Loving a spaniel means working with them

Since it’s Valentine’s Day… a story about how just loving them is not enough for spaniels. One of the biggest lightbulb moments I’ve ever had was the day realised how important it is for spaniels to WORK with their human.

I will never forget that moment at our first hoopers class in the summer of 2018 when Nell realised we were going to work as a team – her whole face lit up like I’d never seen before. We had shared a life for 4 years at that point and experienced a lot of things together, including many long trips and happy days at the beach – yet none of those things had had the same effect. Her happiness at this new prospect of Working Together As A TEAM was palpable – so much so that I felt a little bit guilty I hadn’t realised it sooner. That was a turning point in our relationship, and although it took me a while to take action on that insight, once we moved out of the city later that year I started making more of an effort to train together.

I used to think training your dog was something that wasn’t for me – why not just enjoy life with your dog and not take it so seriously? That moment of seeing the happiness helped me understand that although there are many important aspects in the relationship we have with our dogs, something will always be missing for a spaniel if you don’t train with them.

They are wired to work, and specifically wired to enjoy working with us, humans – we created that need, that itch in them, and now it is our job to meet their needs. You don’t have to be very good at it or do a lot of complicated stuff – it’s enough to try, and also make working together fun.

It’s tempting to project our human ideas onto dogs – how we might rather choose not to work – but for working dogs, it’s a big part of giving them a meaningful life and loving them ❤️

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