Friday, 30 November 2018

Speaking the same language

This morning I was reading a post written by a leading dog trainer, asking how many of our human words our dogs understand and it set me thinking, so I wrote a list and these are the words my girls understand and respond to (I may have missed a few). Writing them down made me realise that the words my girls have chosen to learn from me are very much out of the 'golden retriever' handbook;  i.e mostly related to fun times and food!

Anyway, if you are curious, or have nothing better to do (!) please read on ...

Sit, stand, down, stay, come, watch, wait, turn, turn left, spin, beg, dinner, hungry, biscuit, carrot, sweeties, cheese, mat, bed, off, back (for walking backwards with me - it's a cute trick!) their names, paw, up, roll over, jump, away, over, walk on, steady, slowly, jogging, get up, toy, tug, ball, catch, drop, leave, find it, bring it, teddy, tug, here, touch, go wee, kisses, over, tunnel, go to sleep (I use this instead of 'play dead') stop, car, through, come round, out, indoors, garden, heel, with me, grass (we use this to walk on the grass rather than pavement) close, speak, quiet, shake it, step, head in (to put collars on) lead on, say hello, hello, okay, cuddles, go get Dad, slipper, scratchy bum (!) tummy, feet, ears, brush, quiet, lay down time, beep beep, nice, clever and of course, GOOD GIRLS!

I wonder which words other breeds prefer to learn?!

Joking apart, when I first brought Polly home five and half years ago, I certainly never anticipated that she had the potential to understand me as well as she now does. Little sis Betty, now three and a half years old, has been equally eager to learn and even easier to train than her big sister. 

Teaching my girls and learning from them, has been a fascinating and fun journey but the most important lesson I have learned over the past five and a half years, is never underestimate your dog's potential for learning. Teach with kindness, compassion and fun and their willingness to learn your language will reward you beyond measure!


Monday, 1 October 2018

Wherever I lay my head is home

It's been quite a while since I updated Polly's Progress and of course, we now also have Betty progressing well ... which gives a bit of a clue as to why my blogging time has been considerably reduced! Yes, with two dogs to take care of, train, walk, play with, there isn't much time left for writing about it. That said, I thought I'd pop in and fire off a quick blog post, as we've just returned from a week in windy Cornwall with the family and that, of course, included our girls!

Unfortunately when I booked the holiday accommodation, I forgot about the seasonal dog ban on many of the beaches in West Cornwall, but I was determined they would have the freedom to run and play while we were away, so we drove to beautiful Holywell Bay, a dog friendly beach we visited last year and one of the most stunning beaches in Cornwall. My girls had a wonderful time racing around sand dunes and streams, although I kept a very close eye on them along the shore as the current was fierce, the surf was high and Betty is far from a good swimmer!

Needless to say, I couldn't resist a paddle with my delighted girls, so I stripped off my shoes and socks and in I went with them. Thankfully they were polite with me, so I stayed relatively dry!

Aside from fun on the beach, Polly and Betty have also hiked miles across Cornish cliffs, visited pubs, tea shops and quaint fishing villages with me and my family, ridden on the Great Western Railway to St Ives and even visited a castle, including climbing medieval spiral staircases without protest.

A visit to Pendennis Castle in Falmouth

St Ives

Wild 'n windy Porthleven

Hiking to Lands End

And I almost forgot to mention the Seal Sanctuary in Gweek! We wanted to take our grandchildren to visit so were thrilled to learn it was dog friendly. Polly and Betty walked politely on leads as we met seals, sea lions, ponies, penguins and some sheep ... (that's when you know for certain all the obedience training paid off!!!)

It bears mentioning that holidaying with dogs can be stressful for them. Long car journeys, strange destinations and unfamiliar accommodation, added to extra time spent on leads and high behaviour expectations, can be tough on them. That said, I think the benefits can be very rewarding and it's a great way to put your obedience training to the test. My girls loved being away as part of our large family group and although little Betty found the extra lead walking in new places challenging on occasion, those long walks in strange Cornish places, have noticeably helped improve her lead behaviour since our return home. The girls also enjoyed a ton of attention from admirers and family while they holidayed and had some fabulous off lead fun in places we couldn't hope to replicate where we live.

All aboard the Great Western Railway to St Ives

We are family

We have had a lovely time on the wild 'n windy West Coast of Cornwall and my girls have done themselves proud. They settled wherever we settled, proving that wherever mum lays her head is home!

So proud of this pair!

Happy hols Polly and Betty!

Dog tired!


Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Happy 5th Birthday Polly!

Five years ago I really had no idea bringing up a Goldie pup would be such hard work, but having Polly loyally by my side every day of those five years, has made every training challenge, wet walk and bark at the postie, completely worthwhile. She has worked incredibly hard to become a good girl for me and my family and she is a super big sister to little Betty. I am immensely proud of all my very special girl has achieved and all that she has taught me. 

Wishing my beautiful bossy Big Bird a very Happy 5th Birthday today!

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