Keeping your Spaniel close

Discussion in 'Gundog Training, Fieldwork, & Field Trials' started by JAYMZ, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. JAYMZ

    JAYMZ Registered Users

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    I'm very aware of the Spaniel's ability and desire to stray off and self reward.

    With this in mind, I've always tried really hard to keep him close by with lots of rewards for doing so. I always keep him on his toes and change direction. We never do a standard "walk".

    At the recent gun dog training thing, it was clear that I had the definition of close wrong. I was letting him go too far.

    Now that I see it, and with him getting a little older (approaching 5 months), I can also see him getting more and more confident. And this straying further and further. He will on occasion completely ignore me regardless of treats.

    Do you have any tips, methods or advice to keep your Spaniel (or any other dog for that matter) close.

    Probably unrelated, his lead walking is brilliant now. He will nicely, albeit with a fair amount of Spaniel zig-zagging, with a slack lead. Off lead is a different ball game.

    I am genuinely getting worried now. :(
     
  2. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    I think my first thought is choose your ground carefully. Try and be somewhere safe, preferably enclosed while you work on those responses. Choose somewhere with low distraction levels and get everything absolutely solid before moving on. If you choose more dense cover like long grass that should slow him down a bit. The days when we're a bit wobbly or I need to take him somewhere that's slightly too exciting Obi goes on his long line. If he goes too far and the ears aren't working I go and get him every time, lead on, back to where I want him and we start again.

    He still shouldn't get a lot of exercise at 5 months, 10 minutes of hunting in long grass at that age had Obi breathing out of his ears and the stimulation of that time was enough to tire him.

    Quiet handling is still an aspiration for us, I use my voice, changes of direction, tennis balls in the grass and dummies in my bag to keep Obi interested. He loves to use his nose so give him something to find, make sure success is at your feet and under your direction - building the partnership - hunting for you should bring the rewards rather than hunting for himself.

    Try not to panic ;D
     
  3. JAYMZ

    JAYMZ Registered Users

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    thanks that's useful.

    We're probably doing less than 10 mins, but it's me who's getting exhausted!!
     
  4. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    Heidrun is away this weekend but she will probably have more useful insights than me when she does see this :)
     
  5. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    [quote author=JAYMZ link=topic=10707.msg158846#msg158846 date=1429871778]
    it's me who's getting exhausted!!
    [/quote]

    tell me about it! Retrievers are definitely less tiring ;D
     
  6. JAYMZ

    JAYMZ Registered Users

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    Well I've had a call back from the trainer. The same one who helped us last weekend at the Essex Spaniel thing. Julie Cracknell.

    She did say, in all her years, she's never seen a Spaniel as confident as him at 4 months! And has asked to see his pedigree!! She knows the Sire's breeder well too.

    Anyway, we're going to see her on Saturday and see if we can get young Monts back on track.
     
  7. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    Excellent ;D

    Have fun and good luck!
     
  8. JAYMZ

    JAYMZ Registered Users

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    thanks.

    Albeit slightly worrying that I have what appears to be a hooligan!!
     
  9. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    [quote author=JAYMZ link=topic=10707.msg158903#msg158903 date=1429877796]
    I have what appears to be a hooligan!!
    [/quote]

    also known as a spaniel and don't let anyone tell you different ;D
     
  10. JAYMZ

    JAYMZ Registered Users

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    So we had our 1-2-1 session yesterday.

    We went to to the trainer's local park, where Monts has obviously never been, and he was off lead. He was brilliant!

    We started with just lead walking and she put him on the slip lead. The difference was staggering. He walks perfectly.

    Then we just did some basic off-lead walking round to see how he behaved and he never strayed far.

    We went into the longer grass and he was still great. Always stayed nice and close.

    We did some retrieves with a proper adult dummy. Initially he couldn't get his mouth round it, but it was all too fun and he persevered and did on the second go.

    She started to up the ante with the retrieves into long grass and further away, and he was unbelievable. A real proud father moment.

    He is clearly still too confident. Some other dogs appeared and he desperately wanted to go and say hello. There was a gardener with a wheelbarrow and he was straight up to say hi.

    We worked on his sit and stay and, again, it was great.

    There was al lot for me to take in , but I came away happy.

    This morning, full of confidence, I took him (on the trainer's advice) to a new spot where we've not been before. It is dense wood with narrow paths. The idea being he will not be so confident and will stay close.

    We walked there on the lead (it's only 5mins away) and he was wonderful. So I'm still confident. We get to the woods and I let him off the lead.

    And that was it. he was off. Full of confidence, wowee this is fun. Yahoo, see ya later.

    To make it even worse, out of nowhere appeared a great big, scary Irish Wolfhound. Scary for Monts? No chance, we was straight up to it, wanting to play and nip his ears. Thankfully, he was a lovely gentle dog, but I could NOT get Monts back or under control.

    We lasted 2 mins in the new woods.

    Completely deflated, I stuck him back ion the lead and went home.

    Urgh.

    I'm getting a lap dog next time that my wife can paint it's nails and it can wear little comedy jumpers and hats. ???
     
  11. JulieT

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    Well, I'm pleased you had a good morning training, and sorry not so good today. :(

    You'll have to work out what it is that the trainer was doing, and compare it to what you did. Did he have more attention fixed on the trainer? Because she was new and interesting? Or because of what she was doing - playing with him, keeping his attention, and offering him the chance to retrieve perhaps?

    I find it a bit odd to hear this talk of a dog being too confident - perhaps that's because I own a show line Labrador who isn't afraid of anything, never has been, and never will be. So it never enters my head to try to alter the environment to make him less confident, that's never, ever going to work. It's all and only about my training (or not, as the case may be). He is only going to not run to another dog, or recall away from another dog, because I train him and proof my training against other dogs.

    [quote author=JAYMZ link=topic=10707.msg159393#msg159393 date=1430043034]
    she put him on the slip lead. The difference was staggering. He walks perfectly.
    [/quote]

    Why do you think that was? And it isn't anything to do with a slip lead having magic properties. :)
     
  12. JAYMZ

    JAYMZ Registered Users

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    Oh God, I'm not blaming him at all. Far from it. I know it's all me.

    I suppose realisation is the first step to resolution.

    I think maybe I just expected more too much today. That after one session he'd I'd be miraculously be fixed.

    I'm super tired today too which is never going to help.

    I'm sorry Monts. :(
     
  13. JulieT

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    :)

    Chin up, rome wasn't built in a day and all that....

    If you look back at your post it does seem that the differences were a) a park and Monty immediately being asked to do something with an exciting new person compared to b) a wood (perhaps with wildlife) and him immediately disengaging.

    Obviously, it might not be anything like that, but it's probably useful for you to think through the differences and what happened. I would struggle to get my dog's attention if I just took his lead off in a new exciting place too, and he is definitely not a spaniel puppy! ;D

    I'd have to do "calming circles" for at least 10 minutes until he had got over the excitement of being there, and returned his attention to me, and then I'd take his lead off during an exercise (I have a few designed exactly for this scenario) so he was busy with me when his lead came off.
     
  14. JAYMZ

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    Thanks. I took on board those comments and had a second attempt. It was far from perfect, but a lot better.

    Whilst it wasn't perfect, and much much much better, I'm worried that I'm reinforcing that being the excessive (to me) distance away is OK.

    He had a smashing time and is completely knackered now (we were only out for about 10-15 mins) but we did some retrieves and general charging through the woods. He was very, very excited by it all, which as you suggest is going to make it difficult.
     
  15. JulieT

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    Can you give the trainer a call, explain what is happening and ask?

    Crashing through a wood (hopefully with no rabbits in it at all) with a young spaniel too far away from you doesn't sound good though.....
     
  16. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    I would steal clear of woods until you have a little more control. With Obi I look for long grass or bracken or some kind of cover. The visual and physical barrier keeps him closer. Every time we cross any kind of path the scent on the path will drag him away from me really quickly so I have to be really, really fast to keep him with me as we go over paths. When he's in the groove he will watch me and change direction when I do without a whistle. When he's not in the groove he's obviously less aware of me and hunts without reference to me.....even if he's close this is undesirable as he's effectively hunting for himself and I could be a million miles away. I try and get his attention and reset him.

    Woodland with paths is my idea of a nightmare, too much scent and not enough barriers.

    Long grass is great, far fewer paths and if you know the area you know if there's game in the grass or not. Plenty of barriers to keep him close while he hunts for little dummies or grass with hand scent on it.

    A hard hunting springer will hunt up Tescos carpark in the hopes a pheasant pops up. You could probably choose really, really boring ground and you'll still get him moving. Any closed in playing fields nearby?
     
  17. Catherine

    Catherine Registered Users

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    [quote author=bbrown link=topic=10707.msg159473#msg159473 date=1430063633]
    I would steal clear of woods until you have a little more control.
    Woodland with paths is my idea of a nightmare, too much scent and not enough barriers.

    Long grass is great, far fewer paths and if you know the area you know if there's game in the grass or not. Plenty of barriers to keep him close while he hunts for little dummies or grass with hand scent on it.

    A hard hunting springer will hunt up Tescos carpark in the hopes a pheasant pops up. You could probably choose really, really boring ground and you'll still get him moving. Any closed in playing fields nearby?
    [/quote]
    I know only too well what this feels like James...I've got this particular t-shirt with my Springer! Barbara's advice is spot on. In addition to finding relatively non gamey ground I use a long line with Flora getting her to make frequent changes of direction which encourages her to check in with me. I also layout toys, balls etc before taking her out which as she finds them, she brings into me, the reward being she is set off hunting again. All this happens within the length of the line so I turn her to hunt the other way so the line never goes tight ( in theory anyway). Stubble fields in the winter were great for this and grass is good...bracken heather and woodland are a pain as the line gets caught up.
    If her focus on me begins to diminish, I change the activity so she never knows what wonderful fun thing is going to happen next. These lovely Springers are in a league of their own...it can be pretty tiring always being one jump ahead! :)

    Catherine
     
  18. JAYMZ

    JAYMZ Registered Users

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    Thanks guys. I'm actually just back in from going out in the normal field, before having read this. I searched out some long grass and had him hunting wonderfully. He found a couple of dummies and all was going swimmingly.

    Until he decided to turn up the volume to 11. Well the speed. He decided to race as fast as he could backwards and forwards, totally tunnel-visioned and getting further and further away.

    It was VERY difficult to get him back on the lead - he saw it and that f that. I had to drop a ball at my feet and grab his scruff as he came in at 120mph! Once on the lead he was perfect again.

    I let him off in the fence part of the garden and immediately he started the wall of death. I left him to it hoping he'd just tire out. As he started to slow I took him in, only for him to start again in the living room! I had to grab him and carry him I to his crate. He's had a chill and is fine now.

    Sigh, it's been one of those days. I knew it was going to be tough, but I'm really starting to question myself. In the past three or four days things have really changed. He has changed and I am not dealing with very well. I thought I had a pretty good idea what to do in the event of various scenarios, but he's really caught me off guard!

    Honestly, I feel sorry for the other five families who have his siblings. I don't believe any of them are planning to work them.

    I left a message for the trainer this morning but she was out judging. She just replied saying that she'll come over to mine and see where it's going wrong.
     
  19. snowbunny

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    To be honest, I have very limited knowledge of spaniels, but I do know from reading people's adventures on here that they're a very different beast to a Labrador and very hard work! Add into the mix your Monty's very strong working lineage and it's no wonder he's a handful. Another limiting factor is your inexperience. However, on the positive side, you are obviously very dedicated, thoughtful and intelligent. Monty is very young and you have a huge learning curve ahead of you. To be honest, I think you need to put any ideas of working or trialling him on the back burner for now; just see how the two of you learn together over the coming months. To do anything else is putting undue pressure on the both of you, and can only lead to disappointment if you don't achieve your goals in the timeframe you expect. You can't be expected to have the skills or the accuracy right now to be giving him the guidance he would undoubtedly need to live up to the expectations you're putting on you both.

    I'm certainly not suggesting you forget about training or your ultimate goals, but don't judge your progress by what an experienced trainer would be doing with their highly-bred dog at this stage. The fact your puppy comes from such strong working lineage may even mean that your progress is slower than had he been from a more lowly bloodline, just because you're new to the game. Don't see this as a failure. Try not to get frustrated. You want to do the right thing, and that's the most important issue here. Just be realistic about timeframes and don't judge your progress by other people. Also, try to distance yourself from the day-to-day peaks and troughs in performance; try to take a step back and look at the picture over a week or two. There can be blips, but as long as overall progress is in the right direction, that's what you need to focus on.

    I wholeheartedly wish you every bit of luck with your gorgeous boy; just try to chill a little!
     
  20. JAYMZ

    JAYMZ Registered Users

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    Re: Keeping your Spaniel close

    Yes, you're very, very right.

    I just really want to get it right. And to not just get it right, to do it well.

    I'm a very competitive person, and I see that I do need to reign it in a bit. Even my wife said so and she's even more competitive than I am!

    I knew it was going to be a challenge and I'm totally up for it. I think it's a pride thing. So many people said that Spaniels are awful and you need to walk them for 25 hours a day etc. I want to prove everyone wrong and I desperately want a beautifully trained doggie and companion.

    I need to shrug off these bad points and twist it and focus on how I am going to resolve them. But then, that's the inexperience... I don't know how.

    But now I've got the trainer on board, that should help get me heading in the right direction.
     

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