They have no time to themselves.

They feel all their time is taken up with monitoring and coping with their 10-month-old Working Cocker’s wild behaviour.

What they had put down as wild puppy behaviours have in fact become more extreme as the months have gone by.

The couple works so hard with her, including taking her weekly to gundog training.

They are feeling increasingly frustrated.

Nellie slots into her wild over-excitement almost as soon as the day starts. Immediately she comes in from the garden she’s flying at the lady, growling with high-pitched yelping, grabbing the back of her legs and leaping up for her arms.

They feel this comes out of nowhere, but it doesn’t really. Nellie’s mental state is such that it takes the very smallest thing to start her off. It’s a mix of this and habit – a kind of regular morning game, I would suggest.

At a loss for what to do when she can take no more, the lady tries to catch her to lift her up to put her into her crate.

The excited dog wriggles and runs away. She eventually catches her but before forcibly putting her into the crate they have a cuddle! Nellie licks the lady’s cheek and ears.

One can see that it’s all part of a morning game to Nellie.

Enforced periods in her crate.

They give Nellie enforced periods in the crate and she quickly settles. She sleeps! It’s like it gives her a break from herself too!

One good thing is that Nellie is calmer during the day when the lady is alone, working from home at her computer. It’s when the other lady comes home that the trouble re-kindles.

This lady brings with her play and fun. Her aim is to ‘tire Nellie out’ so the dog will settle and she can earn herself a bit of peace. This only makes Nellie more wild, so it’s back into her crate.

I’ve gone into quite a lot of detail about the situation so readers can get a feel for the frustration that the two ladies are feeling.

Their two main missing trump cards.

One is the relevance of the build-up of excitement and arousal – how it lingers in the system.

The second is, instead of concentrating on STOPPING her wild behaviour, they should concentrate on what they WOULD like her to.

Currently everything they are doing is merely a coping mechanism. It changes nothing. It’s about just getting by.

Here is just a taste of my suggestions:

We looked at how they could start the day more calmly. In the morning when Nellie comes in from the garden, the behaviour starts immediately. ‘Playtime’!

The lady will show Nellie the behaviour she does want. For instance, she can walk slowly , rolling food away from herself. Instead of lunging and jumping – the dog will turn away for the food. Gradually over time the lady can add some duration and get Nellie to wait first.

Each calm moment at times when she would normally be wild will be marked with a clicker or ‘Yes’ and rewarded.

Controlled walks

Nelle’s walks consist mostly of training and lots of focussing on the lady with not much freedom.

Nellie will have bouts of charging at her, jumping and grabbing – like she’s breaking out.

I suggest much more mooching and sniffing on walks with minimum ‘control’ and training for now.

The fact she usually doesn’t settle when they come back home and has to go back into her crate, suggests to me the walk isn’t doing it’s job.

I also suggest, as well as keeping her as calm as possible and making it very clear what behaviour they DO want, shorter crate sessions. They shouldn’t wait until she has become impossible and then force her in. Better sooner – and to call her in for a reward instead.

Nellie has two extremes – wild dog or comatose in crate!

They would like a happy medium.

When hyped up and wild, Nellie needs help. She has a need. Putting a lid on it merely makes it erupt somewhere else. They want something acceptable for her to vent her wildness.

A soft toy to kill? A chew ? A sandpit?

A week later: We have seen improvement – click & treat when she’s doing the right thing seems to be having a positive impact. This is her right now – if the gate wasn’t up she’d be in the kitchen with me wanting some attention, but she is settled and not in her crate which is progress!

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help