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 certainly accept them and become an obedient housemate, who can walk along with his family unleashed under many circumstances.
The sensitive, intelligent Kooikerhondje certainly doesn’t need a hard 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. Think carefully about whether or not to purchase a kooikerhondje then.
Still in the litter, social adjustment already starts at three weeks of age; 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 that feels save and confident, is a dog that can be trusted. That is why breeder and owner have to work together to let the dog get used to the way people live, with all the different aspects.
At the breeder the puppy already has 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 welcoming guests, invite children and other dogs to your house or take the puppy to places where you can find children and other dogs. 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, and in this 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 a duck decoy, most dogs will probably not be able to do that.
With the help of games, classes in relation to behaviour, obedience and agility and trace and seek games, the owner can try to replace the function of a duck decoy. You can to go to puppy class when your dog is around nine weeks old. This is really important. The owner learns to recognise his dogs’ body language, the dog gets to know his owner better and he learns to spent time with other dogs. The goal is to get a friendly, obedient dog that can be taken anywhere by its family because he is well behaved. Of course, if necessary, it is also possible to leave the dog home alone, 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).