We finally booked a session at Smithvale Dog Centre for today and it was amazing! I’ve been here before to help with classes and behavioural sessions but this was the first time me and my partner had been here with Bonnie and it was so much fun! She really enjoyed having the enclosed area to run about freely and was super at the obstacles, even the ones she hadn’t tried before!
I was so proud of her as not only was she great at learning how to do the obstacles but I was also able to use a tennis ball and her tug as both a lure and reward for her. This is a huge deal for us as she came to us not knowing how to play tug and was wary of taking anything from our hands so for her to enjoy it so much is amazing. I always hoped for a tug obsessed dog and she’s slowly getting there – dragging her around with her firmly clamped down on the tug is the funnest thing ever especially considering how gingerly she used to be with her mouth!
This week was super long and stressful due to work so we were really glad to make it to the weekend all in one piece! During the week we didn’t have much time to go on any special adventures with Bonnie but for our walks at night we decided to take her into town for some extra stimulation and training while it was quiet out.
We did some “barkour” which is like the sport parkour but for dogs, so she got some time to go off lead and play with obstacles – jumping over, onto and crawling under things like benches etc. It’s great stimulation for her out as the town is always filled with new and exciting smells for her to sniff and combining it with the “barkour” means she comes home mentally and physically tired.
Yesterday we went to a dog event that was held in Crawfordsburn Country Park which was the same place as the last event we went to. We went hoping that it would be a better set up and thankfully they used a different part of the park which meant it was lovely and spacious so Bonnie could get in and involved without being overwhelmed! It was such a beautiful day but it wasn’t packed so it was really relaxing and Bonnie totally rocked it.
She was able to settle as we stood about and kept her calm even after a boisterous pup unsettled her (I don't think the owner was too happy as she didn't seem to understand Bonnie was teaching it some manners as it was a very rude puppy but what the owner only saw was Bonnie telling it off haha oh well). She was doing so well and since the ring wasn't too crowded we decided to enter her into two of the competitions – Most Fetching and DICE Dog's Got Talent – and she managed to come 2nd in Most Fetching and 1st in DICE Dog's Got Talent which was great fun. We left afterwards as it was too hot out to stay much longer.
It was really nice to win the little ribbons and trophy but to be honest I was more proud of how well Bonnie did and the fact she was able to concentrate on me in a situation that would’ve been too difficult for her in the past. She was able to focus and have fun with me and besides the little shake off near the end of the video she was happy and engaged throughout. She did me proud especially because we hadn’t prepared or practised the routine (if you can even call it that haha) we performed. Also she had only just began offering the sit pretty for the pretend gun cue 2 days ago so was super impressed all around with her ❤
Today we didn't intend to go on any special adventures with Bonnie but she had a different motive! It all started pretty innocently as she was playing with a new teddy we had got at the event and we let her take it into the back garden to play with while we made dinner.
Well as usual we look out the window every minute or so to check on Bonnie and wouldn’t you know it there isn’t a sign of her in the garden. I immediately change from my slippers into my boots, grab her collar (because god forbid she bloody would escape when she’s not wearing her collar) and run out the front door while my partner checks the back. My heart is pounding frantically thinking what if she got out to the main road and worrying because she has literally no road sense. I run around and call her name but hear and see nothing so I run back to the side of the house where my partner is.
We see the little poop head then – she had got into the garden past the brambles and branches and across the stream and was having a wild time playing chasies with the black lab and it’s owner. I shout Bonnie twice, she turns around and spots me through the trees and thank god she starts running towards me, I keep calling and saying good girl and praising. She makes it over the stream and through the brambles and I promptly pick her up heart beating like mad, sweating and weak from worry. We make it back home and I feed her loads of high value treats hoping she remembers why to come back if it ever happens again.
All I can say is thank god we have worked so much on her recall and our bond in general that she was able to recall off playing with the dog and from so far away. I will definitely be upping our recall practice to include out of sight recalls as she didn’t respond to me calling her name until she was able to see me through the trees so we definitely need to work on getting Bonnie to track me from voice alone. Also needless to say she will be supervised in the garden until we get the fence fixed from where she dug out -_-
I honestly was so worried that something bad would’ve happened so I am so grateful that everything turned out okay in the end. Hopefully your weekend wasn’t as heart pounding!
Ever since we quit our agility classes, detailed over in this post, we have been doing our own little agility training at home. I am a complete amateur at agility training and we haven’t been practising much so we haven’t made great progress but I thought it would be fun to update regularly, maybe monthly, to show how we are getting on and so I can track our progress too.
We have some jumps, weave poles in the form of bamboo sticks pushed into the ground and a tunnel chute. We practised doing “rounds” over the jump which is turning to the right after the jump, “through” the tunnel chute and luring around the weaves. Afterwards I watched a video using the 2×2 method of teaching the weave so I think I will try that in future as we didn’t have much success with luring. But anyway here are some videos of our (very basic) progress:
She has made great progress with the chute as she can now run through the full length of it confidently and she’s very eager to do the jumps which I’m so happy about – perfect start stays can come later! Finally for a laugh here are some animations of very much failed attempts, this is what most of our training sessions look like as I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong!
I may not be great at this and look and sound a bit of an eejit (irish form of idiot for those who are wondering xD) as I haven’t a clue, but we are having fun together and it’s great mental and physical stimulation for Bonnie so what more can you ask for 🙂
Yesterday was like Christmas come early as all the packages arrived at the same time! As I was opening all the packages I kinda thought to myself ummm how much did I buy?! It was super exciting though as we haven’t done any large purchases for the pets in quite a while so it feels good to be able to spoil them every once in a while 🙂
I’m just going to show what I ordered and not give any in-depth opinions on the items right now as I haven’t been able to use all of them or test them out properly, so I want to wait a while to be able to give a fair review in future once I’ve thoroughly tested them out. I’ll also leave the links of where I bought them in case you’re interested in trying out any items (All non affiliate links).
First of all here are the items from Amazon!
We got a bunch of new toys and treats as well as getting some more kongs for our collection. From left to right we got;
At first look the treats seem to be high quality, good value for money and should last us some time. We have tried the duck fillets before and highly rate them but the other two treats will be a first for us. The Tug-a-Jug seems quite interesting so I will update with how Bonnie gets on with it. I don’t know how Bonnie will react to the flirt pole so again I’ll let you guys know in a future update.
I forgot to include in the above picture but we also got this Kong Traxx Dog Toy Medium/Large . She has already had a little play with this and seems to enjoy it so far, she seems quite intrigued by it when we roll it along the floor for her.
I ordered these two items as I wanted to start doing some body conditioning work with Bonnie – first of all as another fun way of bonding and building confidence through training and also to help increase her overall fitness, core strength and balance. I thought this would help reduce Bonnie’s chance of injury as we start our agility training together because I am a total amateur! We will slowly work these into our routine.
I couldn’t leave out the degus so I ordered them some new bedding, new food as we want to switch them from their current food (Pets At Home brand), 3 woven balls for their play pen and a cat treat ball as it’s a perfect size for the degus.
I’m probably most excited about these items, I seriously can’t wait to try these out on our walks and build our way up to a full hiking day out! I will be building up Bonnie’s tolerance to the harness and the bags slowly as it is so different to what she is used to and it will take a while to build up her ability to carry extra weight. We had a little try on session and she didn’t seem to mind it too much which is promising! I’m really excited to try out the hiking belt so I can keep my hands free while out on our walks and it will be perfect for if we start canicross, bikejoring etc together (I’d really love to do the Couch to 5k program with Bonnie – just need to get off my butt and do it!)
Guys I am so excited! I ordered a lot of new pet things, mostly for Bonnie but some degu goodies, from Amazon, Forthglade and Camddwr Canine. I can’t wait for all the items to arrive so I can do some posts and reviews! I bought quite a lot and it was a bit expensive but I had an amazon voucher to use, we had a bit more spare money this month as we finished saving for our new sofa (needless to say Bonnie is loving it – see below!) and we saved £80 from not continuing the agility classes xD so it wasn’t too bad in the end.
Bonnie loves her home comforts and she’s no longer wary of the sofa seats reclining!
Two of the items arrived already so I thought I would give a sneak peak of what we got!
First of all we ordered some wet food from Forthglade as Bonnie loves their food and we love that they contain only good natural ingredients. We ordered a multipack from the both the grain free range and the just 90% range. The food arrived super quick and we asked Bonnie to pose with the boxes by asking her to put her front paws up. What we didn’t expect was her to climb on top of it and perch like a little statue xD
Also we ordered an agility chute since we are going to do our own agility training at home for fun. It’s the type of tunnel with the floppy material at the end rather than the rigid tunnels, so we are teaching it in steps to keep Bonnie’s confidence high. First of all we kept the tunnel folded so it was like a hoop, then we opened it out and folded back the excess material of the chute so it was like a normal tunnel and now we are slowly unfolding the excess material so she can gain confidence pushing out through all the extra material at the chute end!
She’s loving it so far as she get’s lot of tasty treats like ham and chicken for doing “through” which is the cue we’ve started to use.
We have lots of more fun goodies ordered which should be arriving soon so I can’t wait to share them with you guys!
Well as you might have guessed from the title we have stopped going to the Agility class! We attended a grand total of 2 classes and the 2nd class, which was on Tuesday last week, was enough to make my mind up that it was not for us. I’ll first fill yous in a bit about our positive first class experience.
At the first class we were taught how to do “round” and “twist” on the jumps which I believe is also called wrapping jumps. We also practised doing stand and waits before the jumps as we still haven’t successfully taught Bonnie a stand cue (the shame!).
High value treats!
Blasting through the tunnel
After, we had a practise in the agility area which was great fun. Bonnie had never been on AstroTurf before and was already excited from all the jump practise and lots of high energy praise so she had zoomies all over, tucking her little butt in and making her grumbly noises which was hilarious. After she calmed a bit we practised going through the tunnel and doing some jump work.
The first class was loads of fun, Bonnie really enjoyed it and there wasn’t really anything that I was uncomfortable with so I was pretty excited about going to the next one. The next class started out similar in that we practised wrapping the jumps but then we started adding distance so that I could send her to the jump. Unfortunately this is where it started going downhill, I will try my best to describe what happened and stay calm but I am still a bit shook up over it and also wish that I stepped in slightly earlier – that’s what happens when I give people the benefit of the doubt!
The person who was instructing us started to demonstrate how to do the sending to the jumps better or increase drive or whatever (I am not well versed in agility training) by holding onto the collar, egging her on and then “pushing” with the collar towards the jump. At first Bonnie seemed happy enough with this as she was enthusiastic about doing the jump and all the treats and fuss she got. She seemed happy enough with me doing that but as I was not “doing it right” the person demonstrated a few more times the “correct” technique, at this point Bonnie seemed pretty tired out and was getting a bit fed up so after doing the jump she would start wandering away – which should’ve been our first hint.
The person said that because Bonnie did not come back on the first command when she wandered away (I wasn’t using a formal recall command I was just like c’mon Bonnie so wasn’t a big deal) that I should go get her and make her come back otherwise she would learn to ignore me – should’ve been our 2nd warning. So after a few more goes at the jump she just wanted to wander off more which should’ve been a sign that we should’ve taken a break but the person insisted on showing the “correct technique” several more times and once again she wandered off, the person called her and she didn’t come (why would she, she had only met you twice and you’re clearly annoying her!) so he went over and tried to bring her back to the jump.
I don’t remember exactly what happened next as I was looking down to get some treats out to do a recall, either he tried to pull her back with her collar or she jumped up and he grabbed her collar, she got fed up and wanted to be let go but he wouldn’t so she growled and he still didn’t let go, this is when I looked up and seen her little face – she was absolutely terrified of being restrained by him. I seen red and while storming towards him said very loudly, but not quite shouting, something along the lines of “Stop that let her go. Don’t you dare. You have no idea how long we have spent building up her confidence, she used to be such a nervous dog” He looked like he wanted the ground to swallow him up and I thought good now you know a bit how Bonnie felt whenever you manhandled her. I immediately leashed up Bonnie, got myself sorted and left the class. On the way out the trainer asked my partner what was going on, my partner was diplomatic and said that she had lost her confidence and the trainer offered us to take a break in the sand ring nearby and to come back and try in a bit. By that point I was already adamant on leaving so we came on home and needless to say we won’t be returning.
Thankfully Bonnie seems to have suffered no lasting effects from that incident. She’s still her usual self. I am still furious about the incident but I have decided to take positives from it;
It’s given me more confidence to stand up for Bonnie, I didn’t care in the slightest what others thought or if they thought I was “making a scene” all I cared about was getting Bonnie away from him and I will definitely be more proactive in preventing incidences like this happening in future
Bonnie’s well being will always be more important than training objectives or competitiveness or doing things the “correct” or “usual” way
We will work on positively reinforcing a collar grab – although she doesn’t mind us doing it, a stranger might need to do it in future for example in the unlikely chance of her straying or getting lost
We will continue to do our own completely amateur agility training at home because Bonnie enjoys it and I don’t care if I can teach it properly or not as it’s only for fun and not for competitions
It’s cemented in my mind about how in future I want to foster nervous, shy and sensitive dogs (most likely collies as we have so many in our pounds 😦 ) and rehabilitate them to show them the world is not a scary place and to prepare them for home life through positive training such as low stress grooming and handling etc
So I guess if there is something to take from all this its the following;
Be an advocate for your dog. You know your dog best and what is comfortable for your dog. Do not let any person bully you into doing something you are uncomfortable with or take suspect advice from, whether it’s a trainer (professionally qualified or not), groomer, vet or the guy at the dog park with the well behaved dog. Follow your gut instinct and always do your own research into training methods – will this be helpful or harmful to the bond between you and your dog? Whether that’s long term or short term? Ours dogs look to us for comfort and safety so let’s not abuse that trust by blindly listening to or following others bad advice.
It’s been a bit of a rant post so to leave on a positive note, here’s a photo of Bonnie who is a toy resource guarder chewing her ball beside me and she was even enjoying some pets – I can tell she doesn’t enjoy petting when she stops chewing her ball and she was happily chewing away!
On Halloween day we celebrated Bonnie’s first gotcha day! I can’t believe it’s only been a year since we got her from Rainbow Rehoming, it seems like she’s always been a part of our family. We had a load of fun celebrating and I think Bonnie hasn’t been so excited in a long time with all her new toys and treats!
We got her most of the things from our Toys Wishlist and the treat bag and a hula hoop (not pictured) from our Training Wishlist. We also got her some other food and treats not shown as that’s another separate post coming soon!
She needed a bit of a helping hand to open her presents as she can be a bit timid with her mouth as you can see in the video she lifts the bullhorn by holding onto the smallest bit of paper, we just love her little quirks 🙂
She was really funny as with every new toy and chew she opened she would take them into her crate and ended up surrounded by all her new presents, she was totally over the moon!
Out all of her presents her favourites are definitely the bull horn and the chuck it balls. I was really disappointed in the chuckit squeaker ball as the squeaker only lasted around an hour so was a waste of money but luckily Bonnie is still interested in the puffy air noise it makes xD
We accidentally left Bonnie unsupervised with the rabbit tugs so they are looking decidedly less furry now so I would really recommend not leaving them anywhere accessible (she pulled them off from the coffee table xD)
Later on that evening we went to our fun training course which covers beginner tricks, agility and scent work. This was our second week out of a total of four weeks. We had already did a lot of the beginner tricks at home but we got to practice beg and standing on her hind legs which we haven’t fully mastered yet.
We also did lots of basic agility work like weaving between cones and jumps which Bonnie loves! She gets easily bored with training things like waits but loves any training where she really gets to use her body and do a lot of movement.
She also had some real positive interactions on and off leash which was great as she was getting a bit anxious on lead around other dogs. It was an awesome day all around, I am so glad she joined our family a little over a year ago now and hope we can celebrate many more gotcha days to come!
Beechgrove has been on the to do list for quite some time but with one thing or another it kept getting put off. Recently Bonnie’s best doggy friend Dougal suffered a bad injury which means that they can no longer meet and play together as it would worsen his condition. She really seems to miss her doggy playtime so we decided it was time to finally try out beechgrove as we don’t know many dogs around us to meet and play with.
We hopped in the car and began our drive on a suprisingly sunny Sunday afternoon. The park, which is just outside of Banbridge, was very straight forward to find and signposted from the main road. Although we did get momentarily lost as we forgot to take the A1 road and instead kept on the M1 so we got a bit side-tracked along the way. When we finally arrived we parked up and I was immediately impressed by the facilities. They have spacious parking, picnic tables, a van providing refreshments and of course the play areas.
They have four separate fully enclosed play areas and to enter these you have to go through another fenced area, kind of like an air lock, so no chance for doggies to escape and run away (although they will be having too much fun to want to try!). In each play area there are agility equipment so you can try your hand and see if your dog enjoys it. There are also benches and plenty of water buckets for the thirsty pups.
Bonnie had a ball and really enjoyed herself. In the beginning she was more interested in checking out all the humans and convincing them to pet and cuddle her. But then she enjoyed running around, chasing balls and having a good sniff of everything. She didn’t play too much with the other dogs and we decided to leave on a positive note as after around 30-40 minutes she was getting a bit tired and overwhelmed. But she did brilliantly for it being her first time and everything being new to her and was a great chance to socialise and have positive experiences around other dogs.
As well as public play days on the weekends they also offer private sessions during the week so you can book an area for yourself, which is useful if your dog isn’t comfortable with other dogs or you just want to play fetch or try the agility course in peace without your dog being distracted by others.
I would definitely come back to the public play days as long as Bonnie is happy and comfortable with it, to keep socialising her, raise her confidence and bring her out of her shell a bit. They are also opening a training centre soon and I’m pretty excited about their breed specific events. It’ll be great to socialise with other Border Collies and their owners.
Have any of you been to Beechgrove or any other dog parks?