When adopting a new dog, it’s important to learn how to train it. Training a dog to walk on a lead can be challenging, but it makes your life much easier when it is time for a walk. When you adopt a Springer Spaniel, teaching it how to walk on a lead at a young age will improve your relationship and make exercise a snap.
To lead train a Springer Spaniel, follow these steps:
- Introduce the lead and collar early.
- Create a cue word or command.
- Use positive reinforcement to entice your Spaniel to follow.
- Practice inside before moving outdoors.
- Decide whether to train them to walk on a loose leash or to heel.
Training a puppy or sometimes an adult dog to walk on a lead is challenging, and it is important to be prepared. The rest of this article covers lead training in detail and personality traits of the Springer Spaniel so that you can be knowledgeable about all aspects of the breed, so let’s get started.
1. Introduce the Lead and Collar Early
If you adopt a Springer Spaniel, it is essential to introduce the collar and lead at an early age. When adopting an adult dog unfamiliar with the lead, you will want to introduce it as soon as possible.
You’ll want to start by letting the dog sniff the items if they are apprehensive. Discourage chewing by offering their favorite toys if they start to mouth the lead or collar. Once they are more comfortable with it, you can start by putting on the collar and lead.
Let your dog walk around with it without you holding it, so they can get used to the feeling of wearing it.
It is crucial to introduce the lead and collar during positive moments such as playtime or mealtime. This helps your dog associate the equipment with good things, and they are more likely to warm up to it quicker.
There are a few types of collars you can choose from when walking your dog.
Each type has its pros and cons, so it is crucial to do your research and select the option that is best for you and your Springer.
Flat collars are the most common kind of collars. They wrap around a dog’s neck and usually clips together. They can be used for walking but are best suited for a dog who is already trained to walk without pulling. Click here to see the flat collar I recommend on my site (available on Amazon.com).
This is because if a dog frequently pulls with a flat collar, it could cause damage to its neck and throat.
Harnesses are a popular option for dogs of all sizes.
These collars wrap around the legs and chest, and the lead fastens on either the chest or the back. Harnesses can help prevent the pressure around the neck that a flat collar may cause, but they can strain the dog’s back and don’t really prevent the dog from pulling.
Front clip harnesses are a bit better because if the dog tries to pull, they are turned around to face you, which helps refocus the dog’s attention on you rather than the distraction. I use the PoyPet No Pull Dog Harness (available on Amazon.com) since it clips on both the front or back and it’s reflective. I will walk them using the back clip, but will switch to the front if they start pulling.
Headcollars wrap around the dog’s snout and head and clip behind the ears. They avoid pulling around the throat of a flat collar, but it can strain the neck or jerk the head if the dog pulls too abruptly.
Some dogs like the sensation of a headcollar, and it can cause them to be calmer on their walks. However, others dislike the feeling and may resist putting it on.
This depends on the individual preference of the dog. I never used a headcollar so I asked my vet and they use the Goodboy (available on Amazon.com) brand because of the extra padding it has on the snout.
2. Create a Cue Word or Command
Your cue word, or command, is a vital part of lead training and dog training in general. Pick a short command or sound to draw your dog’s attention, such as a click of the tongue or a short phrase like “here.”
Once you’ve decided on your cue, practice indoors before bringing it outside.
Wait until a quiet time when your Springer will not be distracted, and say the command. When your dog looks at you, you need to reward them.
Continue a few times until your dog comes to you upon hearing the command.
Some dog owners choose to use mark and reward training, also known as clicker training. Clicker training uses a mechanical noisemaker to produce a clicking noise when the dog performs the action you’re looking for. A clicker can be used as a cue in conjunction with or instead of a command word. Check out this clicker if you looking for something affordable and easy to use (Available on Amazon.com).
3. Use Positive Reinforcement To Entice Your Spaniel To Follow
After getting your dog used to wearing the lead and teaching them the cue, it is now time to start working on actually walking on the lead.
Some dogs will get this concept naturally, and others may need some help.
If your Springer is wary of the lead, you must ensure that all experiences with it are positive, which will help alleviate fear and help your dog feel more comfortable. The most important part of the process is positive reinforcement.
You should never scold your Springer while on the lead, as this can lead to negative associations with walk time.
Instead, encourage them to walk to you using a gentle voice. When they reach you, reward them with a treat. Repeat this process several times, taking a few steps back each time. You should gradually increase the distance your dog has to walk to reach the treat. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats are perfect treats for this exercise.
4. Practice Inside Before Moving Outdoors
Make sure your Springer can walk with you on a leash indoors before trying to take them on their first walk. This will build trust with your dog and help them practice their new skill.
When outdoors, there are many more distractions for your dog. Do not expect them to walk perfectly straight away. Once they have learned to walk on the lead, you can begin to look into whether you prefer to train them to walk on a loose leash or to heel.
5. Decide Whether To Train Them To Walk on a Loose Leash or to Heel
When trying to teach a dog to behave well on a lead, you have a few options. Two of those options are the loose leash method and the heel method.
Loose Leash Training
Loose leash training is teaching your dog to walk on a lead with a bit of slack. Your dog is freer to roam about with this method but must not pull the lead taut.
This method is preferable if you don’t want to train your dog too strictly, as they do not need to stay as close to you as they do with the heel method. It provides the benefits and safety of lead training without the rigidness of heeling.
Loose leash walking is also an excellent method for Springers as they tend to pull on the lead more than other dogs. They have extra energy and stamina, so heeling may be harder for them to learn.
To train your Springer to walk on a loose leash, you will need a longer lead. The Spruce Pets recommends 6 ft (1.82 m). You start by walking your dog normally but immediately stop moving if they try to pull or tug on the leash. The leash I use is recommended on my product page.
When they have stopped pulling, and the leash is no longer taut, you give them the command and continue walking.
It is vital to reward the dog while they are doing well on the leash, which ensures they know they are behaving well and are more likely to continue the behavior in the future. You can use praise or a treat. I found these treats by Wellness Natural (available on Amazon.com) and my dogs love them.
This is also a perfect time to practice clicker training if you have decided to go that route.
Heel training is the method where you teach your dog to walk alongside you. Heeling is generally seen in obedience competitions but can be used for daily walks as well.
This type of training is more challenging for dogs with high energy, but Springer Spaniels are highly trainable, so it is possible. It depends on your dedication to training and your individual dog’s personality.
To train your dog to heel, you will again want to have plenty of treats on hand. Point to the side you want your dog to walk on and call their name. Reward them when they come, and repeat this process several times.
Eventually, you should be able to stop calling them, and they will come on their own. You can increase your dog’s challenge by walking in patterns other than a straight line.
Springer Spaniel Traits
Training dogs to walk on a lead will vary slightly from breed to breed. The Springer Spaniel has a lot of energy, but it is also very trainable.
According to the American Kennel Club, the Springer Spaniel has high energy and is very playful. This breed is also very curious about strangers and likely will not be shy.
These traits are great for day-to-day life but may present challenges when it comes to walking time. For example, a dog who is very high energy may be more distractible and will be more likely to chase after birds and squirrels or run up to greet strangers.
This could lead to lots of pulling on the leash.
Of course, this depends on the individual dog, as each dog has a different personality. You may have a Springer that does not have lots of energy or does not like strangers, which is why it is crucial to get to know your dog’s unique personality when training it.
The American Kennel Club also states that Springer Spaniels are highly trainable and love to please their owners. This trait should aid in your journey of teaching your Springer Spaniel to walk on a lead. It will also help if you desire to train your Springer in other areas, such as obedience or dog competitions.
Of course, as mentioned above, each dog is different and may not follow the characteristics of its breed perfectly. You may find that your Springer is more resistant to training than you would like.
In this case, patience and positive reinforcement are key to teaching them to walk on a lead. I highly recommend picking up Brain Training For Dogs. It is an online training program that will walk you through the steps to train your dog. At just $47, you get a structured and detailed training program from a professional trainer for just a fraction of the cost of a local trainer.
Other Forms of Exercise
Walking on a lead is not the only form of exercise for a Springer Spaniel, although they make great companions on hikes. There are many ways you can exercise and build your bond with your dog, just like with any other breed.
Springers love to play, and a classic game of fetch is always a good choice. The ChuckIt! Sports Ball Launcher (available on Amazon.com) is the perfect for Springer Spaniels.
Tug-of-war is another game that many dogs enjoy. Some dogs even enjoy swimming, but make sure your dog knows how to swim before bringing them into the deep end.
You can start testing the waters with a kiddie pool and see how your Spaniel reacts.
These dogs do well in areas where they can run around on their own, such as a fenced backyard. It is a high-energy dog and requires lots of exercise, so they do best in environments where they have lots of room to stretch out.
However, this does not mean they cannot be happy in a smaller environment such as an apartment.
This just means it is vital to get your Springer outdoor time on walks around the neighborhood or trips to the dog park. They can thrive in many different environments as long as they get ample exercise.
The Springer Spaniel is a high-energy dog, but it is also highly trainable. If you follow these steps, teaching them to walk on a lead can be a rewarding experience for both you and your dog.
- Introduce the lead and collar early.
- Come up with a cue word or command.
- Use rewards and positive reinforcement to entice your Springer Spaniel to follow you.
- Practice inside before moving outdoors.
- Decide whether you want to train them to walk on a loose leash or to heel.
- K9 Bridle: How Do I Train My Spaniel To Walk On A Lead?
- American Kennel Club: How to Teach a Puppy to Walk on a Leash
- American Kennel Club: English Springer Spaniel
- The Spruce Pets: How to Train Your Dog to Walk on a Leash
- American Kennel Club: Mark & Reward: Using Clicker Training to Communicate With Your Dog
- The Spruce Pets: How to Train Your Dog to Walk on a Loose Leash
- American Kennel Club: Teach a Dog to Heel: How to Train a Dog to Walk Beside You
- The Spruce Pets: Exercise for Dogs: Keeping Your Dog Fit and Active