Spaniel to me!

(17 Posts)
Unmumsyme Thu 26-Dec-19 19:17:56

...about what my expectations should be for my 18mth old rescue spaniel. We’ve worked so, so hard over the last few months and she’s doing really well in so many areas BUT....recall in exciting sniffy areas is definitely not instant 😬. I know she’s doing what comes completely naturally - flushing all the undergrowth, sniffing every blade of grass, but I just don’t know how much to trust her in areas that we don’t know well. I’m pretty sure she knows exactly where we are and stays within ‘range’ buuuuuuut...I’d like a quicker response.

When we’re indoors or in less exciting places she’s incredibly responsive. I suppose I’m nervous as our family spaniels used to disappear completely (little training mind you).

Do I accept that wandering, zooming, flushing etc comes as part of the spaniel package and give her a bit more leeway or prevent her from practising it?!

OP’s posts: |
BiteyShark Thu 26-Dec-19 19:29:46

I have a working cocker. I spent many months battling with recall until I accepted what a gundog trainer had told me which was:-

1. Never let them go far from you. They are bred to work closely so once they are a distance away forget it as you have no control.

2. Forget the traditional walk. Physical exercise can be obtained in your back garden. Outside in countryside you need to work them rather than walk them. We 'chase' balls and hunt them in the undergrowth.

Once I accepted the above we have great recall. He doesn't wander off and we can walk past deer and rabbits and he won't chase them because I 'work' him (not in exact gundog way but we have put that knowledge into practice to make it work for us).

You need to work with their instincts not against them. Do you have any gundog trainers near you?

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Thu 26-Dec-19 19:40:27

I second the advice from Bitey to see a gundog trainer. And in the meantime, do loads of recall practice and make it fun and rewarding: crouch down, open your arms, scatter a few treats near your feet, loads of praise and fuss. Sometimes mix it up with a few games. Make yourself as much fun as possible. Doing this has really sharpened up my dog's recall.

gmailconfusion2 Thu 26-Dec-19 19:40:27

we accepted our rescue springer would normally be parallel to us, a field over. But he was so much better with a ball being thrown and reminding him if he was getting distracted that i still had the ball, or if we had another dog too, he'd stay closer to the other dog, so we ended up with a german spitz too.

We did once lose him when he managed to get tangled in a bramble and he barked once, and then nothing. Took about 30 minutes to find him, we knew there was an issue as couldn't hear him moving but would he help us by barking again - not a chance.

But he had two long walks a day, plus a shorter walk, and lots of running chasing things in the garden.

BiteyShark Thu 26-Dec-19 19:42:33

Forgot to say, do you use a whistle. If not get an acme one and train them to that (I do four pips for mine).

Scarsthelot Thu 26-Dec-19 20:08:07

I used this book

Hope it's a clicky.

I have a working spaniel. Interaction when out is a massive deal. We whistle trained her in this book. Because of where we live, we are able to walk her off lead, alot.

We do loads of mental exercises with her at home. Which helps her to be calmer overall.

We have just adopted a second working cocker, who is a puppy and we are doing the same as her. These are my girls.

TeacupRex Thu 26-Dec-19 20:18:31

I would also love to know the answer to this one - I have two show-type cockers but the younger girl might as well have a working brain! Her whistle recall is very good and enthusiastic.. up until she catches an interesting smell or the flash of a squirrel, then she's deaf to the world and off like a bullet.

She has so much more drive than my other cocker, a male who is 2 years older. His recall isn't instant either but he just potters around, casually sniffing every patch of grass or bush and doesn't move particularly fast. I'm not worried about him running off and getting lost, but with my girl it is a scare as I worry about letting them out of my sight.

I'm hoping to start agility with her next year now she's fully grown, I feel like she wants to work at something. Gundog training or scent work could also be good as an outlet for your spaniel's drive and may polish up that training too.

I know somebody has recently bought a GPS tracker for their cocker's collar, after she went missing in the park for hours. It's definitely no replacement for training but may provide some peace of mind in the event of the dog suddenly taking off?


Unmumsyme Thu 26-Dec-19 21:23:21

Thanks...all great suggestions. We continue to work hard on recall and generally her desire to be close. She’s 100% in some environments, but catch an irresistible smell in the undergrowth and it’s though the mist comes over her eyes!! I wondered if I was being unrealistic in my expectations, or perhaps whether it was still part of adolescence... My other dog isn’t very drivey and will happily potter along with me, so maybe that exaggerates it too.

We do tons of brain games and fitness work at home as well as walks, and work with trainers so hopefully we’re on the right lines. TeacupRex funnily enough I was researching trackers before I posted earlier! As you say, it’s not a replacement for ongoing training, but it might make me feel better about practicing out and about!! I hate it when she goes out of my sight lines, but she always seems to know exactly where I am 🤷🏼‍♀️ Maybe just picking walks wisely for the foreseeable future......

OP’s posts: |
Cherrysoup Sat 28-Dec-19 00:57:47

50 foot longline. Marvellous invention.

koshkat Sat 28-Dec-19 10:55:34

I second the longline - it has been invlauable in teaching my worker recall.

Also I agree with pps that if I take a ball out with me my dog is 100% focused on me rather than the tasty hares lurking in the undergrowth (so many hares in my area!) - to the point of obsession I might add but at least he is looking at me!

Try the book Perfect Recall by Pippa Mattinson as this was a great tool for me and she is a working spaniel trainer so knows her stuff.

Finally spaniels are the very best breed to own - never have I had such fun, enthusiasm, adoration and soppiness wrapped up in one breed. I could never be without one!

BlueSkyBurningBright Sat 28-Dec-19 12:57:15

I have a cockapoo, from a working cocker spaniel mother. She has inherited the working spaniel hunt drive.

I have been told by several trainers and dog handlers that you can not train out their instinct.

She will get the mist when she sees squirrels and will go mad running after them. I have had to jump in a (shallow) river to get her out, when she chased a squirrel in when she was 6 months.

I use a long line, 10m, and make sure that I keep her focused on me during the walk. I run in different directions, give treats, call her back several times - all this means she watches me and is ok off the lead, unless she spots a squirrel. When I sense that she is about to run, I will put her back on the long lead. If she does go after them, she gets herself in a state and I don't think really enjoys it. Then I put the lead on and take her straight home.

I have also read Perfect Recall by Pippa Mattinson, and found it really useful. I have a whistle too, which I use sparingly, but she does respond to.

Voldethought Sat 28-Dec-19 13:22:25

Aha this thread is just what I was looking for! Proud (and very occasionally frustrated) owner of a 6 month old springer (working lines). Her recall is actually not bad as when she's off lead she does check on us constantly, but my issue is that she runs quite a distance away from us before checking. I keep calling her back and she comes but it's a little unnerving how far she goes. Is there any way of encouraging her to stay closer? I've tried a long line, but she literally runs until it stops her which I didn't feel was helpful. Should I just stick to calling her back/changing direction in the hope she gets the message? Will she get the message eventually?

AmazingAardvark Sat 28-Dec-19 15:36:07

I’ve got a cavalier so obviously not a working breed but she is very “spaniel-y” - diving through undergrowth, following her nose, completely deaf as soon as a squirrel appears! I’ve definitely noticed that if I see a dog walker with no dog in sight it usually turns out to be spaniel grin.

What helped for us:

1. Keep on lead/flexi-lead anywhere near roads, livestock, etc - not worth the risk
2. Teaching a whistle recall - tasty treats (eg, sausages, cheese) helped with this
3. Hiding behind trees/taking unexpected turns when she’s not looking - this taught her that she needs to keep an eye on us!
4. Putting a bell on her harness so we can hear her even if we can’t see her - this is so useful!
5. Rewards for checking back with us

koshkat Sat 28-Dec-19 16:17:12

Oh big yes to sausage and cheese! grin

koshkat Sat 28-Dec-19 16:18:22

Also taight my spaniel to 'check in' or 'touch' my stretched out hand with his nose for a reward. It's a good exercise to do when he is out and about - keeps him focised more on me.

koshkat Sat 28-Dec-19 16:18:32


Voldethought Sat 28-Dec-19 16:41:09

@Amazing and @koshkat - thank you. That's what I've been doing. It's good to hear that's what has worked for others.

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