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How can I stop my cocker spaniel creeping?

Ellena Swift offers some sound advice

place board for dog training

Using a place board for drills is the ideal way to prevent a dog creeping

Q: I have done everything I can to stop my cocker spaniel creeping. I have consistently put her back where she started, never allowing her to have a retrieve after she has crept forwards. I tried place boards and she shuffled off them to get closer to me. She is 13 months old now and I feel as if I can’t move forwards until I’ve cracked these basics.

Problems with spaniel creeping

A: It sounds as if your dog is feeling overpressured and displaying some anxious behaviour towards you.

All dogs are different and what one finds easy, another will not. If she likes retrieving, play some simple hunting games and do little retrieves with her. Although we are still going to work on the basics, it is important that she enjoys her training. I would go back to place boards and reteach them.

Start by sitting her on the place board next to you. When she is still, reward with either affection, a treat or a toy. When you reward her, do not leave her too long before you release her. By releasing her, you allow her brain to switch off and she can then reset to practise the drill again. This is important.

After a few weeks of her sitting comfortably in front of you, begin practising with her sitting at your side. Do not put distance in at this stage. Simply get her happy sitting in different positions around you for short periods of time. When she is comfortably sitting, begin moving only one leg away, then bring it back and reward her. This can then be slowly built on over time until you are taking one or two steps away. Ensure you keep her on a lead to guide her into a sit and to move her off the board. Do not move forwards until she is ready.  (Read our advice on how to use a slip lead.)