Thursday, 21 July 2016

Betty's Real Life Training

We are having a mini heatwave here in the UK this week.  The pavements have been unbearably hot, so I've been keeping my girls as cool as possible by walking them 'out of hours' and staying in grassed areas.  With her heavy double coat, poor Polly really doesn't cope well with the heat, preferring to stay indoors and sleep the heat away on the cool of our kitchen floor.  Betty, on the other hand, would dash around all day long if allowed, so keeping her occupied is more of a challenge ... that said, she spent ages yesterday trying to nose a little fly around my grandson's paddling pool, it kept her interested for quite some time!

I had booked a morning 'Real Life' training session for Betty yesterday, which still went ahead as it was overcast, with a bit of a welcome breeze. It took place in our lovely local park and we spent the first half of the session working our dogs on their leads against the distractions of the park, with lots of walking to heel politely, sitting on command, staying when told, meeting dogs politely whilst on lead and working in very close proximity to other dogs both on and off their leads.  It's extremely useful training for Betty and I'm very pleased with how she is coming along.  Keeping Betty's focus when distraction levels are high and the environment so exciting, is an excellent challenge for both of us.

Our instructor works us hard and rewards the dogs well for their hard work by giving them a lovely group run afterwards (and practising recalls). They had so much fun tearing round bushes and trees, up steep banks, along grassed areas and then, the best treat of all, a splash in the lake!  Betty used to be fearful of water, but with a group of pals to play with (a bouncy lab, a lively spaniel, a nervous mini dachshund, a handsome wire haired terrier and a shy Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in this particular group) she had the most wonderful time chasing with them through the water.

Betty's next 'Real Life' training session will be in town, so no group run that day, but we will be tackling lifts ... that should be interesting! Polly also joins 'Real Life' training groups regularly, in fact she had a lovely session at another little country park across town on Wednesday, performing the obedience exercises well, making friends quickly and enjoying a lively run with a cheeky little Cocker Spaniel who took a particular shine to her. I have found it to be invaluable to be able to walk Polly with a wide variety of breeds of dogs, all sizes, all ages, all energy levels ... doing this regularly has given her more confidence when she meets unfamiliar dogs and as a result, she is much calmer with them now than she used to be.

It's great fun training in 'Real Life' situations and so useful for making sure your dog is safe around other dogs in the real world. I heartily recommend booking some classes, if you there is an instructor in your locality who offers this service.


Friday, 8 July 2016

Stand to attention!

We may have finished at our old obedience school, but we do still practice obedience training each day.  Today we are celebrating Betty's formal 'stand at a distance'.  This has been a long time coming and a challenge teach my fidgety miss, but I am delighted to say, she can now 'stand' from a sit and a down, to both verbal command and hand signal, without leaping forward excitedly each time.




Training my girls together has been challenging and sometimes a bit chaotic, but very satisfying when everything comes together. Polly learned these commands a long time ago and is always happy to perform for a clicker, but it's taken Betty a while to settle into the 'stay' element as she only has two settings, 'on at full playful burst', or 'off and sound asleep'!

So well done Betty for at last mastering your sit, down stay and stand at a distance ... and well done Polly for managing to stay calm and focused as little sister bounced around you throughout the past year, while she gradually learned her own obedience skills!
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