Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas

Looks like we will be having a white Christmas then! After tomorrow it has to go ... please .... bored of it now!

All D-Force classes are now over until the new year, we are looking forward to seeing dogs owners and instructors re-energised and ready to take 2011 by storm :-) Great to see pictures of so many club dogs having a great time in the snow on the front of Xmas cards and on facebook.

Ditto is so bright! Since the snow has arrived her 'hurry up' rewards have all come from weeing on the snow. Now a lot of the snow is melting in the garden she makes sure she finds a snowy area to use. In her head, using concrete and grass is not for ladies. She seems to be getting madder every day, loving her clicker training and playing like crazy bringing her toy back as quick as she can for a game of tug.

I like to use and support my local, small pet shops rather than the large chains as often as I can. However I think the large stores are great for puppy socialisation (Ditto wants a Degu!). A large display entitled recommended reading is covered from head to toe in books by one author. Our 'famous friend' from TV in which the general public are taught how to bite their dog using their hand. I asked the manager why only these books were in the recommended reading section ... 'it's what head office tell us to do'. For those positive reinforcement dog lovers out their, please message me for the email address for head office in an attempt to get some modern, science based dog training books on the shelves!

Anyway, best go and wrap the dogs presents. Have a great Christmas and eat lots! :)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Dave Munnings Winter Strips 1

Friday proved just how committed/crazy us dog lovers are to agility! Anna organised a 9am-5pm training day with Dave which stripped training right back to basics looking at individual pieces of equipment, analysing  performance, setting individual exercises for improvement and explaining and demonstrating how he trains it. Handlers were all given a work book to complete. Everyone loved the workbook idea  as there was so much information to take in, having a book to complete meant handlers could go home and re-read.

The group contained 10 handlers, some D-Force members and some from other clubs (many travelling miles). The abilities ranged from those not yet competing to grade 6 dogs. This worked fantastically well as handlers could view dogs at every stage of training.

Lunch time arrived and we warmed up at our local, dog friendly pub. Great food, great company!

The feedback from the day was brilliant. Anna did a great job organising and Dave's training was as usual fab ... just proving why we keep inviting him back! Everyone is looking forward to Winter Strips 2 in Jan :D

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

And the winner is ...

Mika (GSP) - Most Promosing
Fergus (collie x springer) and Emma - Perfect Paire ;-)

Tiger - Most Memorable Moment

Above are some of the dogs that recieved awards at this years xmas meal.
Well done : ) x

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Ditto Video :-)

Hope you enjoy the video below of little Ditto playing hard but learning LOADS at the same time. What a positive and confident response to such a new and different environment and animals.

People often say to me 'yes I socialised my puppy in environment X' or 'yes I socialised my puppy with new experience/object X'. This means very little. The information missing is how many times did the puppy meet 'X', at how many points throughout its development and how was the socialisation managed/controlled. As we say at D-Force ... don't go socialisation hunting, go socialisation training.

Canines go through a number of developmental stage. With each stage, a puppies outlook on a situation can change massively. Lets take Ditto and the Shetland pony for example.
  • At 7 weeks Ditto meets her first horse (OK, more of a goat is size). As the video shows, her reaction is confident and friendly and to top it all she comes back to her tuggy when called every time.
  • Within the next month or so, Ditto will being to understand flight and flight distance. "I'm scared I'm going to run this far" type attitude.
  • If in between now (first horse encounter) and four months Ditto meats no  more horses, her outlook response to horses could be unrecognisable.
  • Ditto therefore needs to meet horses regularly
  • The way in which Ditto meets horses needs to adapt through her developmental stages i.e going back to on-lead training throughout flight distance stage.
Google 'canine developmental stages' - it may just change how you raise your pup!

"100 new people by 12 weeks" - Dr. Ian Dunbar, PhD
Apply this to everything not just people and whatever you do, don't stop at 12 weeks!


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Loving D-Force

D-Force club members just keep making us smile this week ...

  1. After training on Monday I did a quick facebook check to find Alison's (club member) status to read  'Alison says if you have a dog and want a fun packed evening and a very tired dog- sign up to D Force!!!'  It's so nice read such nice feedback. So many clubs advertise their classes as 'fun' but few really are. We're glad you think ours are :-)
  2. Scrolling down further I saw another great status that really made me smile. Pelly (club member) wrote 'Pelly is so proud of disney,she got the trophy for instructors dog of the year tonight at jack russell eva!!!!' So great to see the bond between owner and dog strengthen through agility, it's what it's all about.
  3. Club friend Dave Munnings then said 'one thing that really sticks with me that you have said is; why would I want to be my dogs pack leader. That would involve bulling my dog and weaken our bond. I want to be my dogs best friend'  After thinking 'surley I've said more than one interesting statement', I was so happy that such a positive statement had been memorised and hopefully passed on to many more.
  4. Unfortunately, a club dog has found out they need a highly expensive operation. The dog isn't insured. Did D-Force sit there and do nothing? NO! A fundraising event is in the planning stages. There really is such a great community spirit in the club.
Below is Ditto, taking a rare moment to chill. This puppy is full of energy and is great fun!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Lots of fun at Christmas party!

A great turn out to the D-force Christmas party made for a fantastic night.

Laughter could be heard all night, the Royal Oak really made the night enjoyable and relaxing.  The highlight was our infamous 'Pirate Game' ... watch out for a video to follow!!!

We launched our anual awards such as 'Most Promosing' and 'Instructors dog of the year'. In the next blog I will publish photos of the winners, their humans and trophy. We also thanked our assistant instructors with flowers and the new D-Force clothing which looks brilliant.

We are so lucky to have such fun customers and instructors. :-)
Ditto is settling in well, creating havoc as often as possible! Will upload some photos of pretty puppy tommorow :) x

Monday, 22 November 2010

Socialisation, what is it? And meet Ditto!

Socialisation, what is it? And meet Ditto!

Meet Ditto (Devongem Does It Again) who arrives next Saturday.

Along with the excitement of getting a puppy, to me there is always one thousand and one thoughts buzzing around my head about the best way to create a well mannered, happy, sociable, fun and healthy dog. In the D-force puppy lessons we focus a lot on socialisation, perhaps one of these most misinterpreted areas owners initially have when buying their puppy.

Socialisation is defined as ‘The process by which the individual acquires the knowledge and dispositions that enable him to participate as an effective member of a social group and a given social order’

In my experience, socialisation goes wrong when owners go ‘dog hunting’ and ‘people spotting’ in which puppies are given free roam to ‘play’ endlessly with another dog or person. This has several common problems:
  • Huge value is created in playing with another dog. Often so high any reward we offer is no match.
  • This often leads to a dog with no re-call (the most important thing, as responsible dog owners, we can teach our dogs).
  • Further results may include an inability to relax in the presence of other dogs and new people.
  • Dogs learn to become either ‘victims’ or ‘bullies’ around other dogs.

To me, socialisation is teaching social norms to our dogs in situations they will encounter during daily life. So instead of ‘dog hunting’ Ditto and I, as well as all D-force puppy owners, will be doing lots of socialisation training. Where correct, well mannered interactions will be rewarded and less well mannered behaviour will be ignored, result in the end of the game, be interrupted or redirected (knowing the best option of what to do at this time can not be taught but comes from an understanding of the dog you are working with at the specific time).

The results of incorrect socialition can be clearly seen in my local woods, where dogs have free reign to ‘play’ often leading to scraps. It is therefore up to us to teach our dogs how to behave/deal in this situation. 

With puppies, we have a very short critical socialisation period (modern theories suggest up to 16 weeks of age), in which the brain acts like a sponge absorbing new experiences and environments (habituation). After 16 weeks socialisation and habituation still take place but at a lesser rate.

The importance of early Socialistion is shown clearly by the Guide Dogs for the Blind, who, until 1956, used to rely on the donation of adult dogs which they took on approval to maintain their training stock. The success rate of these dogs fluctuated between 9 and 11 percent and it was recognised that this could be improved if the association could supervise the rearing of puppies. These were purchased and placed in private homes at between ten and twelve weeks old or even later. Things improved, but the results were not good enough. It was Derek Freeman, who pushed to have puppies placed in private homes at an earlier age to optimise socialisation and habituation during the critical development period. Derek had a strong belief in Scott and Fuller’s work and importance of early socialisation and habituation in the production of dogs that were best able to survive and perform in the world at large.

As with all things doggy, a balance needs to be found and advice found in books or from trainers is often taken to literally. A level of free play is essential in creating a puppy who is going to grow up to understand other dogs, play and be happy with dogs in their space. Let’s not forget puppyhood is all about fun!
So this leads me to a few questions and decisions I will have to make with Ditto: are puppy parties beneifical or counter productive in the rearing of a well mannored soicable puupy?

I am very greatful to Lauren Langman for being such a fantastic and dedicated breeder. Giving these puppies such brilliant early socialtion/habituation from people to car rides and dogs to noises.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Anna and Lottie - WINNERS!

Huge congratulations to our very own Anna Giles and her rescue Rottie, Lottie, for winning the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Pre Beginner Stakes at Discover Dogs. Monday nights agility classes celebrated with chocoloate, bucks fizz and good humour!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Welcome to the D-Force blog

Welcome to the D-Force Dog Training blog. The blog will be updated with videos and photos from our puppy, companion and agility classes :)