English Springer Spaniels are charming, enthusiastic dogs that need a lot of exercises, originally bred as working gun dogs. Many people still keep them as gun dogs, but if you have one as a family pet, you may wonder how good they are off leash and if they behave and return when called. While you also need to train your spaniel to work well on a leash, you must be sure that your English Springer Spaniel will also behave when off their leash.
English Springer Spaniels must be trained from an early age to prevent them from becoming problem dogs off leash. Springer spaniels that have not been well-trained will instinctually chase prey animals. Training them from puppies will reduce problems from having your dog off a leash.
These spaniels are very active dogs and easily trainable; they love to work with their humans and return to their owners, which usually makes them excellent dogs for working off-leash. As gun dogs, these qualities are bred into them as the need to be able to hunt and flush out birds and animals for human hunters. It’s imperative your English Springer Spaniel is trained to return and obey recall commands because their instinct is to run after anything they consider prey – luckily, they are highly intelligent and take well to obedience training.
Are English Springer Spaniels Good Off a Leash?
While English Springer Spaniels are known to be enthusiastic, obedient, and quick at learning commands, they are dogs bred to chase and hunt. Their instinct to hunt and flush prey means that unless otherwise trained, they will chase any animal they see as possible prey. If you have not spent time training your spaniel from a young age to control this urge and to return when called, you could well end up with a dog that is a terror when off the leash.
A responsible dog owner should always train their dog to behave when on or off their leash, but with a hunting dog like a Springer Spaniel, this training is imperative if you wish to have a dog that will not cause problems or even be injured when off their leash.
Young spaniels are particularly enthusiastic and excitable and will end up chasing other dogs, cats, birds, or hares if they are not correctly trained to be off-leash. It’s recommended that until your spaniel is trained to recall, you should keep them on a leash to prevent accident or injury.
How To Keep an English Springer Spaniel Close to Me
When you begin training an English Springer Spaniel as a puppy, the essential thing to curb their instinct to chase is to make every walk recall training. Because of their friendly natures and eagerness to please, your English Springer Spaniel wants to stay close to you.
Spaniels bond with their owners, and by praising him when he returns to you, and rewarding the behavior you want from him, he will quickly learn. Especially when they are younger, Springer Spaniels will find their new world very exciting and want to explore, so you’ll need to be sure that they obey recall commands before allowing them off their leash.
When you take your puppy for his walk, do so on a long loose leash, so he is not encouraged to pull. Use his name to get his attention, and the command ‘come’ so he learns to associate this word with retuning to you. When he obeys, reward him with praise and sometimes a treat.
How to Train English Springer Spaniel off a Leash
Once you have begun this initial on-leash training, make a game of it by praising him, then sending him off on his leash again, and calling him back for more rewards.
You can practice this off leash in your yard, and as long as you keep the duration short for your puppy and make it fun for them with attention and treats, they will quickly work out that coming back to you is a good thing.
Avoid negatively using your dog’s name and the return command – you want to keep the association positive. Some people prefer to teach their dog to return when they whistle, and one way you can avoid this causing any issues with other dog owners who whistle train is to use a specific pattern for your dog.
Train your dog to walk at heel and to stay close to you. One way to keep the focus of a young dog trained on you is to avoid walking on a straight, predictable route. If you change your path, walk in zig zags, and constantly change direction, your spaniel will find this intriguing and play their game of staying with you, with all the attention focused.
Do English Springer Spaniels Pull on the Leash
When you are recall training your English Springer Spaniel, please do not allow them off-leash until you are confident they will return on command. These spaniels have got something of a reputation for pulling on their leash, so you can avoid this issue initially by training them on a long loose leash.
Train your spaniel to walk to heel when walking with you, so they do not pull ahead. Use food and treats as rewards to encourage them to stay to heel.
With loose leash training, the goal is to have the leash always feel loose so that your spaniel is not pulling on the lead. When your dog pulls, and the leash goes taut, you must stop moving or even walk in the opposite direction.
When the leash goes slack again, you reward your dog by walking forward as expected. English Springer Spaniels are very smart, and they will soon realize the best way to keep going on a walk is to keep the leash loose and stay near you.
Only once you are assured that your spaniel will stay close to you and return on command should you allow them to roam off their leash. English Springer Spaniels must be well trained if you plan to use your spaniel as a gun dog, as they will roam much further afield than a pet out on a walk with their owner.
Due to their hunting nature, English Springer Spaniels must be well trained to walk to heel, not chase unless instructed and recall at your command. If you neglect recall training with your English Springer Spaniel, they are unlikely to be good off a leash. If you are concerned about the likelihood that they will obey you, you should keep your spaniel on a leash for their safety and the safety of other animals.