Activities For Welsh Springer Spaniels

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Introduction

The Welsh Springer Spaniel, known as the Welshie by aficionados, is a medium-sized flushing and retrieving dog that was originally developed as a flushing dog for hunters that used falcons to bring down game. They are intelligent dogs who are extremely affectionate and loyal when it comes to their family but somewhat shy around strangers. They are known to be emotionally sensitive and while they are extremely trainable with consistent, calm training techniques, they do not respond as well to loud sounds and training methods that are overly harsh can lead to problem behaviors like submissive urination.

Canine Freestyle Dance

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
15 - 45 min
Items needed
Music
Activity description

Welsh Springer Spaniels are loyal and affectionate animals that are known for their tendency to stick to their owner like glue, even following them into the bathroom. Canine freestyle dance is an entertaining activity in which a human and canine team perform a routine to music that incorporates tricks and specialized heelwork, which makes their trait of sticking right next to their owner very useful. The routines are carefully choreographed by the human member of the team and can be humorous or dramatic. The heelwork and trick training required for this activity can range from simple to complex, depending on the skill and experience of both the human and canine members of the team. 

Step
1
Health verification
A crucial part of starting any athletic endeavor or exercise routine is ensuring that the participants are healthy enough to take part in it. A visit to the veterinary professional will help to determine if your dog’s cardiovascular and skeletal systems are healthy enough to participate and if there are any types of moves that should be avoided. Welsh Springer Spaniels are more likely than other breeds to develop hip dysplasia, and although dogs with mild dysplasia may be able to partake in this form of exercise for a time, the choreography should take the dog’s weaknesses in mind and avoid moves that include leaping, standing on the hind legs, or twisting of the hips, and dogs should always be closely monitored for signs of pain or fatigue.
Step
2
Choreograph the routine
Canine Freestyle Dance can either be performed as freestyle heeling to music, in which your canine companion stays in a close heel position throughout the routine or as musical freestyle, which incorporates both specialized heelwork and tricks that send the dog further from their handler. Once you have chosen which form of dance you will be utilizing, you can choose a piece of music to dance to. When choosing a piece of music, be mindful of your dog’s response to the music; Welsh Springer Spaniels are particularly sensitive to sound and may not work as well if the music is too loud or dynamic for them.
Step
3
Perform
It is a good idea to start out slowly, particularly with a sensitive dog like the Welsh Springer Spaniel. Starting out by demonstrating their routine for friends and family will help to establish a positive association before attempting to perform for a larger audience, setting you and your dog up for success. The major kennel clubs such as the AKC, the FCI, and UKC all host larger canine freestyle dance competitions which will be less intimidating for the team if they practice at smaller, local presentations first.
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Scent Work

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
15 - 30 min
Items needed
Scent work Kit
Reward
Activity description

Canines typically have a much more defined sense of smell than the average human. Not only do they average at least ten to twenty times more olfactory receptors than the paltry six million that are found in the human nasal passage, the part of the brain that is devoted to analyzing odors is also around forty times larger than ours. Welsh Springer Spaniels are known for their ability to locate crippled game by scent, and it is rare to lose a downed bird when you are hunting with a Welshie. While their scenting ability is exceptionally helpful when hunting, it can also be a useful skill to hone for search and rescue and for competitive scent work. 

Step
1
Choose your scent
When starting scent training, you will typically want to start with a specific scent that is not related to food. Most introductory scent work kits come equipped with scent markers such a clove, birch, and anise, that are frequently utilized in competitions. Canines that are being trained to hunt may find training for bird scent more useful, and search and rescue dogs will eventually need to be able to hone in on a specific human or animal’s scent.
Step
2
First steps
Scent five or six identical items so that every option your dog chooses is a correct one. Reinforce with a reward of some sort, either food treat, clicker, or praise, each time they touch a scented object. Once your dog has connected the scent marker to the reward, remove one scented item and replace it with an unscented item, being careful not to impart any of the scent to the new item. Reward each time they touch a scented object, but withhold the reward for indicating the unscented object. Keep working with this until the dog is only touching the scented articles and ignoring the unscented one, then replace another scented item with an unscented one, until only one scented item remains.
Step
3
Scent articles and locations
Those who are teaching their dogs to hunt may quickly graduate to decoys and a scented stuffed animal or an actual bird from the previous season, while dogs that are training for competition will need to be able to scent on both metal and leather. Hunting dogs may be best prepared for their jobs by searching in fields similar to where they will be hunting, and those that are practicing for competitive events will typically need to be able to scent in several specific situations including interior, exterior, container, and vehicle searches.
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Hunting Practice

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Any Day
Cheap
Normal
5 - 30 min
Items needed
Whistle
Stuffed bird wing
Long Lead
Activity description

This breed of dog is still frequently employed as a flushing and retrieving dog for hunters of both upland game birds and waterfowl. While they tend to have natural talent and instinct that helps to guide them in this endeavor, a great hunting partner also requires training, which often begins at a very early age. When working with the Welsh Springer Spaniel, remember to keep their sensitivity in mind; never use harsh discipline with these dogs and be sure to introduce loud sounds associated with hunting, such as the sound of the gun, slowly and gradually to avoid creating a gun-shy hunting partner. 

Step
1
Whistle work
Dogs who are being trained to hunt will need to be able to obey certain commands, even under circumstances in which they may be unable to hear your voice over long distances, heavy cover, and loud winds. This can be handled by training them to whistle cues, as the sound of a whistle carries better than the sound of a human voice. A least three cues should be trained to a whistle, a cue to go out further, to get the dog’s attention and turn them, and to get them to return to you, each with a different whistle pattern.
Step
2
Feather retrieval
A desire to catch and fetch feathered things is essential to the drive of a good bird hunting dog. Some hunters will use stuffed duck or pigeon wings to increase the desire of their young pups to retrieve birds by playing fetch in the house or yard. These feathered fetch games should be kept fairly short and uncomplicated, around five to ten minutes per session with just two or three sessions per day. This game can also be used to help teach your dog impulse control by training them to wait until your command before chasing the feathers.
Step
3
Walking in the pocket
When hunting upland birds with a canine hunting partner, it is helpful if the dog stays within the swath of cover that comprises the area in front of them from around ten to two o’clock. This is commonly referred to as being in the pocket, and it keeps the dog in front of you and within sight, keeping the dog safe and preventing you from having to backtrack or search for your dog. The training required to teach your dog to stay in this area can begin for pups as young as three months old and should start as early as you can. Take your pup on a walk using a long lead to give them enough room to roam. When they fall behind or go too far off course, clap your hands to get their attention, point forward to indicate the direction and then gently tug on the leash to move them back to the correct position, praising them enthusiastically when they have returned to the pocket.
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More Fun Ideas...

Flyball

Like many hunting dogs, these dogs have a high drive to retrieve, making them well suited to the canine sport of flyball, a fast-paced activity in which teams of four dogs compete in a relay-style race over hurdles in order to retrieve a tennis ball that is released by a flyball box at the end of the track.

Swimming

The Welsh Springer Spaniel was originally developed to hunt both upland fowl and waterfowl and typically will take quickly to the water. This breed is also more likely than other medium-sized dog breeds to develop hip dysplasia, and swimming is an excellent way to increase the muscles around the hip area without causing as much stress to the hip joints themselves

Conclusion

The Welsh Springer Spaniel was developed as a working dog, and they have a great deal of energy and a strong desire to be close to their chosen humans. Dogs of this breed who do not get enough exercise and attention tend to be anxious and may develop overly vocal or hyperactive behaviors.