This covered motivation methods of training dogs, looking at the different motivations of dogs including physical, behavioural, play etc. We also looked at different breeds and dog groups – what they were breed for, what motivates them, common issues and things to be aware of or look out for.
This covered what is dog training, why do we do it or need to do it, what are the benefits, what are the most important behaviours to train.
First assignment was handed in on time woo hoo!
The third assignment is due in on 31st October – yes we still have class on Halloween night! I’ve got about half of it done so will be finished in time for Monday!
The second assignment is due in on 7th November and that will be started once I finish the third assignment.
Reading list progress
Dogs That Bite and Fight – still in progress!
Outside of class learning
As it’s that time of the year where there can be a lot of fireworks you will see a lot of advice trying to be helpful where it states to ignore the dog when it is afraid in case it reinforces and validates the dog fear. Well no need to worry about feeling mean while ignoring your dog during fireworks or thunder – you cannot reinforce fear! Only behaviours can be reinforced, in fact positive interaction and conditioning can change a fearful response to a happier emotion! Check out the useful links below which will explain it much better than I can.
We have done a lot of training with Bonnie so that she can keep her calm while out on walks as she used to be hyper vigilant, very easily over aroused and she loves to greet people. We have put in a lot of work on loose lead walking, staying calm and not having to stay on high alert outside and now in most situations she can calmly walk past people and keep her focus on me. Obviously she is still not perfect and this is ongoing training but we have encountered so many setbacks from people who just have to get involved in one way or another.
We have had people bark at us, do that tongue click thing to get Bonnie’s attention, calling to get her attention, kids at a age that really should know better and kids too young to know better bum rushing her and parents standing back and not caring to intervene. We have had people literally follow us with their off lead dogs after we have made it clear that we do not want to interact with them or their dogs. We have people who will come right up to greet her and before we have a chance to get away Bonnie is now greeting them in her usual omg new person I must jump up and hug and kiss style – and they reinforce it by petting and loving on her! Of course I don’t have a chance of discouraging her or her even listening to me saying “Off ” once they are reinforcing her and I don’t want to use force to stop her in case she finds it aversive and associates strange people with bad things or even worse thinks that strangers are nicer than her apparently angry and mean mum!
But enough complaining about it this is our action plan going forward! We have got the two items below to help discourage people from getting too involved while out on our training walks (we probably won’t use them for off lead walks up the glen etc because I don’t think much will really stop owners and their off lead dogs unfortunately).
We bought the lead slip from Saint Roch. I really loved the selection from this site as it had lots of different phrases to pick from which covers all types of scenarios. They also have a good range of colours to pick from but we choose the bright yellow as that stands out well and people usually associate that with a warning sign anyway and something to take note of. It has a little handle with a popper so that you can attach it to any lead that has a handle or in our case we attached it to one of the multi length attachment loop things on our training lead (review here – we love this lead!).
We bought the vest from Ebay . The vest can be customised with 6 different colours, any colour font, 7 different font types and with any wording that you want on it. It also comes in three sizes. We choose size M, colour yellow with grey writing in font 3.Stadium Font with the text “DO NOT DISTURB”. It’s quite a light material so would be perfect even in warmer weather and the reflective bands on the back, chest and edge of the vest is really appreciated in the darker months. I really like that it has the writing on both sides at the back as well as on the top as it means it can be seen all around and although harnesses will cover the top message the sides can still be read clearly so is still effective.
We had our first outing just earlier today with her kitted out (when we took the photos above) but we didn’t get a proper chance to test it as it was pretty quiet out. I did get quite a few stares from cars as we were waiting to cross roads etc but to be honest I don’t mind because if it makes even one person stop and think that maybe not all dogs like to be disturbed on walks then that makes it all worthwhile, it’s all baby steps!
We did pass one man who had to walk across our path so I told Bonnie to stop and sit, body blocked just a bit in case she tried to greet him and fed her treats. The man said gooood very softly when she listened to me so I guess he was being supportive of us trying to train but it was a bit random haha I didn’t know what to think. We shall see how our future walks go with it and update later to see if it really helps or not. I have also been considering buying a Julius K9 IDC harness because of the adjustable labels (and because I’m totally obsessed with dog accessories xD). I am also going to be more assertive and let people know in no condition to disturb us and if they do I will simply turn and walk away rather than try to explain myself as that never really works out.
Do you ever get strangers trying to call or distract your dog, or have problems with kids running up without permission? And do you have any strategies on how to deal in those scenarios? I’d love to hear what other people’s experiences are!
As you know from our blog posts I am really interested in all aspects of dog training whether it’s useful things such as loose lead walking, fun tricks to build your bond, behaviour modification to increase confidence and many other useful applications. I find dog behaviour and training utterly fascinating and I’m always trying to better myself to give Bonnie the best life I can. As my first dog Bonnie wasn’t necessarily the easiest dog I could’ve asked for but in return she has taught me first hand how to be a better dog owner and trainer which I am so grateful for!
So onto the exciting news – I have enrolled for a 10 week course “Better Dog Training and Behaviour Through Better Understanding” which is an accredited course to the OCNNI Level 3 (equivalent to an A Level) run by two respected Northern Ireland trainers Robin Bates and Sandra Gilliland. It will look at all training methods to research and analyse but we will be using only positive training techniques practically which is the training method I prefer to use.
The course not only covers theory lessons and discussions but also covers practical sessions including running a class and creating a behavioural rehabilitation program. I am seriously so excited! I don’t know if I will ever get the opportunity to work with dogs in the future ( I do hope I can though!) but if I ever get the chance this will help begin my journey and if not it just means I personally have a better understanding for Bonnie and any dogs or foster dogs we have in future!
We have received the recommended reading list below so I’m going to try to start swotting up before the course starts on Monday 3rd October!
Recommended Reading List
Life Skills for Puppies: Helen Zulch and Daniel Mills
Dogs that Bite and Fight; David Ryan – Ordered
Choosing The Right Dog For You: Gwen Bailey
The APBC Book of Companion Animal Behaviour 3rd Edition: Edited by David Appleby.
How to Behave So your Dog Behaves: Dr Sophia Yin, DVM,MS – Ordered
Dogs: Raymond Coppinger and Laura Coppinger
Excel-Erated Learning: Pamela J. Reid Ph.D.
Don’t Shoot the Dog. Karen Pryor – Ordered and arrived
Genetics and the Social Behaviour of the dog: Scott and Fuller.
In Defence of Dogs: John Bradshaw. – Already have and currently reading
Decoding Your dog Debra Horwitz DVM and John Cirribassi DVM
Other end of the leash: Patricia J. McConnell. – Already have and read
How Dogs Learn: Mary R. Burch and Jon S. Bailey
In addition I ordered BAT 2.0 by Grisha Stewart as I have been wanting to learn more about BAT for a while now.
I am really excited but also a bit nervous – after 14 years in the school system, 4 years at University then working full time I never though I would “return to study” so this will be interesting! I’m hoping I can keep up with the assignments and perform well in addition to a normal work week, looking after Bonnie and the 3 degus and running this blog. I’m sure it will be an interesting 10 weeks anyway!
Last Tuesday on our time off we went on a little trip to the Valley park during the day. The last time we had visited here it was super busy as we went during the weekend so this visit was much more peaceful and relaxing.
We had a dander around the pond, checked out the little monuments around the park and just had a chilled out walk with no rushing.
When we got back to the car we still had plenty of treats in our treat bag, water for us and Bonnie and we had packed some sandwiches so we thought while we’re out why not stop along at Hazelbank park to have a walk and a picnic as we had nowhere to be or no errands to run!
We love Hazelbank park, it’s situated on the banks of Belfast lough and has lovely views. It’s quickly becoming one of our favourite spots and Bonnie is getting pretty used to it so can go off lead in certain spots which is great. We had a walk around the park, met another collie and it’s owner then settled back in beside the car park to have our little picnic. After we ate I did some trick training and just playing around with Bonnie which was a blast (You can see the video over on this post).
It was such a nice outing and we really enjoyed ourselves just living in the moment and not having to worry about rushing back home to get errands or work done. We ended up being out around 3 or so hours and I was so impressed with Bonnie – she really did behave brilliantly and she had a load of fun sniffing about, exploring, training and playing. We also made sure that she had some downtime while we ate and had plenty of water but she handled it like a champ!
Recently Bonnie seems to be on a roll with training and I am so proud of how she is doing these days. She is doing great with loose lead walking, ignoring people on walks and staying calm and collected in scenarios that we would have never have dreamed of when she first came home. We’ve been trying to take more videos of Bonnie out and about so we can keep better track of her progress so I thought I would share some recent footage with you all.
We have been taking Bonnie into town at night recently to get her more used to the sights and smells of a busy town street and to do some fun “barkour”. She has been doing great with her leash walking in more distracting environments so we have even started practising off leash walking (dragging her leash) when it is quiet.
In the video below we were also doing some practise with her muzzle on as we want to eventually use the muzzle on some walks so hopefully other owners won’t let their dogs run up to Bonnie and maybe people won’t try to distract her while we are training (why do people make kissy noises when I’m trying to keep her calm walking past people!)
She is also doing great training in new environments and keeping her focus on me rather than being hyper vigilant and worrying about what’s happening around her. She is definitely more calm and starting to gain a quiet confidence as she looks to me for guidance more and more. In the video below we were at a parking spot at a park just after we had a bad run in with another dog and their owner but you can see she recovered really well and was enjoying herself as we goofed about a bit.
We have been having a lot of fun together doing tricks training and it seems to have really built our bond which is great especially after the unfortunate incident earlier in the year. I just love her enthusiasm and how she engages with me more and more even with distractions like birds nearby – like the noisy bugger in the video below! Also I love her little bark and grumbles while doing the leg weave 🙂
We have made so much progress together in the past while and I am so proud of Bonnie, she has seriously come on leaps and bounds. She is not “perfect” by any means (I’ll be doing a post soon about one area we are really struggling with!) but then who really is! The thing that matters most is she now is a more confident, engaged and happy dog that we feel comfortable being able to take more and more places so that we can keep up her socialisation and keep her mentally and physically stimulated. And going from the low earlier in the year to this high makes me not worry about if we ever hit a stumbling block again because I know that we can recover as long as we work as a team!
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 🙂
This weekend we decided to go to a Bark in the Park event at Crawfordsburn county park and see how Bonnie would get on since she was so great at the Cancer Focus NI event at Stormont. When we arrived at the car park the place was totally packed! We drove slowly around looking for a parking spot and had to brake as a Yorkshire Terrier ran out in front of our car, some woman was unloading her car and let the dogs out with no leads on! The one we nearly ran over was zooming all over the place, the woman wasn’t even properly trying to get it back – it clearly had no recall and it flinched when she reached for it’s collar 😦 It was a bit of a nightmare and we should’ve took it as a sign of things to come!
When we arrived at the event area we immediately knew this wasn’t going to be a suitable event for Bonnie. At the event at Stormont the stalls were well spaced out and there was plenty of room to move away if Bonnie got uncomfortable but this event was soo packed. The stalls were very close, the paths were narrow, the dog show ring was absolutely dreadful and there was very little green space left clear except where we stood on the outskirts. They had opened up the centre to dogs with stalls inside which was way too close quarters for dogs to be walking through – some of the aisles between stands were about 2 people wide!
I left Bonnie with my partner to go and explore the event as there was no way I was putting her through all that stress as it was so busy and while there were a few dogs having the time of their lives (Goldens loving on all the fuss etc) many dogs were stressed out giving signals that were missed by their owners as they were so busy looking around them and not paying any attention to their dogs. Also gotta love the parents who weren’t looking after their child who ran up to Bonnie out of nowhere while she was sniffing and tried to pet her, I had to stand in front of Bonnie and tell the kid to stop. The kid just huffed and walked away, and she was still without her parents about an hour and a half later when we were leaving, unbelievable!
Although Bonnie wasn’t able to properly go into the event we used it as a training exercise and gave her loads of treats and praise for being near all the noise and commotion of the event. And she didn’t leave empty handed, although she really does not need any more treats at the minute, I bought her a loaf of frozen liver cake and some chicken hearts from the Natural Raw Feeding NI stall.
Overall it really wasn’t an event for us and I was a bit disappointed. I understand that Bonnie is quite a sensitive dog and not the ideal candidate for going to these types of busy events but I believe if it was better laid out it would’ve been more suitable and catered to more dogs especially nervous or shy dogs. I feel like too many people believe events and places like dog parks, fields and walks should only be for only overly friendly, in your face and bombproof dogs but I personally think we should be more catering to all dogs whether they are shy, dog reactive etc. As I went around the event I could see other dogs were stressed and maybe the owners weren’t aware, were busy or didn’t care as they wanted to stick around for the events but personally I couldn’t put Bonnie into that situation.
It took a lot out of Bonnie and that was with just keeping on the outskirts of the event, she slept pretty much the rest of the day! Although this event wasn’t quite for us it won’t stop us from going to future ones and keep trying as we seen with the Stormont event Bonnie can rock them as long as there is some personal space and not too packed!
On Saturday we went to a rally against BSL (Breed specific law). Recently a dog has been falsely impounded as a pitbull which is a banned breed in Northern Ireland and being threatened to be PTS as a dangerous dog, the dog in question is a staffy lab cross if I recall and is a danger to no one, it’s absolutely heartbreaking and the family are trying their best to get Hank back. If you want to find out more check out this facebook page they set up – Save Hank.
The rally was held in Belfast City Centre and I set off with Bonnie in tow, with a lot of high value treats and the expectation that we would not be able to stay long because of Bonnie being overstimulated. But again Bonnie has completely exceeded our expectations, she honestly seems like a different dog these days! She was able to walk around a crowded area without pulling towards or trying to jump on people which is seriously impressive for Bonnie as she usually wants to greet everyone to be reassured. She only got excited at people who came over to specifically greet her.
She was able to settle and just watch as the world went past without whining or getting frustrated. And seriously guys get this, I sooo wish I was able to capture it on camera but I was so busy reinforcing Bonnie, she was fantastic with the pigeons. As with most city centres there were quite a few pigeons around doing their own thing and Bonnie hates pigeons, she has huge drive to chase birds in general. Now don’t get me wrong she still wanted to chase them and would if I let her, she was pretty fixated and did try to lunge maybe two or three times but that was when they got really close, maybe 2 metres away, and suddenly flew away which activated her chase instinct. But I could give her treats – she was able to turn her head away from pigeons that were maybe only 3-5 metres away and actually eat the treats. Also no whining or barking from her! Seriously who abducted Bonnie and took her place haha.
In other news, today I decided to gear up and do a first outing with the Hurtta hiking belt and the Ruffwear palisades harness.
We went our usual route up the glen near our house and had such a lovely walk, the weather was so beautiful which was great as it had been so horrid with rain lately. She was excellent walking pasting other people and 2 dogs we encountered, and had a ball exploring and sniffing everything as usual 🙂
First impressions of the hiking belt and harness are great, so far they both get a big thumbs up from me! I can’t wait to test them out more, any excuse for more adventures with my bestie ❤
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!