Rika finally had to say goodbye to her buddy Qwendi to join her new puppy walkers Rob and Ali last week. Her brothers Memphis and Flynn had joined their new puppy walkers the week before but Rika stayed with me for 2 weeks because Rob and Ali were on holiday.
I think she enjoyed her stay and here is Qwendi supervising the handover to Rob and Ali at my house when they came to collect her.
The two of them have been inseparable during their 2 weeks together as you will see from my previous blog.
In fact I think Rika’s face says it all as she realises that Qwendi is not coming with her.
Needless to say being the strong resilient character she is Rika soon settled in with Rob and Ali.
Yesterday Rika was reunited with Qwendi and her brothers Memphis and Flynn for their 1st training session and introduction to water.
During our training session we introduced the pups to tracking a person, searching for articles, the recall to their handler, the sit and down positions, letting go of a toy or item held in their mouth, and a very low level introduction to water.
I started the session by using Qwendi to demonstrate to everyone how a dog follows the trail left by a person to locate them. This is called tracking and is the most important exercise performed by a Police dog and probably accounts for 80% of their work.
Qwendi is pictured here putting her tracking harness on which tells her I want her to look for the trail of a person who has left the area and to follow the direction that they have gone. This could be a criminal who has committed a crime and made off or a missing vunerable person who has gone off.
I had laid a trail in this field 30 minutes previously and on the trail I hid a shot gun cartridge and a single key in different places on the 300 metre trail.
Qwendi easily completed the trail locating the 2 hidden items and her favourite toy hidden at the end of the trail. Qwendi is pictured here working the trail
and is being closely watched by the new recruits.
Next we introduced the pups to searching for articles which is a great game for the pups and puppy walkers in their spare time. We use all sorts of different articles which are pleasant to play with like a glove, old sock, leather strips, rubber tube and once they become really proficient at finding these articles we will introduce more difficult articles.
This is always done on a line to prevent the pups developing the habit of running off with the article when they find it.
Eventually we will teach them to lie down next to the articles when they find them and not to touch the article. This is because we do not want the dog to interfere any DNA that may have been left on the article by the offender.
We introduce this control much later using food rewards but in these early stages we want the pup just to love searching for articles.
Pictured here is Memphis looking for a piece of soft leather I have just thrown in the long grass.
Introducing the sit and down positions
Next we introduced the puppies to the sit and down positions using titbits to lure them into the positions. Eventually we will teach them to stay in the sit and down positions again using titbits.
Here is Rika being lured back into the sit
and then rewarded with a tit bit whilst in the sit.
Here is Memphis going into the down position.
Introducing the pups to tracking
Next we introduced all of the pups into following a trail which we call tracking. This is introduced by a person using raw tripe food drops which are placed in every footstep by the person laying the trail. Flynn is pictured here licking his lips smelling the food watching the trail being laid and then following the trail locating the tripe drops.
As the pups become more proficient the distance between the food drops is increased and the food is eventually replaced by finding their favourite toy.
Im not sure who is concentrating most Rika or Rob and the boys on this track.
Recall to handler
Next it was an introduction to getting the puppies to rush back to their handlers when they hear their name being called and the command ‘come’ for a titbit or toy reward. The walkers have already been practising this at home but it is much more difficult outside with all the distractions of animal smells and their litter mates.
This is started on a line by allowing the pup to smell the titbit (which in this case is liver cooked with garlic powder) and with someone holding the puppy and the handler running backwards excitedly calling the pups name and the instruction ‘come’ and dropping down into a crouch as the puppy comes in for his/her titbit.
Here is Flynn smelling the titbit and then charging after me for his reward. After a couple of these my knees warmed up and I did crouch down.
Rika is keen to go
and Memphis is not hanging around
not sure about Phil’s interesting pose.
Introduction to water
To finish the day we all went down to the river at Bickleigh which is nice and shallow to introduce the pups to water. Here we all are making our way down through the woods hanging on for grim death as Qwendi and the pups were keen to get down there.
The fact that it was raining all morning didn’t seem to bother the pups or the walkers and we all had a great time. Here are a few pictures and short video clips of Qwendi and the pups being introduced to the water.
At the end of the session we took a group photo of the participants.
Then reluctantly everyone trooped home having had a great time and I am sure the pups would have slept well that night.
My next blog will feature Zac ( Previously Gizzy ) Duke and Elvis who will this week be undergoing their final assessments to see if they have the skills and aptitude to go onto the next stage of their journey the Initial Police dog course in September this year. See how they all get on.
Finally I thought I would finish with a lovely photo of Harry who is being puppy walked by Graham Attwood one of our instructors and his wife Lucy. Harry is a single pup we purchased to supplement our C litter and sometimes gets forgotten. Here he is out for a walk with Graham’s daughters Zoe and Polly.
See you next time.