Sunday, 27 May 2012

Dog days

Wednesday's training session for Ellie was held outside in the sun, which was a lot harder than it being held inside. Ellie was very distracted by all of the smells and kept trying to eat the cut grass and turning her nose up at the treats I had. Everyone else's treats were more appetising, apparently.

With the weather picking up and temperatures soaring, we've been walking earlier this weekend. But I think it may need to be even earlier next week if it keeps up!

Yesterday we just did the field walk again, and the dogs were happy with this. Until we met a woman we've met before, with her two dogs, Dexter & Molly. She was walking with her boyfriend and his two dogs, who were friendly enough, although Ellie didn't think so. She was a bit afraid of the boxer dog, and when he tried to play chase with her, she just took off and ran down the hill. He came back, but Ellie was nowhere in sight, so I had to backtrack a bit and get her to come to me. She hadn't gone far, luckily, but she was very tired after her run. But wouldn't take any water from me just then, as the other dogs were still there and she was wary that she was going to be chased again.

Despite that little incident, the rest of the walk was good. Then we came home and both dogs had a nice shower outside from the hose to cool them down. Ellie was not impressed.

A couple of photos from yesterday's walk:

Ellie hanging out in the grass before 'The Chase'
Pepper found something funny
Oscar relaxing with his ball
There was water in this exact spot last week

Ellie posing nicely

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Today's walk

Today, we repeated the walk from yesterday. Along the riverside path and up to the fields.
We spent some time on the school field, while Ellie and Oscar chased the tennis balls and Pepper rooted about in the hedgerows. Unfortunately, while rooting about, Pepper unearthed a dead rabbit which she proceeded to eat - more work is clearly needed on her "leave it!" command! As the rabbit was in a hedge, and the field that backs onto the school field is not a used farmer's field, I'm hoping that the rabbit died of either natural causes or at the teeth of a fox or something. We'll keep an eye on her for any ill effects. So far she seems fine.

Rabbit incident aside, it was a nice walk. Much warmer than yesterday and less windy. All three dogs had a nice run through the field, and even discovered a ball on a rope that had obviously been lost by someone else. I always take our balls off the dogs when we go into that field as the grass grows so long that it's very easy to lose them. We don't have regular tennis balls that are easy to replace. We have practice cricket balls, which look like tennis balls, but are more solid. I've spent so much on normal tennis balls, only for them to be punctured by the dogs' teeth and then ripped apart, so when I found the cricket balls, I decided that they'd be worth a shot. Obviously, when throwing them, I'm careful not to hit any of the dogs considering that they're much harder than a regular tennis ball.

Again, I took my camera with me and took a few shots. None using the hi-speed burst this time as the quality of those weren't great.

Thinking about entering this shot into a competition.

Ellie with the newly found ball on a rope

Oscar was not up for posing today

Sniffing the grass

Ellie is not a natural poser

Ellie investigating the camera

Pepper with a typical Springer pose?

Pepper in her favourite place

A few more pictures of Ellie than normal. She moves far too fast to be captured easily on camera!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Rainy day walk

I woke up this morning to rain. After a fairly mild week, it obviously decided to rain today when I can take the pups for their long walk.

Still, it didn't matter to us. Pepper loves to go out in the rain and Ellie just likes to be out. So we set off, deciding to do the field walk today. It starts much the same as all our other walks, along by the river. But instead of continuing past the running track, we cross over it and into some disused farmer's fields. They're very popular with dog walkers, but they were empty today.

Pepper and Ellie had a great time running through the long grass and came back just as wet as they would have done if they'd been swimming. My camera came along for the walk, and I had a play about with the hi-speed burst function as I wanted to try and get some pictures of the dogs running. Most of them turned out blurry, but I got some decent ones.
A regular image of Pepper in long grass

Probably my favourite shot of the day

Stopping for a snack


Enjoying a run

A result of the hi-speed shutter burst

No prizes for guessing what Pepper wants to do here

A decent shot somewhat spoiled by Oscar's tail!

There's Oscar

All in all, a nice walk, with the rain eventually stopping.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Doggy daycare - a changed opinion

So, the place where we go to training classes is primarily a doggy daycare centre. I've always sort of scoffed at doggy daycare centres in the past, but after attending the training classes and browsing the pictures on the website, I changed my mind. These type of centres seem like a perfect solution for people who are out at work all day, or who have to travel somewhere for whatever reason.

The women who run our centre are fantastic with dogs. They have their own dogs, who go to work with them every day - something I can only dream of for my two. In fact, most people will have seen one of their dogs on TV (the Frank's Factory Flooring advert), or perhaps in advertising campaigns for different things such as this recent Dog's Trust blog. The training classes they run teach reward based methods, and I have to admit, they do work incredibly well. 

Anyway, back to the daycare part. Last Thursday, Ellie went for her assessment day. They take each dog separately for an assessment, to see how they cope with the daycare centre itself, and all the new dogs that they'll meet. Ellie absolutely loved it, by all accounts. She had the freedom to potter around all day, played with lots of cardboard tubes and boxes and ate some yummy treats that were scattered for the dogs to find. She came home completely knackered and slept practically all night! She wasn't even interested in eating her tea at first, though she did go back to her Kongs about an hour after I gave her them. All in all it was a success, and when I think about how much fun she must have had that day compared to the days where she's left in her crate until someone comes home, there's no contest. I guess the only downside is the expense. 

Today, Pepper went for her assessment. From what we were told, she enjoyed it but was fairly quiet compared to some of the other dogs. I don't know what she got up to, but she was more subdued when she came home - possibly because she was in a huff over us taking her somewhere and leaving her with strangers! She was soon back to normal though. Another thing I noticed was that she drank a lot of water when she came home, possibly because she doesn't like to drink out of the water bowls in the centre due to the smells of all the other dogs.

Next time they go, it will be together and I think that Pepper will enjoy it a bit more. I hope so anyway. It's not going to be a terrible regular occurrence, as even though all four of us work, the shift patterns we work mean that they're not usually left alone for too long at a time. 

The website for our daycare centre is here, should anyone want to have a look. They also have a Facebook page here, which has more pictures of the daycare dogs and also the various training groups. There's even a picture of me and Pepper on there somewhere if you look carefully! 

I'll leave you with this picture of Ellie with a giraffe on her head:

Sunday, 13 May 2012

So, after neglecting this blog for so long, I'm going to start posting regularly. I'm also going to involve both of my dogs, rather than just Ellie. I'm aiming for at least one post a week, but maybe more depending on what's going on.

Today, we walked along the nature reserve route. The weather was a bit of a mix - sunny but extremely windy, which meant it wasn't warm. Both dogs like the nature reserve route. It's a lovely circular walk along by the river and through the woods before getting to the nature reserve. The dogs only need to be only the lead for a short time as it does involve crossing a major road and walking alongside another. But the amount of off lead time more than makes up for it. After the nature reserve, it's a nice walk along the old abandoned railway lines (no tracks anymore), past the boating lake and back home. It normally takes about three hours, depending on how long we spend at the nature reserve, but it was a little bit less today as we didn't have as much time to spend there.

Pepper likes to swim and ended up in the river several times, even though it wasn't deep enough to swim in today. Luckily she's more than happy to come out and run along with the other dogs. Once we get to the nature reserve, she likes to swim in the pond there, which is usually deserted (although the summer might change that).

So, as not much else happened, I'm going to leave you with some pictures.

Pepper in the river - look how fast her tail is wagging! 

This side of the pond is good for swimming

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Safestix time

Ellie waits on the side as she doesn't like to swim

Change of Safestix as Ellie stole the pink one

Ellie, with the stolen Safestix

"Come back!"

This is Oscar, having a drink

Time to get out

Rest time

Hopefully I'll have another post on Thursday as Pepper goes for her daycare assessment.