For those of you who follow my blog you will be familiar with our three dogs ~ for those who are finding me for the first time we have two Border Terriers; Taylor, dog aged four years, Skyla Minx, bitch aged three years and Loki, our Jack Russell/Pug Cross dog who is just one year old. They are a very happy family unit ~ Taylor is the lethargic grumpy old boy who occasionally asserts his status as top dog when necessary to keep the others in check, Skyla Minx is the mother hen with a slight OCD tendency towards cleaning the ears of her two boys and Loki the mischievous loveable baby of the group who is always up to trouble.
Our dogs, I have to admit, aren't brilliantly trained ~ I hate to say it as he is my wonderful boy, but Taylor really isn't all that bright, mix that with stubborn and selectively deaf and you can understand why he was advised not to return to for further training after completing (and failing) his puppy training course. Skyla is brighter but not all that much more than Taylor, she is happy to blindly follow whatever you ask for her so long as there are treats involved and she is able to bark at everything for no good reason. Loki is a bright little thing, he manages to solve lifes little problems, such as how to unravel a complete toilet roll and wind it around the house like the Andrex puppies do in the adverts, how to bring in large sticks from outside when they are too wide to carry in through the door (puts down on ground, goes through door and drags it in lengthways!), he has mastered how to unzip cushions and pull out the insides and is a Houdini escapologist too.
I don't get to take our three puppies out for walks very often due to being a full time carer for my youngest two chronically ill daughters. I have mastered the walking 3 dogs on one lead though and once they calm down from the excitement of going out they behave pretty well on it. However, the vet has been impressed by how fit they are and the fact that the surplus weight that the older two were carrying has now been lost ~ I used to walk 5~7 miles a day with them but on the lead. The conclusion we have made is that they get far more exercise at home by chasing about our garden together, than they did on their long walks on the lead. We have fenced off the majority of our garden for them and they have several mad episodes a day where the 3 of them tear around the patio, garden, in and out of the borders, playing chase, drop and roll. It is hilarious to watch and they come back in afterwards panting hard before flopping down and napping for hours until the next romp. However, I wanted to try something fun with them in the garden and try and teach them some tricks ~ so I decided to buy a small agility training kit ~ cue the hilarity!
This is our mini course ~ the plant pots containing weeds hold the tunnel in place as it is so light weight it blows around the garden otherwise. Our plan is to keep it set up for a few days so the dogs can get used to it and it doesn't frighten them. We have a gate across our patio area, so when we take them one by one round it the other two can watch from there.
The tunnel initially did frighten them and so I decided to crawl through it and show them what to do ~ and got a little stuck half way through, much to my daughters mirth, instead of helping as I was giggling whilst trying to wriggle out she just laughed and took this rather unflattering photo!
The dogs eventually went round the course and became familiar with each item. Taylor did weave through the poles brilliantly, although very sedately, following the treat in my hand ~ Skyla and Loki just bounced around each other darting between the poles randomly searching for any dropped treats that may magically appear in the grass. Both Skyla and Loki went through the tunnel ~ Skyla in particular seemed to quite like it and started running in and out of it on her own just for fun. Taylor poked his head in and with much encouragement went through once (with the treat held just millimetres from his nose to coax him through). After his maiden journey through it he decided to only watch the others from the sidelines as it wasn't for him right now. The hoop we lowered right down onto the grass to encourage them to step through ~ Loki and Skyla did start to jump as we lifted it a little higher and Loki seemed to really enjoy this part of the course going backwards and forwards through it for treats. Taylor poked his head through but wouldn't step in let alone jump, instead prefering to stand with it surrounding him like a picture frame, posing regally until a treat was given and he would move on.
We had great fun introducing the dogs to their new playground and I hope once we get the hang of it to buy more elements to make it more complex. But for now we have more than enough to do ~ our first mission will be to get each dog to complete the full course, which will be a challenge considering their stubbornness.
It is great exercise and fun for us all ~ although the excitement of their exertions left them all absolutely shattered by the end. Taylor usually likes to lie on the windowsill like a cat, but was too tired to get on properly and so flopped half on half off for his snooze.
I look forward to seeing how this develops and with a little luck I can overcome their stubbornness and manage to train these characters to have some semblance of obedience.