Winners of 'Public Choice' Award

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Izzy Update - 11 weeks on. . . .

We've had lots & lots of people recently asking how Izzy is getting on, especially from those who've already read our first 2 Blogs on her progress.
Welcome PD Izzy
A Week With Izzy

It's been about 10 weeks since our last Blog - I can't actually believe it's been that long!

So we've now had Izzy just 11 weeks, yet it seems like she's been here forever.

I suppose the best place to start is to say a really really big thanks to TG @herderhandler. I must admit at the start when Izzy arrived I was having a few second thoughts. It was more down to the fact that I was expecting her to be doing things our GSD pups had been doing at that time. I suppose I had also fallen into this trap that people seem to have got themselves into when it comes to Dutch Herders.

@herderhandler PD Mitzi

I'd built myself up for having this massively high drive, intense, real handful of a dog - only to find when Izzy arrived that she wasn't any of the above. If I had a £1 for everytime someone said something like "you'll have your hands full with her" or "oh Dutch Herders they're awesome" - I'd be a millionaire.

I said that even before Izzy arrived I'd spoken to the likes of TG, John Kelly, Dr Justin Armstrong & they all gave me some great advice. None of which was this seemingly stereotypical view people have of Dutch Herders - who don't actually own one. Now that we've had Izzy for a short while, everything they told us is now starting to ping the light bulb moment for us. All their words & advice is slowly starting to make sense!

Just after I wrote our last Blog about Iz, I had a chat with TG about her, as I was a bit frustrated that she just didn't have that real drive & focus I love in a working dog. I said in my last Blog about how aloof Iz was & how we were struggling to get her to play with a toy for any real length of time. She'd be really distracted when we were out & just wander off & do her own thing.

I must admit, I was a little worried about whether she'd actually make it!! However, after a brief chat with TG about Mitzi he really put my mind at ease & I stopped trying to manufacture Izzy doing things for me. We went round the park & if she wanted to wander off & do her own thing I'd let her. No pressure, no expectations - we just let her be herself.

One of my biggest problems is patience - I just haven't got enough hours in the day to be patient!! I'm always rushing around at a 1,000miles an hour, it drives Sarah crazy - even my old man takes the P out of me...."rush, rush, rush" he always says to me. So I know I'm exactly the same with the dogs & that was our biggest problem. It wasn't that Izzy wasn't doing as she should be, it was me who was doing what I shouldn't be!

Whereas we could go on a nice 10km walk with our GSD pups & throughout the whole time could 'work' them - Izzy just couldn't do this. She was distracted, unfocused & just not really that into her toy.

Izzy 11 weeks on . . .

So we've now got to a point where Izzy has come on brilliantly over the past few weeks. When people asked me how she was getting on previously I'd always say "she's doing OK" "small steps" etc etc. But now, I can honestly say she's done brilliantly over the past few weeks.

She's on the go all of the time now!!

We worked really hard on getting her "into" her toy & she's now got real possession & enthusiasm over her Kong. Izzy absolutely LOVES her Kong now.

It's really important for her to have a real desire to play with her Kong because having a toy as a reward is vitally important for the work we do. That's not to say that food doesn't play it's part. Everything we taught Izzy initially was all done via food. She had a much stronger desire to work for food than she did for a toy. It's now the opposite, she'll work for food but now much prefers working for a toy reward.

They're funny little dogs these Dutch Herders. You can see them really thinking about what they're doing. But her "work" now is brilliant. Being able to use a toy as her reward is invaluable. It plays a really key role & being able to motivate her with a toy is really important. Being able to deliver a toy as a reward alongside the use of clicker makes training much easier & the timing of rewards much easier. It's much easier to throw a Kong to Izzy than it is to throw a piece of food.

Having worked a lot with her Kong, we've got her obedience work really nailed & her heelwork is the best heelwork we've actually got out of a pup at her age. Over the past couple of weeks we've worked a lot on her property searching & she's now doing that brilliantly too.

Even though she can do all of these exercises we don't stop & rest on our laurels. We'll keep progressing them as we go, making them more challenging little by little.

You can check out the videos of Izzy on our YouTube channel.

The biggest thing in any of her 'Police dog' training is her environmental work. Without a sound grounding & being strong environmentally everything else will fail on the streets. We've spent lots of time still working on her environmental training. She's really confident when she's out & about now.

We've started doing some very basic bite work which is just a development of the work we were doing with the sheepskin on the flirt pole. Everything we do with the pups as babies progresses into the exercises needed to pass the ACPO Licensing criteria.

People always ask us "when does she start her training" - the answer is always the same . . . . "she already has". Even the little games of hide & seek, the chasing around after the sheepskin, the sits, lies & waits all form the foundation to what is required in an ACPO License.

It's a matter of starting her on the very basic stuff & slowly progressing on to more challenging things. So we've now moved from the sheepskin & onto a soft bite roll to start to progress her bite work. We've introduced her to the barking & also getting her used to the clatter stick which adds a little bit more pressure to her bite work.

The next thing we'll start working on is her tracking. I love working on nose work exercises - it's so vital for the work they'll go & do. I'm sure she'll be really good at it, as she's got a really good nose.

I'm really really pleased with how Izzy's come on over the past few weeks, we've really started to see her develop & progress.

We'll try & update you on her progress sooner next time!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Can I Smash A Car Window To Save A Dog?

When it comes to dogs we're really lucky in that we can pick up the phone, drop an email or send a Facebook message to some really knowledgeable & great people in the dog world. We've had no end of help from many great people, no more so than recently with Izzy. We've been really lucky to be able to call on people who have experience with Dutch Herders & we're really grateful to the people who've taken the time to offer their advice especially TG, John Kelly & Justin Armstrong.

One person who really knows his dogs is Keith Evans of Pedmore Dog Training. I've said to Keith a few times about doing a guest Blog for us, so we've finally managed to get some material off him!!

Keith is one of the most knowledgeable 'dog people' I know, but not only is he a dog encyclopaedia he is a real 'dog person' who really cares for dogs. Honestly if there's a decent dog book out there Keith will have studied it! Keith does a lot of charity work especially for the Happy Staffie charity. So when I say he knows his stuff . . . . he really does know his stuff.

You can 'Follow Keith' on Twitter.

There's been so much being said about Dogs In Hot Cars and it's still extremely clear that people are just not getting the message. There's been a huge number of calls to both Police Forces and the RSPCA - not to mention the tragedy of dogs actually dying having been left in a car. I honestly can't believe it still happens. The message is very very clear & it's one we'll never get tired of shouting (& I hope you all do the same too!)


We've seen many comments & Tweets on Facebook & Twitter about what to do if you see a dog in a car. A lot of people have also asked about smashing a car window to rescue the dog. Well, here is your answer!

Here's Keith's first guest Blog post - hopefully the first of many!!

Can I smash a car window to save a dog?

I was asked by the Dogs Trust for my opinion on the law relating to a member of the public's powers, if any, to assist a dog in distress in a hot vehicle, and whether one may force entry into the vehicle. My response was as follows...

"The law states:

1. Only a local authority Inspector or a Constable have a power to enter a "premises" for the purpose of assisting an animal that is, or is likely to be, suffering. This is governed under Sections 18 and 19 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Sec 62(1) AWA 2006 defines "any vehicle" as a "premises".

2. Any member of the public who breaks into a vehicle to assist a suffering dog would not be protected by the powers under the AWA 2006, and would no doubt be subject of an investigation for an offence of Criminal Damage. However, Sec 5(2)(b) Criminal Damage Act 1971, does offer a defence to their actions in that (i) property was in immediate need of protection, and (ii) that the means of protection were reasonable.

For their actions to be reasonable there must be a level of implied consent. For example, "I broke the lock off the water bowser to put out the burning shed." It would be reasonable to assume an implied consent from the owner that they would wish the person to damage a £5 lock to save a £500 shed and it's contents.

It might be argued that it would be reasonable for a person to believe that there was an implied consent from the owner of the car for them to break a car window to save their dog.

The big word here is "reasonable". If a person just breaks a window as there is a dog inside, and the dog is obviously fit and well, then their actions might well be deemed unreasonable, and they would have committed an offence.

My advice is that if a person thinks that a dog is suffering, or is likely to suffer, they should call the police on 999. Only in the gravest of circumstances should they take it upon themselves to break into a vehicle, and that they must be prepared to justify their actions during any subsequent investigation."

I hope that goes to clarify the issue in some way.

Please post your thoughts.