Week in review – wasps, Pokémon & ducks Pt 2

So after the eventful start to our week we had a quiet Friday then yesterday we had a little outing to Wallace Park which we had never been to before. We didn’t have an idea of what to expect but we went with the intention of playing Pokémon Go as we walked around with Bonnie as we had heard it was a Growlithe nest! As you can see below Bonnie wasn’t the biggest fan haha

If I don’t look at it maybe it will go away!

It was a lovely little park and we had no bad incidences with other dogs or their owners or children so it was quite a pleasant walk. There was a little event on and there was a small petting farm set up which had the loveliest little donkey – Bonnie was okay until she was about 5 metres away then she seen it walk and look towards her so she got a little spooked, but she recovered quickly bless her.

Practising jumps with a split tree
A wee bit unsure but doing great
The petting farm at the event
I’ll stay over here away from the donkey thank you!

There was a small pond at the park and as we all know Bonnie is not a fan of birds of any type and would chase them all day long if we let her so we decided to do a bit of training around them. She did great and was able to disengage on her own even only 2 metres or so away from the ducks but I accidentally let her get too close and she stuck her head through the bars of the fence to try to get at them the cheeky little monkey!

I guess they’re not so bad from this distance
Snuffling for treats in the long grass
I guess they’re not so bad from here either as long as they don’t flap about or make too much noise
See I’m still a good girl!
Sorry mum but the temptation was too much! Silly mummy letting me get too close!
Chilled out ducks paying no attention to the silly doggy

Afterwards we stopped off at Pets at Home (yes that dreaded place I said I didn’t want to support any more) as I wanted to buy a new antler for Bonnie and I don’t know anywhere else around us that stock them. Bonnie was fixated on the animals in their enclosures as usual but was very good around the other shoppers which there was quite a few of even though we specifically went near closing time to avoid others.

Bonnie’s nose pretty much doesn’t lift from the ground when we visit here
Forging ahead – she get’s so excited in here but to be fair to her we don’t come here often and I never specifically train her in these type of environments

Needless to say she was pooped the rest of Saturday. Today we didn’t do much out of the ordinary except I started doing some mat (tea towel actually xD) training with Bonnie. I started just by reinforcing settled behaviour on the mat such as slow breaths, leg kicked out to the side, laying on her side and resting her chin on the ground. Then I started adding small distractions like crossing my legs, drinking water, playing with my camera etc with the aim of eventually being able to use the mat in higher distraction levels such as sitting at a dog friendly café. So there we go that was our week, hopefully next week won’t be as chaotic!

So if I understand this right I get treats for doing nothing?!

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NI against BSL rally & first outing all geared up!

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.

So so impressed with this little cutie!
She loves to stick her little snout in everywhere lol here she’s peeking through the bridge to look at the birds on the river

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 ❤


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Awesome Weekend With Bonnie!

We have disappeared a bit from the blogging world but we have been concentrating a lot on building our bond back up with Bonnie and just having fun with her! I wanted to share how well Bonnie is getting on and that it seems what we’re doing must be working whether it’s a single factor or combination of them.

On Saturday I decided to take Bonnie up into the glen with her long line trailing behind her to give her a chance to explore and be herself as we had been doing a lot of on lead walks recently. Although we haven’t practised being off lead in a while she was fantastic! She had a blast trotting ahead, exploring and sniffing, and came back every time I called her. She was enthusiastically running to me as she knew she was getting treats and then getting to go explore again which is her highest value reward.

Taking in the scenery
Imma coming mama!

In the video below you can see how she is just in her element exploring and loving life, we definitely need to do this more often!

Then on Sunday we decided to try her out at the Waggy Woodland Walk in Stormont park which was a doggy event to raise money for Cancer Research NI as it’s a cause very close to my heart. We loaded up our treat bag to make sure we had enough treats to reinforce her good behaviour and came fully prepared to leave at any time if we thought Bonnie wasn’t coping well. We have also been to the park before and so we knew that there is plenty of space which we could use to increase distance if she couldn’t cope well being close to all the action.

Wet weather doesn’t stop us!

First of all we registered and went on the 2k walk around the park then we came back to the main area where the stalls and events were happening. She totally rocked it as even though she was super excited to get attention from people  (the stewards were coming around to pet her and give her treats) she started showing excellent impulse control by instead of jumping up (we told the people not to reward her while jumping which like 9/10 people followed I was so impressed!) she would sit or lie down and wiggle her whole body in excitement instead XD

She also met a few doggies that she had polite sniffs with and disengaged appropriately without much intervention on my part. I just made sure that she wanted to initiate the contact and that the other dog and owner was happy with it too. I made sure to stay relaxed and praise her for her polite interactions, I was so proud as she even sniffed a great dane which was a first for her and she wasn’t worried about his size at all!

After watching demonstrations of agility and flyball we were able to go into the ring and have a go at agility and rally obedience which was super fun! We had never done rally obedience before and the trainer walked us through it and she was really lovely, it’s a shame that her classes are so far away from us!


We purchased some treats from Pawfect Doggie Treats, we got a dried duck neck, 2 black pudding sausages, 2 venison sausages and a bag of “spaghetti” which is dried pig intestines!  We also got some freebies from the events – a slip lead, a sample bag of Burns puppy food, a water bottle for each of us and some big bone biscuits for Bonnie.

My clever, goofy, lovely Bonnie – I just adore her ❤

We decided to leave after trying out the agility and rally obedience because we could see that she was getting tired so we didn't want to keep her out to the end of the event and potentially ruin the positive experiences she had. I was just in total awe of how she performed, she was fantastic and we went hoping for the best and believing in her but fully prepared to leave at any time even if it was just 5 minutes in but she thrived for about 3 hours in total! Don't get me wrong it was a lot of management and effort on our part as I was nearly constantly reinforcing her either with pets, praise, treats or walking away a bit from the action to give her a break and a sniff about but she was happy and wasn't showing any real signs of stress like lip licking or panting etc, she just seemed like a well rounded dog – even the dog trainer was wondering why she had a training bandanna on for 😀

Next post will be covering our first agility class so this week was very exciting for us!

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Week in Review – Dublin Zoo, training outings & Knight Bonnie!

This week was such a fun week for us, we had our first holiday from work since the beginning of the year and had a long weekend off. We travelled down to Dublin zoo and although we drove through really terrible weather it turned out to be warm and clear when we arrived thankfully! We really enjoyed it, some of the enclosures were really well designed, none of the animals seemed to be suffering from boredom, pacing etc and their conservation work was pretty impressive.

They had a big variety of animals, a lot of which I had never seen before. Our favourites were probably the penguins, the sea lions, the hippo in it’s swimming pool and the painted dogs.

Now onto the dog part of this blog! Since Bonnie’s training has been going so well recently we decided to take a short trip to Loughshore again and try to do some focus work to keep her from being overstimulated (she finds large open spaces especially with water nearby a bit difficult to deal with as she becomes hyper-vigilant).

Overall she done pretty well, it was wet out so there wasn’t many people or dogs to distract her, but a bird did catch her eye which we used in our favour and treated her when she disengaged from it. She has trouble relaxing outside so in addition to loose lead walking and focus work we also practised stopping on our walk. We stood about just chatting and took a seat on a bench for a few minutes while feeding her for being calm.

On another day we took a trip to Carrickfergus Castle nearby and did some more of the same training. She did really well as although she started somewhat distracted and nervous, we had a bit of a play about at the green – running about, practising recall and a good roll in the grass later she seemed much more settled and confident.

I’m so happy that our training is coming along well now, I’m starting to feel a bit more confident in my abilities and hoping I can keep on improving in future!

On a bit of a lighter note, may I present to you the newly knighted Sir/Lady? Bonnie xD

We had so much fun posing with the sword and Bonnie is becoming so confident with long objects being held in our hands (she used to cower previously the poor thing 😦 )


She loves to do jumps with them 🙂 Hopefully some day I’ll be a good enough trainer to do proper agility with her as she seems to love our “mock” agility that we do!

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New Coat & Trip to Red Brick Coffee House

I recently bought the coat that I featured in my Dog Accessories Wishlist, I was going to wait until her birthday but I got it early so I could start getting her used to it for rainy walkies. It has actually been pretty good weather recently but I’ve taken her out on a few walks wearing it and so far so good she doesn’t seem to mind it.

Bonnie the Border Collie looking at the camera while wearing her new pink Ancol City Coat, waiting to cross a road on a dark morning
Waiting to cross the road on our morning walk, hate these dark mornings now 😦

I’m pretty pleased with it, it has reflective strips around the edge and on the waist straps, is fleece lined but not too thick so she shouldn’t overheat and has back leg straps to help keep it in place. Updated – I have tested it thoroughly in rain now and really impressed with how much less towel drying is needed compared to when she doesn’t wear it. The only negative point so far is that it’s a bit too big in the chest for her as it slips down but that’s not the coat’s fault. She just has a slim chest so will need to put some stitches into it to make it tighter.

Bonnie the Border Collie wearing her new pink Ancol City Coat, it's too big on the chest so is slipping down
Please hurry up and fix this mommy, I look ridiculous!

Also on Saturday we took a little trip to the Red Brick Coffee House after training. It’s a dog friendly café near Ballymena that allows dogs inside and outside.  We decided to sit outside as Bonnie can be a bit overexcited around people, she thinks everyone loves her and wants to greet everyone, it’s been probably our worst area for training as when she does get to greet people everyone except me and my fiancé reinforces her jumping and excitement as “she’s cute” or “she’s light so it doesn’t bother me”.

Bonnie the Border Collie laying down underneath a picnic table outside at Red Brick Coffee House
My ear doesn’t look silly does it?

We reinforced her for laying down calmly under the picnic table we sat at. Also any time she looked at other people and looked back we made sure to reward with treats. We kept the experience positive and most importantly short, she can get overstimulated easily so it’s always important for us to end an experience when she’s still on good form.

Bonnie the Border Collie laying down underneath a picnic table outside at Red Brick Coffee House
You mean I get treats just lying here doing nothing? Awesome!

I’m very proud of her and all the little bits of progress she’s made, when we first got her, nearly a year ago now, she would’ve been way too overstimulated and probably wouldn’t offer the calm behaviour in that situation even for high value treats. We will definitely be doing more trips to dog friendly cafés and restaurants to help with her training, we also have our first overnight stay at a dog friendly hotel coming up on the 23rd of October, so very excited for that and I’ll definitely be doing a blog post about it!

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Training Class & Woodland Walk

We had a wonderful Saturday together. First of all we went to our usual training class held by Puppy School Mallusk and she did great, I am so proud looking at how far we’ve come together. She did brilliantly on the recall as recently she had been breaking her waits early, eager to come back to me, but the first time she broke the wait I was able to get her back into a down from distance so was super pleased and the second time she didn’t break her wait. Also improving her waits from me standing still to moving around and facing away so great progress all around 🙂

Bonnie the Border Collie in training class at Puppy School Mallusk showing great focus while wearing her pink Ruffwear Front Range Harness
Look at that focus!

After training we went to Bashfordland Woods near home which we always meant to explore but never got around to. We kept her on a long lead to begin with but when we realised it was deserted we let her off lead. It was lovely to see her romp around as we’ve been doing a lot of on-lead walks recently.

Bonnie the Border Collie investigating the grass in Bashfordland Woods in Carrickfergus
Ooh look at this!
Bonnie the Border Collie wandering off the beaten path at Bashfordland Woods in Carrickfergus
And what’s over here?
Bonnie the Border Collie hiding in the long grass in Bashfordland Woods in Carrickfergus
Can you see me? tehe

She got great enjoyment out of playing her version of fetch which consists of throwing the ball to her, her grabbing it and hiding it amongst the grass and trees and us finding it and throwing it again.

Animation showing Bonnie the Border Collie chasing after a tennis ball in Bashfordland Woods in Carrickfergus

She always looks so happy doing her recall, it brings me so much joy to see her so excited coming back to me.

Bonnie the Border Collie practising her recall in Bashfordland Woods in Carrickfergus
Imma coming mom!

Bonnie was totally wrecked (doesn’t help that reaching the car we realised we dropped the keys somewhere along the way and had to double back around – whoops!)  and slept the rest of the day. Mental and physical exercise = happy, sleepy dog.

Bonnie the Border Collie with a big smile on her face enjoying her walk in the Bashfordland Woods Carrickfergus
Look at that little face! Think she enjoyed herself 🙂

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Ballybolley Forest with Pack of Paws Belfast Dog Walking Club

I recently found this group Pack of Paws Belfast Dog Walking Club on Facebook and was really interested in the idea as it was a way for dogs and their owners to meet up for walks, talk about all things dogs and find new places to go for walks and trips out.

We went to the walk in Ballybolley forest near Ballynure and met up with 2 other dogs and their owners (Pixie a german shepherd and Bear a bernese mountain dog). Bonnie was really excited to meet the others and was soon off the lead happily exploring.

Bonnie the Border Collie at Ballyboley Forest Larne Country Antrim with Pack of Paws Belfast Dog Walking Club
Sniff all the things!

Bonnie had a load of fun playing chasies with Pixie and jumping in and out of the streams alongside the paths. I really liked that it was a nice big area to let the dogs off lead and it was fairly quiet – only coming across a few other people and dogs.

All our training with Bonnie seems to have paid off as whenever she was quite far ahead and went off the path out of sight I panicked a bit and called her to me. It was so amazing to see her running full sprint towards me, was very proud of her and all our training together.

Bonnie the border collie is covered in mud after her walk at Ballyboley Forest Larne Country Antrim with Pack of Paws Belfast Dog Walking Club
Mucky pup!

Needless to say with all the running in streams and mud a bath was badly needed after!

Bonnie the Border Collie having a bath after her walk at Ballyboley Forest Larne Country Antrim with Pack of Paws Belfast Dog Walking Club
Can I get out already?

Overall we both really enjoyed ourselves and have plans to go back!

I nearly lost my way getting there so I’ve included the map below:

Where’s your favourite place for a trip out with your doggy?

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