Here we all are at the end of great day out in Exeter city centre. The cultured ones among you will know we are on the statue of Exeter’s famous son, writer and theologian Richard Hooker born in Heavitree in 1554. The statue is made of white pentilicon marble from Greece erected in 1907. To the uncultured like me it is the statue that spooked my Police dog as he walked passed it on patrol for the first time when it was illuminated at night.
At our last training and development session 2 weeks ago a couple of the puppy walkers had mentioned that they thought their pups were possibly not as bold when out and about as they ought to be compared with previous pups that they had puppy walked in the past.
With that in mind I arranged for our visit to Exeter city centre to take place when the pups were slightly younger than our normal visit to Exeter. This was to give me an early opportunity to assess the attitude and confidence of the pups when faced with all of the various sights and sounds of a busy city centre.
We met at Police Headquarters and everyone attended except Comet whose puppy walkers Dawn and Mark were working.
Before we went into Exeter we did some article searching and puppy tugging games. Here is Chaos searching and locating a small shotgun cartridge in long grass.
Also pictured is Charlie showing a real determination to win a game of tug of war.
All of the pups were very focused and determined playing these games. When you consider how young they are I already have no doubt in my mind that they all have the working aptitude required in a Police dog. We then made our way to Exeter city centre.
Each pup was required to be brought out individually from the underground car park in Princesshay Exeter so that I could assess their confidence and reaction to walking out into such a busy environment. Pictured here is Copper and Mel emerging and I think Mel looks more apprehensive than Copper.
Chaos was a little cautious at first but soon became interested in the table tennis ball on offer
Cosmic came out all guns blazing and was soon up on his toes out to explore
Once everyone had emerged individually from the car park we all regrouped.
Each pup then had to walk individually with their puppy walkers around a small circuit. I was strategically placed to observe them all and to offer advice if required.
Having watched Chaos look a little cautious at the start and looking a little uncertain I asked Colin to sit quietly with him for 10 minutes just to get his confidence up before deciding if he should attempt the circuit.
This had the desired effect because he then recovered to such an extent that he wanted to go over to investigate everything he could. What you must not do if your puppy shows any element of stress or concern is to try and walk around a busy city centre with so many people and noises coming at the pup from every direction.
What you must do is sit and allow your pup space to sit and gain confidence at his/her pace. When you do decide to walk with the pup you must not have tension on the lead making him/her feel trapped or worse still insist on the puppy walking to heel. If you are going to insist on your puppy walking to heel then do it over a period of time in quiet areas before going into a busy town or city environment.
Here are some pictures of Chaos after he relaxed and the incredible improvement in such a short time tells me that he is going to be a very strong character. Here he is dragging me over to a very loud Karaoke performer.
Then it was up to a bus completely unfazed by the air doors opening.
And finally checking out the balloon man.
Here is Callie striding ahead with puppy walker Annie with a real spring in her step.
Here is Cagney with Jill and Terry who regularly walk her in Exeter and it shows. She is engrossed in investigating smells on the floor and I bet you it is the smell of her brothers and sisters who have gone before her. Using her nose in this way shows how relaxed she is.
Charlie did start to show a few signs of anxiety and so Paul is just allowing her a time out here before continuing further. She was fine after a short break.
Classic signs of Anxiety are many but some of the more common ones are Yawning, Licking of lips, Pulling hectically, Jumping up at the handler which is the poor puppy telling you that they are not comfortable and need to be removed from the situation.
Here is Copper working out whether this metal boar is going to play or not.
Here is Cathy a Devon and Cornwall Police officer who is keen on joining the dog section and was out with us for the day. We are grateful to Cathy for taking our photos.
And finally the pups arriving back at the car park entrance tired and ready to go home.
Here are the pups individually.
Callie and Annie.
Copper and Mel.
Cagney and Jill.
Chaos and Colin.
Charlie and Paul.
Cosmic with Linsay and Anthony.
I didn’t see any evidence of any of the pups exhibiting timidity. One or two were a little cautious to start with which is not surprising considering how busy it was but they quickly recovered and went from strength to strength.
All in all a very enjoyable and successful day.
See you all next time.