Paws Puppy Blog Part 5
Welcome back to our Paws puppy blog! We’re a little bit later than usual this month with the blog, but life has been hectic and it feels like neither me or the girls have stopped to breathe for the past 5 weeks. Yet again, our training journey has been a complete whirlwind, and its hard to believe that what I’m about to discuss below follows on chronologically from the last blog!
To say the tables have turned would be an understatement. Saffy went from being the training golden child so to speak, to the one I’m struggling with the most. Bramble on the other hand went from being the difficult one, to being an absolute angel, although I have to admit we’re heading down a slow decline on the basics again. Gin is an angel, always has been and always will be – although I have found that her reactivity has gotten so much worse lately… I’ve not touched upon this before on our blogs, but let me know if you would like me to!
However, before we move on, I do want to touch upon the fact that (whilst I am incredibly proud of everything that we have achieved this past month), I have found our training journey incredibly hard recently. I’ve had a tough time personally with work and life in general which has impacted our training sessions in a negative way. I’ve been in a bad mood or sad more often than not, and admittedly, we’ve had less quality training than I would have liked. I’ve been inconsistent with praise and rewards which in turn means that, despite all our success recently, our basics are slipping. So, even though the rest of the blog is quite positive overall, I just wanted to be transparent and let you all know that It’s not always as great as it seems… but that’s ok!
I’m taking the pressure off training for the foreseeable until I feel like I’m in a happier place to start enjoying sessions again. We’ll be doing more mini sessions at home and less outdoorsy sessions. We’ll train less frequently and instead, enjoy more adventures together. This past weekend, I dedicated Sunday as a relaxing day with absolutely no expectations. I took all three girls out together for both a morning and afternoon walk and did a mini training session in the garden with Saffy & Bramble at lunch. Other than that, we just relaxed on the sofa all day having cuddles and it was BLISS.
My only goal for the year was to get one of the girls out working this 23/24 season, and I still hope we can achieve that. But I’ve realised that as much as I would love to make that happen, it’s not worth ruining my relationship with the girls by constantly applying the pressure with training and always expecting more. I need to remind myself more often that they are still very young and are all doing amazing! We will get there when the time is right, and need to enjoy the journey instead of rushing to get there.
Anyway, enough of the woe is me, lets get into it!
The Sassiest of Saffy’s –
This little girl is the reason why you NEED to research any breed before you buy a pup! She’s a firecracker, super Sassy, crazy intelligent and way too independent. Saffy needs a job to do, that much is clear to me!
You may remember from our last blog, that I was planning on taking Saffy to the @gundogcreators spaniel training day – plot twist, I ended up taking Baby Bramble. Very quickly after writing the last blog, Saffy’s engagement started to dwindle, and I even thought she was showing signs of coming into season (although this still hasn’t happened yet). I’d been toying with the idea of not taking her for about a week before I made the decision to take Bramble instead. I just knew that I would always be worrying about Saffy dis-engaging with me if I took her and concerned that we wouldn’t get the most out of the day. I knew that for all her struggles, Bramble would at least be 100% engaged with me.
Not wanting to let her engagement slip any further, I booked Saffy in for a one to one at Farlavale so I could get some professional help with reining her back in and progressing with our training. We had a really fun, insightful session and Saffy adored Ryan! She’ll be going regularly like Bramble does now - I plan to alternate who I take going forward.
We focused on two things during our one to one and both exercises are intended to help build on our engagement.
We are booked onto the @girlswithgundogs spaniel training day in a few weeks’ time which is being held at Farlavale. I’m tempted to take Saffy this time and see how she gets on, but I’ll make a decision closer to the time.
What a difference a month can make guys! Again, you may remember from our last blog that we we’re really struggling with our hold training. Well, all I can say now is – SMASHED THAT. I’m not sure what small miracle work was at play but the little girl who would spit out 2 meters in front of me or not even pick anything at all, can now hold every single dummy we own including the Firedog duck dummy, a 1lb canvas, and even our pheasant pelt wrap! I don’t want to bore you all to death with a line by line of how we achieved this, but I have put up several step-by-step reels on our Insta page if you wanted to see our progress.
We did manage to fix our retrieving as well for few weeks and I was getting beautiful deliveries with a sit hold and release to hand on cue, but sadly we’re back to playing keep away. This is frustrating because we’d managed to get to the stage where we we’re doing directional lefts rights and backs which is miles ahead of where I thought we would be. I’m hoping to touch upon this more in our next blog when I’ve figured out what’s happened to revert to old habits here.
I’ve also had some amazing success with her stop whistle recently as well. We’ve used a method that @thespanieldiaries had posted a week or so ago with a food bowl, and honestly, it’s felt like the only method we’ve tried where it’s really just clicked for her. Sophie has posted some great reels on this so if you’re struggling with teaching stop, I definitely recommend checking out her videos! I’d say 9/10 we’re getting an instant stop and the only reason we’re failing the other 1 attempt is because Bramble is the greediest girlie in the world and I’ve tried to stop her too close to the bowl. Obviously, in the future I’d expect to solidify her stop so that she stops close to the bowl despite the temptation, but for now I’m really happy with what we’ve achieved.
Having said this, I have found that Bramble’s basics have really been slipping recently. She’s shuffling or creeping on sit stays again, sometimes occasionally ignoring recall (She’s never ignored recall in the past!) and her loose lead walking became horrendous. I feel I may have been pushing her way too far recently and jumping back to the intro, I feel like she’s taken the brunt of my bad mood. For the past few days, we’ve stopped most of the retrieve/hunting work and instead gone back to mini sessions where we focus on basic bits of training. I’ve found these sessions much more enjoyable, so we’ll keep doing these until we’ve reinforced all of those good habits again!
Last but not least, I want to briefly discuss how amazing the @gundogcreators spaniel day was and how incredibly proud I was of Bramble. In some ways it was a tough day, Bramble struggled with being on the lead and got way too over stimulated by being in a group environment - settling and loose lead walking in more exciting places is something we’re focusing a lot on over the next few weeks. That said, we had some incredible wins! Bramble did so much better than I expected in all of the activities, especially considering that she’d not done most of it before. She did well at the hunting, delivered beautifully, paddled in for a water retrieve (if you’ve seen my stories you’ll know she’s not a strong swimmer) and even retrieved her first cold game! I honestly had the most amazing time and met the most amazing people. I would fully recommend signing up to one of the training days to anyone who has been thinking about attending or wanting some group training experience. Hester and Rosie were incredible, I learnt so much and will be back again for the next spaniel day they host (Sassy Saffy might even get her turn next time!).
Photo credit to @blackgrousemedia and @gundog creators
Until next time!
I really hope you’ve enjoyed our 5th Paws Puppy blog, and a massive thank you for your support, it means the world to us. If you’ve followed us from the start thank you for sticking with us and following our journey. If your new here and this is the first blog you’ve read, welcome to our training journey, and we hope to see you next time!
As always, I also want to say a massive thank you to Paws Brooklyn for this opportunity to share our training journey with you all.
Until next time,
Nat, Gin, Bramble and Sapphire x