Thursday, 3 January 2013

Group walking, breaks and temper temper

Group walking has many disadvantages so in order for us to make use of the advantages we have to always be aware of the disadvantages.

This isn't a blog to list the good the bad and the ugly just a note on todays walking.  Yet again we went to the field working on the dogs that came back from their holijols tweaking their management and getting the excitement levels down a little.  Or at least that was the know what usually happens when I have a plan?!

Our aim was to get some of the excited dogs out and work on fun play without the adrenalin taking over.  I also wanted to keep Flute engages with play rather than heading off round the field hunting.  So armed with a frisbee, a squeaky toy some food and leaders we brought them in waited for calm and let them off.  Apart from Truffle who couldn't do calm and appeared to be teetering on the edge of combustion.  Back in the van she went to calm down.

Once I started walking it only took one dog to notice the frisbee and the excitement levels shot skyward and the squeaking, squawking and spinning.  The worse were put on the lead.....Lola the peagle( code for the puggle going over to the dark side and becoming more beagle like than pug like), Tallulah mc Gob( she is a border terrier with a megaphone) and Truffle who by now had redeemed herself for at least 30seconds.  Then once a resemblance of calm descended the frisbee was thrown.  Esther was told to stop shouting and do more frisbee chasing, Molly Mc Dolly gently asked to not break the sound barrier with her inconceivably high pitched peep and Belle to stop stalking Harry.

Soon we were walking again Frisbee hanging loosely on the dog lead round my waist.  Tallulah Mc Gob was still yip yip yipping, Lola whining and Truffle appeared to be hyperventilating with sound effects.  I sent the loose guys off to play and soon we were able to let the squealers off and I was closely shadowed by a wired Truffle and Lola.  Waiting for calm I then squeaked the toy and like turning a light on their eyes shone bright and back to wired skyward bound hounds.  Obviously I didn't throw it.  It certainly took some time for them to chill but with intermittent squeaks with no throwing they were starting to give up all hope of a raucous romp with the aiming spinning disc.

By now we were at the bottom of our 8acre field and I unclipped the frisbee and needless to say Lola, Truffle and Tallulah Mc Gob were back on the lead faster than I can catch a chocolate.  This time no need for finger wagging at Esther ( she is really quite huffy and if her type of fun is stopped she doesn't want to play humph) Belle or even peep peep Molly.  Some progress then.....Lola surprised us all by earning her right to be off and was soon rewarded with the ultimate treat running as fast as her legs would carry her ears a flapping after the spinning disc!

Off we went again with Tallulah off, Lola off and finally Truffle off.  This time Truffle decided to snatch at the frisbee hanging from my waist then at my hand and i knew from the look on her face she was too far gone to be in charge of her facilities!  Funny when you know an animal very well you can forget or ignore what you see.  Had it been any other dog I know I would have acted differently yet this was Truff so I ignore instinct and leant over her to get her collar to say "Quit'!  So I was reminded that dogs are dogs and she promptly jumped and snapped at my face and as my face has a large projectory on my face she happened to nip me on my nose!  Oooh little hyped up opinionated grot bag....

With my hand still on her collar a rather disgruntled still frustrated dog was frog marched to the van and had time out whilst I berated myself for taking 'people' for granted she might be Truffle she is still capable of losing her temper.  It was just amazing to see all the guys standing perfectly calm and still with only Tallulah and Lola agitated and wondering if Truffle needed back up or Nanny!  Whilst Sam and Alex loved hugged and cuddled the guys we carried on with the ball squeaking and frisbee combo training.

Frustration control is I believe one of the most vital and most undertrained thing in the dog training tool box and Truffle showed this to be true. With the combination of having a week away from her pals, now being an only dog and therefore non of the attention to share and lack of playmate at home had meant she was already a little frustrated and the excitement of the field( freedom plus fun) her friends( fun fun fun) and the frisbee( without doubt Truffles most favourite thing ever) meant when reacted as dogs do and much like a frustrated child nipping or biting Truffle did the same.  With no change in her diet we know we have to work very hard to ensure little things like manners, expecting calm and if she cant be calm at this level don't move onto the If she can't control herself at the mere sight of the frisbee don't expect her to cope when you throw it or have it in your hand....

Anyhoo we actually managed a calm happy enthusiastic play without backflips, cartwheels or handstands and soon we moved onto the next group....oooh I do love the look on dogs faces when they have had a, tiring time that goony look just melts me.

Kim arrived with Poppy and Roly and soon Poppy was off like a bullet, Roly a bit wired but excellent considering he was placed in a very exciting environment and he coped really well soon accepting food( Roly is currently on a reward based walk and it is a very easy way to judge his mood, not a nasty dog he used to live for adrenalin and we are teaching to enjoy just running and playing without the need for aggro) so was allowed off I was absolutely delighted when he managed to play nicely with Sirus his rival, friend and challenger.  We then swapped dogs and brought out the next guys and gals making sure we had them calm before they were let off.  Tinkerbelle was acting very differently to the shy silly collie we had met before christmas and her terrible twos have arrived.  With headcollar on and a line on her collar she huffed and puffed and made it quite plan she just wanted to run play and have fun.

Once everyone was in we set off walking and then realised the little minx had gone all feral on an enclosed field we not only spot the weaknesses in the dogs but in ourselves we hadn't watched closely enough and she had gone awol with Mick and Minnie happily at the bottom of the field!  One should never presume is the lesson of the day.  Mmmmm.

We shouted her name in the high pitched happy voice and there came a rather delighted Tinks running full tilt towards us and a look flashed across her face......' why should I?'  haha yup definitely a big change in the little madam.  Armed with food and kisses she soon succumbed and decided we weren't so bad and had a great time albeit not as much as she would have liked as we kept her line on her.  I can see our groundwork needs digging out and restarting and much less freedom needed for more than just Truffle!

Now Harvey is a little red firecracker and we wanted to make sure he didn't fly off skyward when we let him off so we made sure we were all calm( Nannies and dogs) then let him off after being told to be calm only once he settled into nice play instead of wildeyed rabid dog run.  We did the same with Murphy and it was lovely to see the great Dane of a dog enthusiastically playing rather than tail whipping us all whilst he spun around us.  Before long these guys had the same tired goofy look on their faces and it was time to leave...I was so delighted that Archie came first time (unlike Lola Bloody Peagle) and bit by bit we got everyone in ...or at least that is how it should have been if I hadn't let go of Archie as he spun round and his stiff collar threatened to dislocate my finger again.  Without hesitation I shouted his name and I watched in frustration( frustration control Nanny we all know how important it is pah!)as his muscle backside disappeared over he ridge delighted at his newfound freedom.  The few guys who were left in the field knew the score and happily trotted into the heated van ready for the afternoon nap whilst I decided I needed to retire from duties haha.

It didn't take long for him to come when asked( not before a few 'chase me chase me' moments where I refused to play his game) and resigned himself to the end of the play session.

Without making a plan I know we will be working on getting things a little more controlled again, getting them to understand frisbee isn't a free for all again and restricting the guys and gals who need to learn manners and rules before the fun begins.

Saying its a new year I think I will give Roly a gold star, same to Harvey who was sore on his back leg and shock horror begrudgingly allowed us to check him, Silver stars to all I haven't mentioned for being good enough to not be on the hall of shame and a sit on the naughty step for Truffle, Lola, Tallulah though she did just about redeemed herself in the end, Archie and Tinks oh and not forgetting me haha!

Oh I do love my job can't say I ever get bored.

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