Here's our previous 2 Blogs about P.Dizzy in case you missed them . . .
Welcome PD Izzy
A Week With Izzy
We're now just over 3 weeks into having Izzy and things have progressed really well over the course of the past few weeks. Compared to where we were when we picked her up, we're a million miles ahead, but compared to where Sear was at the same age, we're a million miles behind.
|Sear & Izzy|
However, I always say that every dog is totally different. For us, this is not a race to get the quickest trained Police Dog or have a dog performing every exercise as quickly as possible. It's all about building the right foundations to help make Izzy into a strong, confident & reliable Police Dog - whether that be her starting a course at 10 months or 2 years old. The most important thing is that she's ready when she's ready.
Lots of people have asked me how long we've got Izzy for & it's really difficult to say. I'm hoping that by the time we get married in April she'll be up to speed & ready for a course if she was needed. But if not, it's not a problem, we'll have her until she's ready.
I must admit over the time we've had Izzy I've been left scratching my head at times. I've been stood in the middle of the field in the park, my hands on my hips just looking into the sky searching for ideas! I've packed up our kit in the middle of a session & headed home wondering where on earth we're going to go or what on earth we're going to do next.
|Are you talking to me?????|
But . . . she is exactly the reason we'd decided not to have another GSD pup. We've always had GSD's, by & large, we really know what you get with them. So having Izzy has been absolutely brilliant. I love a challenge & it's the only way you learn things & improve. I've really had to think outside of the box with Izzy. Although the overall principles are the same, there's had to be a fair bit of variation in what we're doing with her. So I've loved every minute of it . . . . honestly!
Like I said, we're progressing. Slowly but surely we're seeing signs of improvement & there are little glimpses in her that actually give me confidence that she has in fact 'got a bit about her'.
I think having Bandit before her also impacts my thoughts too. They couldn't be any more different! The first thing Bandit did when he got into our house was to jump onto the sofa & then give a little grumble at me when I told him to get down. Izzy on the other hand jumped on the sofa, lay down & closed her eyes!! Bandit was a million miles an hour in everything he did, yet Izzy is a very thoughtful dog & generally pretty chilled out at home. She does have her #izzypop moments though. She's like a bottle of pop sometimes, all calm & then all of a sudden.......BANG......she's fizzing over the edges!
I always find it really hard not to compare dogs. I find myself thinking - Sear did this, Bandit did that etc etc. To be fair to myself, I think it's hard not to compare dogs.
So over the past few weeks we've just been building a bond, working on a solid foundation of basic obedience work - sits, downs, stands, stays, recalls - and really working on building her toy drive. That's all we've done - no tracking, no property searches etc. Just the basic blocks, all of which will be needed when we move onto more 'Police Dog' type work.
We've done lots of environmental work & also built up her stamina & fitness over the time too.
One of things that was really nice during Puppy Day last weekend, was the number of people who said things like "she's all into you isn't she". It's what we've worked on the most & one of the things I believe is the most important factor in any kind of dog training - the bond. We've developed a really great bond. She's such a lovely little dog generally & probably one of the most affectionate & loving pups we've had. So having that bond has really given us the foundation of our work with her. It's always nice when people notice subtle things like that, very often people just take things like that for granted.
Obedience wise she's really really good. We've done everything with food for this work. Every reward has been a food reward when we're working on our obedience. I'm really pleased with her obedience & we've just started putting the groundwork in for some heel work positions now too. I can't fault any of her obedience stuff at the moment. The next development of her obedience work will be to start putting distance control into her, so we'll gradually increase the distance between us & the dog when giving her commands.
Her toy drive has come on leaps & bounds (quite literally!!). The first day I had Izzy I threw a toy for her and she just looked at me like I was round the bend. I must admit I did actually say to Sarah...."what on earth have we done...." haha!
|Chasing after her Kong|
We've used a couple of ways to bring out her toy drive.
We don't allow the pups access to toys generally unless they are interacting in a game with us. We've had to take that a little further with Izzy. We use her crate & her kennel a lot. She gets 'time out' sessions where she'll spend time in her crate/kennel for a bit, then when she comes out it's a very short, quick & high energy game with her toy. After we've finished she's back in her crate/kennel. We do lots of repetitions of this throughout the day & you really do notice a difference in her when we do this. We don't do this every day though - she does get time to just be a young dog & mess about!
We've now found her favourite toys too - we use a puppy Kong & the Kong Squeez Ball. We alternate between the two toys while we're out & we'll very often play the 'two toy game of fetch'.
|Izzy's 'old' favourite toy|
The very subtle difference with the way in which we throw her toys has made a HUGE difference in her interest in the toys. Instead of throwing them over arm across the field, we now crouch down & fizz the ball across the floor.
Izzy's chase drive is really high so when the toy is fizzing & bouncing across the floor it really helps to bring out her chase instinct to chase after the toy. It's the very subtle & small tweaks to things that make big differences. It's always important to watch & learn about what & how your dog likes to play. You wouldn't believe the difference something as simple as this has made to Izzy.
The other thing that has been great for developing her drive is the flirt pole we purchased. It's a horse lunge whip with a piece of sheepskin tied to it. It's been a brilliant tool for developing Izzy's chase drive. We can flip the sheepskin around whilst not letting Izzy catch it & then every now & again we'll let her win it. Again building her chase drive & frustration when she can't catch the sheepskin have really developed her.
Overall we've been delighted with Izzy's progression. There's still a long way to go, but every day we see signs of things developing & the 'lightbulb' finally being switched on in her head. We encourage & reward even the tiniest of things - whether it's barking at a plastic bag in the park, watching the postman out of the window, giving a little bark at something whilst she's sat in her car crate etc. We always look for & reward anything that builds her confidence.
We continue to progress, develop & enjoy working with Izzy. She's a great little dog & we've loved having her! Slowley but surely we're making progress & that's all you can ask for.
I can't finish the Blog without mentioning 'that train incident' from last week......
Those of you who follow Izzy on Twitter will know that we've also been doing lots & lots of environmental work. So last week we teamed up with the Safer Travel Team who very kindly let us tag along with them so we could hop on & off buses, trains & the Metro in Birmingham.
We were at Birmingham New Street & Ben very kindly arranged for us to get on & off some trains as Izzy was a little nervous about the step from the platform onto the train. There was one said Virgin train which we were told had around 4 minutes until it departed, so we asked the staff if we could go through one door, walk through a carriage & get off through the door at the end of the carriage.
So we hop on the train, are half way down the carriage when . . . .the doors shut!! We're stuck behind someone sorting his bags out on the train so we turn round to get off through the door we came through. However as we head back to the door, the train starts to pull off!!
|Stuck on the train|
We're now stuck on a train . . . . . fortunately it was heading to London so the next stop was Birmingham International & we could get off & hop back onto a train back into New Street. Luckily it wasn't a non stop train!!
And finally, during the unplanned stop at Birmingham International we came across this great idea from the wonderful Virgin Trains. So it's a big thank you from us to Virgin Trains for being thoughtful to our 4 legged friends. If only more companies had such an approach to responsible owners & well behaved dogs!
|Special mention to Virgin Trains!|