Yesterday my dear Black Rock chickens Doris and Dodger were the victims of my neighbour’s dogs! What did they do to deserve being butchered in their own pen? Nothing, they aren’t even afraid of dogs, they are used to my dogs being around them and not bothering them other than to eat there pellets, they were even more helpless than less socialised hens!  I feel terrible, it happened to creatures in my care, they were my pets giving me eggs to eat in return for safety, food and care. At least I thought they were safe!

One of the worst things is my neighbours reaction was denial, these dogs have never killed they say. How would they know? My sister has found them wandering loose on the road and taken them home on 3 occasions. I have found them in my garden and rung them to come get them home. At Christmas the Labrador came and had a go at Pie over the fence, luckily someone is always close at hand even when my dogs are out in their own garden and a worse event was avoided!

If a dog is out of sight it is likely learning to hunt! Hunting doesn’t happen overnight it takes many days practice, a lot of hours off lead. Some take longer than others, some are more natural hunters. If a dog chases any other animal or bird, eventually it will get lucky and catch one, the next step is they will kill it, once they kill they will get faster and better at the job, it is what dogs do! Two dogs together are even more effective; they can corner and kill very fast.  That is how packs have survived for centuries. It’s not like this behaviour is weird or strange, it is what untrained dogs do! It is what they had to do in the wild to survive, but we can control them!

2 weeks ago I told my neighbours  their dogs had killed one of the hens, I didn’t find her body, I saw the dogs flush her out of my paddock into their land, she didn’t come home! Just because there was no evidence I could offer they argued and denied the event. I heard them calling the dogs for several minutes, they couldn’t see them, and they assume all is well!

Please don’t be an Ostrich, we do not live in a Disney film, dogs are real animals, and if you ever forget it bad things happen to remind us. My hens are dead, they won’t be back but maybe just maybe a few people will read this and change their behaviour and that of their dogs and some other pets won’t die as a result, you won’t find your pet mutilated in its own garden!

Dog don’t just change overnight, it may seem they do, but learning is a process, when a dog catches, kills, bites, other creatures or people they have been practicing for some time and no one intervened! Please intervene, even if it is just to pass this on to someone who needs to hear this today!

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I went into see Mark Punter at the Chelmsford studio to record my top dog training tips for his show this week. Mark will play one each afternoon, on Friday I am there for a live phone in! you can listen again on the iplayer if you miss the show on Friday! So no excuse. There is one top tip per day and I chose them this time from my clients suggestions, so your fault if you don’t like them :). I would really appreciate it if you can listen in and if you enjoy the show go on the BBC Essex Facebook page and let them know you like me please? That’s if you do!

As I arrived who should I bump into coming out the front door but Batman! I took a photo, not the best sorry, but wanted you to know I wasn’t making it up!!

You never know who you are going to meet!

You never know who you are going to meet!

Posh puppy!

Posh puppy!

Toby (Betty baby) after a trip to the grooming parlour! Doesn’t he look gorgeous?! Lee is doing a great job of training Toby too, I can’t say too much or the rest of the litter will be jealous, but isn’t he handsome!?

My new puppy group reminded me to talk about titbit training today, my favourite analogy for titbits and puppy training is imagine you are paying the titbits into a bank account, every time you ask your puppy to do something without a reward you are making a withdrawal, with young puppies it is easy to become bankrupt, that is the puppy starts to ignore you! I always want to have a million on account! 🙂

Radio, snow and dates!

January 23, 2013

Rileysnowdog

With Steve Scruton leaving BBC Essex I did wonder if I would still get an invite as I would guess the show must be having a complete freshen up, new brooms and all! I did wonder if the sound advice would survive but I am pleased to report it has, though it will be different. Mark Punter the new presented came here this morning to record some top tips, it was really strange to be doing that at home, maybe it was because we were in the living room in front of the fire and not in the work room! (see below for times)

I have had Bonnie staying this week, Jo has been in India, soaking up some sun, though she did say on Facebook that she looked like a red lolly pop as the humidity was so high! We haven’t suffered with that problem  this week!

Thanks to Janice for  the photo of Riley enjoying the snow, he is so like Bonnie, she has looked just like that most of the week, not wanting to come in from playing with her Mum in the snow!

Here are some training dates, as normal all groups have a maximum of 5 dogs and handlers!

Recall training:

Taking place here at Bury Farm

  • Wednesday 30th January recall (beginner to intermediate dogs and handlers)
  • Saturday 9th Feb recall (advanced training for the more experienced amongst you, you do know who you are, if in doubt do ask me please?)

Group walk training:

One of these will be in Hylands Park the other to be confirmed according to demand, either Dunmow, Bishop Stortford’s Thorley Park or the Discovery centre on the A130 near Braintree.

  • Wednesday 13th February walk
  • Saturday 23rd February walk

BBC Essex Radio

You can hear me on Friday 1st February

A new format on BBC Essex Radio, with Steve Scruton off travelling the world and Mark Punter in charge, you can hear a dog training tip from me daily next week, culminating with me live in the studio, answering dog questions from listeners, on Friday between 2.15pm and 3pm, if you miss the show you can always catch up on the iplayer for the following 7 days!

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2013

Betsy

Betsy

photo photo(1)

Betsy, Bonnie and Jess! Oz came too but managed to not get in a photo!

I wish you all a very Happy, healthy and prosperous new year and may all your dreams come true!

I have enjoyed my time off playing more with my horse who always manages to remind me about my dog training! It is so good for me to have him as my hobby and in some ways he is more of a pet than my dogs! I often hear myself thinking or saying Red wants to go out, Red wants more hay, Red wants to pull his carriage today etc. In fact I sound remarkably like my clients, who fortunately often know exactly what their dogs want too! All of which is fine as long as we get what we want as well!

I am lucky that with my horse I am aware that if Red kicks the stable door to get my attention or to speed me up in getting his food, that if I respond to his demands his behaviour would get worse, and even in time he could break out of his stable door. I remember Betty doing something similar as a puppy when she very cleverly started carrying her food bowl round near feed time, I was very impressed and fed her, before long her bowl was whizzing past my head across the kitchen, it was then I realised that I must not be so impressed!! It took a some self-control to not respond to her demands, I so wanted to laugh as the bowl landed on the worktop beside me!

Remember this year it is great to know what they want, but be sure you only respond to the behaviour you want to encourage! Happy new year!

Zippitydoodah!

Zippitydoodah!

Riley growing fast!

Riley growing fast!

Riley’s Mum Janice kindly sent a great photo of Riley, and apparently he has become a rug designer, Janice now has a fringe on her rug, what a great idea:)

Thanks also to Rob Whitten for sending me the following link, do have a look how they are training dogs to drive in New Zealand! Probably enough room and little enough traffic out there to make it possible!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20614593

Puppies gone to new homes!

November 13, 2012

I am puppyless! Not sure if that is a real word, but they are done and gone, flown the nest and I miss them more than Betty does for sure! But then I was doing the looking after in the latter weeks!

I started writing this yesterday and started to get upset as I was missing little Riley so much (the chocolate

Riley the last puppy to leave hom

boy who went last). I do wonder why I thought breeding again was such a good idea! Sure they were lovely puppies, and the world is a better place for them being in it, and I did love having them, but it is hard work and I do get attached to them.

The thing that got me upset yesterday was contemplating what was the one thing I would want their new families to know, I struggled to get it down to one thing, and that got me upset for some reason. But having had time to sleep on the question I came to a decision, not sure if this will be understandable or not….. it is that it is not really possible to teach a dog a negative, for example if you don’t want the puppy to eat stones or other rubbish, saying no and taking it off them will make the pup want the thing more, this is partly because in the wild the young learn what is desirable by what other adult animals want, but also because in saying no and touching the puppy the behaviour is reinforced. Puppies do not understand “no”, they may get that the person isn’t happy but it is still attention to them, and sadly the puppy will keep repeating the behaviour and the human will get crosser. And that makes me sad for all puppies, not just mine.

A more positive and successful response would be to call the puppy or ask for a sit or  down and reward the puppy with food, cuddles, laughter etc.

So my dear puppy owners please remember this one thing and I know you and your puppy will be happy together!