Tag Archives: recall

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!!

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“A” Grade students…or Class clowns??!!!

8 Jan

For the past couple of days I have concentrated on quality walks rather than quantity. We have walked locally around Winchcombe and Sudeley Castle and incorporated lots of simple training . We usually start the walk with Rudy and Rio off the lead in the field so they can do what comes naturally!!! When they have had about 20 minutes free running and covering the ground like their lives depend on it, I rein them in a bit and calm them down enough to be able to concentrate!!!

Fun time

Fun time

We did lots of heel work off lead sometimes with one dog either side of me and sometimes with them both on one side. They are surprisingly good at this..I say surprisingly,  as regular readers will know what terrors they can be for pulling while ON the lead!!!

Rudy was positively angelic tip toeing along practically against my leg while Rio took advantage of being on the outside and managed to sneak ahead by a couple of paces!!! I’m sure passers by would think I had tourettes as I hiss, click my fingers, tut, growl and mutter at the dogs to keep them sharp and listening to me!!! I figure if I keep nagging them vocally it will become “white noise” and they will become immune to it so I try to vary things and it does actually seem to work.

I see their ears twitch when I hiss and they slow down and come back into line with each other and me. Every time I stop I ask them to sit. This always starts in the same vein…I stop. They stop. I say “sit”. They stay standing. I say “sit” again. They remain standing. I hiss/ tut/growl/stamp my wellie etc and finally the penny drops and they sit, albeit begrudgingly!!!

After a while this process speeds up and usually one or other will get really quick and sit as soon as asked while the other will take the view that they are safe for an extra nano second to stand and look longingly into the vast empty field next to us!!!

When we have done enough of the heel work Rudy and Rio get to charge about like mad things again interspersed with whistle recall work which they love!!! They can be running full tilt along the track side by side seeing who can run fastest ( Rudy!!) and I give 2 blows of the whistle and they turn together, in synch as if attached at the hip and come running back  towards me at the same speed, waiting to see if I am going to ask them to stop or send them past me.

A couple of sessions of this and we resume some heel work or some sit and waits.  Depending how much time we have after doing the sit and waits together  I try to get them to use their brain even more by asking them to both sit and wait then calling them to me separately. This can be fairly hit and miss!!! Usually they both still come together so I have to take them both back and sit them and not go as far away before telling one to wait and calling the other to me.

You have to see the funny side as I call Rudy who is vacantly looking around and Rio who is hovering just above the ground desperate for the command to come!! I call Rudy and Rio comes and vice versa!!! Eventually if we get one right we celebrate… me with a woop woop and them with a bark!!!

I really enjoy trying to teach them new things but have learnt little and often is the best approach and if you don’t expect too much you won’t be disappointed!!!!

All that training's hard work!!

All that training’s hard work!!

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.

Look who’s talking!!

2 Dec
Hmm is she calling us???

Hmm is she calling us???

We all know you are not meant to shout at your children and that they respond better to a calm voice and reason but sometimes it seems only a screech will do!!!  Well it appears the same is true for dogs!!

Calling them to you in a nice kind voice will usually work better than a bellow!!! However it’s hard to remember the basic rules when you see them heading towards potential danger or you have called them 3 times already and they have become deaf!!

Lulu

Lulu

My friend Sue has a recall issue with Lulu her Tibetan Terrier. She is not usually able to let Lulu off the lead to have a good run with other dogs because she wont come back when called!! Her ears twitch so you know she has heard you and sometimes she even stops to decide what she is going to do… you can almost see her brain working things out. ” Hmm I really want to carry on running through this field to chase the rabbit / play with Muffin and Princess / see how far I can get before I drop in a heap… but I can hear my Mum calling me.. Do I run to her or from her??!! She may have treats for me?? She may put me back on the lead!!” What a dilemma!!!

Anyway Sue has found an enclosed dog walking field near to where she lives and has taken the plunge lately and let Lulu off!! It has been a huge success and obviously it’s lovely for Sue to see her dogs having such fun, running around and playing with other dogs.

Until……. some pesky children had left the gate to the dog walking field ajar!!! Lulu and Princess were running off the lead and Sue probably saw the open gate at about the same time as Lulu did!!! It was a race against time now!!! Lulu spotted her escape route and went for it hotly pursued by Princess. Sue called them both…then called again and both ignored her. She shouted at Princess who then stopped in her tracks and came back. So now she just had to stop Lulu!!!

She shouted at her and saw Lulu do a half halt and think over her options ( see above!! ). Unfortunately she decided she would rather carry on and risk Sue’s wrath. After all she was already being shouted at so why come back?? Sue realised she needed to calm herself down and after a few deep breaths called her in her best sing song voice while reaching into her pocket for a treat.

And lo a miracle occurred!!! Well ok maybe not a miracle but Lulu turned and came running back to Sue, tail wagging , happy as could be!!

I think we have all  been in scary situations and reacted accordingly, then realised the shouting scared voice doesn’t encourage the dog to come back. In fact it probably scares them away!!!

I always take a whistle out on walks to call Rudy and Rio back as they run so far away from me on their travels!! It works well and saves using the “wrong” voice!! However I have found that you can actually blow your whistle in an angry way!!!!!! I have found this out twice this week whilst waiting for my little angels to come back!!! You can in fact grip said whistle between your clenched teeth and blow til u pop the button off your jeans!!! Yes really!!!

Hot Stuff!!

30 Nov

Eh?? What do you mean??

This is the 2nd installment of the training lessons I had with Jeremy Organ, Spaniel Officionado and all around nice guy!! It took place back in what we Brits laughingly called our ” summer”!!! This must have been the only hot day we had this year!!!

Rudy, Rio and I  arrived a few minutes early for our second lesson so we  sat in the boot of the car (well the dogs were in the boot , I was perched precariously on the edge! )  Whilst we sat and waited for Jeremy, Rudy had a great time watching the prize chickens in their coup again but at least we had no re enactment of last time!!!!

Chicken run!!

Jeremy came out to greet us and we decided  as it was so hot ( !! ) we would take them both through to the paddock together, so true to form they pulled a la husky through to the field with me practically horizontal behind !!
Well I did explain to Jeremy that I haven’t mastered 2 at a time yet!!! Unless it’s a 2 finger Kit Kat that is!!
Anyway we walked past a beautiful litter of 7 week old Springers Spaniels that Jeremy had bred and I thought that their training would probably start very soon!!! And how amazing they would no doubt end up..perfectly in tune with their owner, obedient and eager to please!!! At that point Rudy cocked his leg on Jeremy’s favourite tree as Rio lunged forward pulling me off balance for the hundredth time!!!
It was really hot which I’m sure had a positive effect on the dogs as they were both too hot to mess around too much!!!
We started with 1 dog each doing heel work. So I would walk forward with 1 dog and as soon as he started to pull against me I jerked the lead sharply, released and changed direction by 90 degrees. I continued  walking and every time there is tension on the lead you snatch the lead, release and change direction. The dog soon begins to grasp that if they walk calmly without pulling they are rewarded with a loose lead and no pressure. When they pull it feels uncomfortable for them and the fact that you change direction means the dogs really have to listen to you and be aware of your body language to know where you are heading and when.
Also every time you stop the dog is meant to sit immediately..something Rudy finds especially challenging!!!
Jeremy was suitably impressed with their improvement.YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  They were both really good individually so Jeremy decided the time had come to try them together!! Aarggh!!! Could I do this?? Would they go into “husky” mode? Would I fall over ..it has been known?? I got hotter and hotter with fear and trepidation, my face ablaze , my hands clammy!!!
 However they were pretty restrained and again it all went quite well. Not as good as on their own but no Mary Poppins moments with me flying through the air, arms akimbo!!! We practised for around 10 minutes which was plenty both for Rudy and Rio and me!! I don’t know who had to concentrate more!! The dogs having to do as they were told or me having to remember a kind tone of voice and no shouting!!
We headed back into the paddock for a well earned drink ( The dogs I hasten to add, unfortunately Jeremy hadn’t chilled a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for me!! ( selfish I thought!!)
After a short break Jeremy said we should do some recall work. He kept Rio on the lead and I let Rudy off so he was free to roam around the enclosed paddock. I then had to call him back. This started well and after quite a few successful efforts we added a new dimension. At a given point in the recall I had to try to make Rudy sit. Well I would release Rudy, let him get engrossed in sniffing around then call him. So far so good. I then bellowed ” sit” and held my hand up palm facing him ( the sit sign) and hoped for the best!! Rudy just looked slighty mystified and happily came right back to me!! Hmm this was going to be interesting!!

” SIT”…….please!!

It was a similar story with Rio although he did seem to pick things up a bit quicker and I started to feel like I was making some progress.
In between each lesson I have to practise every day which I either incorporate into our walks or in separate shorter sessions. I think this could take quite some time but it’s all good fun!!!

Wo(Mans) best friend

22 Nov

Best friends

As Rudy, Rio and I set off for our lunchtime walk today the wind was really blowing hard, so I knew up on Cleeve Hill it would be wild!!! I wasn’t wrong!! The car park was now completely under water due to the heavy rain this area and many others have been experiencing over the last few days.

There were only 2 other vehicles in the car park, hardy dog walkers or just plain crazy!!! I got out of the car and was nearly blown off my feet!!! As I got the dogs out of the car I pondered my sense in coming up here just to let them have a run around and realised I do it because I love them!! There are not many other things I would step out in this weather to do!!!

Unfortunately it was not the best day to realise I didn’t have my whistle with me!! I attempted one of my own and heard it sail away on the wind, the dogs none the wiser!!! I called to Rudy and he didn’t hear me at all ( I’m sure he wasn’t ignoring me!! )

The ridiculousness of the scene..dogs happy as ever running here, there and everywhere, ears flying madly, having a whale of a time…made me realise what an important place our dogs have in our hearts. Yes Rudy and Rio are “just” pets i.e they don’t work but still I am more than happy to walk them whatever the weather for hours at a time for 2 reasons. 1; They love it. 2; I love it!!! Simple!!!

It’s in here somewhere!!

Other dogs serve a much more useful purpose. There are Guide Dogs for the blind, Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and PAWS, dogs trained to help children with Autism.

Dogs are so clever and so happy to do the right thing and just imagine the difference they must make to a blind person. The freedom the dog provides and the opportunity for the blind person to go places and do things previously impossible must forge an incredible bond.

Again hearing dogs for the deaf must be an incredible aid to an easier life for the human, alerting them to the telephone ringing etc and it has been proved that having a dog helps lower stress levels for families with an autistic child.

Dogs really are our best friends and I’m sure if they were human they would do all the right things!! They would always remember our Birthdays and buy the best presents!! They would never moan about us going out with our friends or forget to put the bins out!! They would always insist our bums didn’t look big in that and assure us  that no one would notice the spot in the middle of our chin!!!!

We walked on and I was nearly blown off my feet a few times but watching Rudy and Rio enjoy themselves more than made up for it .

Sudeley walk,Winchcombe

13 Nov

Sudeley Castle Gatehouse

After a few days of excessive free running ( the dogs) and stumbling up hill and down dale ( me) I decided in my infinite wisdom that Rudy and Rio needed a reminder of disciplined ” heel” work and general good manners.

It didn’t really start too promisingly, as while I was getting into Dog Walkers Uniform ( jeans,thick socks, wellies and waterproof ) both dogs were busy doing circuits across the sofas in the front room. Apparently they can leap and almost clear the gap between the sofas without dropping a paw to the ground!! Quite impressive should they ever need to prove themselves at long jump!!!

After the usual kerfuffle to get their leads on I opened the front door. They know not to go through it before me now, the next step being  not to dislocate my shoulder barging towards the car!! So it went something like this…Me  ” Rudy come”  Rudy obliged and so did Rio. So  I  put Rio back in the house. Me  ” Rio come”  Rio came and Rudy shot back into the house!! This was getting beyond a joke and I thought with one more in and one more out we could start the Oakey Cokie!!

Anyway with limited time I decided now they were both out we would head off to Winchcombe. I parked in Vineyard Street ( beautiful) and the dogs dragged me kindly down the road to the field. Hmm this controlled heel work is actually quite hard!!

After they had a good gallop round we headed down the lane towards Sudeley Castle with both dogs pulling happily and me growling, hissing ( yes that does work sometimes!!) and  getting longer arms by the minute!! Not good

We headed up the bank so the dogs could have a run in the wooded area just past the lake and they took off thrilled to be doing their favourite thing… scenting all the beasts that have no doubt been in there during the night. Heads down and tails wagging wildly they soon disappeared from sight.  Good time to practise  their recall work I thought so I blew the whistle and Rudy came back immediately followed not much later by Rio. Great I thought I’ve got this bit cracked and sent them both off again.

A few minutes later and we repeated the exercise and again Rudy whizzed back but this time Rio took a little while longer and had to be whistled again. Still when he finally came back he looked so pleased with himself I didn’t have the heart to point out the timing issues!!!

Time was marching on and I needed to start heading back to the car in the certain knowledge both dogs were going to need washing when we got home as they were by now filthy.

So..the final whistle. Rudy came straight away…Rio the little stinker was nowhere to be seen. Cue me blowing the whistle, calling him ( albeit through gritted teeth with the expletives *** out) and getting madder and madder by the minute!!

A good 2 or 3 minutes later he appears at breakneck speed and skidded to a halt in front of me gathering as much thick mud as possible in between his paws!!  Oh bless I thought…well something like that anyway!!

With speed Usain Bolt would be envious of we rushed home, hosed both dogs down, dried them very quickly and they then permeated the hall with that beautiful wet dog odour that even Febreeze struggles to eliminate for the next couple of hours!!

Oh the joy of owning dogs in the winter!!x

Autumn colours

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