Take your time!

July 29, 2013

This morning, as I was putting my horse’s head collar on, I found myself starting to rush, as he turned his head away I went after his head, it was like I was being pulled around just to put on a head collar! I stopped, I would never do  that with a dog, any dog! I slowed down and waited for Red to settle down, every time he moved his head I stopped. It took a while, maybe 2 minutes at most to put on his head collar with no fidgeting, not forever, just a little time for me to teach him so that tomorrow the process will be quicker, but if it isn’t I will slow down again!

He doesn’t always do that, he was impatient to get out in the field, he knew what was coming next. Just like a dog knows he is going for a walk and gets impatient and fidgety! Next time your dog fidgets around as you put on the lead or collar, just slow down take your time, take as long as it takes. By bring down the adrenaline in this way your whole walk will improve, it will be worth it, let me know how long it takes you next time you put a collar or lead on your dog!

Red, my nephew Mac and Doyle (son of my Teddy!)

Red, my nephew Mac and Doyle (son of my Teddy!)

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

A client rang me today to let me know how their dogs had got on since our session, they have 3 delightful dogs, 2 spaniels and a GSD, all really sociable dogs to their owners and other people! Yet there was quite a bit of friction between them, both at home and on walks. I am happy to report that after 2 sessions the dogs are all much easier to live with! As I said all nice dogs, well brought up, just lacking a little leadership from the humans, that is now remedied! I like to parallel this leadership to how much we like having great leaders, Winston Churchill, Barack Obama, Nelson Mandala, no one would want a world without leaders like these would they? Maybe my dogs will think I am a little like Oprah! 🙂

For my local friends the salon below is offering a free bath for puppy’s under 6 months, check them out I hear good reports!

http://www.4pawsdogsalon.co.uk/

Thank you to Corinne for drawing my attention to a very helpful leaflet on dogs and horses! You may remember my blog recently on a problem I have locally with a neighbours dogs when passing with my horse! I have approached them in a friendly manner but sadly they are not ready for help, yet!

The Blue Cross provide a whole host of helpful and free leaflets on all animal care and behaviour, well worth a visit to  their

Lara looks out!

website! There is a link below to the leaflet that Corinne told me about:

http://www.bluecross.org.uk/2146-98538/keep-dogs-and-horses-safe-around-each-other.html

You can hear me on Steve Scruton’s show on BBC Essex Radio this coming Wednesday from 2.15pm to 4pm, on a phone in on dog behaviour problems, or catch up on the iplayer for the following 7 days!

Thinking of a new puppy?

March 26, 2012

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A few questions from a client thinking of buying a new puppy reminded me that I haven’t written a blog on this vital time in you and your dog’s life! I am not even going to start talking about breeds on this occasion, I will assume you have chosen your breed and are looking for a good breeder.

Number one for me is a breeder that rears the litter indoors, this gives the puppy so much more exposure to normal life, giving the puppy’s a head start on the dogs raised outdoors. Having said that outdoor litters can be given this same exposure if the breeder is aware of the need, which many are, watch out for those that do not understand the mental and emotional needs of a litter and give them a wide berth.

Bitches can be softer but also busier, dogs more laid back and a little less sensitive! It is often a little easier if you have two of the opposite sex, generally they are more likely to get along okay.

When a breeder starts asking you questions be ready with your own!

Annie, my friend that bred both Pie and Betty, has one puppy left in her last litter, related to my two and well reared indoors!

A well cared for puppy from a great breeder!

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?

Betty is mostly Border Collie, which means the herding instinct is strong for her! The first signs of this with Betty, and a lot of puppies, is she is interested in small wheels, things like the wheelie bins, wheelbarrows, vacuum cleaner and the hose reel winding and unwinding!

This innocent behaviour can rapidly turn into larger machines like lawn mowers, bicycles, motor bikes and cars! A very dangerous hobby for any dog!And herding is only found in Collies, many breeds can display this behaviour.

Luckily I know my Collies and I take action as soon as the early signs show themselves. For those that read the blog regularly you already know that where ever possible I want Betty to learn from her environment, as opposed to me constantly nagging her and saying “no”! The action I take when Betty starts chasing the wheel barrow wheel is to keep walking, not go round her, she is small so I don’t want to squash her too much, I walk slowly and deliberately, keeping to my chosen path, it is her job to get out-of-the-way! Rather she gets bumped by the barrow wheel than by a car! I do the same with the wheelie bins and the vacuum cleaner, with the vacuum I do push it at her a bit more deliberately, as it is lighter and hurts less if she isn’t quick enough! I also push the vacuum at her if she goes for the cable, I want her to learn very quickly not to go for electric cable!

I must add I don’t move these tools in a playful way, not too fast, as that may be enticing, but a boring ploddy sort of way! plus when I sweeping or mopping I put her in crate, these tools are just too tempting and she would learn more chase from these, the odd bump would not deter her:)

I was delighted this morning when I vacuumed that Betty did not attempt to chase the vacuum nor attack the cable!! 🙂 A step closer to keeping her safe in life!

Betty

Betty watching and not chasing!

has more than enough outlets for her natural instincts when herding me on a walk :), playing retrieve and other toy based games!