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New Cocker Spaniel Puppy Advice

Daniel Ball

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Morning all,

Myself and my partner got a Cocker Spaniel puppy on May 15th and he is now 9.5 weeks old. We just want to make sure we are doing the right thing when it comes to crate training and ensuring the dog doesn't have any separation anxiety when growing up.

We feel we are doing relatively well, he already knows how to sit and comes when calling his name (Eddie). He is sleeping through the night in a crate downstairs (we know its big enough as a family friend used it for his two Cockers and they're great and well trained).

Our concerns are thus, and if anyone can help us with ways to deal with these issues, it would be greatly appreciated. Or, if something sounds wrong, please let us know.

  • It may just be because we haven't had a puppy before, but he is constantly wanting to be near us, my partner works from home all day, every day, and he wants to sit on her feet the whole day. I have advised she needs to leave him on his own occasionally for small amounts of time to build that independence.
  • He is 'cleaning' or what looks like biting his fur quite a lot, he then has these wet patches on his body. I am unsure if this is allergies?
  • He is mouthing, and I understand the concept of mouthing or 'teething' however, occasionally he will go into 'frenzies' and not let go of our trousers/shoes. We have tried pushing him off and then leaving the room, but it doesn't seem to be working.
  • He sleeps through the night without relieving himself, from around 22:00-5:00, but once he is awake he will howl the house down until we come downstairs. We let him out at 5:00 to go to the toilet, put him back in his crate and try and get a couple hours more sleep, but it seems impossible as he will continue to howl, we tried leaving him from 5:00 to see if he stops, but he will carry on for half an hour to an hour at least. We are currently having around 5-6 hours sleep a night and its starting to take its toll.

Any help of encouragement would be appreciated. It may be that this sounds totally normal, and that is fine, but we just want to be sure.

Thanks,

Dan & Amy
 
Your puppy has just left the companionship of his mother and siblings. This is a huge step in his little life and he is having to make big adjustments.
He has just spent all night in a cage and is so far good with his toilet habits, he goes out in the morning to do his toilet and is put back to where he has just been all night o_O
I an not a great believer in cages/crates although I do understand that for short lengths of time they are very useful indeed.
We have 5 to 6 Cockers, 5 raised from puppies and the other one from 6 months, they all have freedom and are aloud to socialize with us. Dogs and puppies should not spend hours on end living in a cage they are social pack animals. Puppies need freedom and movement. I think that if your puppy gets some form of comfort by sitting on your feet, that it is fine.
What does his day time routine involve?
All of our puppies have to grow up and understand about training, but gently and carefully, they are very intelligent little creatures (NOT a rabbit).
We all have to make our own adjustments with a new puppy about the house, but this only lasts for a few months and usually results with a happy family.

Enjoy your puppy but please remember he is a social creature and should not continuously be locked up :)
 
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he is constantly wanting to be near us, my partner works from home all day, every day, and he wants to sit on her feet the whole day. I have advised she needs to leave him on his own occasionally for small amounts of time to build that independence

This is perfectly normal, but it's too soon to leave him - it's only been something like 10 days that you have had him. He is an infant who has just been uprooted from all he knows and being with you is fine right now, while he learns there are no monsters in the cupboards in his new home. That will actually help build his confidence when he sees you are there for him and there's nothing scary that you can't protect him from. For the first few weeks, some people virtually wear their puppy.

But after he has been with you for another couple of weeks, start with Emma Judson's Flitting Game described about ⅔ of the way down this page.

https://www.thecanineconsultants.co.uk/post/separation-anxiety-fact-vs-fiction

Later when he chooses to stop following you can build on the game by stepping out.

put him back in his crate and try and get a couple hours more sleep, but it seems impossible as he will continue to howl, we tried leaving him from 5:00 to see if he stops, but he will carry on for half an hour to an hour at least

Please don't leave him to howl. Partly because of the above - he needs your reassurance. He isn't doing this to annoy you, he isn't choosing to feel alone and anxious; meeting his emotional needs (and remember, this is an emotion he can't control as opposed to a behaviour that he can control) is as important as meeting his physical needs. And, partly because you risk changing the crate from his safe and happy place to a place he resents.

You have several options. Take it in turns to sit up with him so one of you gets a few more hours sleep every day. Or, move the crate into your room so you can reassure him and settle him. Or take him back to bed with you.

With the mouthing, you are expecting too much, too soon. He is trying to play, like he would have played with his littermates so first try redirecting to a toy. Then use your stepping outside method.

We have a lot more detail on that (and the other issues) in our recommended reading list. Please have a look but do come back if anything seems unclear or doesn't fit your situation.

Useful Links & Recommended Reading
 
Welcome to the forum :) I agree with all of the above. It's important to remember that, like human babies, a puppy can only grow into a secure, (relatively) independent adult if he has a secure puppyhood where he feels safe and not anxious. Being left to cry is stressful for him, so isn't good for his development.
 
Thank you all, for the advice. Really appreciate it. Just for the record, I was vehemently against crate training as I had never had a dog before but my partner, whose family have had lots of dogs over the years, convinced us its the best thing.

He is out of the crate all day, running around the garden and enjoying his time as a puppy. He had his 2nd lots of vaccinations today and over the last couple of days, has begun scratching at the door when he needs the toilet. We are very proud. He is also staying in bed longer since putting up some blinds in the room he is in, it was the sunlight waking him up at 5:00am (since sunrise in the UK is 4:57 at the moment).

He is still biting, but thanks to your advice, I understand this is perfectly natural and normal so I am more relaxed about the whole thing!

@JudyN @JoanneF @excuseme
 
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Hello and welcome!

Just some comments for your concerns:

It may just be because we haven't had a puppy before, but he is constantly wanting to be near us, my partner works from home all day, every day, and he wants to sit on her feet the whole day. I have advised she needs to leave him on his own occasionally for small amounts of time to build that independence.

This is normal when you first bring a puppy home. Our advice here is to reward the behaviour that you like, but ignore behaviours that you don't. Dogs are very intelligent and will soon figure out that if it does X behaviour, it will receive your attention, even if X behaviour is an undesirable behaviour. So for example, if X behaviour was howling, and you talk to your puppy and give it attention while it is howling and play with the puppy, it will soon learn that by howling, he will get play time from you. Instead, try this. If your puppy is howling to get your attention, don't use his name, just a simple "ah ah", and ignore the behaviour. When it is calm and exhibiting a behaviour you want, then you reward your puppy with lots of fuss and play.

He is 'cleaning' or what looks like biting his fur quite a lot, he then has these wet patches on his body. I am unsure if this is allergies?

With skin allergies for your puppy, you might want to look into what you are feeding your puppy, and also use gentle puppy shampoos.

He is mouthing, and I understand the concept of mouthing or 'teething' however, occasionally he will go into 'frenzies' and not let go of our trousers/shoes. We have tried pushing him off and then leaving the room, but it doesn't seem to be working.

Teething puppies are very mouthy indeed, and it is a natural part of a puppy growing up. Try redirecting your puppy to something that he is allowed to chew. Different puppies are drawn to different chew toys, so you might want to try a few different chew toys or treats for your pup.

He sleeps through the night without relieving himself, from around 22:00-5:00, but once he is awake he will howl the house down until we come downstairs. We let him out at 5:00 to go to the toilet, put him back in his crate and try and get a couple hours more sleep, but it seems impossible as he will continue to howl, we tried leaving him from 5:00 to see if he stops, but he will carry on for half an hour to an hour at least. We are currently having around 5-6 hours sleep a night and its starting to take its toll.

It sounds like you are practicing the right crate training steps. Perhaps you can try making his crate feel more comfortable. The goal is for your puppy to associate the crate as his personal safe space. Some puppies feel safer when there is a throw or blanket over the crate which makes the crate feels cosier. There are also crate covers. Some others have success with having the crate in their bedroom while the puppy learns to adjust to the crate being a peaceful safe space, and slowly moving it away from the bedroom.
 
for example, if X behaviour was howling, and you talk to your puppy and give it attention while it is howling and play with the puppy, it will soon learn that by howling, he will get play time from you. Instead, try this. If your puppy is howling to get your attention, don't use his name, just a simple "ah ah", and ignore the behaviour. When it is calm and exhibiting a behaviour you want, then you reward your puppy with lots of fuss and play.

I'm sorry to keep disagreeing with you but again, this is quite an outdated approach. Leaving a puppy to howl isn't going to make him feel more secure, all it does is (a) confirm in his mind that being alone really is scary, and (b) that you, the person he wants to rely on for comfort and reassurance, isn't going to be there for him.

If you had a small child who woke up in the night, terrified after a nightmare, would you reassure them or ignore then?

There is definitely a difference between attention demand barking, and distress barking - but this is a puppy, an infant, who has just been uprooted from the safety and security of his mother and littermates. He is crying because he needs support.

I've said in other places; the dogs that stop crying in these circumstances don't do so because they suddenly realise everything is ok. They do it because they have given up hope someone will help them. It's an extreme comparison but in trauma victims, the silent ones are most damaged.
 
Thank you all, for the advice. Really appreciate it. Just for the record, I was vehemently against crate training as I had never had a dog before but my partner, whose family have had lots of dogs over the years, convinced us its the best thing.

He is out of the crate all day, running around the garden and enjoying his time as a puppy. He had his 2nd lots of vaccinations today and over the last couple of days, has begun scratching at the door when he needs the toilet. We are very proud. He is also staying in bed longer since putting up some blinds in the room he is in, it was the sunlight waking him up at 5:00am (since sunrise in the UK is 4:57 at the moment).

He is still biting, but thanks to your advice, I understand this is perfectly natural and normal so I am more relaxed about the whole thing!

@JudyN @JoanneF @excuseme
Really pleased that it’s worked out well. Like yourself I was grateful for the advice and support from the Forum with a very difficult newly adopted rescue whippet a few years ago. Like your chap she has a crate but we never shut it. I am somewhat dismayed at views from the ‘stuff and nonsense’ hardliners but fortunately they are in the minority. Patience, love and a great sense of humour will generally work. More photos as and when, please.
 
Patience, love and a great sense of humour will generally work.
Perfect!:) Sometimes it will be exhausting, exasperating and probably many other things! But this is the time you are building your bonds and laying the foundation for your pup to grow on. Such an amazing time and yes humour will be essential but it is always worth it...:cool: Not that I'd have a pup again!:D:D:D:D:p
 
Again, thanks all for the comments and advice. Eddie is now 3 months old and toilet training is coming on very well.

My only concern at present is his biting. Most puppies I’ve dealt with previously for small periods, I’ve been able to fuss them, play and even let them sleep on me with the odd nip here and there.

It seems with Eddie he can’t play without his jaw clamping down on my arm, feet, hands, legs etc. any part of flesh he can get his mouth on. And it’s not in small doses either, once he goes into a ‘frenzy’ there is really no stopping him without running away or giving him a bit of chicken after asking him to sit (fully understand this isn’t the best thing to do).

Is this normal? I literally can’t just sit with him on my lap or play without biting being totally normal, and for me, it’s too powerful a bite. That being said, he does seem to bite my partner Amy softer, but not always.

If I try and redirect him he is interested in his toy for around a minute and then he is straight back to my feet/arms/legs etc. if I hold him back you literally hear his mouth slamming shut *CHOMP* *CHOMP* until his finds something of mine to bite.
 
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Yup, it's normal - for some pups. My hands and arms were a mess for months when my lad was a pup. Have a read of this article: Puppy biting

The key is absolute consistency - walking away (detaching him from your person as calmly as possible) and ignoring him, making life boring, every. single. time. He might be in and out of timeout repeatedly in just 5 minutes - each timeout doesn't need to last long - and it is very tiring. But the first time I saw my dog go to bite and then hesitate, I knew the penny was beginning to drop. It still took a long while though.

Obviously, giving him chicken is a bad idea, even if it's only occasionally. I know it's tempting to do what works at the time, but an occasional reward can be sometimes more rewarding than one that happens every time, as in his mind, even though he didn't get a treat this time, he might get one if he keeps trying again, and again, and again....
 
How much time does he spend in his cage "locked in".
Maybe this is an over excitement thing when let out !!:rolleyes:
 

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