Tag Archives: Hedgerow

Who’s a dummy??!!

5 Feb

After lots of hill walks I decided Rudy and Rio would benefit from a slower paced walk, more controlled, more confined and to them, ultimately more boring!!!! Anyway, decision made we set off for some local fields with a training dummy. For those who don’t know, a dummy is a training aid used to encourage dogs to retrieve an object and bring back to the owner. Working dogs use these weighted dummies to prepare them for when they get out in the field and have to bring back pheasants.

Training dummy

Training dummy

After the dogs had had some fun running round and doing what needs to be done, we did some heel work and general whistle recall work so there was a fighting chance they would be interested in what I wanted them to do!! The field we were in has plenty of long grass and hedgerows which both dogs love to explore!!

I called them both to me and had them sit. Rio sat and gazed at me intently his whole back end swaying as he wagged his extra long tail!!! Rudy…hmm well as usual Rudy sat slightly apart and gazed intently…into the distance!!! Clearly not impressed that his fun had been curtailed and equally determined to blank me just so I knew what crime I had committed!!!

Keen as mustard!!

Keen as mustard!!

Ok so far so good..ish!!! I had the dogs smell the dummy and said “mark”. Again Rio studied it carefully while Rudy couldn’t have cared less!! I threw the dummy into a clearing not too far away and both dogs waited for the command to retrieve. After a few moments I told them to “go back” and Rio ran straight to the dummy, picked it up and proudly ran back to me, tail wagging frantically!! Rudy had sort of mooched toward it and got side tracked and had a pee instead !!

Ok second go. Again both dogs smelled the dummy and waited as I threw it, this time a few feet further and into some longer grass. At the command Rio sprinted to the area and again found the dummy straight away, retrieved it and brought back ,if not directly to me then in my general direction!! As Rio had set off I had see Rudy out of the corner of my eye take off in completely the opposite direction!! Clearly from the look on his face this was SO DULL he took it upon himself to do his own thing!!

Rio was loving it so much I decided to just do it with him instead and let Rudy get on with it!! After a few more throws Rudy came back and joined in. I swear dogs are like kids !! Once Rudy realised he was getting no attention he wanted to play again!! I almost felt sorry for him as although he can find the dummy most times, he is slower at it than Rio!!

After about 10 minutes Rio was so over excited I called a halt to it before he spontaneously combusted on the spot!!! He wouldn’t leave my side thou as the dummy was in my pocket so we went off up the track with me walking and him doing his best kangaroo impression and yes Rudy skulked along too!!!

It was really good to see Rio doing so well and I guess I just have to accept they are different dogs and Rudy just isn’t that interested!!

You go your way and I’ll go mine!!

23 Jan

Walking Rudy and Rio yesterday in the snow through our local fields as I can’t get on to the hill, I wondered what other dogs are like on a walk? I mean my 2 run like crazy, so fast and cover so much ground so quickly and often in separate directions, it can be tricky to keep track of them both!!

Listening..for 2 seconds!!

Listening..for 2 seconds!!

The first 2 fields lead across to more open land but there is a small lane at the end that when the roads are not covered in snow would be used sporadically for local people and farmers to access their homes. So really I need to get Rudy and Rio back and either put them on their leads for a few minutes or get them listening to me and walking to heel just while we cross the lane.

They have had about a week of not too much training and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly they get out of the habit of listening to instruction!! They are so excited to be galloping round in the snow they find it really hard to calm down sufficiently to take direction and actually do as they are told!!!! I had to make them sit for a minute just to relax then we tried both walking to heel.

I knew they only had to do it for a couple of minutes but guess they didn’t so they lunged around, 1 trotting off too quickly and having to be called back into line, 1 trying to dive headfirst into the hedge after a smell etc etc etc!!! To say it was frustrating was an understatement!! We kept going though and I just wished they could be calmer and WALK not run everywhere!!!

Ring leader??!!

Ring leader??!!

We made it into the next field and I let them go again and they had a lovely time in and out of the hedgerows, tails wagging constantly!! They really are such a happy breed of dog it makes me smile every day!! At the top of this field there is again another lane and Rudy has a habit of ducking through the hedge and racing into the opposite field. Not every time, but too often for my liking so I have to keep an eye that he doesn’t shoot under there. Of course there was no traffic here either so no danger from vehicles but the dogs SHOULD listen and not do as they like!!!

Rudy shot under the hedge and Rio followed so I whistled and bellowed and they pretty much came straight back but I wondered do other peoples dogs always have to push the boundaries and do things they know are wrong?? Is it Rudy leading Rio astray? They are like 2 naughty schoolboys!!! 1 daring the other into the next misdemeanour!!!

They see fences and hedges and gates as things to be ducked under, dived through, jumped over. They are objects of fun to be enjoyed at every given opportunity, not barriers to keep them out of places!!! No Rudy and Rio never just mooch along slowly and to be honest if they ever did I would think there was something amiss!!!

Two steps forward …and 3 back!!

10 Jan

I really enjoy training Rudy and Rio and usually we get some pretty good results as their breed, Working Cocker Spaniel, are naturally intelligent and keen to take instruction.

With that in mind we were doing some more recall whistle work and heel off lead etc the other day and all was going extremely well. Both dogs had had their free run to blast off some energy at the start and were enjoying the work. Yes I thought I’ve got this sussed!!! I tried something new but it didn’t quite happen!! I don’t know if it was because I didn’t show them clearly enough what I wanted or if it will start to sink in when we try again?

Basically I asked them both to sit and then tried to make Rio wait while Rudy walked to heel with me. Hmm…Rudy happily came but so did Rio!!! So I sat him again and tried to take just Rudy but again Rio came!! His little face was a picture!! He looked quite upset at being left out!! It was pitiful!! We tried a couple more times then I let him walk with us too and he was so happy his tail wagging frantically from side to side!!!

So back to the drawing board with that one for now but usually when we come back to something they seem to remember the idea and we will probably get on better next time!!! It certainly keeps me fit having to go back and forth so many times but when the penny drops and we achieve something new, the feeling is amazing!!!

Anyway just as we were walking back along the track in the direction of the car and I was cheerfully congratulating myself on the huge improvement Rudy and Rio had shown, a pheasant screeched from miles away. I was not quite quick enough to call the dogs back and quick as a flash both had ducked under the fence and shot off across the field heading for where they thought said pheasant may be!!!

Despite me calling and whistling repeatedly they were both struck stone deaf and carried on regardless!!! There followed a period of about 3/4 minutes when I was just stuck waiting for them to come back, whistling at intervals and getting madder and madder by the minute. Then I started to get slightly concerned as I couldn’t actually see them even in the furthest hedgerow but there was no way for me to get to them so I just had to wait…and wait…and wait!!!

Sorry Mum!!!

Sorry Mum!!!

Eventually I saw Rio coming back across the field but no sign of Rudy. The next minute Rudy appeared from a completely different direction!! Both dogs were shattered and I have no idea how far they had run but suffice to say the walk ended pretty abruptly then!!!

A horrible experience and one which made me realise dogs have their own minds and their own wills and they are not always going to listen to me when their instincts take over!!

Do the stomp!!!!

19 Dec
Waiting for instruction

Waiting for instruction

This  is part 4 of the training I did in the summer with Jeremy Organ, Spaniel specialist. As usual things don’t always go according to plan!!!  Well how boring would that be???!!!

Rudy, Rio and I have been frantically practising all our heel work since our last lesson with Jeremy. We were determined to impress!!! Rudy and Rio walked like angels into the paddock and Rudy even managed not to pee on Jeremy’s best plant as we went through the gate!!! They then sat and waited with me while Jeremy went off to get a dummy to practise some retrieving work.
We then walked (calmly and without pulling me over) into the surrounding fields which were sectioned off with electric fence. Jeremy assured me it was turned off but still I thought it only fair to let him go first!!!
He took Rio and I set Rudy up for a retrieve. Jeremy made a weird noise to get Rudy’s attention and threw the dummy. Rudy waited then I gave him the command to fetch said dummy. Hmm well…..that was the plan but Rudy just fancied a little mooch about in the hedgerow having a good sniff!!!  I called him back and set him up again wondering if he was just being a  bit dim or actually just not interested? It would appear the latter was true!!! Little so and so just put his head down and did his best bloodhound impression hoovering the edge of the field!!!!
Jeremy put him back on his lead and he had to sit and watch Rio who was actually really good!!! Again the same thing. Rio had to sit and wait while Jeremy threw the dummy, then I sent him to retrieve it. Rio loved it and happily brought the dummy straight back to me and let me take it off him without a struggle!! We did a few more and then set off into a huge field to practise their recall work.
I let the dogs off  1 at a time to show Jeremy what their recall was coming on like with the whistle. They were both good individually but not perfect . We let them both off together and Jeremy was quite surprised with the speed they run at!!! Then I had to recall them both together with the whistle and they were good. However when they didn’t come straight back one time Jeremy started growling things at them and they soon shot back to me!!!

Rio poised!!

Rio poised!!

The 1 time Rio didn’t come back to me  immediately, I had to stamp over to him growling “What do u think u are doing??” etc etc in a stroppy tone, obviously that came quite easily, and then put him back on lead walking backwards and jerking the lead while using the whistle to make him realise exactly what I was asking. Which was fine until my foot went down a rabbit hole and I fell straight back like a tree being felled!!! Rio very helpfully came and trod on my face to make sure I was ok!!!!! And Jeremy tried not to laugh too much!!!
We decided to call it a day at that point after I staggered to my feet and I have been sent away with my “homework”, to practise both heel work and recall.

Dogging in…

17 Dec
Sarah's dogs cooling off earlier in the year

Sarah’s dogs cooling off earlier in the year

A couple of months ago I was invited to go ” Dogging in” with a friend. I’m sure some of you will think this is rather risque subject to blog about but when you read on you will understand!!
Dogging in is the practise of using trained dogs, usually spaniels, to flush pheasants from the hedgerows surrounding fields to be ready for a days shooting.
Needless to say I didn’t take Rudy and Rio with me as they have not been trained to do this and I could only imagine the chaos that could have ensued if I had!!!
I arrived at Sarah’s farm at the pre arranged time to find her waiting in a small 4 wheel drive sort of buggy!! Her 2 Springer Spaniels, Purdey (8) and Jura (4) were in the back of the buggy along with her tiny terrier Lily!!  I think Lily has secret ambitions to be a field dog and there was no way she was going to be left behind!!!
So we set off around the fields with the dogs excitedly waiting in the back for Sarah’s command. When we arrived at our first destination Sarah told them to “get on”. The dogs leapt from the back of the buggy and started to systematically search the hedgerow and bushes for birds. Their sense of smell is amazing and soon pheasants were flying out in front of us!! Purdey and Jura have been trained by Sarah for just this job and they love it!! You can see they are in their element and know exactly what they need to do!!

Purdey doing what Springers do best!!!

Purdey doing what Springers do best!!!

Sarah and I drove round the edge of the fields as the dogs did all the hard work, they must cover miles each day!! When the field was covered the dogs jumped back into the buggy and we set off down roads and tracks to the next destination. Again the command was given and the dogs flew from the buggy and immediately set off, tails wagging, heads down with little Lily chasing after them as fast as her legs would carry her!!! She actually found a couple of stragglers that had hidden from the spaniels!!
As the morning progressed I was so impressed with the dogs. They have been trained so well, they know exactly what is being asked of them. They never jump out of the buggy until told to do so and however far away they are they always come straight back to a whistle from Sarah to continue the job!! Amazing !!
It certainly was a fantastic morning and made me want to do more and more training with Rudy and Rio!! I think it’s addictive and the more you do and achieve with your dog the more you want to try!!!  There are so many simple things that you can do , most of the time we just need to be shown how to train the dog!!
Sarah’s dog Jura recently had pups and she has kept 2!!! Greedy I think!!! Anyway these pups are her third generation and she has already started training them on a daily basis. They walk to heel happily both on and off the lead at just a few months old and will be well on their way to becoming really useful working dogs in the not too distant future!!!

Slip sliding away..

28 Nov

Slippery slope!!

We have had so much rain lately, both in Britain generally and closer to home that walking Rudy and Rio has become like a Boot Camp Survival challenge every day!!!  Everywhere you try to walk is so wet and slippery that I am often found poleaxed and prone on the ground after yet another Olympic standard fall / slip/trip/slide while Rudy and Rio are as athletic and graceful as ever, completely sure footed and steady.

The dogs are able to run at the same speed ( flat out ) whether they are going up hill, down hill or on the flat!! How do they manage that and still stay standing? Some of the hills they sprint down are so steep I expect them to end up rolling down instead but they never do.

On one walk on Cleeve Hill I remember a lady rushing up to me quite upset because she had seen 2 dogs racing to the edge of the hill and disappearing!!  I calmed her down as I explained that yes they had gone over the edge but that they did it regularly as part of their walk and that in a few minutes they would reappear tails wagging furiously happy as could be!!

Rudy

I must admit that when you see the inclines they tackle it does make me wonder why I have such trouble staying upright just crossing a flat wooden bridge? This triumph of human (in) stability happened not so long ago when I took Rudy and Rio to Cheltenham Racecourse fields for a walk. It is a very popular place for local dog walkers and you usually bump into someone you know to have a chat to.

Anyway the ground was quite wet as always and we approached the wide wooden bridge from an adjoining field. The dogs were happily off exploring and I walked down a slope to the bridge thinking to myself that it was probably quite slippery so I should be careful.

Hmm as I reached the edge of the bridge I decided I should jump onto the bridge to avoid a huge puddle. As soon as my first wellie clad foot touched the bridge it skidded straight back off and then I found myself literally flying through the air both legs higher than my head ( no mean feat ) before landing with a massive thud on my backside!!!

Of course my first thought was that I hoped the people I knew were walking behind me hadn’t seen as I tried to get up!! Rudy must have heard so he came rushing back to see what was going on, saw me laying on my back, figured I must be ok as I was gesticulating wildly and promptly ran back off to scour the hedgerow again!! Rio didn’t even bother pretending to be concerned!!

I struggled to my feet and soldiered on tears springing to my eyes and limping madly so we could continue the walk. I whistled the dogs as by now I had no idea where they were and they both came crashing out of the hedge greeted me gleefully and headed off again, apparently not noticing that I was now walking with a stoop and slightly off centre!!

The bruises from that walk lasted a few weeks but I must admit if I had seen someone else do it I would have found it hysterical!!

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