Thursday 4 May 2017

In this weeks blog everyone is extremely well behaved!

  • Tara, Tag, Tammy, Oscar, Ozzie and Ollie  are all extemely well behaved on their visit to Saundercroft Farm    
  • Duke has been released from the puppy program and the priority now is to find him a new home

Tara, Tag, Tammy, Oscar, Ozzie and Ollie  are all extemely well behaved on their visit to Saundercroft Farm   

My favourite development day is our visit to Saundercroft Farm.

Here are the January 2018 Initial Police dog candidates arriving for their introduction to all of the farm animals which included horses, sheep, lambs, cows, calves, chickens and their 10 year old farm dog GSD Holly.

The gang were a little rowdy on their arrival but soon calmed down and were all very well behaved and sensible.

First port of call was the sheep which included lambs and a very tame sheep called Al who was bottle fed as a baby. Andi an Exeter Police dog handler lives on the farm with her partner Simon, their recently born son Will and Andi’s mum  who owns the farm.

All of the 6 pups were very confident and a  couple were a little vocal to start with. We employed our usual strategy of ignoring the sheep but doing some sit and down exercises and basically getting the pups to switch off and become bored.

You can see here that 4 year old Seth and his 8 year old sister Marina took the opportunity to bottle feed the lambs and the objective had been achieved with the pups ie they had switched off.

Ollie is pictured here showing a very relaxed and sensible approach to meeting the sheep and Marina is not letting go of her baby lamb for anything

We gradually got all of the pups closer to the sheep and lambs.

Andi made sure the sheep were hungry and with the use of her bucket of food worked her magic.

Ozzie is the noisy one on the right but he did settle down.

Then it was off to the sheds to see the calves and a very large bull.

Ollie, Oscar and Ozzie were completely bombproof and certainly were not fazed by the calves or the bull.

Tammy, Tara and Tag were equally confident and Tara certainly wasn’t backward in coming forward with the bull.

On the way to meeting the chickens we stopped by to meet the horses.

Next a well-earned water break before the rooster and his chickens.

It is very important for Police dogs to be completely neutral to livestock because they are required to search and track regularly in rural areas. They need to concentrate on the job in hand and not be distracted by livestock.

Here is Tammy sensibly taking it all in which was very impressive considering how tempting it is for a dog to chase chickens.

She was soon joined by Tag who came down to check out the chickens and no doubt to check on his best mate Marina.

We introduced the pups to the chickens two at a time until all the pups were settled with them.

Our German imports Tara, Tammy and Tag now 7 months old.

We all had a great day and I was very impressed with all of the pups in terms of their confidence and how relaxed and sensible they all were. Here we all are having a final group photo as a reminder of our day.

From left to right are Andi & big Al, Ozzie, Tammy, Tara, Ollie, Oscar, Tag, baby lamb with Seth and Marina, farm dog Holly and baby Will out for the count.

Then it was time for us to leave after another very enjoyable day and hopefully some tired and; contented pups. Marina and Tag joined at the hip as always.

Duke has been released from the puppy program and the priority now is to find him a new home

The bad news is that we are releasing Duke from our puppy program because he does not have the necessary level of confidence required to be a Police dog.

Duke was one of our D litter which consisted of 3 males and 6 females. He was never as forward and assertive as his two litter brothers Devon and Danno but there were no clues that he might be too sensitive to be a Police dog.

Here he is at 8 weeks when he was a happy playful independent puppy with no obvious areas of concern.

Up until 4 or 5 months he was no different to his littermates on our puppy development sessions happy to engage and no signs of stress. Here he is 3rd from left with his littermates and puppy walker Lyn.

Around that time I had to find a home for Bevan an older pup in our puppy program whose previous puppy walkers had handed him back to us because they couldn’t cope. I placed him with Dukes puppy walker Lyn my most experienced puppy walker as a temporary measure.

Bevan and Duke got on very well together and Duke enjoyed his training sessions. He is pictured here on the right with his sister Dizzi and brother Devon.

Around 7 months of age I noticed he was becoming very clingy to Lyn and her son Ian on our training sessions. This clinginess continued on our subsequent development sessions.

He also displayed a caution and sensitivity to certain sounds. Although Bevan eventually left Lyn for a new home and Duke was on his own again things didn’t improve.

Running alongside Bevan would not have helped his development but it shouldn’t have caused the sensitivities and caution he displayed.

Approximately a month ago I took Duke home with me to assess and evaluate him closely and see if I could improve things. He immediately settled in with my 2 dogs Rudi and his mum Sasha. Here they are enjoying the wheat fields near me.

Rudi and Duke are the same age and are inseparable always happily playing together and usually attached to the same log they have found.

When he first came to me he was quite cautious going into new situations and of engaging with people he hadn’t met before. This quickly improved and he is now a much more confident dog.

Here are Duke and Rudi playing in the garden together.

I have assessed Duke in a wide range of different situations to assess his general confidence and I have assessed his desire to work in terms of his tracking, searching and will to win a fight when tugging and biting.

He has an incredibly high drive for work and is potentially as good as any young dog of his age.  But he does have a caution in his nature particularly to certain noises, unfamiliar situations and an aversion to shiny floor surfaces.

Unfortunately that rules him out as a Police dog because he is highly likely to find some situations stressful and in my opinion it is unfair to place him in those positions.

I introduced him to cows and he didn’t run away and he didn’t try to attack them or show aggression but he sensibly watched them from a comfortable distance.

Compare this to Rudi who is a much more forward dog who felt compelled to join the cows and even invited them to play.

Another example of his caution was when I began hitting a metal locker with an iron bar Duke withdrew immediately and kept his distance. A sensible reaction in a pet dog but a Police dog should want to investigate any unusual occurrence.

When I repeated this with Rudi he found the noise very exciting and tried to grab the metal pole from my hand.

I have loved having Duke and we have had a lot of fun together. He loves swimming particularly if it involves a floating log.

He is a very responsive dog who has the most incredible focus if he thinks you are going to play or work with him.

I watched Duke being born and raised at our home and my priority now is to find him a good home. He loves it here at our house and is clearly not in a hurry to leave. Here he is with mum Sasha keen to go off on our daily adventures.

Here he is romping in the wheat fields with Sasha and Rudi.

Here he is swimming in a local river.

As a dog he has many excellent qualities and craves that one on one relationship that German shepherds do.

He is a very energetic, biddable, playful young dog and with a patient caring handler who provides the necessary leadership will be a joy to own.

Just because a dog is not suited to the role of a Police dog is in no way a slur on his/her character. After all we are not all cut out to be Royal Marines.

So from Duke and me see you next time.

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