Tuesday 23 January 2018

Welcome Bill and Ben and advice on stopping pups pulling on a lead

We welcome Bill and Ben to our puppy program     

Two weeks ago I traveled to Lorockmor working dogs, in Shropshire to collect two German shepherd male pups aged eight weeks called Bill and Ben.  Lorockmor is owned and run by trainer and breeder Ian Morgan who also supplied us with our pups Merlin and Henry.

The pups traveled well and wasted no time exploring the garden on arrival at our house.

After charging around the garden for an hour they both fell asleep next to the Aga.

Bill is the bigger chunkier of the two pups.

Ben is the quieter of the 2 pups but both pups are very confident and outgoing.

They both slept right through the night then it was time for another blast around the garden before being allocated to their puppy walkers at HQ.

They have been allocated to temporary puppy walkers Mary and Margaret because the full time puppy walkers are on holiday until Monday 22 of January. Ben is on the left with Mary and Bill on the right with Margaret.

Like all pups they couldn’t resist seeing a moving brush.

Next after entertaining all of the visitors at the dog school it was time to start the next stage of their journey.

I waited until they had settled in to their temporary homes then paid a visit to see how they were getting on. Both have settled in well and both love to be out in the garden. Here are a few photos of Bill.

Here are a few photos of Ben.

They will be going to their full time puppy walkers on Tuesday 23 January.

I would like to thank Mary and Margaret for looking after the boys for me. They both tell me they are two great pups and they loved the experience of having them.

Training our pups not to pull on a lead

Our last training session was devoted to teaching the pups two disciplines. The first was when arriving at their destination in a vehicle they must wait calmly until the lead is attached before getting out from the vehicle. The second was when on a walk not to pull on a lead

Attending the morning session from left to right were Eva (11 months) Peppe (six months) Elsa (10 months) and her brother Eric.

Attending the afternoon session from left to right were Quest ( six months ) Henry ( four months) and Merlin. ( five months)

We started by looking at how the teams have progressed with teaching their dogs to remain in the car until the lead is attached and then calmly waiting until given permission to jump down.

I was extremely impressed with the progress all the teams have made with this extremely important exercise. Not only could it prevent an accident or prevent an injury to the handler trying to control the dog it teaches self-control and discipline. ( Well done everyone)

My favourite picture is Eva who quite fancies Eric and you can see in the picture she desperately wants to get out and see him.

Next we did some focus work which included adopting the round to heel position, sits and downs and just generally getting their attention. This was in preparation for the main lesson which was  getting the dogs to walk on a loose lead without pulling.

It was an opportunity for the ladies to watch and learn from the men but I’m not sure the ladies were exactly awash with knowledge and inspiration after watching their display.

Pulling on a lead

Pulling on a lead is always the number one issue for dog owners and our puppy walkers are no exception particularly when our pups get to six months because they become so strong.

During the early months of their development we do lots of focus exercises such as the sit, down, recall, stays, walking to heel and adopting the round to heel position.

Here is four month old Henry doing some focus work.

This is done in the house and garden which gets the pups used to working and enjoying time with their puppy walkers and they use tit-bits to get the puppies to focus.

This work is then transferred into their environmental heel work later on.

Here is Danno demonstrating to our puppy walkers how to walk a dog on a loose lead.

Because Socialisation is the number 1 priority in the puppy’s development in the first 3 months we don’t introduce too much formal environmental lead work during this time.

This is because they are constantly meeting new experiences and situations and our objective is to build their confidence without being pulled around and constantly being pulled back on a lead.

Here is Terri and Jill demonstrating it’s never too early to start with Henry in a nice quiet area.

The internet is flooded with  advice about how to quickly teach a dog to walk on a loose lead but from my experience I would say there is no quick fix.

Here is Eamon and Karen with Eric who is a very powerful dog. Karen is trialing a new 'figure of eight' lead and Eric is walking beautifully.

The reason it is so difficult for a dog to walk alongside us or just slightly ahead without pulling is the dog naturally moves at a much faster pace and the dog wants to investigate lots of smells, They also like to meet and greet other dogs which we have encouraged our pups to do from an early age in the socialising process.

Here is Eva and Lisa demonstrating they have certainly been putting the work in.

To start the puppy off with environmental loose lead work we go to a quiet area. The puppy already knows how to walk alongside the puppy walker and also knows the word we use for the position ie ‘heel’ or ‘close’ from the tit-bit sessions they have done at home, in the garden and at training.

Here is Steve and Elsa giving a text book example of walking on a loose lead.

We start off with the pup in the sit to get their focus and then step off moving forward knowing that the pup will charge to the end of the lead. The puppy walker will hold the lead with both hands and the puppy corrects him/herself coming to a very abrupt halt.

It is surprising how quickly the pup learns not to charge to the end of the lead. From here on in it is a simple case of stopping every time the pup pulls forward and the lead goes tight.

Here is Elsa showing excellent focus.

We stop and encourage the pup into the correct position. We then move forward again and we do so at a brisk pace which makes it easier for the pup to stay in the correct position.

We also include lots of halting in the sit and stands to keep the pup in the correct position and we will include lots of 180 degree turns going in the other direction which means the pup has to catch you up and as soon as the pup reaches the correct position lots of praise and or tit-bits.

Here is terry with Henry demonstrating an about turn with Henry.

Tit-bits are always kept in the left pocket NOT the right pocket because we want their focus onto your left hand side.

Because there is a lot of stopping and starting you need to set aside plenty of time. If you are in a rush don’t do a session because you will invariably become impatient and the experience will not be good for you or the pup.

Here is Jill with Henry who is wearing a new 'figure of eight' head collar I have been trialing.

There is no magic bullet to getting a dog to walk on a loose lead it is a case of repetition, patience, good communication, lots of praise when your pup is in the correct position and calmly guiding him/her back into position when the pup isn’t where you want the pup to be.

Here is Henry relaxing with Terry and Jill after a job well done.

One final piece of advice, once we start walking the pups environmentally on a loose lead we do not allow the pup to sniff or mark or pay attention to other dogs. We keep the pup on the move ignoring all distractions.

Initially this is a difficult lesson for the pup but it is surprising just how quickly they adapt providing the handler consistently applies the rules. Here is Danno clearly relaxed.

Obviously we don’t treat the walks like a disciplined route march we will include stops where the pup can relax, play, sniff or toilet. But the difference is it is we who decide on this and not the puppy.

In other words it is you who controls the walk and not you following the puppy controlling the walk. 

Head collars

When we are selecting puppies for the program we choose pups that are very confident, assertive, energetic, strong willed, very driven and extremely determined.

Those qualities in a big powerful dog like Eric can make it very difficult for some of our puppy walkers to control such a dog despite the puppy walker having carried out all of the training and work that I have outlined on a normal lead and collar.

So to help our walkers to have the necessary control over the pups we have for some years now used head collars.

Traditionally we have used Canny head collars and halti’s but I have recently been trialing a new 'figure of eight' broad soft webbing lead. I am very impressed with it because the wide soft webbing doesn’t rub or cut into the dogs face.

Whether you use a broad collar or a head collar the training and routines are just the same.

The pup must still be on a loose lead so that the head collar doesn’t dig into the pups face. You must always spend time for a week or two getting the puppy used to putting the head collar on with tit-bits and then taking it off before trying to use it on the walk.

I was very impressed with all of the dogs on our training day and I was very impressed with the new lead I am trialing. The feedback from the puppy walkers since our training day regarding the 'figure of eight' lead is very positive.


We have had a huge response for a home for Danno and I have spent most of the week visiting potential homes before making a decision. He has behaved impeccably in all of the homes we have visited. I will include a feature on his new home in the next blog.

In my next blog I will report on our pups Tag, Ollie and Oscar who will be starting their Initial Police dog course on the 5 of Feb with their new handlers.
Also we will know next week whether Sasha is pregnant after her mating on Boxing day with a lovely dog called Xato vom Sickinger Moorwerk who has sired many good dogs in both Germany and in the UK.  Xato is owned by Lyn Camden of Linern German shepherds in Ipswich and was imported from Germany.

Until next blog from me, Ella and Danno bye for now.

Thursday 11 January 2018

Our first Blog of 2018

In our first blog of 2018: Wanted a forever home for Danno and a final update on the D litter

Danno is from our D litter which consisted of 9 pups born and raised at our house on the 24th May 2016.

Mum Sasha and father Lenny were both living with us at the time.

Lenny has since gone onto be a Police dog based in Exeter and Sasha has gone to live with full time carers and friends of ours Julie and Les who live in Bath.

Sasha will return to us if she has another litter but eventually she will be signed over permanently to her carers Julie and Les.

Sasha and Lenny were excellent parents and the pups no doubt benefited greatly from having a father figure around.

Danno is the pup coming out from behind the shed with the tartan collar.

In the early weeks after the litter was born Sasha would let Lenny pop his nose in to see the litter  but she wouldn’t let him get to close until they were a bit bigger.
Just like our A, B and C litters the pups had the best possible start being raised in a home environment. They had the run of the garden to explore and a constant stream of visitors.

Here are some of the photo’s of their time with us.

Donna pictured here with mum Sasha was without doubt her most troublesome pup. She constantly went off exploring and mum regularly had to find her.

Despite having her own sofa and viewing platform Sasha loved squeezing herself into this tiny cardboard box which I used to store the plastic bin liners.

Here are the pups relaxing in the garden without a care in the world.

Here are the lovebirds having some quality time together cooling off in the paddling pool.

Here is Danno on his last night before going to his new puppy walkers the next day.

We couldn’t keep all of the pups and so we sold 3 of the pups Dora, Dot and Darcy and kept 6 for the puppy program. The 3 pups we sold are all doing well. 

Here are all the pups going to their new owners and puppy walkers.

Here are the pups pictured on their first training day. Danno is first on the left with puppy walker Luke.

Danno and all of the pups were regular attenders on all of our training days.

The D litter turned out to be a very healthy, athletic, robust litter with nice temperaments, good working drives and a pleasure to own. From a German shepherd breeders point of view a very successful litter.

Here they are at the Devon County show mixing with all the crowds, other dogs, animals, noises and sights without any issues whatsoever. Danno is on the right.

It was quite an impressive sight-seeing them all making their way through the busy crowds together interacting very sensibly  with all the hundreds of dogs walking around. I was very proud of them.

Sadly with regard to Duke, Donna, Daisy and Dizzy despite their many good qualities at the time of their assessments they didn’t pass their boldness and resilience tests and couldn’t therefore be accepted for an Initial Police dog course.

I am desperately disappointed for the puppy walkers because they all put so much time and effort into developing and raising their pups.

Here we all are on our farm visit which is always a favourite of mine. All of the pups were very confident and well behaved.

I am surprised that more of them didn’t progress to become Police dogs because they all did so well during their development period. Also both parents have excellent all round qualities.

Naturally we would have liked more Police dogs from the litter but on this occasion the combination didn’t work as it did with our A, B and C litters.  But they were still an excellent example of healthy good looking German Shepherds with good temperaments.

Dizzy and Donna were kept by their puppy walkers and Duke and Daisy both went to excellent new homes. All 4 pups are doing well in their new homes.

Devon and Danno had been consistent performers throughout their development period and both were selected to start the September 2017 Initial Police dog course.

They were allocated to their new handlers Kevin Roberts and Kevin Riger a couple of months before the course to prepare and bond. Here are Devon (Left) and Danno (Right) at the start of the course.

Unfortunately Danno was released from the course in week 6 because he didn’t seem to have enough focus and determination on some of the exercises.

Kevin Roberts and Devon successfully passed their course and are pictured here with puppy walkers Lindsay and Anthony.

About Danno

After being released from the course Danno came home to live with me to give me time to assess him and decide on the best possible future home for him.

Even though he knows me well I could see he had lost confidence and was affected by having been moved from his handler Kevin who he clearly adored. 

My 10 month old female Ella certainly helped him to settle in with lots of chase me games and they quickly became good pals.

With regular play sessions and regular walks with me he really came out of himself and as is so often the case he has become a different dog.

I have been doing a lot of the exercises with him that he was doing on the Initial Police dog course because he loves to work and engage and like all energetic dogs he needs an outlet for his energy.

The issue of a lack of a determination and focus that he had displayed on the course has not been a problem since he has been with me.

On the contrary his determination and focus has been outstanding which would tend to suggest to me that he had found aspects of the course stressful.

In the 3 months he has been with me I have found him to be a very sweet natured dog who clearly doesn’t want to upset anyone and would do anything to avoid conflict with his handler or owner.

He will stay close to me and is always looking to me for guidance or the opportunity to play.

He has met young puppies that I have brought to the house and he is very gentle and friendly towards them. He is an absolute gentleman with my 10 month old female Ella and he will regularly step aside and allow her access to the water bowl or a bone rather than have an argument.

He enjoys being groomed, I can examine any part of his body, he is happy being lifted up, he readily gives up his toy, allows you into his food bowl and will even give up a juicy marrow bone without a hint of possessiveness.

He loves his home comforts and is very persistent in letting me know when he would like something from his toy box.

He is not a nervous dog with regard to the environment ie sights, sounds, noises etc but he does have a mistrust of strangers.

He can become uncomfortable when on a lead if people he doesn’t know come too close, stare at him or try to stroke him. This is without doubt due to a lack of confidence although you wouldn’t have thought so seeing him at the Devon county show.

Off lead this doesn’t occur because he doesn’t feel trapped. In fact in the garden he will happily run down to our gate to investigate delivery persons and there isn’t a hint of aggression from him.

Even on lead providing he is setting the agenda and he is comfortable there is no issue with him.

Because he is a dog who is alert to every sight and sound and has a mistrust of some strangers he would be described in working circles as a dog having an edge or sharpness in his character.

There are dogs like him who are very successful in Service dog sections because they are highly aware and switched on. But if that sharpness is not built on confidence then no matter how good they are in their work in my opinion it is a mistake to train such dogs to bite people.

Quite the opposite such a dog needs as much socialisation as possible to improve his confidence and make him more relaxed with people in all circumstances. Danno is pictured here with puppy walker Luke in the navy cap.

I have no doubt with careful management and with a handler who understands him and has his trust he could still pass a Police dog course but in my opinion it would be the wrong career for him. Here he is tracking with puppy walker Mitzi.

Danno would be happiest as a companion dog with a kind understanding handler/owner /family who I know he would adore. But equally he needs someone with experience of handling a large energetic dog. Here he is again with Mitzi.

I have started the process of socialisation in and amongst strangers and already he is improving in confidence every time I take him out. Initially he was a bit of a puller on lead and so work was needed in a quiet area with no distractions.

It was very important that Danno understood what was required of him ie walking in a relaxed manner on a loose lead without pulling BEFORE going that into a more distracting environment.

It is quite stressful for a dog going into busy city centres and so it is important that the dog can relax and enjoy the experience.

Knowing exactly what is required of him/her ie walking on a loose lead and ignoring distractions is important and so are regular breaks to relax and interact with the handler. Regular titbits for good walking and stopping in different positions also improve the experience.

Also good communication ie letting your dog know you are pleased with his performance is also very important. Little and often is also going to make him to want to repeat the experience.

Its been much easier for me to achieve speedy results because of the excellent work already carried out on the Initial Police dog course with his previous handler Kevin and trainer Graham.

I will be sorry to part with this delightful dog but in my current role I regularly have dogs on assessment which makes it difficult for me to give him the attention and time that he needs. Here he is with puppy walkers Colin and Mitzi.

Ideally I think he would be happiest in his own home where he is the only dog.

He does get on with other dogs but he is the type of dog who craves the one on one attention and pleasure that he would derive from it just being him and his adored leader and owner.

Here he is on another training day with puppy walkers Colin and Mitzi

One thing is for sure his puppy walkers Colin and Mitzi couldn’t have done more in terms of giving their time, training, socialisation and a loving home.

That is true of all of the puppy walkers of the D litter and I have many great memories of our time together.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my puppy walkers with the D litter for their hard work and dedication.  I would also like to thank everyone who has provided a loving home to all the pups from the D litter.

Anyone wishing to give Danno a home can contact me on 07494407037. Or alternatively you can
email me on glenno1954@icloud.com

From Danno, Ella and me bye for now.