For a puppy, adolescent and mature dog the order of rank has to be clear; the master is the master, the leader of the pack. Only under this condition a puppy feels save, a 7 months old dog (adolescent) learns to restrain, and an mature dog knows his place in the pack (in this case: the family).
The sensitive and intelligent Kooikerhondje does not need a loud voice or a hand, but he does need a very consistent approach and determined guidance, which makes the natural overweight of the master very clear. The dog will accept this overweight quite easily, which avoids the dog from making its own decisions.
Without guidance of a leader a dog can become quite dominant. Most of the times this concerns male dogs, but there are also very controlling bitches.
The social adjustment already starts with three weeks 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 shy Kooikerhondjes socialisation is one of the most important things.
A dog which feels save and confident, is a dog that can be trusted. That is why the breeder and the owner have to work together to let the dog get used to the human cohabitation with all its different aspects. Make sure that there is plenty of contact with children, adults, dogs and other animals. Let him get used to all kinds of noises. Involve the puppy in welcoming guests, invite children and other dogs to your house or take the puppy to places where you can find children and other dogs. Do not protect the puppy when he is frightened or when he is trying to walk away, but show him as a real leader of a pack that there is nothing to be afraid of.
A puppy only needs 1 year to become mature, and in this year the breeder and the owner are both responsible for the mental and physical development of the dog. But 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 a duck decoy, most dogs will probably not be able to do that.
With the help of games, courses in relation to behaviour, obedience and agility and trace and seek games, the master can try to replace the function of a duck decoy. It is possible to go to puppy courses when your dog is nine weeks old. This is really important. The master learns to recognise his dogs’ body language, the dog gets to know his master better and he learns to spent time with other dogs. The goal is to have a friendly, obedient dog which can be taken to different places by its family because he is well behaved. By the way: of course it is also possible to leave the dog home alone, if necessary.
A good education in the first two years will guarantee you a great relationship with your dog for quite a lot of years.