Thursday 23 January 2020

In todays blog: - An update on the development and progress of the f litter

Today’s blog is all about the F litter with an update on just what they have been doing during December and January this year. Pictured above are TPD Finni, TPD Franky and TPD Flint on one of our fortnightly training sessions.

December and January has been a busy couple of months for our F litter puppy walking teams.
In addition to our fortnightly development group sessions we have also conducted individual loose lead walking sessions, held our Xmas puppy day and introduced criminal work and person searching into our training.

For those of you who are new to our blog the F litter were born on the 21st of June 2019. There were 9 pups in the litter and we have retained all of them for our Police puppy program.

Here are the teams.

TPD Finni with puppy walkers Mitzi and Colin.

TPD Fendi with puppy walker Sarah.

TPD Freya with puppy walkers Phil and Jeanette.

TPD Flo with mum Ella at our house.

From the moment the F litter was born I  decided to run on one of the pups TPD Flo and that she would live with me and Ella.  There were two reasons I decided to do this. One was that I just enjoy training a young pup. The other was that I could then use TPD Flo to demonstrate to the other puppy walkers what we were trying to achieve.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to fully achieve this because in my role as the Canine development officer I regularly have dogs living with me on assessment and I haven’t always been able to give TPD Flo the time and socialisation she needed.

As a compromise I asked Chris Walter a regular helper and puppy walker to look after TPD Flo for me for short periods when I had dogs to assess and look after. Chris would have loved to take TPD Flo full time but with his 7 month old son William to look after that would have been too much.

Here is Chris with TPD Flo and his young son William.

I should also mention Chris’s older son Henry who has also helped out with TPD Flo and many other pups on training days. Here is a slightly younger TPD Flo with Chris and Henry.

TPD Franky with puppy walker Rich.

TPD Flint with puppy walkers Sarah and Dave.

TPD Fozzy with puppy walkers Lyn and John.

TPD Floyd with puppy walker Simon and daughter Krista.

TPD Freddy with puppy walker Rod.

Our puppies are allocated to our volunteer puppy walking families at 8 weeks. They then live with the family whose primary objective is to socialise and introduce them to as many different situations and circumstances as possible until they are between 12 and 18 months when they leave the family to go to their Police dog handler.

Here they all are with mum Ella and dad PD Drake and their new puppy walkers at our house where they were born and bred aged 8 weeks.
We recognise that our pups are extremely energetic and highly driven pups who need much more physical and mental stimulation than the average pet puppy.

To help the puppy walkers we run voluntary fortnightly puppy development classes where we show our puppy walkers how to channel that energy through play and also start to develop some of the core exercises that they will undertake as operational Police dogs.

Since they started training classes at 11 weeks of age their training has included Focus exercises like the recall, retrieve, the sit & down stay, letting go of a possession on command, searching for a toy and also tracking or following a trail. Here they all are on their first training day.

Their parents PD Drake and Ella are both excellent working dogs with particular ability in tracking or trailing.

Here is TPD Freya patiently waiting for her turn to track and already showing natural ability to follow a track on a training day in December.

I always try to include a tracking session on all of our developmental training days because all Police dog handlers require an excellent tracking dog to locate criminals and vulnerable missing persons.

Here is Ian with TPD Fozzy already showing the intense concentration needed to be a top tracking dog which seems natural to all of the litter.

In December the pups were 6 months old and almost adult size which necessitated additional individual training to make sure that the puppy walkers are able to walk their dogs on a lead without being pulled all over the place.

TPD Floyd and Simon showing here perfect environmental heelwork where the dog is fully under the handlers control walking on a loose lead.

Simon was also able to demonstrate that he can pick TPD Floyd up with him remaining relaxed and fully accepting of constriction.

Up until now the pups have been allowed to meet lots of people and other dogs in the socialisation process. But now that they are nearly fully grown and no longer cute puppies we have to bring in more control. Here is TPD Freddy with Rod walking beautifully.

The dogs now have to learn that they must pass other dogs and ignore them and that they shouldn’t pull over to every person that they meet on their walks.

Here is TPD Franky with Rich, TPD Fendi with Sarah and TPD Freya with Jeanette all working on walking with their dogs under control.

When in areas such as parks or beaches we school the dogs to walk on a long line using our foot as a brake to stop the dogs trying to charge over to other dogs and distractions. Here I am demonstrating the technique with TPD Freya.

This type of training needs to be done individually and is carried out in addition to our group classes. It is ongoing and will be repeated again in early February.

On the 22nd of December we had our Xmas puppy class at Caddihoe scout camp for all the pups and their puppy walkers.

The Xmas challenge was for all of the puppy walkers to lay a trail for their own pup and they then had to go and get their dog to run the track. Although it was a straightforward 50 metre straight line the fact that all the puppy walkers set off at the same time was a challenge in itself.

There was the reward of a pig’s ear for the successful completion of the track. I’m happy to say that all of the pups successfully completed their track and gratefully accepted their pigs ear.

Each team had two further challenges. One was to complete a 100 metre recall and a 30 metre retrieve of their toy. Each handler had to get their pup to return with the toy and to release it on command.

TPD Floyd was the overall winner of the combined 3 challenges. But then TPD Floyd does like to be in the driving seat.

My thanks to everyone who brought Xmas drinks, cakes and mince pies for us all to enjoy in between training exercises.

After a very enjoyable and successful Xmas training session here we all are making our way for our group photo.

After Xmas our first training session in 2020 was again up at Caddihoe scout camp where as always we concentrated on our tracking training. We changed the training from tracking for food on the track to having a toy hidden at the end of the track.

Here I am explaining to Simon the new routine with TPD Floyd becoming bored and frustrated because he just wants to get going.

Once he does get going note the intense concentration and focus.

It will take a few more sessions until the dogs realise they are tracking for their toy instead of food. We then did some article searching in the woods which all the dogs loved.

I then gave a demonstration with TPD Flo of focus work, heelwork and the stay exercises for the other walkers to practise between sessions.

Our most recent training day last week took place at Mamhead house which is a beautiful setting. The weather was absolutely atrocious on the first day for TPD Flint and TPD Freya with gail force winds and driving rain.

TPD Flint didn’t worry about that and made it very clear as soon as he arrived it was time to get started.

Despite the conditions both dogs completed excellent tracks but I was unable to film them because the camera would have been waterlogged.

On this series of training sessions I introduced the start of criminal work and also the start of searching for hidden persons in a building. TPD Flint was well up for the introduction of criminal work.

Here is Sarah practising her down stay with TPD Flint.

TPD Fozzy’s puppy walkers Lyn and John couldn’t make this training session as they were away for 10 days. Terry and Jill pictured here on the left have volunteered to look after him while they are away.  TPD Fendi with Sarah are centre and TPD Flo with Chris on the right.

I was really pleased with the tracking performance of all of the dogs who attended the latest training session because the area we used had recently had a herd of deer pass over it and it was impossible to see the track meaning the handlers had to have total trust in their dogs.

Here is Sarah with TPD Fendi showing excellent concentration whilst tracking.

I would like to give a special mention to Terry and Jill both in their mid-seventies who have only just finished puppy walking TPD Rebel who is on the current Initial Police dog course.

Terry had a heart attack just before Xmas but I’m happy to say that he is now on the mend. Volunteering to help out with TPD Fozzy is just so typical of the incredible commitment of Terry and Jill over many years to our puppy program.

TD Rebel will be the 12th puppy that they have puppy walked.

Here is TPD Fozzy tracking with Terry.

The pups are now 7 months old and are over their teething issues. They are physically much stronger and are now at an age where we can progress and develop their training further. Having started their criminal work and person searching the sessions will become more and more exciting over the coming months.

TPD Fozzy was extremely determined on his first introduction to the puppy bite bar.

TPD Floyd is pictured here on the introduction to Person searching where we train the dogs to bark to alert their handlers that they have located someone.
( Show Pic 34)

Here are the double act TPD Floyd with Simon and TPD Franky with Rich practising their sit and focus.

Here are TPD Franky with Rich and TPD Floyd with Simon practising their down stay.

I have included a  video of TPD Franky with Rich who made a difficult track with 3 deviations included look very easy.

I would like to thank all of our puppy walkers for their dedication and hard work preparing the F litter. Potentially there are a lot of handlers needing dogs for the September 2020 Initial Police dog course and so we are going to be busy getting the F litter ready over the coming months.

TPD Freddy has to move on to new puppy walkers

TPD Freddy has been puppy walked by Karen and Rod. ( Show Pic 38) Sadly Rod is having some health issues and is unable to give TPD Freddy the exercise and time he needs. Karen and Rod are devastated to give him up.

They successfully puppy walked PD Nico who graduated on our last Police dog course in December and wanted to see it through with TPD Freddy. I would like to thank them both for all of their hard work and some great memories raising both dogs.

TPD Freddy has gone to Andy Parsons and his family in Plymouth. Andy successfully puppy walked

TPD  Arnie who is on the current Initial Police dog course with handler Dean Barker.

Here is TPD Freddy having already settled in with Andy and his family.

I know that Andy will keep in touch with Karen and Rod about TPD Freddy’s progress and so will I.

TPD Ace is still waiting for a handler

I reported in my last blog that TPD Ace who has been kindly donated to the force by the Kurn family in Liskeard would be staying with me until a handler could be identified for him. He is a wonderful dog and I have no doubt he has all the qualities to make an outstanding Police dog.

He gets on well with my dog Ella and has settled well into the house.

But he is a dog who needs to be stimulated both mentally and physically and more importantly should have his own handler full time. The current Initial Police dog course is in week 3 with all 3 dogs doing well.

Hopefully that will continue but that will mean that we may have to find TPD Ace a suitable handler in another Police force. It would be a big loss to our Alliance but we must do what is right for TPD Ace.

My next blog will be an update on how TPD Rebel, TPD Arnie and TPD Jay are getting on with their Initial Police dog course. I also hope to be able to report that TPD Rana and TPD Ernie have qualified as operational Police dogs after completing a short finalisation course.

From Ella and me bye for now. 

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