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!