Monday 11 February 2019

An Update On All Of The Pups In Our Puppy Program And Sydney Retires With His Puppy Walker Phil

Errol, Ernie And Echo

From left to right are Errol, Ernie and Echo from our E litter who were born on the 23/2/18. These pups are being developed for our September 2019 General purpose Initial Police dog course.

We started with 5 pups from our E litter which included Eddie and Eyke. We released Eddie just before Xmas having decided that being a Police dog was probably not the life for Eddie.

If a pup has to be released from our program we always offer first refusal to our puppy walkers at no cost if they wish to keep their pup. Puppy walkers Alaina and Ryan were disappointed that he didn’t progress but were delighted to keep him.

Eyke was the other member of the original 5 and I am very happy to report that because of an unexpected vacancy on the January 2019 Initial Police dog course Eyke was fast tracked onto the course and is now in week 4 of the 13 week long course.


Errol is pictured here with puppy walkers Sue and Andy. Errol is a very steady performer and although he hasn’t always been the boldest in the group he has really come on in the last few months. Here he is practising his stays with puppy walker Andy.

As a puppy Errol was always the food monster and that hasn’t changed. It has been a simple task getting Errol to track with a real intensity using food drops. He is going to be an excellent tracking dog.


Ernie pictured here with puppy walker Dave didn’t have the best start in life because through no fault of his he had 3 different puppy walkers. Dave and Viv are his current puppy walkers and have given him the stability that all pups need.

Just like his brother Eyke he is a bit of a tough nut and definitely a challenge but I think he will relish the work of a Police dog and will be devoted to his handler.

This is a video of him undergoing his boldness assessment. A Police dog has to be able to deal with all sorts of unnerving experiences without panicking. This was a perfect reaction for such a young dog.


Echo pictured here with puppy walkers Michelle and Paul is a pocket rocket. What she lacks in size she more than makes up with her tenacity, determination and her feisty character.

Just like her brothers she is also going to be an excellent tracking dog which is the main skill and attribute required by our dog handlers.

Errol, Ernie and Echo are all environmentally confident and are doing extremely well on all of their training exercises. Considering they still have over 6 months to go before their Initial Police dog course they will be starting at an exceptional level.

Nico, Nicki And Nero

Nico, Nicki and Nero were born on the 10th of June 2018 and were bred by Bernard Horton of Kazzardsway German shepherds in Manchester. We already have 2 recently licensed Police dogs from Bernard in Oppo ( Previously Eric) and Nessa. ( Previously Elsa)

These 3 pups are also earmarked for our September 2019 Initial Police dog course. We also have 2 more of Bernard’s dogs in our youngest group Jay and Arnie.

I am a real fan of the pups we have had from Bernard because they do seem to have that quiet confidence, calmness, balanced temperament, willingness and sensible drive so hard to find in German shepherds these days.

Here is Nero watching Mary Poppins.

Unfortunately the modern German shepherd is beset with every conceivable health problem which together with their tendency to be wildly over excitable means that service dog trainers are having to rely more and more on alternative breeds such as the Malinois and Dutch herder.


Nico is pictured here with first time puppy walkers Karen and Rod who live in Bampton. They have put a lot of time and effort into Nico as do all of our puppy walkers. Here is Karen (centre) working on his down stay exercise and his heelwork.

He is becoming a very powerful dog now and just as we have to do with a lot of the pups when they get to 6 to 7 months we have started to train him to walk on a figure of 8 head collar.

All of his exercises ie tracking, puppy bite-work, searching, and control work are excellent. Here is Nico on his first puppy bite-work session with Rod.


Nicki is pictured here with puppy walker Margaret who has puppy walked several puppies for the force and regularly helps out with short term placements when puppy walkers go on holiday or short breaks.

Margaret lives alone and so doesn’t have anyone to help with training in between our fortnightly development sessions. She has still managed to get Nicky up to a very good level and particularly with her tracking.

Unfortunately Margaret recently fell off a step ladder while clearing the overflow on her garage and badly dislocated her shoulder. Sadly Margaret isn’t going to be able to continue puppy walking Nicki but hopes that she will be able to continue looking after the smaller pups when walkers go on holiday.

Nicki is a very nice natured puppy who is a pleasure to own and just loves meeting people. But when it comes to tenacity and attitude she is certainly not going to be a soft touch. She can be very assertive when she needs to be as I found out on our very first puppy bite-work session.

I would like to thank my part time helpers Steve Pearce and Mary Downs who always help me out at short notice and looked after Nicki while I found a new home for her after Margaret’s unfortunate accident.

Nicki has gone to new puppy walkers Sara, Simon and children Issi and Marc in Exeter and has settled in very well indeed. It wasn’t the ideal start because Nicki came into season on the day she joined her new puppy walking family.


Nero is pictured here with puppy walkers Chris, Lindsay and Henry. Just like his siblings Nero has excellent working qualities and particularly with regard to his natural tracking potential.

Tracking or trailing after a criminal fleeing a crime scene or a vulnerable missing person make up a large percentage of a dog handlers work. For this reason I have recently concentrated on teaching our puppy walkers how to lay and run their own tracks so that they can practise this skill between our fortnightly training sessions.

If you can get this exercise ingrained into the puppy from an early age it can greatly assist in developing them into an exceptional operational tracking dog.
Here is a video of Chris and Nero tracking.


Nico, Nero And Nicki are pictured here on our last training day.

Considering how young they are they have already achieved 

Rana, Jay, Ginny, Arnie, Rebel And Rogue

These are our youngest group of pups pictured on Sunday on our visit to Saundercroft farm. They are earmarked for our January 2020 Initial Police dog course. From left to right are Rana, Jay, Ginny, Arnie, Rebel and Rogue.

All of the pups were very confident, calm and sensible meeting all of the various animals. Rana was a little bit vocal and reactive to start with but that was understandable because unlike all the other pups who we acquired at 8 weeks Rana arrived at 15 weeks missing out on a valuable part of her socialisation period.

I imported Rana who has just turned 5 months from Belgium just before Xmas.

Brothers Jay and Arnie were bred by Bernard Horton of Kazzardsway German shepherds and are also just over 5 months old.

Rebel, Rogue and Ginny are brothers and sister and were supplied by Ian Morgan of Lorockmor Working dogs in Shropshire. They have just turned 6 months.

Ian also provided Merlin who licensed in December 2018 and he also provided Bill and Ben who are both doing well on the current Initial Police dog course which is now in week 4.


Rana is pictured with puppy walkers Colin and Mitzi who are experienced puppy walkers for the force and live in Newton Abbott.

I acquired Rana because of her excellent breeding which I hope will enhance our program. She is going to be a very assertive dog which was in evidence on our farm visit where she was reacting very vocally to the animals she had obviously never seen before.

Colin and Mitzi’s son Luke did some excellent work distracting her with control exercises and titbits until she became bored and more confident.


Jay is pictured here with first time puppy walkers Stewart and Alison who live in Crediton. Jay is named after their son Jamie who was tragically killed on his motorbike in 2014 whilst travelling home on leave from the Royal Signals.

Jay is doing Jamie proud and it is obvious to me that Jay is giving Stewart and Alison a lot of pleasure and enjoyment.

He has all the characteristics that I look for in potential Police dog and just takes everything in his stride.


Arnie is pictured here with first time puppy walkers Andy and his family who live in Plymouth.

Arnie is very similar to his brother Jay in that he also takes everything in his stride. He is not as bold as his brother but he is a generally confident dog with good working drives and I can see the improvements in his development each time I see him.

He has natural tracking ability and he is definitely a steady but determined dog who when he sets his mind to something he doesn’t give up. Here he is demonstrating those qualities whilst searching for his toy.



Rebel is pictured here with very experienced puppy walkers Terry and Jill who live in Exeter. Rebel was a little cautious of all the other pups when we first got him but that now seems to have disappeared and during our farm visit he was very confident with everything he encountered.

He was more interested in eating sheep droppings and the cows animal feed rather than worrying about what the animals were doing.

Rebel has a lovely temperament and has really strong working potential. He does have one negative in that he will chase his tail quite excessively if he gets excited or bored. It is improving but it is definitely a work in progress.

Keeping him busy is the key and when he joins all of his buddies like sister Ginny there is no sign of it.


Rogue is pictured here with puppy walkers Lyn, John and Ian who live in Plymouth.

Rogue is very aptly named because he is definitely not a dog who is going to be suited to a novice handler.

He is a very strong willed determined dog who when Lyn first got him would instinctively attempt to guard any possession he felt was his.

Fortunately our most experienced puppy walker Lyn has plenty of experience of this and the boundaries have been well and truly drawn. Rogue is a much happier dog for this but his next handler will have to earn this respect from Rogue. 

I was very impressed with Rogue’s sensible and calm attitude on our farm visit. However he is devoted to Lyn’s grandson Jack and because Jack was having such a great day charging around  Rogue was getting agitated not at the animals but because he wanted to be with Jack.


Ginny is pictured here with first time puppy walkers Marian and Keith who live in Exeter. Ginny didn’t have the best start because she had 2 puppy walkers in her first month and was a little unsettled when Marian and Keith took her.

They have done a first class job socialising her and getting her out and about which was just what she needed. She is a very confident female with very high energy levels which means she is always on the go.

She certainly loves her tracking exercise and just like her brothers Rebel and Rogue she is going to be an excellent tracking dog.

Its very much a joint effort with Marian and Keith which makes things a bit easier with a high drive dog like Ginny.

Like all the pups in the  group Ginny enjoyed her day at the farm and was a credit to the puppy program.


Going forward I am very pleased with all of our 12 pups. It never fails to amaze me just how much hard work and dedication our unpaid puppy walkers put into their pups.

For example on our Xmas get together on December 23rd we had 13 out 14 of our puppy walkers turn up with their pups and over 50 supporters and helpers which I think is quite extraordinary.

If we can keep everyone together and continue with our progress the standard of these pups starting their Initial Police dog course could be the best we have ever had.

I will leave you with some video’s of our day on the farm which will give you an insight of how the day went.

My thanks as always to Andi Darby, Simon, young Will and mum Jean for allowing us all to intrude on their farm and for their time, help and hospitality.

Sadly Sydney Has Had To Leave The Program Because Of A Fear Of Shiny Floors

Sydney is pictured above with his puppy walker and best friend Phil Ash. They have been joined at the hip since I allocated Sydney aged 15 weeks to Phil on the 4th April 2018 having brought him over from Holland.

From the start he has been one of our best pups in terms of his environmental confidence, working ability and fantastic temperament.

At 8 months we assessed him on all types of shiny floors, stairs, escalators and he was totally confident on all.

At 12 months Sydney was allocated to his handler for the start of the 2019 January Initial Police dog course but on day 2 of the course he wouldn’t go onto certain types of floor in our training building.

My instinct immediately told me it was probably this strange phenomenon that some dogs can suffer from ie a fear of going onto certain types of floor surface.

For some bizarre reason it often doesn’t materialise until the dog is between 10 and 18 months. I have witnessed dozens of such cases and I took a female that I raised from a pup who developed it at 12 months to a veterinary optical specialist.

He told me that they don’t know why it occurs and that it is probably genetic and develops when the brain and eye mature.

We took Sydney back to his puppy walker just in case it was the stress of being parted from the one person he absolutely adored. Phil let him relax for several weeks and then came back up to Exeter.

Sydney spent an hour running in the snow with my female Ella to relax him and we then took him into Exeter city centre.

In Exeter he immediately refused to go on any floor with reflective light on it.

I found it very emotional seeing Sydney so terrified to go onto this floor but because of this incredible bond and trust that they share together he went over to Phil. I knew immediately that this was the end of Sydney’s Police career.

We cant justify the expense of a 13 week course knowing that he probably could never go on to be a dog who could work with our Tactical firearms officers searching buildings.

One of our Instructors in the Police dog training school Phil Wilson has done a lot of good work with dogs who have developed this problem after completing their Initial Police dog course with very good results.

I didn’t need to ask if puppy walker Phil wanted to keep Sydney as I knew the answer to that one. They will carry on with their celebrity status because everyone knows Sydney in Perrenporth where they live.

I wish them all the luck in the world and it has been such a pleasure knowing and working with them.

From Me and Ella bye for now

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