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Puppy woes

(9 Posts)
CatInADoghouse Fri 19-Jul-19 15:58:11

We have a 5 and half month old spaniel puppy and I'm really struggling to see how things will get better. A bit of a back story...I'm going back to work soon but only part time after a year of maternity leave. We talked about getting a dog eventually but I wasn't keen on the idea. We've got our hands full with our 1yo and I didn't feel like it was the right time especially not for a puppy! Also, I hate to admit on the doghouse board but I'm more of a cat person.

DH arrived home one day with this 8 week old puppy. Not ideal but he knew that I'd love her as soon as I saw her. At first it wasn't too bad. She has managed to pick up going to do her business outside fairly quickly. We had at first worked on basics with her to sit, wait for food, heel and recall by voice and whistle. All seemed to be going well. I had read though that they will start to challenge you and this seems to have started about 2 weeks ago.
She refuses to walk to heel anymore but will just pull like hell on the lead. It's horrible taking her anywhere she has to be on a lead. We've bought her a harness but I'm worried that it won't teach her not to pull. It doesn't matter what high prize food treat we have she will briefly walk to heel for a treat and then start to pull like mad again. Could we be doing anything differently?

We always make it fun and a massive treat when she is recalled but she has just started to ignore us. She was very good up to the point.
We will recall a few random times on a walk so she doesn't associate it with being put on her lead and the fun being over. Is this something that they all do but will get better? Is there anything else we could be doing?

I know I'm probably expecting too much of her too soon but I just want to do the best for her now that she is here. Please tell me this adolescent phase will be over soon! It's only just started and I'm worried about coping through it. Any helpful tips and advice would be great!

Just to add that she gets at least 3 x 1 hour walks per day as a minimum where she can run off the lead and her afternoon walks at the weekend are always a lot longer.

rookiemere Fri 19-Jul-19 16:06:16

I can't believe your DH did that, presumably you're the one doing all the looking after of the dog.

Just wanted to say that's too much walking for a 5 month old puppy , their bones are forming and they shouldn't be overwalked or will create joint problems in future. Half hour max walks at that age.

Apart from that behaviour sounds entirely normal.

longearedbat Fri 19-Jul-19 16:14:00

Yes, far too much walking. Very bad for young joints. Dogs need to learn to chill out and relax as well, and yours sounds over stimulated.
Not a good way to acquire a dog, but you have, so you can only crack on and do your best. Sounds like puppy classes would be a good idea. Other than that the behaviour is totally normal.

BiteyShark Fri 19-Jul-19 16:45:28

I have a working cocker spaniel and unfortunately if she is anything like mine was you are in for challenging behaviour until about 1 year old.

Firstly spaniels are hunting dogs so they typically put their noses to the ground and zig zag about so are notorious for being a pain in the arse to walk nicely on the lead. Mine wasn't in the slightest bit interested in food on a walk. I could put a steak in front of his nose but all he cared about was picking up a scent rather than eating 'treats'. The best method I found was doing to stop start technique to stop most of the pulling.

Mine also hit the teenage period around the age of 6 months when we totally lost recall. He was at his worst at 8-9 months of age but things started to slowly improve around 10-11 months of age.

You need to work with her to find out what motivates her. For spaniels it's typically hunting so look up some gundog techniques and start teaching her how to hunt out balls and other things on a walk. Stop walking her so far as all you will do is make her fitter and it won't tire her out. Maybe also look up scentwork training as again it plays to the breeds strength and will help with her looking to you for instructions rather than doing her own thing.

CatInADoghouse Fri 19-Jul-19 16:46:59

Thank you! I didn't think about her being over stimulated by the walks. We were advised about a month ago to start increasing her walks to help her tire her out since she's from working parents and seems to have so much energy. She wouldn't settle during the day. This was from the friend of DH she came from but he's not an official dog trainer. Just has quite a few working dogs.
We'll definitely be decreasing them! Her poor little bones and joints! We've probably made the settling issue worse by over stimulating her more.

It's good to know that the rest is normal!

CatInADoghouse Fri 19-Jul-19 16:51:12

@BiteyShark thank you! She's a working cocker too. I'll have a look into all of your suggestions. We definitely need to be looking along those lines with her.

BiteyShark Fri 19-Jul-19 16:51:13

Look up some gundog trainers. I went to gundog training for the first year and you really do start to understand what makes them tick which helps to work their brains.

In fact it was the trainers that told me to cut out the traditional walks and start working him so he had to find balls. They also helped with recall and general retrieving skills.

AgathaF Fri 19-Jul-19 17:06:41

She needs mental stimulation to tire her, not walks. Have a look at games to play on the www for ideas, or there are some great books out there. As others have said, 3 hours of walking per day, even split up, is far too long for her at this age.

Have you tried a halti head collar for the pulling?

rookiemere Fri 19-Jul-19 20:01:06

What are your plans for the dog when you go back to work ?

I feel for you it will be harder when you're tired from work and your DC will want and need your time and attention. Your DH has really been very selfish in getting the dog - particularly by getting a breed that 5 minutes of reading would have told him needs quite a lot of stimulation and things to do.

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