What no-one tells you about how your Springer Spaniel is likely to behave.
My name’s Gemma and I’m a dog trainer. Here’s what I’ve learnt.
We are often so full of hope and ambition when we welcome a new dog into our family, maybe we even have a picture-perfect dream in our head about what spaniel ownership should be like but somehow, this doesn’t quite fit with the reality we face.
Sometimes we lie awake at night listening to our dog howling or waking us up much earlier than we’d hoped. Our bodies are exhausted from the lack of sleep we’ve experienced since our dog came home and when we get up our dog is so hyper and way more excited than we feel about greeting the day ahead of us. We say good morning to our dog because we love them, but we just want them to calm down a little bit.
We find ourselves almost begging our dogs to give us a few minutes peace while we enjoy our morning drink and try to summon the energy to go for that long walk, we need Sometimes we set to tire our dogs out. We can set aside several hours in the morning to focus on our dog and its need to release some pent-up energy. It’s a bit of a task to put our dog’s lead on them while they jump and frantically scratch at the door, and when we step outside, we brace ourselves. Never did we imagine that our dog would pull so hard on the lead. We’ve had much larger dogs who’ve pulled with less force. It’s tough but we must do it so our dog can have some exercise.
When we reach our destination off-leash area, we’re relieved to finally give our own bodies the respite from all that pulling. Our springer spots the seagulls and makes a beeline for them, chasing them up and down the beach, completely oblivious to us and our attempts at calling them back. Once they’ve stopped chasing the birds, they run up to every dog and person they see and all we can do is look on and apologise to the people our dog has left dirty paw-prints all over, or for our dog’s pestering of their dog who was on leash, and which ended in chaos.
We’re desperate for our dog to respond to us, to be the one our dog runs to but everything we try seems pointless.
After several attempts and trying to outsmart our dog to stop them escaping our grasp, we finally go home. The pulling is still just as bad.
When we get home our dog seems to settle, but only for a short while. Just when we think we’ve moved everything out of reach, our dog runs past with something that they shouldn’t have in their mouth. Trying to take it from them feels like an impossibility because your dog thinks it’s hilarious and turns it into a game and it’s too late because they’ve already ruined the item.
When we leave them at home, even for a short time, we know that they howl, they soil the house, and they get themselves into danger because they won’t settle.
How It Makes Us Feel
We wonder why our dogs aren’t like everyone else’s. Why can’t they just be calm?
We feel alone in our journey. We cut ourselves off from ordinary things like visiting family and friends because our dog doesn’t like being alone. Sometimes feelings of shame appear when we feel like we’ve failed at training our dog but all the methods we’ve tried and the advice that people have given us doesn’t seem to work. Keeping consistent is hard when we’re exhausted from it all and if we’re honest, the advice is all so different that it becomes overwhelming.
We’re stressed. We’re frustrated. We need help but we don’t always know it.
What We Try
We can resort to trying all sorts of training methods, obedience training using treats and toys, dominance theory and so on but it doesn’t resolve all the issues. Often, we try to control what comes naturally to our Springers but that’s like trying to control the waves in the sea with your bare hands.
How We Find Peace
Nature is so powerful that it can overtake us in ways we never imagined. What we can do instead is remove the control and harness all that natural energy, we can work with it, and when we do, we can transform the relationship we have with our dog. Suddenly our world becomes more peaceful, our dogs become calmer, they still stay spirited, but they engage with us, they want to be with us, they love us, we love them and everyone around us can see that our bond is unbreakable. This is what our picture-perfect dog-owning dream looked like.
There will always be little challenges along the way but the skills we learn help us to overcome and build our resilience. We learn to embrace the bumps in the road because our knowledge and skills help us to think more clearly about how we can fix the problem. Instead of hiding away, we want to get out there and start creating a meaningful life with our dog. No more hiding away.
When we start to look at the world through our Springer’s eyes we see that their view is different to ours but our dogs are giving us all the information as to how they want to be trained if we take the time to learn, listen and respond.
My training programme is designed to take you from stressed out to chilled Springer parent. You’ll learn what it really means to be a Springer and why they do some of the things they do, understand how to find out how your dog wants to be rewarded, how to beneficially unlock the power of your dog’s nose through scentwork – our dog’s most powerful sense, and finally, you’ll learn how to become a true team, each of you responding to the other in the healthiest way.
Training our dogs can take time, it takes the brain hundreds or thousands of times of doing something until new neural pathways are formed but our brains like to make things easier and so these pathways end up as habits. When we form habits, we don’t even have to think about it, it just happens. While we all want to get to the endpoint as quickly as possible, I try to make the steps along the way as enjoyable as possible so that we forget less about where we’re going and really learn to love and enjoy all the little steps in between, all those steps that result in the journey of you and your dog. Your journey is so unique that one day you’ll look back and congratulate yourself on committing to change things for your own development and growth as well as that of your dogs.
Finding that peace, tranquillity, and connection that we so desire takes time, but the results are real and worth the little bit of effort, and in the grander scheme of things the effort we need to make is simple and takes just a few minutes each day.
If you’ve made it this far, it’s clear that you have a passion and a desire to learn how you can change things between you and your dog.
When you’re ready, reach out and chat.
"Gemma is professional, really knows her stuff, is relaxed and worked well with dog and owner. We both had confidence in her and the practical training and tips she gave suited the situation perfectly (much better than books). Thoroughly recommended!"
“Working with Gemma via video link and in person training has been so helpful. I now have a well-behaved spaniel who loves her new life having worked hard on the basics to make our lives easier for each other. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Gemma to all spaniel owners looking for a trainer, she always has an option but never pushes the dog out of comfortable areas but challenges the owner. We look forward to where our scent training now takes us.”
“Gemma has changed our lives. We had an unhealthy relationship with our 18-month-old dog and had almost given up. Gemma has shown us how to communicate with our dog and we are all enjoying life a lot more. We would thoroughly recommend Gemma to anyone having issues with their dog. Thank you for your help Gemma!”