent worker?

OVienna Thu 29-Dec-16 09:47:12

I think the thing about working breeds that new dog owners don't take in is what Trionic said - exercise energisies them! This is what my aunt and uncle experienced with a working lab. He is now great because he's been given jobs but initially they were prepared for lots of walks but NOT the degree to which the dog wouldn't be tired out at the end of it. They couldnt exhaust him with physical activity. I wouldnt criticise the OP for taking on a high energy breed because I am not convinced this feature is made clear as often as it should be possibly.

Fedupagain1975 Thu 29-Dec-16 11:04:36

Our working cocker spaniel is 4 months and driving me crazy as well! He is really good at home but a nightmare to walk! Eats everything, no recall (he was doing really well but lost it when he discovered digging under our the bushes and now he won't do it at all!) pulls on the lead and gets really excited when he sees other dogs or people or cars!! Ours was a combination of not researching properly and been told by the breeder that they make lovely family pets and as long as they are walked twice a day and run around the garden, they would be fine! Have to say as a first dog this is not the best breed as we are really struggling and the nipping is bad too. Sorry no advice to add just wanted to let you know you are not the only one! Will be looking into everyone's suggestions! Thanks!

ClariceBeanthatsme Thu 29-Dec-16 12:10:18

Thank you everyone for the replies it has given me alot to think about.
TrionicLettuce thank you so much for that link. I have been using the calming techniques shown in the video and what a difference. I had a lightbulb moment watching it. I thought she needed tiring out more with exercise and games but what she needed bless her, was to learn to be calm. She seems happier already and I will keep on with the calming techniques.

Fedupagain1975 our bitting and nipping stage was horrendous too I thought she was being aggressive with us but it has almost stopped and she's 22 weeks now so hang in there not long now smile
I read the mouthy nippy stage in spaniels is always a little worse than other breeds.

Shriek Thu 29-Dec-16 13:02:17

The calming /settling work pays huge dividends and brings them back under your management where they will be less adrenalised /stressed.

I do think there is a lot of onus on a new ddog owner to do their research and just believe what one breeder says but to speak to many and visit breed shows to speak to tgose with most experience of that nreed so they really do go in with eyes fully open and with some tools and techbiques not to mention expectations of whats to come.

Mouthiness lots of snapping and sharp biting is very common in working litters like spaniels labs etc. I wrote 'shark' biting by mistake before correcting it back to 'sharp' but actially its very appropriate!

SweetLathyrus Thu 29-Dec-16 18:17:24

I have a two year old wcs, and don't think I could have any other breed - BUT he is not without his 'issues'. I researched for a very long time before I decided between a working and a show, but even after that, he was a bit of a shock. Whilst everyone else's dogs trot calmly beside them, unless SweetDog has a job, he is a git. The job might be walking circles (agility basics), or 'looking' at me, or other training - they cannot just be 'walked'. And even then, once in a while he will get the red mist and refuse recall (have you ever seen a spaniel flick the middle finger? Mine can). So at the moment he is on a training line and a strict regime of brain games. But, at home, he knows (mostly how to be calm). Socks and other items are only ever stolen as swaps - never chewed. This started as a puppy, we swapped for things we didn't want him to have , so now he steals and parades his prize if he fancies a snack!

But as others have said, exercise just makes them fitter - you will not wear out a wcs with exercise alone - you need to work their brain cell.

I hope the calming techniques help you to stay together and if you need more advice, join a forum like Coker Crazy on Facebook

SweetLathyrus Thu 29-Dec-16 18:26:47

Oh and I should also say, he does not have so much as a piece of kibble he does not work for. He doesn't have a bowl, I feed exclusively by hand for jobs done - or he has to 'find his food hidden around the house or garden.

Cherrysoup Thu 29-Dec-16 19:04:06

Well done for exploring options rather than ending up with a frustrated 'naughty' dog. We have a spaniel like this, boy have we had a roller coaster!

Are you any closer to a solution?

Pogmella Thu 29-Dec-16 21:10:40

Our Wcs is a year old now. I find giving her space/enforcing naps helped a lot. Enforcing a set routine of walk/food/nap in the mornings at least, and using her crate if she wouldn't nap of her own accord. We were still using a puppy pen at 5months to give her a safe space if she did start looking like she was going to jump all over the sofa. We also did a lot of training classes until about 8months to socialise/stimulate.

Pogmella Thu 29-Dec-16 21:12:01

Oh and what are you feeding her?

GriG Sun 28-Jan-18 14:09:15

Have only just registered and seen your message. Presumably you have resolved your problem one way or another. Hint for a clue - Working Cocker. The dog needs to be worked, they are not house pets nor are any other working dogs, unless retired or from the rescue.

flippit81 Sun 28-Jan-18 17:00:12

Working cockers make excellent pets- they just need help to fit into family life. We got a dog trainer round to our house and it was the best £30 we spent. It helped us to see what we needed to do at home to make him behave .We had all the problems you describe but we are moving positively with him now. It's take a lot of time and effort but it's been worth it.

GriG Sun 28-Jan-18 17:14:35

Missing the point, they are working dogs!

GriG Sun 28-Jan-18 17:17:00

A bit like training a lion in a circus, they will adapt but that is not their life.

BiteyShark Sun 28-Jan-18 17:33:03

GriG working cockers can be pets. My dog likes to bounce around in undergrowth (flushing), hunting and retrieving which is all work to him. The only difference is that he is my pet as I have no intention of doing field trials or hunts.

GriG Sun 28-Jan-18 18:03:44

Flushing and retrieving exactly what?! Don't even bother answering! WORKING COCKER !!

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