New English Springer pup - HELP!

Discussion in 'Dog Training: Principle and Practice' started by Redcoat, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. Redcoat

    Redcoat Registered Users

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    Hi everyone,

    Brand new here, and to puppies in general - have a very lively English Springer, and beginning to think we made a mistake buying him :(

    I'm pretty overwhelmed with all the different approaches to training dogs that I've only just discovered since we brought him home - from dominance to positive only. Reaching out here to see if there's any hope, and get advice!

    He's not doing too bad with potty training - we have him sectioned off in our sunroom. Have started training him with treats, and he's smart - he'll sit, lie down (reluctantly) and stay for a treat. However, he's still jumping and biting a lot, and it's like he goes crazy on a leash. He was doing better on a leash, but seems to have regressed. Now's it's hard to put it on him without him biting you, and even in the back yard, he'll go round and around pulling like crazy.

    Being so new to dogs, it's really hard to know who to listen to! Almost had a "dog trainer" come to our home for $300 for 2 hours - he's focused on training the parents and creating a calm dog. Says excited dog happens due to "fear excitement and dominance". When I asked him, he said he's closest to Cesar Millan approach.

    I also have been watching a lot of Zac George videos, which is a completely different, positive-based approach.

    Seems like a huge jump from training sit/down/stay for a treat, to actual obedience in practice.

    Does anyone have thoughts on what approach is actually best? Does treat training actually translate to obedience? How long should I expect for that to happen?

    Also, any tips on how to put leash on without getting bitten?!

    Thanks!! David
     
  2. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Hi David, I'm glad you found the forum. I'm just on my way out, but I know by the time I get back you'll have had some great advice and links to resources. The upshot is, dominance theory has been debunked, CM is the devil incarnate and it sounds like you have a perfectly normal puppy!
    How old is your boy?
     
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  3. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Moderator Forum Supporter

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    What snowbunny said.
    Also on my way out.
    Stick around, take a look at the resources on the website, invest in Pippa's happy puppy handbook.
    Don't go over to the dark side. Positive training all the way
    Jac
     
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  4. Boogie

    Boogie Moderator

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    I recommend the Happy Puppy Handbook - brilliant and effective training :)

    I raise Guide Dog pups and all our methods are positive and reward based. You need to make sure the treat is the reward, not the bribe, that's all.

    Reward - treat after action, with cue word or click as they do the action to show they got it right. We do fade rewards as they 'get' it but never completely extinguish them.

    Bribe - showing them the treat then asking them for the behaviour, this has limited effect. We use it at the very beginning of teaching a behaviour but quickly put the treats out of sight - and in different, unexpected places - or, again, they can anticipate when a treat is coming and when it isn't.


    :)
     
  5. Boogie

    Boogie Moderator

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    To put the lead on have the treat in your hand and ask for a 'sit' don't give the treat until the lead is on and you're on your way. Fade the treat when the behaviour is established and give the treat for something else, like waiting nicely at the door to go out.


    :)
     
  6. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    In my experience all puppies bite and jump and they get out of this gradually with a combination of natural development and kindly interaction with humans. I have owned a Springer, many years ago, and i think they are wonderful dogs, but very high energy (they live up to their name!)
    It sounds as if you are in the USA, so I imagine its more difficult for you to find somewhere to have your puppy off lead, but as you have a garden, start there. Have your puppy off-lead and encourage him to follow you by holding a treat in your hand - something tasty - most Springer are as food-motivated as most Labs. Only expect a few steps at first, then stop and play. Start teaching him to fetch a ball for example or play tug and teach a release cue (initially offer a treat for giving up the toy). Then do a few more steps of walking by your side.
    It does take time but when your puppy will walk for a short time by your side, then he's more likely to do it while wearing the lead.
    I hope you can weather the demanding puppy days as spaniels can be lovely companions.
     
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  7. Cath

    Cath Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hello and welcome David to the forum. How old is your puppy? If you look at the Labrador training board on this site you will find lots of information.
     
  8. Jyssica

    Jyssica Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hi and Welcome, What is your boys name?

    Punishment isn't a form of training for me , it creates a response out of fear and nothing else. Positive all the way will create habbits and behaviours that will last providing you keep proofing them. Keep at it, it will get easier :)

    Take care x
     
  9. Emily_BabbelHund

    Emily_BabbelHund Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hi there and welcome!

    I've really been educated about CM here on the Forum and I imagine other people in addition to @snowbunny will also weigh in on CM. But whether you think he is good or bad, he's not a dog trainer (by his own admission), so it makes little sense to hire a dog trainer who follows CM. So it seems like you have good instincts there! The biggest issue I have with my own friends who follow CM is that they don't actually train their dogs. They think as long as they are the boss, then unwanted behaviours will simply - poof! - disappear as if by magic. When they don't (duh) then here is what they say, "Oh, you know, she is just to smart to let herself be trained." Which is just so...frustrating.

    I like him too. I have to take him in small doses because he's almost too cheerful, but he is totally positive. You might also like Stonnie Dennis - just do a search on YouTube. He's not a trainer with books out or a program, just a guy who films himself working with his dogs. I like that he is very practical ("a tired dog is a good dog") and that he seems to really enjoy his dogs - it's like playtime instead of just a training session. Also there are sometimes pigs and goats wandering around as he trains, which is always a good thing. :D

    You gotta start somewhere. You wouldn't put a five year old in advanced calculus, but at 16 years old the same kid could probably tackle it with success (well, not me - I stink at math, but you get the idea). Everything builds on everything. Things like "watch me", "sit", "target", "take it/don't touch" are things that are the foundation of everything else. It's a long road, but a very fun and rewarding thing. Don't bite off too much, keep sessions short and frequent (like 5 minutes a time 2-3 times a day) and go out on a positive behaviour.

    Yes. And depending on the dog, the treat doesn't have to be food, but simply something your dog loves (a toy, tug of war, butt scratch). And just because you start with a treat, doesn't mean that you'll forever be using a treat to get that behaviour. There's some technical training term for it, but essentially there comes a point where the treat becomes superfluous. And somewhere in between there is good old random reinforcement, which means the dog never knows when he'll get a payout, making the motivation to perform the asked-for behaviour super strong. Just look at all the humans that go to Vegas and gamble their money away for the VERY rare chance they will win big - that's random reinforcement at it's finest.

    Um, the next 13 years or so? :p

    No, don't bang your head into the wall - I was just kidding. I don't know about spaniels, but the breeds I've known are pretty good with the basics by about 1.5 years. Not settled down or anything (far from it), but they certainly can be lovely to live with by that age. Sit, down, wait, don't touch, off, up, take it, a solid recall (super important), loose leash walking, etc.

    OK, in a way I actually WASN'T kidding about the 13 years. I worked very intensively with my dog for about the first five years - lots of classes and at least twice daily work at home sessions. But I was still teaching him stuff (and he was still teaching me stuff) when he passed away at 13. But if you find a training style that both you and your dog love, then you won't want to stop either. It's not a chore, it's just becomes what you do.

    Ooops, I wrote another novel - sorry about that. I don't have any words of wisdom on the leash biting as I've never had that problem, not sure why. But I'm very sure someone else here has had it and can give you some tips.

    Good luck with your new pup! :)
     
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  10. blackandwhitedog

    blackandwhitedog Registered Users

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    Hi

    I’ve rarely posted but I follow the forum regularly and have decided to pop out of lurkerdom to offer my experience. My working cocker puppy was similar – you can see from my earlier posts that I also consulted a behaviourist, which was entirely unnecessary (and not helpful either). You’ll be pleased to hear that I now have a fabulous dog! She’s about 10 months now and she’s wonderful – calm and settled at home and walks well on a lead. She's not exactly placid - she is a spaniel, after all! - but so, so much improved. Here are some of the things that worked for us (or that I wish I’d done:(

    1. Be patient. I expected far too much from a tiny puppy who was just overwhelmed with the world. Walking on a lead is a skill that they have to learn and it takes time. In retrospect, my puppy was behaving madly on a lead partly through excitement and partly through anxiety, and I wish I’d worked more on building her trust in me by taking things at a pace she could handle. Of course, this was very difficult because I live in a town and I have a tiny garden and she had to go outside on a lead, and every time we opened the door it was to a hectic environment of people, dogs, cars and noise.

    So, in my view the priority is to…..

    2. Find good spaces to walk your puppy. You might be lucky enough to live in the country or have your own fields or a large garden but for me, it was really important to find places to take my puppy where she felt safe and could enjoy herself and where we could both relax a bit. I found good places by asking other dog walkers and by using google earth to scout out nearby parks and playing fields. I also put an advert online and found someone who allowed me to rent her fields for dog-walking. At first, I drove my puppy to almost every walk, twice a day. Now, her normal walks are on-lead around the local park but every 2 days (at least) I drive her to fields where she can get a good off-lead run.

    3. Take walks really slowly. Sit down often and let the puppy sit with you and watch and become calm. I did this a lot with my pup – we would walk about 50 metres then sit for a while on the grass – but I still wish I’d done more of it. Of course, it was easier in the spring and summer. Might be a bit cold for that now!

    4. Teach him calming techniques. “Park” was really useful for us (you can look up the technique, but it’s basically to stand on the lead until the dog settles down calmly). I also taught my dog “settle”, though didn’t use it as much as perhaps we should have – but only because she stopped needing to do it as often. I used “park” on walks quite a lot to calm her down after an exciting interaction. For example if she saw another dog and went mental, I would put her in park for a bit so that she was a bit quieter before going forward again.

    5. Use a harness until the pup learns to walk on a lead. I used the harness recommended by Pippa – the wiggles, wags and whiskers freedom harness. This was completely transformative for us. The harness has a tightening attachment around the dog’s ribcage and I was a bit worried that it would hurt her but I keep it pretty loose (not so loose that the dog can pull it off, obviously) and she doesn’t seem to object to it. But it really helped. She now walks very well on a loose lead, and can cope pretty well on just collar & lead unless it’s a more exciting environment. Obviously I was still training with the harness (clicker training for loose lead walking) but I genuinely don’t think we’d have got the same results as quickly relying on a collar and lead, or even a different design of harness (I tried several).

    6. Diet. This might not be relevant for you but food was a big contributing factor to my puppy’s agitation. After a variety of tummy problems we moved her to a fish-based diet (not exclusively) and I think this has helped a lot with calming her down overall. We are currently feeding Wainwright’s puppy salmon and potato. It's expensive, particularly in the 2kg bags, but I think it’s helped a lot with her behaviour overall.

    I hope some of this might be relevant for your dog too. I wish I’d realised sooner that I needed to understand why my puppy was so worked up – excitement? Fear? Sore tummy from the wrong food? - and address those underlying causes rather than seeing it purely as a training problem. Training was certainly part of the solution but there were other things going on too.
     
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  11. Redcoat

    Redcoat Registered Users

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    Hi everyone, and thanks for the feedback! Yes, I'm in the US - just outside of Raleigh, but grew up in Hampshire :)

    Our boy is called Gooch - name we inherited from breeder - I tried to change his name to Zeke but the kids were already attached to Gooch ;) He is 12 weeks tomorrow.

    Gonna pick up Pippa's Puppy book. Have been researching a lot, so I think we're slowly starting to get our head around things. I do have a good sized yard that I can take him out - fairly quiet usually, but not fenced. He loves running to the sides and chewing on the mulch chunks or sticks at the back o_O

    Is there a balance in Positive-only? ie do you ever help the puppy understand he did something he shouldn't? eg with biting, I'll reach over the gate to where he is and motion to stroke his head. If he goes to bite my hand, I've said "uh uh" and turned away for a few seconds. I heap praise on him when he lets me stroke him. Seems to work well, and didn't take long at all...but not sure it's "positive only"?

    There's another setup in town that offers an in-home assessment / training session (as well as group sessions). Talked to the receptionist and their method sounded good - she talked a lot about positive training, but also "leadership" - helping the puppy look to you rather than you chase the puppy. Not sure I fully understand that? Waiting to chat to owner before booking.

    Again, thanks for the feedback - great to find some people with actual experience that can help us!
     
  12. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    The counter-balance for positive reinforcement is negative punishment. It's pretty impossible to not have that balance. The "positive" and "negative" simply mean "adding something" and "taking something away", rather than "good" and "bad". "Reinforcement" is something you do that increases the chance of a behaviour happening, and "punishment" is something you do that decreases the chance of a behaviour happening. So, in your example, you're using "negative punishment". That is, you are withdrawing your attention when he bites and, because he doesn't like that (finds it punishing), it is likely to decrease the behaviour in the future. With positive reinforcement (or, "force free handling"), what we are trying to do is do away with adding things the dog doesn't like ("positive punishment", such as a lead jerk, tap on the nose etc) and also training by removing things the dog doesn't like, to make a reward ("negative reinforcement", such as releasing the pinch on a dog's ear when he holds a dummy).

    If you don't use negative punishment (preventing him doing/getting what he wants) on occasion, you're going to get into trouble because you need to be able to control your dog's access to resources and self-rewarding. So, this means, for example, using a lead and stopping moving forwards when your dog pulls. If you allowed your dog to continue pulling, then they would be rewarded (by forward movement), so would be more likely to pull in future.

    Using a word like "no" or "uh uh" doesn't do anything unless your dog finds it punishing. This may be through using a threatening tone of voice, which your dog is scared of, or because he has learnt to associate it with something bad.

    This article explains more about punishment in dog training, and what it actually means: http://www.thelabradorsite.com/punishment-in-dog-training/
     
  13. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    What you describe in terms of turning away and withdrawing your attention is a form of negative punishment as Fiona describes above, but that's not is what is normally meant by 'balanced trainer'.

    Some people would say 'balanced' trainers - by that I mean those who use positive reinforcement and also use some punishment - represent the worst of all worlds in terms of effectiveness. And it makes sense that's the case when you think about it.

    All of your interactions with your puppy add up to your relationship. So everything you do contributes to the mental picture your puppy has in its mind.

    I think Denise Fenzi puts it well in her book developing engagement and relationship:

    There are 'positive' trainers who are not consistent. They are positive until something comes along that they don't know how to handle, at which point they resort to force based methods. This inconsistency of the trainer's approach and expectations is likely to leave their dog unsure and confused. In our opinion, this approach is highly stressful for the dog. We might not like the more forceful methods used by traditional trainers, but at least there is clarity and certainty for the dog.

    I very much agree with this and I see it every day in the way many pet dog owners treat their dogs. They don't handle the dog in a way they would view as harsh, but they 'nag', implement ineffective but slightly painful lead jerks, use devices that tighten if the dog pulls, tell the dog off, and so on. They don't implement punishment quickly and effectively to solve the problem once and for all - as a skilled traditional trainer would do - and it's over, but instead just damage their relationship with the dog and cause the dog stress. It's really a bit dreadful and indeed the worst of all worlds.
     
  14. Redcoat

    Redcoat Registered Users

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    Thanks all! The "punishment" and http://thehappypuppysite.com/the-evidence-for-positive-reinforcement-training-in-dogs/ article was very helpful.

    I took Gooch out this morning with his leash, and practiced walking with him with a hands full of treats - he was completely different :D Lots of work ahead!

    I'm second guessing the need to have a trainer do an on-site visit / training session. $175 for 90 mins. [These people, if anyone is interested: http://toplinek9obedience.com/about/philosophy; this person specifically http://toplinek9obedience.com/about/team/mark-parbus]. I'm finding a lot of resources here and online already. They say it would include an "assessment", but I'm not sure how valuable that would be - the more I learn, the more he seems to be a normal puppy that needs a lot of training!

    A couple of other questions:

    1. Kids have gone back to school now so trying to figure out how to help Gooch with outside time. I work from home, but often tied up on calls etc.. Would it be ok to put him on a longish leash, tied to a stake in the middle of the yard, with nothing he can get into trouble with, for short periods? Or will that likely introduce other issues, digging etc?

    2. How often should our 12 week old Gooch be eating? The breeder said she fed twice a day, so that's what we've been doing. He'll be getting a MUCH greater portion of his food in treats now though :D I puppy stages page seemed to suggest he should be eating 4 times a day, tapering soon to 3?

    3. Any thoughts on keeping Gooch gated off in the sunroom, rather than having the run of the house? He can see through the gating into the open plan living room / breakfast room / kitchen. The main reason at this point is to keep him on tile so any accidents are easily cleaned up! But he's pretty darn sociable and wondering if it's hindering that?

    Thanks again for the help!
     
  15. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    There is no way I'd tie a puppy to a stake in a garden (yard) with nothing to do. I think that would be horrible. The puppy would feel abandoned, lonely and anxious. And then terribly bored. I can't think of anything good about it.

    The recommendation to split food into 4 meals is because small puppy tummies often can't cope with a large volume of food all at once (they can eat it ok, but then get runny poo and upset tums). But it does depend on the puppy, and the food you feed. I switched Betsy onto Orijen and the volume of it is small - so I was feeding such small amounts anyway (after reserving what I needed for treats) it seemed pointless splitting it up into more than 2 meals, so she was on 2 meals from about 10 weeks.

    No reason not to keep a puppy behind a baby gate for a bit - so long as he gets enough company, training, interaction, play, cuddles etc. overall. Packing food up into kongs can help them settle down.
     

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