Wednesday, 25 January 2012

What a bit of extra attention can do

I have always been aware of the affects of too much attention can have on your dog. We are so used to saying we spoil our dogs that it no longer truly describes the harmful effects. Now I don't mind a good 'ol dose of loving, squeezing and kissing ( despite being told daily not to let the dogs lick me cos they've just licked their bums) what I am talking about is actual spoiling of your dog.

Mila is a whopping big St bernard who was rescued:

When she arrived she was in good physical condition but still mentally affected, simple things like never looking up and panicking if any raised voices. With good basic care, lots of affection and a routine she came on leaps and bounds really very quickly. She changed and yet no one around her changed or saw her changing. They just saw the lost little soul.

When I look at my guys I just melt, good intentions often fly out the window so you can imagine what it was like with this big lump.

All has been going well until a few changes in the household, a new arrival and a change in family dynamics started to take affect. Belle the original Bernie started to be withdrawn, she sought out more comfort from us and we saw her often just standing watching. Mila on the other hand was becoming a bully.

It started off with little shoves and a demanding of attention, then she started really shoving other dogs away more especially Belle and dogs who paid Layla, her little housemate, attention. Then there were the looks she gave whilst dogs jumped into the van. We immediately changed our routine, only putting her in an individual cage so she couldn't learn to control dogs in the van and ignoring all demanding attention.

After speaking to her owner they admitted to giving her more and more attention because of all she had been through and Belle helped me out by doing her most dejected, ejected face. Once they realised they had been had by the greatest trickster of all, the dog, things quickly changed and has pretty much reverted to a happy healthy relationship. Belle now no longer gets overlooked, all spend individual time in the house having their 'me' time and any signs of aggression have stopped.

I feel relieved that the change in her had been spotted before a major incident and that simple changes have made such a difference. It makes me look at our doggy relationships to see if we are falling for any of those amazing traps dogs can set!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Whilst I wait

Whilst I wait impatiently for my van to defrost ( her engine not her windscreen she is currently sporting a heater and a battery charger under her bonnet) I thought I'd put my usual 5.45am start to good use.

Sam and I were having a good catch up yesterday, as we always do at the end of a day, about the dogs and we started on a familiar subject...naughty dogs.

Jasper has been a long term dog and we know him so very well yet many aspects of what he does not only makes us chuckle it also makes us somewhat bemused. Not Jasper isn't any ol' dog or indeed any ol' beagle. He is one of our best dogs. Once you have got your self off the floor I can explain why. He has THE best sit stay, walk to heel, recall yes I said recall..Beagles have a wicked reputation for having no recall this is of course down to their superior scenting skills, relentless attitude and sheer enthusiasm for life. Just like all driven dogs recall is HARDER with these breeds yet they an be more reliable once you get it....or maybe they are just so old by the time you crack it they can't be bothered to run away hehe.

He is also one of our worst dogs ( got you wondering who the others are haven't I, be afraid be very afraid). Won't sit, stay, heel and definitely won't shut up!

We have a routine. Open the back doors and it is like opening a feed bag in front of a barn full of pigs the noise hits you. So we wait until we have a suggestion of quiet. He then can progress to sitting by the van. Often we don't get to this stage! ( Back up plan is to get him out and in and out and in). He has to sit whilst every other dog gets out of the van before he can join us. He usually does until the door shuts. So he gets up and we put him in van. At least I am not being sued for noise damage to Sam's hearing. When he does get up he comes for a walk.

Of course once out on the walk they don't just get off. We walk them to heel, no badgering each other then they sit. Calm. Then off they go either together or individually ensuring, despite the excitement, they aren't too gaga.

Needless to say Jasper does the barge, the storming walk, the Bay bay bay gob and of course the dance. He sits like a statue of course cos it is just so close......

So the ponderer is.....if he is just about to lose everything and be taken back to the van why does he suddenly become champion the wonder beagle? He goes quiet, he becomes invincible not a fault not a peep....actually that isn't what I ponder...what I ponder is why doesn't he just run off at every opportunity he can, when he is made to sit quiet, or told to sit way back when he refuses to listen? He could get exactly what he wants by just running! I recon he is a gambler. He should go to those gamblers anonymous meetings. What is the fun of doing as asked first time and getting to play with his mates every time when he can try and change the rules, change the whole game and even win that game occasionally. We are consistently reliable, relentlessly solid when we handle him but the one thing he can't resist is the what if!

Mmmm now Sirus Sirus makes sense. He is a bull headed lump of a dalmation. If he wants he gets by hook or by crook, bless him he is fighting a tide of stubborn women. You open the van door and as soon as one dog gets out he will risk jumping out, why? Cos one of those days he won't be the only one dog running down the field so for that brief moment he gets just what he wants when he wants it. Adrenalin pumping, legs burning before the witches return him to his rightful place. Of course we don't set him up to fail. He won't do it if he is tied up, or even if he is on a long line( pretending he isn't tied up) and of course we practise a lot with dogs who recall super fast so his dash is very short lived.

What we do is wait for him to learn the dash and his game lasts as long as that one walk no play just toilet stops.

Then we have the sod off....why recall if he knows the game ends as soon as he does.....that makes sense he wants to grab the entertainment he can. Then we go and spoil it by stopping all games calling the guys in and then it is us and him! Sirus makes sense but he is losing his battle. Jasper doesn't and at times I do wonder....maybe we are addicted to the yoyo that is Jasper haha.

Well time to check if the greenhouse heater has worked its magic....bad bad van

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


Just a quick note to let you know the following dogs have had cleaner in their ears, non have had them cleaned. The dogs that needed them most have also had their nails trimmed and Max has been part defuzzed!

Belle, Mila, Layla
Charlie, Willow
Pop Truff
Pop Roly
Bobby, Emo and Milo
Mols Els
Cassie Smudge
Oscar Hugo
Max Suzy
Mick and Minnie
Stan and Elsie

Only Cassie ( her first time) tried to eat me alive so well done guys and no sulking now guys!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Anyone for a challenge?

Sit Challenge - National Train Your Dog Month

Seems like fun to me....anyone?

Where are you heading?

A lady said to me today, in conversation, about me being intermediate whilst she is at the pinnacle of her career. Not only is she at the pinnacle it happens to be a very high knowledgeable peek! I wasn't at all offended at this comment as I am indeed in the comfortable middle. Whilst many people call this mediocre I do not. I have a place. This may not be training people on Tv or winning competitions at Cruft's, mine might just be making a few dogs happy, a few customers less stressed and me striving to be as good as I can be.

Of course this doesn't mean I don't work hard to be as brilliant as I may be, I just don't have that desperate drive to be the best over and above all.

One lady I met not so long ago also made me think long and hard. She introduced her pup as a dog that was going to Olympia, his life was to be shaped for that goal. Whilst I understood, it felt so alien. What would happen if that didn't materialise? What would be the consequences?

Then of course I thought some more, we all have expectations whether it be from our children, our horses, our friends or our dogs. They range from the lowest expectation to the ultimate and everything in between. How many dogs end up in kennels when their expectations have been so out of place with the individual involved? Be it from too high expectations or too little input and preparation to reach that goal.

I have decided to make a conscious choice. Whilst wanting a lot for and from my guys I am not going to allow expectations to take over, to make what is a beautiful thing into something disappointing and a little less than it should be. So what if Flute and Tips aren't a Mary Ray special. They need to be better than they are now, to fit my expectations and yet in many ways they have already exceeded them.

If I want something badly enough go out and get it but don't give up if along the way you have to revise your goal a little.

So thank you my dear lady for reminding me that being intermediate or normal isn't such a bad place to be...there still plenty room to improve. I will watch those people who pay so dear to be where they need to be and learn as much as I can from them.

Right time to get back to that sit challenge!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

First trip to the field proper

First proper trip to the field 2012.

They were more than a little excited! I was perfectly happy that once in the field they would be happy to blast with their friends so I wanted to focus on the van and manners. Obviously we would have to watch for the high adrenalin dogs like Roly, Elsie staff and Lola whilst we were busy.

So todays lesson was calm. Don't jump out of van uninvited. Sit.

This involved Sam watching the gateway ( and everything else) and me opening the cage doors and waiting. Now I don't want to ask them to wait I want them to learn themselves to know they are only allowed out when touched on neck and or called by name.

So we opened the cage door and unsurprisingly Jasper, Sirus and Harry jumped out. All were quietly put back in.

Every dog that stayed in was asked out individually and then asked to sit. The gate to the field was then opened and any dog still sitting was allowed free play with their pals in the field any dogs who did not stay in their sit was gently popped back in van. I often let them know how many chances to succeed they have so after two goes I will say either LAST chance or One left.

Sirus and Harry did very well on their second try and did as asked so joined the guys in the field for pure Petnanny delight. Jasper continued to jump out and couldn't sit so he was told he had no chances left....Fluffed!

My van was like yoyo's Charlie therefore Willow jumped out Charlie fluffed completely so was left in van whilst my guy had their time in field only allowed out afterwards once he succeeded after a break. Roly jumped out but reprieved himself only to fluff by not sitting and wasted all his chances so he was walked with Mila who is still a bit sore. Willow made only one mistake so enjoyed her time blasting. Chubby jumped out but after a second try he did very well and he is newer to this game so pleased enough with the big lump.

We did notice that the dogs in the field who had done as asked were playing well though a couple were caught out for bullying or trying to control the gate. The high excitement of their pals being let out of the van can send some of the hyper guys over the edge so we had to supervise the likes of Harv and Nanci who like to rahhhh at people as they come in.

Considering their time off I was pleased with them though I have to admit it is frustrating when it is the usual suspects!

So aside from the gate/ door/ car training you could practise are you up for a challenge? See below for the sit challenge:

I am certainly going to try it so why don't you join me...lets face it knowing Flute and Tips it will certainly be interesting!

If you want to practise the car door training always ensure even when your dog jumps out they are safe. Set yourself up to succeed yet let them make mistakes.

Have a long lead on the pup.

Open the door and when the dog jumps out don't pull back just gently pop the dog back in. continue to do this until you see any sign of him hesitating, if you clicker train click the second the dog hesitates remember to reward whilst dog in car.
Your dog will learn slowly but surely to not see the door being open or opened as a free for all.

Use a signal to show the dog when it is safe and ok to leave the car. We use name and a touch just on the top boney part of their head.

Good luck
And Happy New Year