Paws Puppy Blog Part 7
Welcome back to our Paws puppy blog! It’s been a little while since our last blog, mainly due to the fact that both Saffy and Bramble were in season at the same time, meaning training went on hold for a few weeks. This was Bramble’s second season and Saffy’s first; both girls handled it fine, and not much changed other than our training routine.
I used the time that they were in season to try and focus on one thing that we needed to brush up on; something that we could easily practise in our back garden, but wouldn’t be too straining or require focus for long periods of time. For Saffy this was stopping (or attempting to stop) her from parading with dummies. With Bramble, we worked on heelwork and loose lead walking. These are still work in progress for both girls, and we will continue to work on them, even now they are both out of heat. I have a few reels on our Instagram - @thespanielgirlgang – which show snippets of how we worked on these issues, if anyone wanted to take a look.
I also got to spend a lot of one on one time with Gin whilst Bramble and Saff were in season. It was nice to be able to chill a little and enjoy some nice walks with Gin, as well as spend some time working on her reactivity. I think she really enjoyed her mama time too and we made a lot of good progress with minimising her reactions to other dogs.
Saff finished her season first and so got to attend her first @gundogcreators day down in Essex. I really didn’t expect much from her, she’d just had a month off from training and hadn’t even turned one yet. However, I’ve taken so much away from these days with Bramble, that I knew it would be a great opportunity to see where Saffy is at and what we need to work on going forward. She was definitely more chaotic than Bramble was on her spaniel days, however, I did get some lovely stuff out of her which was a big win!
Positives from the @gundogcreator spaniel day
- Saffy was amazing on the lead. We had lovely loose lead walking all day and she waited so patiently for her turn to take part in the activities. In this respect, she was much easier to manage than Bramble has been on her days. I’ve always been stricter with Saffy on the lead, mostly because of how hard Bramble is to handle on lead, and it’s definitely paying off!
- To say we only started working on her hunting a few months ago, she hunted quiet well and had her nose down to the ground. She was a bit wild on the first little hunt session we did, but after that she stopped venturing quite so far and developed more of a ‘pattern’
- She stopped to flush with the bolting rabbit (even when my new ACME whistle blew out air instead of a stop whistle…) and ignored it to get the retrieve that had been sent out for her.
- She settled super well with other dogs in the truck and was generally just so easy going.
Things we’ve taken away from the @gundogcreators day
- Steadiness and honouring other dogs’ retrieve. Whilst she sat beautifully to the bolting rabbit, Saff did run in on another dogs retrieve when hunting up together, and then ran in again on her mark on the mock test at the end. We need to work on her understanding that not every ‘flush’ means that she gets to go get something, but she can still be rewarded for staying put.
- Swimming – This is particularly frustrating because I know Saffy can swim (very well in fact), but she picks and chooses her moments when she wants to entre water. Sadly, the spaniel day was a day when she decided she wasn’t going to jump in for her retrieve. We’ll be working on making swimming more exciting for her and try to erase her hesitation of getting in.
- Hunting with me – I personally think Saff hunts quite well. She’s not the fastest, but she gets her nose to the ground and isn’t afraid to get in cover. What we do need to work on though is her hunting with me, rather than straying way too far and doing whatever the hell she wants. Whilst the weather is warm and there’s no scent on the ground, we’ll be focusing on working together through other bits like recall practise, being rewarded for site stays etc. which will hopefully build up the trust between us both and make hunting a bit more of a smoother process come September when game starts to make an appearance again.
Following on from that, my goals with Saffy over the next few months is too really nail down our foundation work. Lately, I’ve noticed Saffy is getting really wound up and over stimulated with birds flittering about or distracted by other dogs walking past, so I want to make sure that we’re drowning all of that out. We’ll be doing all of the so called ‘basics’ such as heelwork, recall, sit stays and holds just to make sure she fully understands what’s being asked of her, and to show her that working with me can be super fun!
I would love for Saff to be out for a drive or so on our days out beating this season, but this solely depends on how much trust we can build up together. I don’t for one second think she’d be the worst dog in the world to manage whilst out beating, but I want to make sure that if I’m taking her out, she’s the best version of herself she can be at that stage, and that we’ve found a way to work well together.
I am trying to remind myself more often that Saffy has only just turned one (she had her first birthday last week!), and that whilst Bramble is an absolute superstar in the making now, she couldn’t do any of the things Saffy can do at that age. Saff is a great little girl, and I think with some back to basic focus, we can turn her into a cracking little beater.
She’ll be two in August, but Bramble will forever be the baby of the gang! I really don’t know what to say about Bramble, other than I so incredibly proud of her. I can’t believe how far we’ve come this year since starting our one to ones at Farlavale and attending the @gundogcreators days.
At the beginning of this year, Bramble wouldn’t retrieve, couldn’t hold, crept on every ‘stay’ command, didn’t understand stop whistle, and couldn’t swim to save her life. Now Bramble can not only do all of those things, but she smashes them out of the park.
Since finishing her season, I’ve done a couple of retrieve sessions with Bramble. Just this past weekend, Bramble has managed several good distance blinds, gone out for a long marked retrieve and stopped on the whistle at around 100yards out to be redirected, and brought them back with a perfect hold delivery every time.
What’s more, Bramble is becoming a strong little swimmer. She’ll now confidently swim out to fetch back our @pawsbrooklyn dog & field dummy, and delivers it without shaking or dropping too early! We need to work on her jumping into water from a ledge rather than wadding in via a gentle slope first, but I’m sure she’ll pick that up in no time!
Hunting is difficult to perfect at the minute with the weather being so hot and with there being very little scent around, however, we had her in the rabbit pen on her last one to one and she followed my lead so well. Bramble can be hesitant to get her nose down when she knows there’s nothing there, which is something we need to work on for tests etc. but she’s a machine when hunting for scent!
I completely and wholeheartedly trust this little girl now (obviously she’s a dog, and a young one at that so I appreciate that occasionally things aren’t always going to go to plan), but I am so incredibly excited to get her out working this season. She’s just an absolute joy to train and I have a feeling she’s going to be very special.
Until next time!
I really hope you’ve enjoyed our 7th Paws Puppy blog, and a massive thank you for your support, it means the world to us.
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.
Nat, Gin, Bramble and Sapphire x