Monday 23 September 2013

Sunday 22nd of Sept 13 the a team and Spotlight down on the farm

Today we all went down to Saundercroft farm near Broadclyst to introduce the pups to various livestock which included sheep, cows, chickens, horses and Jack the 16 year old pony released by Crealy park when he was 5 having nipped one too many children.

The purpose of the day was to make sure all the pups are confident in the presence of livestock. The way we do this is by starting with the pups a short distance away from the animals and noting their reactions. If a pup shows any defensive aggression or fear we will move the pup to a distance it is comfortable with. Any assertive aggression which is not fear based we will correct the pup and then distract with titbits doing sit and down exercises. The pups also interact with each other and after a period of time we find the pups lose interest in the animals. The less confident pups become much more confident and the pushy assertive ones lose interest.

Once we are happy the pups are confident with livestock we will later school them to pass through livestock such as sheep and cows and too ignore them. This is an ongoing process over a period of time and it is hoped the dog handler the puppy is eventually assigned too continues this training.. Police dogs are required to work in rural areas searching and tracking offenders and missing persons and so it is important that they are confident in the presence of livestock and know they should ignore them.

Today I was joined by Ash, Annie, Axel, Ava and Argo who are all now nearly 16 weeks old and our newest recruit Grommit who is 12 weeks old.

We started the session introducing the pups to the sheep in their enclosure. Annie, Axel, Grommit and Ash all relaxed in and around the  sheep. In fact all of the pups were very sensible and neutral in the presence of the sheep.

Next it was on to the cows in their enclosure. Argo and Ava in a very relaxed pose are looking at the cows.  Grommit on the left having got under the gate.

Next it was on to the horses in the stables. This could have been quite daunting for the young pups as the horses were looking out over their stable doors and the layout of the stables meant the pups were surrounded by horses. Axel above completely chilled out next to a very large horse.

The star of the day Grommit going one better and licking all the horses completely unfazed.

Next Grommit showed us his riding skills sitting in the trap being pulled by pony Jack and his owner Andi Darby.

We all then took the opportunity to have a group photo with Jack.

Finally we finished with my favourite the chickens. The chickens always tempt even the most well behaved dogs but as you can see from picture above the pups once again showed what a sensible well balanced group they are.

I am especially grateful to Andi Darby’s mother Jean who owns Saundercroft farm and  allowed us to use the farm while she is away on holiday. I am also grateful to Andi who is a serving Police dog handler at Newton Abbott. Andi was due to start duty after looking after us and Andi’s partner Simon who also helped out was due to start work  at Exeter airport at 5pm where he works as a pilot.

I was extremely proud of all of the pups today. They were all very relaxed, confident and sensible with all of the animals and the day was enjoyed by all.

I will end with a picture of Ash sitting up on the breeze blocks surveying the scene in a calm relaxed manner which summed up the day for me.

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