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A good friend recently passed away and there's a chance I may be asked if I would like his hunting dog. She's a 7 year old Springer Spaniel and I hunted over her a few times while he was still alive.

She has been kept in an 6x8' outdoor enclosure all her life with a small house. My friends health had been failing for a while so he only got to hunt her a few times a year the past several years. She gets daily walks but if she gets off the leash she takes off. When we would take her hunting she would range far and wide. If she was hunted 2-3 days in a row she would calm down and actually was a very good hunter.

I have wanted a hunting dog for some time but have also wanted a dog that I could have as a companion and family dog in the house.

Since she's been kenneled for so long she is not house broken. It is possible to house break a 7 year old dog and teach her not to run, to obey commands and heel when required? I'm willing to try but would like to know if I am asking too much of the dog.


Thanks, Rob
 

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Yes it is possible. Many a rescue dog has been housetrained as an adult, overcome fears and anxiety and moved on to being a good housepet. It just is a bit harder than taking a pup that is basically a "blankslate" as they have already had time to learn the previous behaviours.

If you do take this dog she should have a crate in the house, be umbilical trained and be supervised whenever she is free so you can set her up for success. I would suggest keeping a journal of feedings in relation to voiding (how soon after she eats/drinks/plays does she usually go pee or have a bowel movement?) as this will help you immensely in anticipating WHEN to take her outside and reward her for going in the yard. It's JUST like housetraining a pup, you are taking her back to kindergarten. Rewarding heavily for all success, not punishing mistakes (since they are the human's fault in housetraining) and remembering the adage "when in doubt, take them out!".

Do you know if she was trained with R+ for hunting or with correction based methods or with balanced training? Work with her to determine what her favourite reinforcers are..is it play? Chicken? The opportunity to flush a bird? Start out with food reinforcers for the simple stuff and as you get farther along you can add other reinforcers. Good luck.
 

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Cracker,

thank you for the encouragement, nice to know I won't be banging my head against the wall if this does happen.

I'm new at this so please bear with me, what is umbilical trained and what is R+ training?


Thanks, Rob
 

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Housebreaking will be your biggest problem, but even that should go smoothly as long as the dog isn't acclimated to lying in her own filth. I would build an outdoor kennel for when you are at work. Other than that, you just do it like she's an 8 week old puppy.

The rest of the program is merely a matter of tightening up on her OB. She apparently knows what to do. You just have to let her know when she's doing it right.
 

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Housebreaking will be your biggest problem, but even that should go smoothly as long as the dog isn't acclimated to lying in her own filth. I would build an outdoor kennel for when you are at work. Other than that, you just do it like she's an 8 week old puppy.

The rest of the program is merely a matter of tightening up on her OB. She apparently knows what to do. You just have to let her know when she's doing it right.
Excellent work MM because it is a brand new puppy for the OP. Outside kennel is good weapon for starting pup in home as he can be transferred back and forth to help with housebreaking and I would even try a crate in home for kicks. Older dogs can sometimes break out of crates but it is worth a try. The hard part is with adult dogs forgetting that you should treat them as pups because everything will be new to this dog.
 

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Recoil Rob,

Sorry about the technical terms..I'm new to this forum and spend a lot of time in with the behaviour geeks..they are kind of sticklers for terminology! I asked a million times myself when first learning!

Umbilical training refers to having the dog on a leash tied about your waist if you want him to be out of his crate but NOT free to roam the house (and make mistakes). It can really help build a bond with you, helps you to learn to recognize any signals he may give that he needs to go outside to void and ensures he is in eyesight.

R+ is the short form of positive reinforcement training. Positive reinforcement training means you reinforce all the good stuff he does for you (with treats or with play or whatever he finds intrinsically rewarding) to increase the chances of the behaviour becoming more frequent. I'm sure there is most likely a stick in the training forum which gives you a bit of an idea of how this would work. It also means corrections (leash corrections, sharp noises etc) are NOT used.

I hope that clarifies it a bit for you, if not, just ask again!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks to all, now I know that it is possible I will be inclined to try if the dog is offered to me. If it happens I'm sure I'll have plenty of questions and will not be afraid to ask.

thanks again,

Rob
 

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It's an advantage that she's been an outside dog. I, personally, would pass on a non-housetrained 7 year old that's never lived outdoors. Yes, they exist. The ability to keep her outside will come in handy while housetraining progresses. I doubt you'll have any problem getting her to make the transition from kennel mutt to cabin rat.

For sharpening up her hunting chops:

HUP
Training Flushing Spaniels the American Way
James B. Spencer

Gun-Dog Training Spaniels and Retrievers
Kenneth C. Roebuck

Training Spaniels and Retrievers to Hunt 'Em Up
Joe Arnette & George Hickox

PS: if you don't want her, I'll take her.
 
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