Friday, 30 January 2009

January Walks

During the recent wet weather I've been walking the dogs at Ashdown Forest. It's a beautiful place about 8 miles from where we live. I've walked there many times over the years. It tends to go in phases though, I don't go there for ages and then I'll walk there several days in a row. The choice of walks is huge as the forest covers 2,500 hectares. On one side they re-introduced sheep and cattle so you have to be sure your dogs are under control. On the other side there is no stock but of course you still meet deer. It's lovely walking and very good for me as it includes walking up hill quite a bit (something I try to avoid but know I should do more of!)

The dogs absolutely love it there and usually start howling as soon as they smell the forest which is before they see it. It's always busier at the weekends and I took the dogs there on Saturday. It was good for Zeki as there were quite a few horse riders about and she would love to chase so we practised recalls when we saw horses approaching and then had to do a down stay. The others are all very good at this as they've been drilled over the years walking here and on our annual holiday to the New Forest.

Wherever we go at the moment the dogs are coming back rather wet and very dirty so I have to give them a clean up before putting them back in the car. This can be stressful when you have six dogs by yourself but I have devised a new routine whereby I tie four of them to the back of my cages and then clean up two and pop them inside.

At the weekend the car park was busy so I was nervous about Niamh being tied up with lots of dogs and people around. I was very fortunate that a chap came over to admire the dogs and my vehicle after he'd cleaned up his one dog (an ancient black labrador who had to walk up a ramp into his boot.) He spent about 20 minutes fussing all my dogs whilst we chatted and I continued cleaning up my lot. I warned him that Niamh could be a little nervous with strangers and he was brilliant. He just let her make the first move and by the time the dogs were all clean she was kissing him and pushing her face into his for cuddles. I do love it when people show this sort of patience with a nervous dog, it's so helpful and such a good experience. Now I won't be so stressed when I have all the dogs tied to the car on busier days. It was also very good for Zeki. She can be a little loud and protective of the car with other dogs around. I left her 'til last so that she had the longest experience tied to the car and by the end she was very relaxed as people, children, dogs and cars were coming and going.

Here are a couple of rather poor pictures from their forest walks, I forgot the camera so they're taken with the mobile.

Having fun on the forest

The shelties playing chase on the forest

Yesterday we took the dogs to our regular walk for the first time in a week as it has dried out a bit. It was still very wet underfoot and we ended up with six very wet and dirty dogs most of whom had to be washed when we got home. It adds another hour to the proceedings but I don't like my dogs sitting around wet and dirty, especially Poppy. I like to get them warm and dry and into their beds so they can have a good sleep after their walk.

Andy took time out of the office to come on the walk. He hasn't walked much lately as he's been having lots of physio for his groin strain. Things are definitely improving and he hopes to be back playing badminton in a couple of weeks and if that goes well then back to training Kizzy. I think Kizzle will be delighted to get back to doing things. She's had a lay off after being spayed but is now ready to come back to agility. Although she is a laid back (um, sometimes lazy) little princess; she does love to do things with Andy. She really is the perfect little package as she sleeps all day until you drag her out for her walk which she actually does enjoy once she's out there and when Andy wants her to do agility he just presses her little green button and off she goes! Then you press her red button and she goes to sleep! I can't find Zeki's off button ....

Here are some pictures of yesterday's walk:

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Clever Zeki

We're continuing with our dog training classes on Wednesday evenings. I really enjoy these sessions and Zeki absolutely loves them. I think this is partly because she gets a lot of food and partly because she enjoys socialising! Last week we passed the last elements of our Puppy Foundation Assessment for the Good Citizen scheme.

Now we are starting to work towards our bronze award. We have trained all of the elements and now need to polish up on one or two of them before we are booked in for our exam some time in the near future.

Last night we did a brand new exercise. I was a bit stressed about it because Zeki has a rather strong eye and likes to chase things (work in progress!). Our trainer brought along a pram with a baby doll inside. We each had to push the pram around the hall twice with our dogs walking calmly by our sides. I really thought that Zeki would bark and try to chase and bite the wheels. We were last to go so whilst the others had their turns I spent time clicking Zeki for looking at me and not eyeing the pram as it progressed round the hall.

When we got up for our go I was quite nervous (yes I was, even though it's basic obedience in a local village hall!). I had no reason to worry, she was perfect. She trotted round beside the pram without a single problem. When I stopped walking she even offered a sit beside me. I was really thrilled. How sad am I!

Here is Zeki's little award of which I am very proud!

Zeki's Foundation Training - week 3

I really enjoyed our training this week. It was great fun. It's good to have the video because I can see the mistakes I'm making and hopefully correct them. For example it's not good to be leaning across to reward her for her sit stay from my opposite hand as it encourages her to swivel and look at me. This is hardly surprising as I am teaching her to do just that as part of her front cross foundation work. Sometimes I despair of myself!

Here's a film of some of the bits and pieces we did.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Zeki & Niamh exercising and I've been tagged

Niamh learning to balance on the exercise ball - next step is to teach her to move it along using her hind legs. This was her first experience of it.

Zeki showing Niamh how easy this is. This is an exercise we learned at Hannah's co-ordination and balance course. We have incorporated it into our agility foundation course and all the dogs love the peanut and the round ball. Thank you Hannah!

Kizzy practising her favourite balance exercise - on a cushion!

Oh and by the way I've been tagged. I have no idea what this is but what's new!

By Karen (

Open a document or file folder

Click on the fifth folder

and then the fifth photo

Post the photo and describe it

The middle person is my Dad and the picture was taken in Carmarthenshire probably around the late 1940's early 1950's (Dad??) Dad was evacuated to Wales during the second world war and spent many years there. My grandad was in the City of London police force and his whole family was evacuated out of London (fortunate as their house was subsequently destroyed by a bomb). Dad was educated in Wales and lived on a farm. As children we used to go back every year to the same farm to visit the family that Dad had lived with all those years ago. We kept in touch right until Mrs Markes died. It was from these days that I got my love of dogs, border collies. So you see Dad, it's really your fault that I have so many dogs!

I am pleased that this picture came up. Most of my photos are of dogs (why on earth would that be I wonder!) When I read the instructions I thought it would be a photo of Kizzy lounging on a bed or sofa or Niamh upside down asleep - so it was good when my mouse arrived at the fifth album and it was of old scanned family photos! I think my dogs get their fair share of photos on this blog!

Now I think I have to tag others. I'm sure they'll be delighted with me ... sorry guys!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Zeki Training

I have been very bad at posting on the blog just lately so thought it about time I did a little update on Zeki's training progress.

She will be eleven months next week and she continues to make me smile and laugh. She is the most adorable dog and our bond is really strengthening.

I haven't done very much agility type training as I'm in no rush and I've been really undecided about how to train contacts. The running type or the stop type being the dilemma. Part of my dilemma has been around the fact that I felt our target training wasn't really coming together as I'd hoped. She does understand the target but I've had problems getting her to stay straight and not flip round to look at me.

Rather than get it totally wrong I've just left it and instead concentrated on other elements of our training together. We have done lots of foundation work and two weeks ago we started a new agility foundation course at club.

We are lucky enough to have Leah taking this class for us so there is plenty to do and lots of enthusiasm plus of course lots of good advice and ideas. Andy will also be helping out with the class so we are going to be kept busy as we progress.

We do lots of different things: wobble boards, ladder work, balance games, shadowing and the usual recalls, sending to a toy and control work within our group of five. It's really good for me to get training with other people and dogs as Zeki is very capable when by herself but has a rather strong eye when other dogs and people are around. This course is perfect to get her used to working with lots of activity around her. So far we've had just one incidence of her breaking out to chase another dog. That was a collie called Indie and she led him astray well and truly. Hopefully this will get better. Her only other naughty little habit is to go and join other dogs when it's their turn on the wobble boards. She seems to think they belong to her (which they kind of do I suppose) and joins the other puppies on the wobble boards. None of this happens if I have food in my hand but I'm trying hard to get her attention for toys and slowly but surely it is getting better!

I love this sort of thing because it not only teaches the dogs lots of new things but it also teaches them to learn in their new environment with other dogs around. This means when we come to train actual agility exercises it should be much easier as the young dogs will already be used to coming to school!

Her puppy obedience is going well. I really enjoy the weekly class and last week Zeki passed the final elements of her Kennel Club Good Citizen Puppy Foundation Course. She will get a rosette and certificate so I'm very proud. For the puppy foundation course she passed the following exercises: attentive response to name; play with handler and give up toy on command; handling and inspection; puppy recall; sit; down; stand; walking in a controlled manner; 10 second stay; food manners and socialisation with an unknown dog and handler. We have started training for our bronze test.

I also went for a lesson with Lesley last week. Bernadette came along with the puppies to socialise them. This was also good for Zeki as she had to concentrate on her lesson whilst Bernadette played with one puppy at a time at the other end of Lesley's school. The lesson was great. We worked on play motivation (I now have a new and very expensive toy - look out for this in a future post!) and targetting. As usual Lesley simplified things for me and made me realise that I wasn't doing so badly after all. She also came up with a good idea for keeping Zeki's focus ahead when targetting. This seems to be working for us so I'll post more on this as we improve. I'm also working on improving Zeki's nose to hand target. She's good at it but I'm working on duration now with more help from Lesley. Lastly we're working on getting Zeki to play with a toy after being clicked for doing a task. So far so good. I would love for this to work out. It already seems to be strengthening her tug. We also worked on some little jumping sequences with poles on the floor. Lesley had me working on cross behinds using a toy thrown ahead. Zeki was focused and did well at this considering it was at the end of the lesson and after food training. Seems I really can switch from food to toys now!

I have lots more to post on other things but will do that in a separate post. Must catch up as I've been a bad blogger of late! Meanwhile, here's a little video of Zeki at her foundation class last week.

Kizzy's 2008 Haul

I meant to post this at the end of 2008 but I forgot. How bad is that! Anyway here is Kizzy with her rosettes and trophies from her first season of agility competition.

Princess Kizzy admiring her trophies

Monday, 12 January 2009

Girls just wanna have fun

Some more puppy pictures for your delectation!

We've had our supper and three puppies have crashed after a lengthy play time. One little person is still up and about and currently in the tunnel. That's Itsy Bitsy. She is a bundle of energy and fun. They all are in fact but she is just amazing.

The puppies have had a busy day and I've managed to have individual play time with each one both in a group environment and getting one puppy out at a time. We've also had group play sessions mainly with my bright pink crocs! The puppies ate all their lunch and just about all their supper. Soon after they've finished eating I'm running round after them with my kitchen roll trying to catch the poo's before they hit the floor. I have about a 50% success rate!

The puppies had some time with Poppy in the kitchen this afternoon and were fascinated by this large person who came into the kitchen. As I expected Poppy was an angel with them and just lay there while they walked round and over her.

Unfortunately I have been unable to take them outside at all. Today has been absolutely awful with rain coming sideways at the house and strong winds. Not at all pleasant. When I took Zeki, Pops and Zen outside after their dinner Zeki just stood under the picnic table and refused to come out until I said she could come back inside!

Now the puppies are about to go back into their play pen for a snooze and then I'll have them out one at a time for evening cuddles and more individual play. We'll have one more group play time before they have final cuddles before bed. Oh and I mustn't forget to groom them before they finally go to bed.

One more thing they've had in their education today. They have listened to some classical music - ha ha!

Then I think I can go to bed with my book. I so admire Bernadette as I haven't done anything like she normally does and I'm exhausted.

At this point I'd like to say a huge thank you to Leah for standing in for me this evening to help Andy with a training evening at Dartford Dog Club. Thank you Leah and I promise to go easy on you at training tomorrow evening ...... as long as you promise not to make me run too much on Thursday evening!

General Update

Well, apart from puppy sitting what else have we been up to?

We had a big clear up in the garden after Christmas once the last leaves had fallen from the oak trees. We still seem to get leaves blowing in from somewhere but we're nearly all clear. Now we need a massive bonfire to burn all the leaves.

It has been so cold over the last couple of weeks. Our fish pond was completely frozen and Andy chipped some away to allow some air in for the fish. It was about 4 inches thick.

I did a training day on Saturday for a group in Surrey. Trust me to pick the coldest day not only of the year but probably of the decade! When I left home it was -8.5 degrees and by the time I got to Godstone where I join the M25 it was -9 degrees. It didn't get above -4 all day long. The training was in an outside paddock and there was no way we could do any agility as the ground was too hard. I took along my training props: wobble boards, ladder, cones etc. and we worked on agility foundation exercises. It's amazing what you can find to do when you have a group of enthusiastic people and keen dogs. They took me for a lovely lunch and also provided me with hand warmers to put inside my gloves. I had four layers on plus my coat and made sure I kept moving when doing the training. It was very cold but not as bad as I thought it might be. That said I was very glad to get home in the warm. I watched t.v. for about ten minutes and then fell fast asleep!

On Friday Jackie and Terry came for a visit. It's the first time they've been to our new house. We got to meet Terry's new puppy, Meadow, for the first time. She is really cute and very sweet. We went to the Wheatsheaf for lunch and Dan and Mac joined us. It was lovely to see them.

Yesterday I did some training in the morning with Nicole and Indy. We could only do flatwork exercises as the ground was still very hard even though the temperature had risen. After that we went for a nice walk with Michael and Ellen and tired all the dogs out. Then we just chilled for the afternoon.

That just about brings me up to date. I will another post later regarding Zeki's training and where we're at as I haven't updated on that in ages. Can't do it right now as the puppies are re-awakening!

Beginner Group

I'm often mentioning my beginner agility group on this blog so thought it about time they made an appearance.

Here they are:

Nicole & Storm, Julie & Kim and Lindy & Cassie

Kim, Cassie & Storm

They are all lovely dogs (and people!). Kim and Storm are rescues. They all love their agility training. Nicole has just rescued a second collie called Indy (he was pictured in my Ashdown Forest pictures post). Nicole has done a couple of sessions with him at my place, just basic foundation stuff and on Tuesday they're joining us at Hilders Lane for our new beginners course. He's a lovely dog and keen to learn. He likes toys and food and has taken to the clicker really well.