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Training advice

Discussion in 'Puppy Forum' started by tomjelfs, Apr 9, 2015.

  1. tomjelfs

    tomjelfs New Member Registered

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    Hi Everyone

    First time poster here, hoping for some advice / any similar experience with regards to our Springer puppy training.

    We have a 5 month old Springer, we've done a 4 week puppy course and continued to train afterwards but at 5 months old I'm not sure what we should be expecting. At first in the training Buddy was interested in the treats and responded well, he learned recall and heel walking relatively quickly, I would take him out training in the yard every lunchtime at work and when I arrived in the morning. Eventually it got to the point that we needed to take him out on actual walks to get him to tire, I know that the theory is to train them and not walk them but it's not realistic for everyone. He started to pull on the lead, lost interest in listening to us and got more interested in everything else. To combat this I started to teach him again so each morning I take Buddy out at 6.30am with half of his morning feed in my pocket as motivation for him, boy is he motivated then!!! He walks to heel, he sits, he leaves things alone, he's really good, but take him out later on without his food as motivation and it's like he remembers nothing.

    Anyone had any experience like this?

    Tom
     
  2. goldenbear2013

    goldenbear2013 New Member Registered

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    Me! I've experienced this, as probably every other puppy owner!

    Your puppy is coming into his adolescent years and will be less inclined to listen to you as the urge to go and explore everything is way more appealing than you!

    From 6-18 months you will find that your training will be hit and miss. One minute they are awesome and do everything you ask; the next it's like they don't even know what their own name is.

    Unfortunately you are just going to have to grit your teeth, carry on being consistent with your training and wait. You sound like you're doing everything right so keep it up.

    Recall at this age is tricky so try and get this mastered (btw- i'm still mastering this and mine is nearly 2!!) so you can let your puppy off for a good run to knacker him out! You will be surprised how obedient they are went they're done in as they have no energy for anything else! lol.

    With the summer coming up, letting them swim in a lake that is safe is a good one as there is no stress on his joints (he is still growing so limiting the running is key at the moment I'm afraid). If you teach him to play fetch you could spend a very long time, throwing his toy/ball into the water for him to go and get! 10 minutes swimming = 1 hour walk so you can imagine the benefits not just for your dog and his overall health and fitness but for you too.

    Springer's are renowned for being obsessed with tennis balls, or a particular toy that they love, so use this to your advantage when you train him for recall.

    Puppies stop growing from 2 years old but they do not mature mentally and not classed as adults until they are 3 years old so you still have a looooooooooong way to go I'm afraid.

    Now, this is not to scare you but to make you aware that as your pup grows, random behavior and spurts of going mad will ensue so just be prepared for the crazy to get worse! thankfully its quite comical to watch so have your video phone on standby as you will capture some brilliant moments!

    Good luck!

    Sophie x
     
  3. tomjelfs

    tomjelfs New Member Registered

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    Hey Sophie thanks for this.

    I've been fully aware that it's going to be a very long haul for some time now, so don't worry you haven't scared me.

    Buddy loves a tennis ball and comes back with it, but usually sails straight past us and then lies down, I can't understand why dogs do this I thought they'd want you to throw it again for sure.

    He never strays far and haven't had any incidents of him getting too far away yet as he will respond to a whistle even if it's just turning his head and going the opposite way.

    Having been to the puppy classes it gave me the attitude of "if I keep doing training no one can say I haven't tried", but when you see such polarizing behaviours from the same dog on two different walking sessions it's hard not to feel like you are doing it all for nothing.

    One thing I do worry about is that he seems to never look at me when on a walk, even when I say his name, I hope I'm not just becoming the weight at the end of his lead.

    Thanks for the encouragement, it's really appreciated and I will keep posting some updates.

    Tom
     
  4. goldenbear2013

    goldenbear2013 New Member Registered

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    Please do!

    I've been in tears with frustration over mine, as when he was younger I knew what he was capable of and when he just came across as completely stupid and had no clue I felt like I was a total failure! Like you said you just have to grin and bear it!

    When walking him on his lead, if you call his name you need to make it exciting for him. If it is in a dulcet tone and he preoccupied then he probably wont listen. if its a play time voice (as high pitched as you can get) then he SHOULD respond. If he responds praise and give him a treat.

    This way he should learn to associate you calling him name when out and about he gets food.

    However, this doesn't always work when they are the age yours is so don't get too disheartened if he doesn't respond every time.

    Sophie x
     
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  5. eingana

    eingana Do my ears look big in this? Registered

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    Hi Tom

    I'm not really springer experienced, but Molly is a very clever girl and the biggest issue we had with training when Molly was young was that she could predict pretty much everything I was going to do and consequently she found that boring. Lots of dog training is about routines and how good they are, but if your dog is 2 steps ahead of you with everything then that doesn't really fit in with a routine very well.

    My advice would be to find ways to change absolutely everything that you do, just a little bit, to make sure that it's not identical.

    Today you ask Buddy to come from his bed and sit in front of you to have his lead attached for going out, tomorrow you may send him to another room and then call him to sit in front of you, and another day you ask him for a trick then to sit in front of you. Every walk takes a very slightly different route, even if it starts and finishes at the same point.

    New games, new orders for things and make absolutely everything possible into a game where Buddy can show you some of his learning. I taught Molly a game that involved listening for me. I got gradually quieter and quieter when calling her, and started calling her all over the house in a really quiet voice, and we got to the point where she could hear me calling her from 2 floors away when I was only using a stage whisper. This improved her response to me in all sorts of ways and also meant that when we're out I don't need to talk loudly to her, in fact when I use stage whispers that means that whatever we're doing is a game and is therefore more exciting than anything else she's doing (and is very handy for recall and focus). I do still have a play voice and a She Who Must Be Obeyed voice for when they are needed, of course.

    Even now, as a nearly 9 year old dog who is starting to get a bit doddery, I can still be greeted with a big play bow and a huge wag when I whisper her name in that voice so she clearly enjoys this as part of our day.

    You're just at the start of this with Buddy, but the thing that you have to remember is that if you were with a small child they could tell you when they were bored. Buddy can't tell you, but as intelligent as he is, he will feel it, and that's a reason to keep occupying his brain with new things (and that will serve you right for getting a clever puppy in the first place!) ;)
     
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  6. gypsysmum

    gypsysmum Active Member Registered

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    Training is all about motivation and you may need to improve the rewards for this difficult time.

    Remember that once he knows what to do you need to make the rewards random. Sometimes he gets one and sometimes he doesn't. This is much more exciting than treating you like a vending machine.
     
  7. tomjelfs

    tomjelfs New Member Registered

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    Yeah I've always kept it random, especially when walking, if he thinks we are taking a route we did a few days before I'll zig zag all over the place turning back in the opposite direction, going round cars etc. I've taken to treating him randomly on his morning walk so it's only if he does something I feel he needs rewarding for or if I think he needs some encouragement. In the last two weeks he's got better, he's become obsessed with any tennis ball so this gives us a lot of control when we have one, out on field walks he's really good but around the avenues he's a bit random. Lately the thing is he will walk to heel for a few yards then dart forward, walk forward for another random distance and lurch forward, usually towards something he sees. He seems like he's getting it slowly, it's really nice when he walks for a little distance and you feel like you are just carrying the lead. The light nights have helped as we can go for long walks and spend more time working on him.
     
  8. goldenbear2013

    goldenbear2013 New Member Registered

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    The tennis ball!!!! The key to all of your powers!! hahahaha!!! :thumbsup:

    I have a serious hold over mine when he knows the tennis ball is around! Just genius!

    Mine used to do what yours does on the lead. One minute your walking along nicely then the next you feel like your arm is being yanked off cus they have just tried to dash off in another direction or towards something.

    This in turn resulted me and my other half going through every lead I could think of to get him to walk to heel and not pull. TOTAL NIGHTMARE!

    I discovered the figure of eight lead. its better than a halti, as halti when pulled squash the dogs face and that's never nice! the figure of eight is much gentler, however you will find that they wont like it at first and there is a good chance they will throw a fit when they start walking with it on. Just preserver and they will soon learn that there is nothing they can do to get it off and they will just give it up and walk. lol!

    Link below so you know what I'm on about. You can see the lead on its own and on the dog. I chose the link with the spaniel on just for you! :thumbsup:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dog-Field-Figure-Anti-Pull-Halter/dp/B00N4RC13U/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1429780867&sr=8-4&keywords=figure+of+eight+lead

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/CUSHION-HEADCOLLAR-Cushion-Webbing-pulling/dp/B00G8RLR7O/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1429780867&sr=8-9&keywords=figure+of+eight+lead

    Let us know how you get on (again)

    Sophie x
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2015
  9. tomjelfs

    tomjelfs New Member Registered

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    By the time I got to your reply my wife had already bought a harness after a recommendation from another springer owner she met, he walks better on it, not great but better and it's a damn sight easier on our arms and his neck to boot.

    I've taken him out without the harness in the mornings, when I know I have better control of him anyway, and have been more random with my treating, in fact this morning I didn't treat him until we got home. So he knows how to do it. I went to the park with him on Monday night and got a bit tough on him as he was completely dragging me, he started to walk to heel quite well after, albeit under duress, then I rewarded him by letting him off and throwing his ball around.

    He's getting there.

    He's a boisterous monster at times lately, humps legs a lot and likes to destroy his bed, but boy is he gorgeous:

    Buddy.jpg Buddy2.jpg Buddy3.jpg
     
  10. goldenbear2013

    goldenbear2013 New Member Registered

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    He is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo adorable!! :D

    The humping of furniture, legs, blankets etc should stop once/if you get him fixed. He may still try and hump other dogs (they never really lose the urge!) sometimes but that will be about it!

    I'm not a fan of the harnesses, unless it is a very large breed, as it gives them a chance to dig in and really drag you!

    However, saying that, every dog is different and it is whatever works for you that matters!

    if it's working keep it up!

    And as for the disciplining its never a bad thing by being harsh with them, as long as you don't hit/smack them. A harsh word and a good pull on the lead is just letting them know they cant get their own way and you dictate the walk not them.

    Mine still does it now when he sees the field on the horizon he just tries to run towards it and in turn drags me with him, so a sharp yank on the lead to put him back to heel does the job :thumbsup:

    You sound like you're doing great so keep it up!

    Buddy is adorable! :)

    Sophie x
     
  11. tomjelfs

    tomjelfs New Member Registered

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    Buddy Update:

    The tennis ball became a bit of a problem because he started to get hold of the ball and then ignore us, so we had no control, I decided to stop using it for a few days and he started to respond again. In fact we left it at home when we took him on his first holiday to the Forest of Dean on the Bank holiday weekend, there were 6 of us plus 2 young children and Bailey the lab came too. Buddy was pretty good, he settled well for sleeping at night in his crate and loved charging around in the forest when we went walking. He is pretty boisterous to Bailey, constantly biting his ears etc, Bailey is my brother's dog and he comes to work with us as well so they know each other well. I've had to drag Buddy away on quite a few occasions, but with the kids he was pretty good, one is 4 and the other is 2, the 2 year old being the lively wrecking ball kind of kid.

    When we got back home he had about 2 mornings of waking up early but since last weekend he's suddenly started sleeping in, I've been woken up by the alarm most mornings which is both nice and a little shocking.

    He started to stray a bit on walks so I took to hiding a lot when he got ahead and that seemed to check him. On Sunday we went for a walk at Nicola's parents and towards the end I got him to walk to heel without a lead for the length of a field as we approached the end of the walk, Nicola has had him walking to heel quite a few times off lead so that's encouraging.

    However the last two days he's got quite crazy, getting him to come and walk to heel has been a little tricky. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with it but at the same time he has started to cock his leg, we haven't had him castrated yet as he's only just 6 months on Saturday.

    Tom
     
  12. goldenbear2013

    goldenbear2013 New Member Registered

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    Hi Tom,

    Sounds like you're doing brilliantly!! :thumbsup:

    Buddy's behavior will be very hit and miss for the next 12 months.

    One minute perfect pooch, the next - devil dog! My lab is the sweetest thing, but I was in tears over his behavior when he was a teenager! I got to a point where I couldn't cope him being so naughty and calling my trainer at stupid hours, asking what I was doing wrong.

    You just have to take it on the chin, blame it on the hormones and power through.

    If you don't already, obedience classes are a great way to learn new techniques when it comes to training your dog.

    I would consider getting Buddy castrated probably within the next 3-4 months 9gives him chance to mature a little first), but depending on how his behavior is, you could always discuss having it done earlier; but do talk to your vet first.

    You're in for an interesting ride with your pooch!

    Thankfully he's a absolute beauty so with a face like that how can you ever get mad at him!

    if you get stuck you know where we are!

    We have all been there!!!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2015
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  13. Raven oaktree

    Raven oaktree Active Member Registered

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    Ohhh he is soooo lovely .. :) ..Teenagers ...pfftt..!! that is all i can say on them :)

    It sounds like you are making great progress, but about the ball..have 2!..we have one in our hands then if she dosent bring it back or is being a bit of a monkey we show her the other one. She nearly always drops the one in her mouth and comes running for the one we have. :)
     
  14. sally-and-flo

    sally-and-flo New Member Registered

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    What a Handsome Chap! all sounds promising....but a spare ball or 7 is never too many!
     
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  15. tomjelfs

    tomjelfs New Member Registered

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    Pupdate on Buddy:

    So he's been fairly good lately, I take him up the abandoned golf course most nights and he runs around, I never take the same route and, as a result, he has to watch in case I hide from him. I can get him to walk to heel off the lead if grunt enough at him which is good I guess. We've booked him into a weekly class starting this Friday, however he was neutered last Thursday and since then we've not been able to walk him off the lead and it's (pardon the play on words) driving him nuts, naughty levels have gone through the roof. Looking forward to him being aloud off again.
     
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  16. goldenbear2013

    goldenbear2013 New Member Registered

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    This is excellent news! Well done you!

    Keeping a working dog couped up after having the snip is always a testing time. Mine drove me mad!

    So glad things are going in the right direction for you and Buddy!

    Keep it up!

    Sophie x
     
  17. eingana

    eingana Do my ears look big in this? Registered

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    Ah, the days after Molly was spayed we had to develop a whole load of new games in the house because she was so full of beans it was scary. Good luck on keeping him within himself!

    Can I suggest that you turn the possibility of hiding from him into a new game? Springers are very good tracking dogs and developing him towards scenting experience would be a fabulously stimulating and mentally tiring activity for him and it's really easy to start towards it. All you need to do is to teach him a 'go find' command (using a ball or hunting dummy with a lovely scent on it) where first of all you allow him to see you throw it, then you cover his eyes while you throw and ask him to find it by scent alone.

    When you've got the 'go find' command you then start doing the same with humans. Have someone hold Buddy while you go and stand behind a tree or crouch behind a gate post 50 feet away or so (the first few times let him see the direction to start, or a little hint of where you are) and then start increasing the distance and reducing the hints, so he will have to scent you out.

    Of course teaching him to follow his nose is a double edged sword, because it can also lead to dogs who are off lead going to investigate interesting scents, but that's what the irresistible ball or treat in the pocket are there for :)

    You're doing wonderfully with Buddy- keep it up :)
     
  18. tomjelfs

    tomjelfs New Member Registered

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    What kind of games did you play with her? Because honestly this week he has been the dog from hell, he's been completely bat shit mental every night. We've taken him on long lead walks but he's just so wound up it's driving us insane.
     
  19. tomjelfs

    tomjelfs New Member Registered

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    Dear god buddy has become the dog from Hell, Adolescence has seriously kicked in. I have honestly got the point that I've got really angry with him, I know it's not his fault but it is relentless, the only times that he is anything like the dog he was is when he is really tired. Most of the time now he is biting when you try and interact with him, I feel like I'm constantly telling him off, it's so hard to not tell him off.

    I could really use some advice on keeping him in check while he goes through this as I'm finding it hard not to get angry with him, I don't want to be angry with a puppy.
     
  20. goldenbear2013

    goldenbear2013 New Member Registered

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    I sit here chuckling to myself, as I have been in exactly the same position you are in now.

    I used my crate Bear sleeps in to my advantage. If you dont have a crate then make a quiet space for him, that has nothing in it, not even a bed, just an empty room or space that he cannot get out of until you let him.

    Keep his lead on him when he is in the house, he plays up, pick up the lead, dont look at him, dont touch him, dont talk to him, just hold his lead and put him into his quiet place or crate if you use one. If you use the crate, lock the door and leave him until he has relaxed. If he is having a fit just ignore him, until he is completely calm. When he is calm let him back out, again no fuss just ignore him. He plays up again, repeat the process until he gets the message.

    Now! Here is the horrifying part- you could be doing this ALL NIGHT!!!! The first night I did this with Bear, it took nearly 2 hours straight and over 40 trips to his crate before he realized that his behaviour would not be tolerated, and he only got attention and fuss when he was calm.

    He is 2 now and I cannot remember the last time he had a time out! It took a few months for him to completely calm down, and the more I continued with this routine when he played up the less and less trips to the crate he had. It even got to the point where, when i stood up he went straight into his crate as he knew he had been a naughty boy!

    Try this, see how you get on, and let me know how you get on.

    You must be consistent and you must follow through. Do not give up on this and keep going. Its gonna take a while but this advice is coming from a someone who cried most of the time when Bear was between 6-13 months old as I just couldnt get him to calm down in the house, no matter what i did or how much exercise I gave him.

    Good luck!!!! Keep me posted!

    Sophie x
     

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