You must have thought I had forgotten the blog! But no just busy training my dogs and my clients, there are just not enough hours in a day it seems!!

I have been remembering my dear Pie and what a bad dog owner/trainer I am! I didn’t train Pie until the Saturday after our messed up session, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, too busy sulking really :)! By the Saturday evening when I took him for a walk all my senses were alert and ready to learn what had gone wrong, and I must confess his recall problem had been building up for a while, at least that is what I see now! To understand I will explain how it started, 18 months ago when I was first in Italy with Pie and walking on the mountains about a week or so after we arrived I lost Pie! I was so busy looking for the way on the mountainside and trying to keep upright I forgot my dog for a moment, as I guess he forgot me, we were both on very new terrain! I had no  idea which way he had gone and I was soon very nearly hysterical trying to find him and shouting for him all to no avail, I was scrambling about on very difficult ground, and eventually sat crying, fearing he had fallen to the bottom of some ravine, regretting bringing him to this inhospitable country! When there he was beside me!! He was so puffed out, I believe he had run all the way back to the village to look for me, thinking I had turned back, he was as exhausted as I was, but otherwise all in one piece! The outcome for him was that I was not able to lose him again, he was so on to where I was after that I just didn’t have to worry again! At least not till last week!

We have been living back on the flat land of England for the last year, of course it is possible for him to see me from much further away, and over time we have both become complacent and I hadn’t noticed:), on top of that when I do take him out with Betty (not too often) I am concentrating on Betty, when out with Pie on his own, I am grateful to relax and not think too much about dog training!  As a result we had both become sloppy, not Pie’s fault as he has soon proven!

Betty was there too! Magic is at ease with the dogs!

Having spent a few days not giving him attention unless in response to a command from me, Pie was much more ready to listen to me! On top of this I became much more difficult to please on our walk, hiding from him and insisting on him staying closer, he was only too pleased to oblige! I have been taking his dinner on his walks to remind him how to work for his meals again, something he has really enjoyed doing again. I had forgotten that he likes to work for me on his walks, after all he is a Collie! I will stay on his case for a few more weeks as yet, but he is becoming more popular with me by the day:) and he must so that he can continue to help other people with their dogs!

Those of you reading this that have been to see me at Barbary have met our new visitor Magic the pony in the front paddock. Magic belongs to Adam and Ian of Barnards Bridge, they rehomed Magic a year or so ago from a girl who had rescued him from the gypsy’s. Magic had learnt not to trust people and is a troubled pony, only small so you can imagine he would be easy to bully by badly intentioned people! Magic had come on a lot with Adam and Ian’s care and love, but not being horsey they didn’t know how to move him on to the next level and asked me to help. I am enjoying having Magic to stay, it is great to see a pony in the paddock, it brings the outside to life!Luckily he seems completely at ease with dogs and is happy for Pie and Betty to run round him! I will keep you posted on Magic’s progress 🙂

Betty is growing fast and getting more whiskers! She keeps me constantly amused and entertained, it is like she has a great sense of humour and loves to share the fun! Below are some up to date photo’s of Betty with Pie, her Daddy being very patient!

Magic in the front paddock!

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Naughty Pie!

July 30, 2010

Pie was so naughty last night, yes really naughty! I had arranged a session in Dunmow Park with a client that I have known for some time, luckily they do know me well! My dog was worse behaved than my clients!! How embarrassing is that? I am going to tell you about this as I think it is good for everyone to know that my dogs make mistakes too, often people think Border Collies are easy, and because, generally:), they do behave well, that my dogs are just easy! Well I have to tell you I do work hard at training my own dogs. I do love training my own dogs but also I need a dog that will help when my clients have a problem dog, plus my dog is an advert for my training! Well last night Pie was a bad advert!! Pie has helped a great many dogs over come their anxiety or aggression, he has a great calming effect on all dogs.

By the time I got home there was steam coming from my ears, honestly I am sure there was!! 🙂

It all started badly, Pie pulled me round the park, when off lead he immediately ran off to some children that were playing and joined in, licking them and dancing around until I got close enough to get his attention! A little further on and he fancied the look of a nice Flatcoat and disappeared with her and her owner! Again until I was in easier shouting distance!!! By now I was fuming with him, he was back on the lead while I trained my client and tried to concentrate on that dog, while my brain was buzzing with shock at my dogs behaviour! Fortunately Pie did his job work wise, the dog I was working with has dog to dog problems and Pie had a great effect on him, he was very chilled and we made some great progress with the dog we were meant to be training! My client left the park by a different entrance and I made my way to the car park, I could now think about Pie, and proceeded back to my car training him, doing downs and recalls etc, my mobile phone rang just as we were turning a corner onto the last field by the car park, and I forgot Pie for a moment as I fumbled to find the phone in my bag, (mobile phones are not good for dog training!) in worrying about the phone I did not notice the boys playing football ahead of us!!! Yes you guessed, Pie loves football, he was gone, like a rocket, I shouted he ignored me and joined in the game! The boys loved it, they soon saw they had a new play mate and started including Pie in the game! It was about now the steam started to come out of my ears!! I had to get right up to Pie and get hold of him, it was like I was on another planet! I then proceeded to do some recall training on the lead near the boys, but really I was to cross, and having made a bit of a point with him, I took him back to the car, where he said no I don’t want to go I like it here, I picked him up, and if he weren’t so big I would have thrown him in the car!!! I drove home, it is many many years since a dog of mine made me feel so out of control, I decided the best place for Pie on arriving home was his crate, I do not lose my temper with dogs, but I knew I was on the edge and if he had put one foot wrong I could have lost the plot and do something I would regret! So there he stayed until after my dinner and my last client had gone that evening, some 3 hours, I had got things in more perspective by then at last!!

Here are my thoughts and reasoning, not excuses for him. As a dog trainer I have to analyse what goes wrong with other people’s dogs everyday, now I must apply my skill to my own dog in a big way! Firstly my angry response, Pie has been to Dunmow Park several times, either when I have been training him or working to help other dogs and has always behaved impeccably, my expectation of him was high and so I felt badly let down and disappointed in him. Were my expectations unrealistic? Maybe.

Secondly, I thought about his activities and behaviour over the last week, what had led up to this behaviour? Well last Friday I had my cousin Cheryl come to stay with her 3 children and her little dog Annie (a sister of Betty’s from an earlier litter), plus my the rest of my family were visiting us all, so for a great deal of the time from Friday through Monday there were 5 children and 5 dogs running round the garden playing, football was pretty high on the list of games, Pie is really good at dribbling and taking the ball off of people! I was busy catering and generally attending the business of hosting, my dogs had little attention from me, and it was so lovely to see them all having such a great time together, children and dogs had a ball (excuse the pun) really just running wild:)! So in the park, in his mind he was just doing what he had done last weekend!

On top of this since Betty has arrived Pie’s training has taken a bit of a back seat as I give most of my time to educating Betty, work has been busy and 2 weeks ago Magic arrived in the front paddock. Magic is a little pony belonging to Adam and Ian (of Barnards Bridge) that they rescued and I am having him to stay to see if I can help him with his issues around trusting people, this means Pie has had even less training and next to Betty of course he looks like the grown up and a really good boy. I know that because of these distractions the attention Pie has had from me has been all the soft stuff, I have over indulged him, unconsciously, to compensate for the lack of training. He has had more cuddles than ever, and all privileges of rank like the scraps from dinner, free tit bits just for being there and so on.

Now, as I thought about all of this build up, I could see that last night was the outcome of a build up, even a well-trained dog needs more continuity than I have been giving Pie, I have let him think he is very important, stopped treating him like a dog and instead over indulged him, just like my clients do:) I am human:). Once I could see all this I realised it was my fault and I have some work to do to get Pie back on track again. So if you are over Dunmow Park and see me out training Pie you will know what is going on:), but first we are out in the garden with that darn football to get some control back!! Followed by inviting my nephew and niece over for some Pie distraction training, he loves children, which is great, but he has to know he must come to me, not run to them!

Have you felt your dog let you down? Have you worked out why? Let me have your stories please? I do think by sharing this information we can help each other don’t you?

Sarah giving great body language for the recall

Sharon looking great on heelwork!

Sarah looking very pleased with Charlie!

We start by getting the short recall right!

more short recall for Charlie

Jane and Freddy can do the short recall too!

A lovely shot of great lead work!

We all need a tea break, well we had worked hard!

We had a great morning, and the sun shone for us too! The dogs responded well to the strutured training, by the time we felt brave enough to leave the safety of the fenced garden and go into the paddock,  the dogs were responding well. Anne and Sharon had been to the training session a month before so were able to advance more, I was thrilled to see the improvement in their dogs and in their handling!

Recall on the long line out in the fields

The long line is our safety net!

Dogs and Australia!

March 1, 2010

I am home from lovely sunny Sydney, I miss the sun already, though it is so good to see my dog and be in my own home again! Not to mention catching up with friends, family and clients!

Chihuahua

Red, a very good friend in Sydney!

I must say a big thank you to Peter Jefferson and Kay Smith and the members and instructors of Sydney All Breeds Dog Training Club, who welcomed me so kindly on my last Sunday in Sydney! They allowed me to watch their classes which was great to see, how having gone half way round the world, they are training their dogs with similar methods to us and doing a great job. The instructors all give their time for free, and give a really professional service, making everyone feel welcome. The dogs demonstrated what a great job they are doing, they were relaxed and performed so well, as did the handlers!

I especially liked the structure, something that I have often felt missing in many similar english dog clubs, giving clear guidelines about suitable equipment, colour coding the different levels to help split the handlers into groups and keeping to about 6 or 7 in a group, a great number to ensure attention for everyone and success. They do have the advantage of always being able to train outside, a luxury that we often miss out on with our climate!

When the teaching was finished I was treated to a chat with the instructors and chocolates! How lovely it was to feel so welcome and at home so far from the UK! I gained a great insight into dog ownership in Australia.

My other top dog experience was that my son Matthew’s good friend Ryan loaned me his little Chihuahua, Red. I so appreciated having a dog with me, it made me feel much more at home! Red was delightful companion and satisfied a great desire I have had to live with a hand bag size dog! At 9 years of age, Ryan has done a great job of training Red, from retrieve to stays and coming to call Red is so good! He had taught him to hide in a shopping bag so that I could take him anywhere without anyone knowing I had a dog, he completely understood that he must keep his head down and keep still so that no one knew he was there, most useful when using the bus and taxi’s as they aren’t keen on dogs using public transport in Sydney!

Red and I shared some great walks, we both got fitter on our favourite walk from Bronte beach to Bondi along the clifftops, with views like that walking becomes so much easier, especially with the sunshining!

Ryan wanted me to teach Red how to roll over, one trick he didn’t know. What I learnt in teaching this to Red is just how bright he is, I have taught quite a few dogs to roll over, a great exercise for increasing a dog’s physical confidence, and Red learnt so quickly, in just a few sessions he was nearly doing this on command, he just needed the slightest physical signal to get him rolling! And he so loved learning, this is the first experience I have had of trianing a Chihuahua and I have to say if they are all like Red they are nearly Collie like in their desire to learn and practice!

My thanks to Ryan and Naomi for lending Red to me, he has a permanent place in my heart!

oh did I say how warm the water was?

Is it me?

November 24, 2009

When I am out on a walk  I am fortunate that I can read a dog fairly quickly, as I must say most owners are not aware of how threatening their dogs behaviour can appear, it is not good social behaviour for any dog to charge up to other people or their dogs, this would not happen in the wild, it is lack of education and understanding of the pet dog that causes them to behave in this way.

Many owners take exception to me repelling their dogs advances, as if I am the anti-social one for not wanting their dog jumping all over me and my dog! There seems to be an attitude in this country that it is not just okay, for a dog to charge towards anyone they fancy the look of, but that it is necessary for them to talk to everyone and their dog on a walk. I am amazed at how immersed British dog owners are in this belief, normally a nation of socially inhibited people; it seems that when it comes to dogs anything goes!  Would we let our children do the same thing? Highly unlikely!

More than anything in the world I would like to change the minds of pet owners on this attitude, because then I and my dog could go for a walk without being constantly harassed by other peoples dogs, and so would everyone else, and we would make the country a place where dogs were more welcome by non dog owners. If I find other peoples dogs annoying when I am out, imagine how the non-dog owners feel?