Thursday 22 February 2018

In this blog: Bill, Ben and Elsa, new pups and a Sacha update

  • Bill and Ben enjoy their first training day and Elsa is assessed on her suitability to be a police dog

  • New pups Lulu and Lola arrive from Lorokmor

  • Sasha prepares for the imminent arrival of her litter


The boys had a great training day and took everything in their stride. Left to right are puppy walkers Lyn and Dave with TPD Ben and Chris and his son Jake with TPD Bill.

Bill and Ben were acquired from Lorokmor working kennels for our January 2019 Initial Police dog course.

In addition to training Bill and Ben I also invited Elsa for an individual assessment which I will explain about later in the blog. They were both very confident on meeting Elsa for the first time and I thought Elsa demonstrated remarkable tolerance towards them.

Their first training day included an introduction to tracking, the recall to handler, adopting the sit and downs positions, and negotiating agility obstacles.

We started with the very early stages of getting the pup to recall to his/her handler at speed. For me this is probably the most important exercise for all dogs.

Obviously the puppy walkers are practising play recall’s all the time at home for a titbit. At the class we start with one person holding the puppy on a non-tangle line and the puppy walker letting the puppy know that they have a toy or titbit.

The puppy walker then runs backwards calling the puppies name in a high pitched voice and the word ‘come’ and crouching down as the puppy arrives to play or take the titbit.

The pups will eventually do this alongside the other pups.

Here is Ben practising his recall with Dave and Lyn.

Next we did some sit and down work again using titbits.

We then introduced the pups to the agility equipment which includes various ramps and a tunnel. We obviously can’t do proper agility with the pups because of growing joints but we can use various obstacles to build confidence and resilience.

We then finished with an introduction to tracking. We do this exercise on every session because the vast majority of a Police dogs work involves following the trails of fleeing criminals and vulnerable missing persons.

Most dogs from working backgrounds will instinctively follow the trails of animals or people. We school them to follow only the footsteps of people by initially placing titbits in every footstep of the tracklayer.

As the dog becomes more proficient he/she makes the association that following footsteps is rewarding and the food is gradually phased out.

The dog then tracks for his/her toy hidden on the track or for a person hidden at the end of the track.

Next time we will introduce article searching.


Elsa with her puppy walkers Steve and Maria.

Elsa will be 12 months old on the 4th of March and although she isn’t due to go on her Initial Police dog course until September 2018 I wanted to assess her boldness and working aptitude just in case she is needed on the current Initial Police dog course

Here she is waiting patiently for her turn to track.

It is unlikely that she will be required as the dogs on the course (which includes her brother Eric) all seem to be doing very well.

I assessed her article searching, tracking and criminal work which were all exceptional for a dog of her age.

Here she is demonstrating desire, focus and determination on her track.

Her criminal work is very determined and confident.

All of our dogs before going on an Initial Police dog course have to undergo several boldness tests to give us an idea how they will react to a threat or something unusual happening.

We know that dogs are not fully mature until they are between 2 and 3 years of age and so we take into account their lack of maturity when we perform these tests.

This is Rika one of our operational dogs performing one of these tests when she was 12 months old. She is running through the woods off lead when a flowerpot man fly’s into the air taking her by surprise. Some dogs run a mile and will not go near the flowerpot man after the shock.

We have an area in Plymouth with various equipment where we perform these tests but today we were at HQ and so I had to improvise.

So on this occasion I asked the puppy walker to walk into an area with his dog running free and most importantly not on a lead.

I wanted to see her reaction to someone strange wearing a mask slowly emerging from some bushes.

We know that most young dogs will take flight to give them time to evaluate the situation.

We are assessing whether the dog is able to regain its composure and whether it will join its handler who walks over to talk to the individual who then removes the mask.

Elsa’s reaction was text book she didn’t take flight, stood her ground and backed her handler up.

Knowing her as I do I wasn’t at all surprised. She is a very impressive female and a credit to her breeder.

I have been so impressed with Elsa I believe she should be one of our breeding females for the future.


Last week I collected Lulu and Lola from Lorokmor kennels in Shropshire for our January 2019 Initial Police dog course. ( Lulu is the pup with her paws on the flowerpot )They will join Bill & Ben who were also acquired from Lorokmor for the Jan 2019 course.

The owner of Lorokmor Ian owns and competes in the sport of KNPV in Holland with both the mother and father of our pups Lulu and Lola. The mother is Dutch herder Gin
and the father is Malinois Paco

They were very quiet on the journey back to my house and immediately on arrival at our house they set of to explore the garden.

They both slept well overnight and the following morning they continued to explore in a lovely crisp frost.

I was interested to see how they would react to meeting my German shepherd Ella who I know is very good with pups.

Lola was very confident but Lulu certainly wasn’t hanging around. This set the tone for the next few days with Lola very confident with every situation she met and Lula not so.

So after a light breakfast and an hour running around the garden it was time for the pups to set off to

Plymouth to meet their new puppy walkers.

I already had a pretty good idea about their individual characters from their time with me but before allocating the pups my friend Graham Mabbutt a very experienced puppy assessor was keen to take a look at the pups.

We let them have a run down on the lawn at his house to spend a penny and it was interesting watching them explore where the ducks congregate by the river.

Lola assessed as a very confident, playful, determined and calm puppy giving every indication she will be a very good working Police dog.

I find it quite incredible that 86 year old Graham still has such a burning passion for dogs. In this picture he hasn’t collapsed he just likes to put the pup at ease to give her/him every chance to relax and demonstrate his/her working aptitude.

Lulu assessed as a very happy busy delightful little puppy but she lacked the determination, confidence and steel exhibited by her sister Lola.

I have no doubt she will become much more confident with time but she definitely has a cautious nature and will avoid situations she is unsure of.

Next it was off to allocate the pups to their new walkers. Here is Lola meeting new puppy walker
Karol with his sister Christina, mum Anna and dad Steve.

The next stop was to allocate Lulu to Margaret. Lulu is seen here with Margaret and her grandchildren Erin and Ellis.

Erin and Ellis couldn’t resist having their own cuddle with little Lulu.

Both pups have settled well into their new homes. I visited both pups on Wednesday this week to see how they were getting on.

Here is little Lola in the garden looking for her reward having just spent a penny.

Karol and his family told me that Lola has really settled in and doesn’t seem afraid of anything. It was obvious watching her that she is just as she was on the assessment. Very forward, confident playful and very determined.

She is also very independent not interested in cuddles or fuss. She was completely unfazed by the hoover.

My visit was quite short lived because Lola had to go for a follow up vets appointment because she is drinking excessive amounts of water. We are awaiting blood and urine test results. I was amazed at the way she swaggered down the road to the car as if she owned the neighbourhood.

Next I popped in to see Lulu and Margaret.

I really like Lulu’s happy little character; she is such a friendly people orientated puppy.
She is a very alert dog with high energy levels. But I did witness further evidence of her cautious nature particularly when she heard the hoover switched on from a distance.

Her cautious nature and inability to forget an unpleasant experience causes me to question whether she has the type of character needed to be a General purpose Police dog.

I think she will be a delightful dog to own and will be a very active dog who will need an outlet for her energy such as dog trials or dog sport.

I have outlined my doubts to puppy walker Margaret who fully understands the situation. Margaret is happy to see if things change over the coming weeks and hopefully I am mistaken and end up eating humble pie. (Which won't be the first time or the last )

Lulu eventually crashed out in the kitchen and so I took the opportunity to make my exit.

It will be very interesting to see how they both develop.


Sasha has started all the signs of her imminent whelping as she regularly visits her likely den’s in and around the garden.

I have to make sure I do not leave the van door open because once she gets in there she won’t come out. She obviously thinks I might take her to work.

She insists on her daily walks to the orchard at Killerton.

We don’t think she is having many pups as only two were seen on the scan. The main thing is that mother and pups are healthy and well. I will leave you with Sasha relaxing in the sun today giving her pups an early blast of sunshine.

Sasha does tolerate my female Ella but I have to exercise them separately because I can see that Sasha is nervous of Ella who whizzes around everywhere and could accidently bump into her.

Next time I hope to have some good news to tell you about Sasha and a report on our visit to the farm on Sunday for Merlin, Henry, Quini, Quest and Peppe.

From Sasha and Ella bye for now.

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