When To Start Puppy Training

Puppy training will begin as soon as you bring your puppy home. Puppies as young as 7 or 8 weeks can be taught simple basics such as sit and stay, but they do have a very short concentration span. It is best not to be too intense too soon and keep training sessions short, but daily.

Positive reward based training should be introduced to help the pup understand your command. Food treat rewards can be used to lure the pup into position. To teach the ‘sit’ command, pass a tasty treat in your hand over the pup’s nose towards his back and say sit. This action will force him to sit down when you should repeat the command and give him the treat with lots of praise. The same principle can be used for ‘down’, by passing the treat close to his nose and to the floor giving the ‘down’ command. Repeat the command and give the pup the treat when he has got down on the floor. Always give lots of praise when the pup gets it right.

When to use treats?

Using food treats in this way can be used for other basic commands such as to get your pup to come to you when called. For ‘come’ hold the treat out at a distance and give the command ‘here’ or ‘come’. It often works better if you are crouched down or kneeling to be at a lower level. To help with lead training, keep a treat at your side to encourage your pup to walk alongside you.

The command can be ‘heel’. Command names can basically be whatever you want them to be. The pup will learn any name or language as long as it is consistent. Most pups will respond to food based treats, but it is really best to watch and learn from your pup to find out what is the best reinforcer to use as a training aid. Not all dogs are food led and some may prefer to have a ball as a reward or another favourite toy or even just a lot of fuss and praise. Eventually everything will become second nature and the reward can be dropped.

How to recall  your dog?

Recall training cannot be started too soon and is the most important to master. A young pup has a dependent need to be close to you and will follow you around wherever you are. It is a good idea to use this time to create good recall and a close bond with your pup. Don’t worry about losing him, you can walk, increase pace and change direction. He will be concentrating so hard to keep with you and that contact with you is not broken.

Call the pup over to you often with the command ‘here’ or ‘come’. Always praise and make a fuss when he comes to you. Many new owners are so worried about losing their pup that they keep them on the lead. By doing so they miss out on this special time where the pup should be learning to follow you about. If this opportunity is missed it could be disastrous when he is eventually allowed off lead! Getting the chance of freedom at the emerging independence stage will mean your pup will not want to give it up and is unlikely to come back to you when you want him to! He will hover around just far enough away but will not allow you to catch him! Very frustrating! He may have little sense of danger or of getting lost which could end in tears.

Clicker training can be started with a pup as young as 12 weeks. Getting your pup used to the clicker sound early on is a good idea. Pups usually find this fun and consider it a game. Clicker training help can be found in Clicker Training

How much exercise?

Your new pup will be very active in between naps. Giving the right amount of exercise is important. Once puppy has had his vaccinations and can be taken out into the big wide world, exercise should be kept to short walks. Puppies bones are still very soft and growing and inappropriate exercise may damage the growth plates. Too much exercise too early could cause health problems later in life. Experts consider that 5 mins for every month of age starting at four months is the rule to go by. However, there are no official studies to support this, but even so, it is a sensible precaution. Working line breeds will have an abundance of energy, so it may be difficult keeping strictly to this!

Keeping these breeds mentally stimulated is therefore important. One study suggests that it is the type of exercise rather than the quantity e.g. allowing your pup to go up steps and jump in the early months. It is always wise to pick your pup up when going up and down steep steps and into vehicles.

Your pup will also need a good puppy bed to relax in after all this stimulation. The puppy first bed is a soft, supportive bed that will grow with your pup and help him settle down for a good nights sleep.

Have fun with your puppy!

CLICKER DOG TRAINING

Clicker dog training is a positive reward based training technique. Puppies usually find this fun. Turning training into a game gets good results. The Clicker is a good way to let your dog know he has done something right. It is consistent and unlike the tone of your voice, will not change.  It acts as an indicator that your dog has done as he is asked and will get a reward for doing so.

It means you can reward good behaviour as it is happening.  Clicking exactly when your dog is doing what you ask of him will mark the moment.  Offer the reward immediately.  What you are doing is ‘conditioning’ your dog to know that the sound of the clicker will indicate a reward.

You will need to use really tasty treats.  Small pieces of cheese, hot dog sausage or liver treats work well.

How to start

Only use one click. Never point the clicker at the dogs face. It is a good idea to have the clicker behind your back especially if you are training a puppy.  Some dogs are very sound sensitive and may find the clicker sound frightening at first. Try to muffle the sound.  This technique will not be successful with a dog nervous of the clicker so use a different training method.

To get started, just click followed by a treat to build up association with the sound.  You can do this around the house at regular intervals so the dog has time to understand it.   When you click and your dog looks up at you, you know you have conditioned the clicker.

Clicker dog training differs from the traditional methods in that the behaviour has to be well understood before using a command i.e. verbal or hand movement. The dog needs to understand what the specific behaviour is before giving it a name.  You can start to introduce the ‘cue’ when the dog confidently repeats the behaviour and understands that it earns a reward.

You can now give the behaviour a name e.g. ‘sit’.  When you see your dog about to sit down, click and reward.  Repeat this each time he goes to sit. Then introduce the cue ‘sit’. Ask the dog to sit, click and reward as soon as it has been actioned.    Gradually, clicker dog training can be faded out once the dog is performing the behaviour with verbal cue.  The dog will quickly learn to listen or watch for its cue. It will associate the cue with doing as asked and getting a tasty reward.

Some tips

  • Your dog will sometimes get it wrong.  Consistency and repetition is the key. Take a break if you are getting frustrated and/or the dog is tiring.
  • If you are using treats as reward, make sure your dog’s food intake is reduced so he does not put on weight.  During training you can get through quite a lot of treats!
  • Don’t use the cue words until you are sure your dog will get it right.  Eg. Asking him to sit means straight away.  If he doesn’t do what you ask, then he does not get the reward.
  • Take your time and give clear commands. Always stay calm.
  • If you click, always treat.

How long should the clicker be used?

Once the behaviour is learned, there is no need to use the clicker as the dog is understanding what you are asking him to do.  The clicker and treats can be gradually faded out.  Good behaviour is maintained by replacing with praise and a favourite toy or ball as a reward.  This is known as variable reinforcement.  The dog may not know when he is going to get a reward which makes the behaviour stronger.  He will keep repeating in the hope of getting a reward!  Clicker training can be used for any new behaviour.  Once the basics have been established you can move on to more advanced training.

To recap on clicker training

  •  It is important to remember that a click is always followed with a treat.  This ensures that the strength of the clicker is maintained.  You don’t have to constantly use the clicker once the behaviour is established.
  • Remember the click is not the reward or command – it is simply a way to say “Well done, you did it right”.  Only click when your dog has done what you want it to.
  • Tasty food treats as a stimulating reward tend to work the best. Or you can use balls, toys or just lots of praise and cuddles.
  • You can guide your dog with treats to get them into the position you want (this is luring).  Click as soon as they have got it right and give the treat. The lure can then be faded out.

Most importantly, have fun training your dog or puppy.

Good luck!

 

 

 

Tips for photographing your dog

All dog owners love to take photos of their dogs, but often that special moment has gone before you have your camera ready!! Pet photography is not easy and the following tips may help to get that favourite shot.

Don’t be taken by surprise and plan. Take someone with you to provide distraction with plenty of treats and toys. You will need someone to engage play and get your dog into position without him being aware of what is going on! Try and keep the photo as natural as possible.

If you want a head shot, use the zoom on your camera which will allow you to move further away, but still capture a close up image. If you are just photographing head and shoulders make sure the eyes are clearly in focus. The eyes should be position two thirds to the top of the frame to create a balanced photo.

It is a good technique to  photograph your dog outside using natural light. A classic rule to remember is to always have the sun behind you which will protect the lens from flare. When photographing dark haired dogs, having the sun shine on the dog helps to lift shadows and bring out the shine and colour variations in the coat. However, the typical English weather is usually cloudy but this, actually, is the best condition for photography. Photographers call cloudy days nature’s soft box, so don’t be dismayed if your planned day is overcast.

If you are using a flash indoors, one problem can be ‘green eye’, similar to the ‘red eye’ effect in people. Animals tend to show a greenish-yellow tinge to the eyes which is the light bouncing off the back of the retina. Strangely green eye appears more noticeable in older dogs. To reduce getting the ‘green eye’, one option would be to avoid using the flash and raise the ISO setting if you have this facility on your camera. Select a higher setting when the light quality is poor and a lower setting when it is good. However, most image software programmes on computers have the ability to remove ‘red eye’ and adjust the colours.

Taking photo’s in warmer weather can get your dog hot and excitable and consequently they will pant with the tongue hanging out. Sometimes this will give the dog a happy expression and ‘smile’ but some dogs have very long tongues which can become the focal point of the photo! Get the dog to focus and close his mouth by creating distraction; try using a squeaky toy behind your back. If the dog is interested he will close his mouth.

A good tip is to try to be as creative as possible and get colour in your shots. Use nature – wild flowers, even dandelions are colourful! Use props such as wooden garden furniture, pots and ornaments. If you are photographing indoors using a sofa or armchair, cover the seat with material to highlight the dog’s coat colouring. A black backdrop will help draw attention to the dog’s expression. Red will give a sense of authority to the shot and is a particularly good colour for Dobermanns, Rottweilers and German Shepherds.

On many digital cameras you can select either the shutter speed or aperture as the priority facility. You will need to experiment with these functions. A faster shutter speed will freeze any movement in your photograph whilst a slower speed will blur a moving object. Using a faster shutter speed will create great shots of your dog in mid air catching a ball or jumping.

Patience is a virtue and to get the best photo’s you will need endless patience. But keep practising and you will be rewarded with an album of great memories of your much loved dog.

For more help with amateur pet photography click here

Winter Competition 2017

#Winter photography competition has now opened!! To take part and enter competition. We are looking for a great #photo of your #dog#walking, playing or working in the #countryside to capture the winter#season. The winner will win a Beco dog bed and the winning photo printed on an item of your choice from either a cushion, mug or tote bag. We would also love to share the photo on our website, so if you would like to show off your best friend send your entry photos to [email protected] marked Winter Competition with details about your dog and the photo and why it is special.
All entries must be in by the 19th Feb 2017!

Good Luck!!

Is your Dog Barking Mad!

Dogs bark! Its how they communicate, but for some dogs barking can become habitual and excessive and a nuisance to you and your neighbours and could result in a complaint being made to the Council. especially if you don;t know how  to stop a dog barking at night.

Dogs bark for a reason and you need to find out what that is before making attempt to stop it. Some dogs, depending on the breed and individual temperament will bark more than others. Dogs bred for guarding will do just that and also some of the more reactive breeds such as herding and terriers also tend to be more vocal.

There are different types of barking :

* Watchdog barking – guarding the home and reaction to people walking past, postman and delivery people.

* Frightened and anxious barking

* Excitement barking

* Boredom barking

* Separation related barking

* Aggression barking

How to stop a dog barking at night

All dogs will usually become protective of their ‘den’, but watchdog barking is often a problem borne from dogs who do not have enough mental stimulation as protecting the house can become their main focus. To help manage this type of barking, avoid letting your dog have access to windows or glass doors so he cannot see people walking past or movement outside. Leave the radio on when you leave him alone to try and keep him from focusing on strange sounds and give a bit of ‘company’.

Increase the exercise and include interactive play to tire him and provide more interest and stimulation. Another tip is to leave a food stuffed toy when you go out so he has something to occupy his brain and mouth! A similar situation can occur when a dog is left outside for long periods without proper exercise. The most interesting thing he can find to do is to bark at passing cars and if he is able, to chase them. Dogs need more stimulation than being outside in the garden or yard all the time. They need to be able to experience new ‘smells’ and have play time.

A lot will depend on the breed as to the kind of interaction and amount of exercise needed, but most dogs love to play with balls or a frisbee which will give them a good workout. Alternatively, consider taking up agility or flyball to create more interest in your dog’s life.

Having a dog is a big commitment and unlike cats, dogs are pack animals and do not enjoy being left alone. If it is unavoidable to leave your dog alone for long periods, enlist the help of a dog walker to take him out for exercise and socialisation with other dogs. An experienced dog walker may walk more than one dog at a time, but will know who best to pair your dog with to make the walk fun and enjoyable.

Separation anxiety barking is very common and companion breeds may suffer more from this. Getting your dog used to being alone should start from day one. Create an area for his bed or crate which will be his own space. Give him boundaries and slowly build up the time he is left alone. Start by leaving him in a room downstairs whilst you go upstairs to do jobs. The use of baby gates really helps to keep your dog away from no go areas. They do eventually understand there are places they are not allowed to go. Creating boundaries is one way to show you are making decisions as ‘leader’ and helps to alleviate the stress put on the dog of looking after all of the ‘den’ which can lead into a different behaviour trait of resource guarding which will be covered another time.

Nervous dogs will worry bark as they think they will appear fierce and the problem will go away! This is harder to deal with and may need the help of a dog behaviourist who can observe and assess the dog to find out what is causing the fear and offer a plan of help.

There is no law against a dog barking and if it does cause a problem, usually it can be sorted amicably. However, people have the right to live in peace in their homes and constant incessant barking from a neighbour’s dog could constitute a noise nuisance, especially if it is happening during the evening or at night. If it is not dealt with it could be reported under Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and may involve a hefty fine. So folks, please ‘go in peace’! For more information.

If you have a problem with your own dog barking please don’t hesitate to contact us we are happy to help and advise on a training tips.

Finding the best reputable breeder and puppy

You have done your research and decided on a breed. The next big step is to find a reputable breeder. The best way is to find a  reputable and registered breeder is with the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme here.  Being a part of this scheme makes sure all the correct guidelines are followed and that puppies are happy, healthy, vaccinated and wormed and socialisation has already started before leaving the litter for their new home.

Don’t be put off if you find a breeder that has been rearing his puppies in a kennel or barn outside. It does not mean they have been neglected. Most good reputable breeders will keep the mum and her litter indoors for the first couple of weeks and then transfer them to a safe area outside where they will have more space to romp around. As long as they receive plenty of socialising and they are kept in a clean environment, the puppies will be perfectly well raised. You will find that most gun dog breeders always keep their puppies and dogs kennelled outside. However, if pups whether kept indoors or outside, are shut away and only getting basic care, they will not be ideal puppies to buy as they will not have had any essential socialisation and life experiences.

It is unfortunate that there are so many shady so called ‘breeders’ and back street dealings with puppies. There are some that will buy in puppies to sell on and the ‘mother’ dog you may be shown has nothing to do with them. Always ask to see the puppies with the mother while they are very young and see how they interact. This will also give you a good indication of how they will look as adults. Whilst some bitches will be quite happy for you to have interaction with their pups, up to 5 weeks old the mother will be very protective of her young and some may not be very happy to have visitors around. Some can get quite distressed or even snappy and if that is the case and the pups have to be separated for your visit, this does not mean the bitch has a bad temperament as some of the sweetest bitches can get very protective whilst pups are so young. If the breeder does show the pups and mother to you separately and then when you have left the litter, allows the mum to rejoin her pups so you can see she is the real mother, you can be assured that this is a good breeder who is considerate of the mum’s needs as well as yours. Don’t expect to see the father with the puppies as they are often separated from the litter as most usually the bitch will not want any adult dog near her young.

Choosing the puppy

When looking at a litter, a well socialised litter of pups will come bounding up to check you out and bounce around. If you are looking for a bold dog, the first one to approach you may be the one for you. But bold dogs don’t always fit with everyone and you will need the pup to fit in with the family. There may be one pup that will stay a little longer to interact with you on its own and often this is the one that has chosen you and the one you should go home with.

The pup who is sitting apart from the rest of the litter and observing you from a distance, may not be as shy as it appears. Often these are the more intelligent pups and maybe a good fit for someone that is looking for a close one to one bond and able to spend time to develop it. This pup may not be good for a big noisy family. The shy type or ‘thinkers’ can be demanding to train, but still make good dogs, so don’t dismiss this one if you can manage a clever dog.

However, a pup that runs and cowers and appears nervous of human contact, could be a difficult one to raise and perhaps better avoided unless you are up for a challenge and a skilled dog handler.

The saying goes ‘never choose the last pup’, but don’t worry, process of elimination means there will always be one left! That doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice, it just may not have been the right colour, temperament or whatever, for the other families. If you like the last pup and it likes you, don’t be put off because the other pups have gone first.

Good breeders spend a lot of time with their puppies and get to know each one well, so sometimes they will direct you towards a pup they think will fit well with your family.

For the first few weeks or until your pup has had all it’s vaccinations and the all clear from the vet to start the big experience outside, all you will need as a start is a crate, a nice comfy bed and blanket and a simple collar and lead. Don’t forget the toys, pups love to play and training can start straight away through playing and teaching them to sit, stay and fetch.

Most of all, enjoy your puppy, show him everything in the big wide outdoors – good socialisation is the key. They grow up so fast and it is such a fun time and the basis for a good all round happy adult dog.

If you require any other support or assistance in choosing your next puppy please contact us

Can you catch me? Establish and improve good dog recall.

One of the reasons many dogs do not get the exercise they need to stay happy and healthy is because owners are unable to let them off the lead and catch them again! Also behavioural problems would lessen if a problem dog got more exercise.

Establishing good recall could literally mean the difference between life and death for some dogs. If your dog can’t be seen for dust when let off the lead, you really should keep him on the lead until he has had more training. Open countryside for some dogs, particularly for hunting working breeds, is the biggest playground. Motivation is mostly breed specific and it will be instinctive to get out there and scent, track and catch rabbits and birds; it’s a big ask to get him to remain by your side 100% of the time.

How to start recall dog traininghow to get good dog recall

Start recall training at home early on in puppyhood. Begin by teaching ‘watch me’ and say your dog’s name at varying times. Offer a treat as soon as he looks at you. Practice anywhere and everywhere, even when out on the lead so he knows he is going to get a treat if he pays attention. If your dog is not looking at you, he is not listening and to get good recall he needs to be focused on you. Once he starts moving towards you when you call his name, you can start to introduce a verbal command or whistle to link to the action as he is coming towards you. Practice indoors and in the garden and eventually outside, but using a long training lead to start with. When you are confident that your dog will come back to you when you use the command, you can begin to practice off lead. Start at home first and then outside. With practice your dog will understand your recall command and come back to you every time. Call your dog back to you frequently and always reward and play games to keep him focused on you. Don’t let him wander too far from you as all dogs have a distance beyond which you have little influence. Never let your dog off lead in unsafe places, near traffic or livestock or in an area where you are unsure that he will come back to you e.g. where you are aware of nesting birds or other distractions.

When walking in new areas, if your dog cannot be trusted to keep within earshot and come back when you call him or he appears to be very focused on his nose, it is best to keep him on the lead. You never know what is lurking and many a dog has been caught in a trap, tangled in barbed wire and even got caught up in a farmer’s pheasant pen. But charging off towards a busy road could have far worse consequences.

What kind of lead should I use?

Training leads come in varying lengths, but a 6 foot lead that is comfortable to hold and the right size for both you and your dog can be a valuable piece of equipment to use daily. You can buy multi-functional training leads which have versatile functions i.e. double ended suitable to use as a short lead for heel work, medium length for obedience training and as a long lead for recall. A double ended lead can be used to clip around the waist so you are hands free.

A long line is a useful training lead for recall and usually available in two lengths of 5m or 10m. It will allow your dog to get to a good distance before you call him back without fear that he will run off. Long lines are not a good idea to use for anything other than short training sessions as with it being so long, it is likely to eventually get wrapped up in trees and bushes or your legs!

If you would like to know more about recall and other dog lead training topics please click here and if you would like anymore help or tips about dog training  please contact us

About Labrador

The Labrador Retriever can trace its roots to the 1800’s in the St John’s region of Newfoundland in Canada where it was known as the Small Water Dog and worked with the fishermen off the Newfoundland coast swimming the fishing nets to shore so the fishermen could haul them in. Trade in salted cod brought the breed to Dorset, England where local landowners started to refine the breed for use as gun dogs and today, the Labrador is still a very valuable working gun dog and also in other occupations as an assistance dog, sniffer dog, search and rescue and of course guide dog. In fact the Labrador is so adaptable, it can be put to work and play at most things on land and water!

Labrador Types

The Labrador is a muscular, athletic dog, deep chested with well boned forelegs. They have gentle brown eyes and a short haired coat in colours, yellow, chocolate, black and fox red.

It has become one of the world’s most popular breeds due mainly to its loyalty, and family friendly, affable personality. It is also a very intelligent breed and responds well to training. However, it loves food and can become obese if his food intake is not monitored and is given plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

Some may remember the film ‘Marley and Me’ which was a story of a Labrador puppy and his influence on his human family. Marley was played by a lab named Jonah who totally stole the show from his co-stars Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. Such is the charm and cuteness of Labrador puppies who have been so sought after by photographers over the years.

Labs are very people orientated and most become much loved family pets, but the breed is also a traditional gun dog for retrieving. Introduction to gun dog retrieve training can take place very early in the puppy’s development. It is important to develop a good bond between puppy and owner and spend lots of time together. It is not always best to take two puppies from the same litter as often they are so used to being together they become too focused on each other. To help with the bonding, It is a good idea to have the same person feed the puppy even in a family environment. Make him sit before you put the food down so he soon gets to know that he has to work for his food and that if he sits he will get fed or a treat.

Balls are a great way to start introducing retrieving. Puppies love chasing balls and you can start this in the early weeks with rolling balls for them to bring back to you. At this age, it is instinctive for them to come back to you at the sound of your voice. You can then move on to hiding the ball so he has to use his nose to scent it out. Hiding lots of balls in one go is a good scent training game. These simple games are a good basis for more serious training as he gets older.

Many gun dogs are kennelled outside, although puppies should be indoors initially for at least a few weeks. The decision to keep indoors or out is purely personal and it is perfectly possible to have a well trained gun dog living with a family, especially as a gun dog will probably only work for 5 months of the year during the shooting season. For a kennelled dog it is important to keep his bed off the ground away from the damp so a raised dog bed is a good investment.

There are two key types of labrador and the english bred Labrador is a favourite chosen Gun Dog for more information on Labradors click here. If you would like some more help in choosing a dog or working dog please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Dog lead, an essential item but which one is best?

All dogs need a dog lead, but do you know there are so many different types?

The short flat lead is a good choice for dogs who walk well on the lead and are used by many as the daily walk lead. There is a good choice of materials and designs, including leather, nylon, chain and rope so it is easy to find one that suits your dog and your lifestyle and also your pocket. The nylon lead is probably the cheapest and fairly strong. Just need to check it regularly for any fraying. A good leather lead will last forever.

Training leads are great for dog walking and training. Training leads come in varying lengths, but a 6 foot lead that is comfortable to hold and the right size for both you and your dog can be a valuable piece of equipment to use daily. You can buy multi-functional training leads which have versatile functions i.e. double ended suitable to use as a short lead for heel work, medium length for obedience training and as a long lead for recall. A double ended lead can be used to clip around the waist so you are hands free.

A long line is a useful training lead for recall and usually available in two lengths of 5m or 10m. It will allow your dog to get to a good distance before you call him back without fear that he will run off. Long lines are not a good idea to use for anything other than short training sessions as with it being so long, it is likely to eventually get wrapped up in trees and bushes or your legs!

Types and what are the best?

Shock absorbing dog leads are another style of lead that is available in the marketplace. These leads are designed to reduce stress and strain on hands, arms, back and joints. This ‘shock absorption’ takes the stress out of walking dogs that pull.

The retractable lead is a good lead for people who are unable to let their dog off the lead, possibly due to poor recall or in open countryside where there is livestock. This lead will allow the dog more freedom than the regular lead, allowing them to sniff and explore without leaving it trailing. However, this type of lead is not good for training as it encourages the dog to pull forward to gain ground. It is important to ensure they locked when walking close to traffic.

A figure of 8 lead has three different modes of use depending on your needs. It can be used as a slip lead, a fixed collar and lead and also as a halter which will go over the nose. These are usually made from nylon and padded.

Slip leads are not really suitable for lengthy dog walks or training, but are really useful for getting a lead on and off quickly. These are a particular favourite with gun dog handlers and in field trials and competitions. When using these, make sure the lead has a stopper to prevent it from becoming loose and the dog backing out of it.

Walking your dog is not just about getting from A to B and back again. Always make your walks fun and use the opportunity as a training exercise. Take out treats and your dog’s favourite toy and balls. Walking a dog is a chance to improve the bond between dog and owner and is your dog’s ‘me time’. Happy walking!

About Spaniel Dogs

Spaniels are a type of gun dog originating from Spain, but British canine historian Colonel David Hancock has also traced the line back to the Romans. The name Spaniel came from the French verb espanir, “to crouch or flatten, and also from the Italian ‘spinare’ meaning to flatten or flatten out. It is believed Spaniels were named to describe a hunting style of crouching and springing to flush game into nets for the falcons or sighthounds to take.

Spaniels were divided into the type of game they were used to hunt for. Cockers flushed out woodcock which is how they became Cocker Spaniels and Springers, partridge, pheasants, and hares.

All lines of Spaniel below have derived from inter breeding of the Cocker and Springer and today we have a number of different breeds with the English Cocker Spaniel and the English Springer Spaniel being the most popular. The extended Spaniel family are:

* Clumber Spaniel
* Welsh Springer Spaniel
* Field Spaniel
* American Cocker Spaniel
* Sussex Spaniel

The Cocker Spaniel is an enthusiastic, busy and happy little dog – their tails never stop wagging. They love human companionship and are very affectionate and sociable with people and other dogs. They make good family dogs, but do need strong leadership. They are high energy, can be very excitable and need to be kept mentally stimulated with plenty of exercise, preferably off lead so they can have a good run and sniff around. There are two strains of Cocker; Show and Worker. The show cocker has a calmer temperament and has a thicker, longer coat which will need regular grooming and clipping. The coat of the working cocker is much more silky and not so thick, but will still need regular grooming to remove matting and tangles from pushing through bushes and undergrowth, particularly so if they are full working dogs. The working cocker will also have a docked tail to prevent injury whilst working. Tail docking is illegal in the UK unless the dog is a working breed and likely to be used as a gun dog and/or for hunting and retrieving. Tail docking can only be undertaken by a vet within a few days of birth. Coat colours can be variations of Liver, Black, Orange, Red and Lemon and also in parti-colours with White either in clear colour or with roan effect.

The Springer Spaniel The English Springer is more popular than the Welsh Springer which is slightly smaller and more reserved than the English. The English Springer is a medium sized, affectionate, good natured, high energy dog who loves water so they are often wet and muddy!. They need a lot of physical and mental exercise and an authoritative handler or they will believe it is their role to take over the leadership. Springers can make good family dogs and child companions. Coat colours are mainly white with liver or black and the working Springer will have a docked tail.

The Sussex and Clumber Spaniel are a much heavier and sturdy spaniel and unfortunately are in decline. They have lower energy levels and are great companions for the less active family.

Spaniels in general are strong dogs and have a tendency to pull on the lead, mainly because they are high energy and are very distracted by a stimulating environment. Whilst trainers will not agree, many Spaniel owners will use a harness for training to control this behaviour, otherwise a good leather collar and flat lead is suitable. For a working spaniel, the handler is mostly likely to use a slip lead for ease of use whilst in the field.

To keep their coat in good condition, a daily brush down with a pin or stiff bristle brush will keep them looking good and an occasional bath with a good quality anti-tangle shampoo. Their ears need to be regularly checked and kept clean as they are prone to infection and can get very matted. After being out in the field, always wash the dog down to remove mud, grass pollen and seeds, especially if your dog has allergies. The Aquasorb dog towel is a great item to keep handy to dry your dog off.

After a day out in the field to keep your Spaniel warm and dry the fleece dog coat and jumpers are really useful as they wick away moisture and are weatherproof. They are very easy to wash and dry.

Spaniels are great little dogs, good companions and fun to have around and who are always willing to please. For more information on which spaniel to choose a helpful guide can be found here

We are always willing to help in choosing your next dog, please don’t hesitate to contact us

How to stop your dog chewing!

Chewing is instinctual and perfectly normal behaviour for a dog.  It is calming and makes him feel good and it also helps keep his teeth and gums healthy.  However, coming home to find your best shoes or new slippers in bits is not desirable, creates unwanted stress on you and your dog when he gets scolded and is obviously an expensive behaviour.  Dogs love to chew shoes and socks as they have the strongest body scent of his beloved owner.  In particular, try and keep your socks out of his reach as they can be easily swallowed and can cause stomach and bowel blockages and unwanted and unnecessary veterinary procedures.

Chewing can be prevented by understanding this behaviour is natural and providing an alternative is key to stop a dog chewing.  When your dog starts to chew on an undesirable object, ask him to leave or drop and distract by offering a treat or a favourite toy or something else for him to chew in place of it.  Praise him for leaving the favoured chew object and offer a chewable toy instead.

Chewing the right thing can also be an intellectual challenge so offering interactive toys that hold treats for him to work out how to get them out, is a good way to keep him mentally stimulated and happy for hours, particularly when you are out of the house if separation anxiety is a problem.  A good one for food obsessed dogs!
48904101 - two dalmatian puppies chewing shoes in front of a white background

two dalmatian puppies

Chewing keeps your dogs teeth and gums healthy and clean.  Cleaning your dog’s teeth with a toothbrush is not easy, most dog’s object!  A good alternative is a daily dental stick which is made up of edible abrasive particles to help clean the teeth and flavoured with chicken and meat to make them tasty.

There are lots of other chewable items on the market ; rawhide chews, pigs ears, imitation wood, antlers, and rubber bone toys to name a few.  As most vet’s would agree, giving dogs raw bones should be given with caution as bones can splinter and become lodged in the throat, stomach, intestines and bowel which can be life threatening.  Some bones are very hard and can crack their teeth and the sharp edges can cut the gums and tongue and get stuck between the teeth.  Never give cooked bones to your dog – particularly cooked chicken bones.