Considering taking on a friends Springer

Hello there,

My friend has a 7 month English Springer Spaniel which she needs to re-home.

We had a small dog, which we sadly lost after 16 years, and are considering taking on my friends springer. We had her for the day yesterday to see how we got on. She is a beautiful well behaved dog, except that when taken out for a walk she continually pulled.

It is our understanding she has never been trained to walk to heel, she will sit to command, and will leave treats until told she can have them, so obviously she can be trained. However, we are now in our late 50's and we could not take her on if we were unable to train her to walk without pulling as she is a very strong dog.

My questions is: In your knowledge of springer spaniels can they be trained to walk to heel without pulling continuously? and what do you recommend for recall? Also, if you think that we are too old (we are fit and not in ill health) to take on a such a lively dog, please be frank. We are trying to ensure that our hearts to not rule our heads.

We have arranged to have her for a couple of days next weekend, and to include overnight this time.
Thank you for any help and advice you can give us.

Hi Theresa

Yes Springers are notorious at not walking to heel but I believe this is because they love to be outside. The good news is that, with training,, it can be sorted, added to which she is still only 7 months so you have plenty of time to train her.

As for your own age, if you are fit and can go for walks everyday you will be fine, my parents are in their 60s and have a Springer, in fact they credit their Springer for their good health as having him makes sure they go out for longs walks on a regular basis, they all get the right amount of excercise

As for tackling the Heel and recall training, there are plenty of products and training techniques you can use to help you with this, I will send you an e mail with the full details as I don't have the space on the comments box

You are right not to let your heart rule your head, but with adopting anything there has to be an element of heart. Ultimately there are great training products and programs that can help you trainher and if you train little and often and are consistent I cannot see why there will be any problems, she is still a young dog that wants to please so training will appeal to this. I hope that helps you come to a decision, and I hope I was frank enough for you. They are wonderful dogs.

As for the recall, if she can leave treats until told she can have them, you can turn that into a form of recall training. Get her to sit, show her the treat, and take a few steps back, then call her to you, praise her and give her the treat. Keep doing this and making the space larger each time. This way she will associate that recall command with a treat.

Then change it slightly, play with her in the garden, say the recall command in an excited playful way. When she comes to you, give her the treat. Then do the same when on a walk. Over time, move up to doing this.

When she is running towards you; say the command, make it exciting and interesting for her to come to you, wave your arms and jump up and down, then when she comes to you, give her the treat. Never chase her if she doesn't come to you, because that is a great game for her.

The other thing to try if she does not come back on the recall is to turn and walk the other way, if you are using the pack psychology she will not want to lose sight of the pack leader. That used to work a treat with George.

As for tackling the Heel training, my advice would be to get a slip lead (one that tighten around their neck if they pull) when they pull yank them back. That works for my Springer.

If that doesn't work you can get a haltie which goes over their nose, and makes life uncomfortable when they pull. They do behave like a fish on a line at first but some people find they are fantastic once they settle down with it.

There are also anti pulling harnesses available on the market designed for the persistent puller. If the dogs pull it results in an upward pressure and the dog learns that pulling is non productive. My friend has used this to great effect with her golden retriever.

If neither of those work, then try the citronella training collars. They have a collar with a spray round their neck and you have a button on a rope round yours, when they misbehave you push the button, and they get a beep and then a spray. Sounds horrid but in my experience you only have to spray a couple of times, the beep it omits before the spray will then be enough.

With Springers and the heel, you have to be consistent, so continue to do train to heel every time you take them out, they will push the boundaries everyday.

I know I e mailed this to you, but I posted here for others to see if they needed it.

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Jun 01, 2009
your new doggie!!
by: Estie

Am wondering, did you take the springer?? I hope so! You will have lots of laughter and fun with a springer. And no, you are not too old, believe me! My hubby and I are abit older than you, and we have 2 springers, plus we foster and dog sit for our neighbor - her rescued springer when she goes out of town. I have met many people through the ESRA website and volunteers in our area who volunteer with the rescue. For the most part, they are in yours and our age bracket. 2 of our fosters were adopted into homes where owners were semi-retired. I have been pleasantly surprised at the homes where the springers have gone. And those dogs get spoiled to no end!!

I take our 2 down to a nearby park for a quick 15-20 minute run in the morning, and in the late afternoon, they get a walk. It might be overkill abit, but it's fun. About pulling....we're still working on it!! However, our neighbor's springer doesn't pull one bit.

Good luck!!

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