Jacob with a toy What a wonderful face Cocker Spaniel hasMy own working Cocker Spaniel, Pickle (aptly named), can be hard work. He has a wonderful nature, he’s gentle and affectionate but if there is any mischief to be had, Pickle will find it! Because of how I behave with all my dogs I’m thankful to say that he doesn’t do the things that Jacob does!

Look at Jacob’s face! What a Spaniel! Wonderful!

As the lady let me in, Jacob jumped up first on me, and then leapt straight up from the floor onto the kitchen table! It soon became apparent that this is normal. He spends a lot of time up on things – the kitchen table and the backs of sofas and chairs from where he will scratch at the lady’s head!

The poor lady is at her wit’s end with his barking. He quite simply controls her. He barks until she jumps to his tune – she will do anything to stop him so unintentionally she’s teaching him to bark. Jacob gets all his best quality attention for jumping up, barking and stealing things.

To gain a bit of physical control we tried putting his lead on – something to grab. You can see from the picture on the right that he soon found a way around that!!

What a splendid little dog but what a challenge for a fit and active person let alone someone a little bit frail. Fortunately her daughter lives down the road and her son stays with her during the week, though during the day he’s at work.

Jacob’s life lacks enrichment. There are two days a week when he doesn’t even go out. He’s a working dog designing his own work. Without rules, boundaries and a calm, consistent owner, a dog can also become anxious; Jacob is terrified of fireworks and certain other sounds.

We worked on a few rules. The kitchen table and sofa-backs are not part of a dog agility course! I showed them how to stop the jumping on back of chairs by teaching a replacement behaviour on the floor that is a lot more rewarding to him.  Using positive methods and encouragement he’s really eager to please. Barking should no longer get the desired result. I also suggested they found a dog walker for the days the son isn’t there, because his life needs a bit more in it; he then won’t so badly need to manufacture his own stimulation.

Email received 7 weeks later from the daughter who originally contacted me on behalf of her mother: “Having spent Christmas Day and Boxing Day at my mum’s I am happy to report that Jacob’s behaviour has continued to improve. Table jumping is now a rare occurence, barking is less and he seems are far more settled and happier dog. Mum is much more relaxed too. On New Year’s Eve he apparently slept through the televised fireworks display! Tilly has maintained her new behaviour (Tilly is the daughter’s dog). Thank you so much for helping us to take a step back, view the world through the eyes of our dogs and changing our behaviour”.