Distinct and consistent guidance
The kooikerhondje needs a distinct leader. Right from the start, one should provide house rules, which always apply and must be acted upon by everyone. When dealing with the dog, only distinct rules will ensure that the puppy and young dog feels safe and can grow up to be an open and happy dog. When the rules are clear to the dog, he will easily accept them and become an obedient housemate.
The sensitive, intelligent Kooikerhondje certainly doesn’t need a firm hand, but needs a decided and consistent guidance. Only then, the natural authority of the leader is willingly accepted. If circumstances in the house make the rules ambiguous or unpredictable to the dog, a kooikerhondje will take his own responsibility all too quickly. He starts to take care of things in a canine way, which usually means using his teeth. Small children can provide such unpredictable circumstances, but also physical and/or mental illness of an adult. In those cases, think carefully before purchasing a kooikerhondje.
Social adjustment starts at three weeks of age, while still in the litter. The period from six to sixteen weeks is the most important period for the social development of the dog. This is also the period in which it is quite easy for the dog to learn things. For the shy Kooikerhondje, socialization is of vital importance. A dog that feels save and confident, is a dog that can be trusted. That is why breeder and owner have to work together to get the dog used to the way people live, with all its different aspects.
At the breeder, the puppy has already had pleasant contacts with children, adults, dogs and possibly other animals. Those contacts must be renewed at the new owner. Let him get used to all kinds of noises. Involve the puppy in greeting guests. Invite children and friendly dogs into your house or take the puppy to places where he can meet them. Support the puppy if he is anxious or wants to flee. At the same time, as a pack leader, show him that there is nothing to be afraid of.
A puppy only needs one year to become mature. In that year, breeder and owner are both responsible for the mental and physical development of the dog. In the end you will be rewarded for all the invested time, trouble and energy.
Upbringing and training
Although there are still Kooikerhondjes working in the duck decoy, most dogs will probably not be able to do that.
With the help of classes in relation to behaviour, obedience, agility and trace and seek games, “substitute” work can be found. Working together with his owner means everything to him.
You can to go to puppy class when your dog is around nine weeks old. That is of great importance. The owner learns to recognise his dogs’ body language, the dog gets to know his owner better and learns how to deal with other dogs. The goal is a friendly, obedient dog that can go anywhere with the family, because he is well behaved. Incidentally, the dog can also stay home alone for a while, at least after proper training.
Good upbringing in the first two years will guarantee you a great relationship with your dog for quite a lot of years (some Kooikerhondjes can live to be 16 years or older).