I have renewed my determination to train the dogs properly and actually tire out their brains not just their muscles. Apparently, tired dogs are happy dogs.
Ben had been taking Echo to obedience and now he has started taking Zephyr. It was Zephy’s first night last night and after his usual initial excitement at seeing lots of dogs, apparently he did really well. Ben was a bit skeptical about taking him but he said he was happily surprised by how well he did. My training so far has paid off!
I am starting Agility with Echo tomorrow night so I will let you know how we get on with that. I think he will do fabulously once he gets the hang of it.
As of yesterday, I have started with my new training determination. It’s not fair to expect my dogs to behave if I haven’t put in the time to show them how I want them to act. So, yesterday morning, I took Zephy out into the front garden (lots of noise and people passing, and cars and buses etc) and we did 15 minutes of obedience training before going for a walk around the block (all in all about half an hour of exercise). We did some heel work and ‘sit’ on the walk to keep his brain thinking. He has a bad habit of ‘protecting’ me while we are out, so he struts off in front and is reacting to all dogs and people he sees. It is getting to be dangerous as he is really big now! So, by keeping his attention and training him to ‘watch me’, I am hoping to distract him from the scary things and keep him calmer. I am doing my best not to had to his hype by keeping my lead loose and not letting my voice go up or my body language go tense. It’s exhausting! but so worth it.
I repeated the exercise again this morning but with 20 minutes of obedience in the garden and continued it out onto the walk as seamlessly as possible in order to keep his attention. We walked down one side of the street and back up the other. I let him have a few bits to have a sniff and a wander so he didn’t get bored but he was much calmer on his walk today. I think I am feeling calmer as well which helps. He only really stood up to attention once, a man was going by on a scooter which is new to him, so that’s a massive improvement. I just need to keep the walks short, calm and productive. Although I am dayshift tomorrow I am up early for the boys, so hoping to continue this training plan.
After Zephy gets a turn at training, it’s time for Echo’s walk. We are very lucky that we live very close to two different parks so Echo gets a bit of variation. I have been taking him to a park where I can just let him straight out the car to run. We start with a game of fetch and I make him ‘go out’ a distance and make him sit before throwing the ball. The trick to training a spaniel is to not let him know you are training him. The sit at a distance used to be impossible until I realised he would do it, if he thought the ball would be thrown. It works a treat. After fetch we then walk a bit round the park to let him have his own time. I do feel that if you want a dog to concentrate on you, you have to let them be a dog sometimes to. Once we have walked round the park a little bit, I bring Echo back into heel off lead and I do a series of changes in direction and some ‘sit stays’ and ‘lie down stays’ and recall etc as we walk back to the car.
The last little bit is used for some fun, like more fetch or jumping over the low walls (only a few inches high) that surround the play parks, or I get him to walk along the walls (which will help at agility).
I have to say, I am really enjoying doing all this with the dogs. It sounds like hard work, and it is, but seeing how tired and settled the boys are in the house now and it’s only been two days (!) is just so nice.
(Yes I’ve partly given up on the sofa fight!).