A huge part of Life with Loki is training. Loki is a working line Springer Spaniel (although we don’t and have no intention on working him), so he does need a lot of mental stimulation. If you follow our stories on Instagram you will normally see lots of stories of Loki being very lazy, sleeping ALOT! In fact he is fast asleep right now. Much to some people’s surprise I don’t walk him for hours everyday, instead we train!
So I thought I would write a monthly post on what we have been working on this month and how we are getting on!
We have been doing the following this month:
- Return to whistle recall training
- Continued with Agility
- Boundary Games
- Heelwork and Loose Lead Walking
Whistle Recall Training
Loki’s recall has always been quite good, but especially since turning 1, it hasn’t been as good as I would have liked it to be! We trained him to the whistle from the age of 8 weeks, but at around 6 months old we neglected the whistle. So this month I got my Pippa Mattinson – Total Recall book back out and started working through the exercises again. We are still at very early stages with this but each day I will do 5 or 6 whistles (usually when there’s food around) to keep up with the training. This takes very little time, a couple of minutes a day and I highly recommend the book. It lays out step by step on how to whistle train your recall.
We started agility in May when Loki turned 1. We are total newbies so I think its more about us than him that holds us back! But we really enjoy it and have a little training session each morning. This usually tires him out until the afternoon! This month we have been working on our weaves and contacts. From a young age Loki has loved jumping and climbing on trees (we tried to stop this when he was younger for his joints but was always a challenge!) So the dog walk, a-frame, seesaw and jumps are no issue to him!
We have set up some weave poles in our garden (homemade from some plastic piping from B&Q – seems to be a great cheap alternative to the real thing!). We’re really happy with his progress and can now do it in a straight line with us walking alongside. I think the next step is to get some more speed and for us to be further away from him so he can do it independently, watch this space!
I’m a member of the Absolute Dogs Training Academy, who use short 3 minute games to train your dog. I’m a big fan of this as it keeps it fun and I can usually fit some in my working day (I work from home most of the day!). Some of the games involved are called boundary games. Boundary games are all about building the value of him being in his bed/mat and staying there until released. A strong ‘in your bed’ command is very helpful if you want him out the way, stop him from doing something he shouldn’t be and just helping him to settle.
Loki has never been very good around our mealtimes, having a stronger in your bed command is really helpful for this. Instead of just telling him ‘no’ when he tries to jump up or beg for food I can send him to his bed and usually he stays there until we have finished eating! If you think this is something you could work on then definitely check out the Absolute Dogs Facebook page.
Heelwork and Loose Lead Walking
Pretty sure this is what every Spaniel owner dreads. When Loki was younger I did ALOT of work with him, his lead walking was making great progress but I must admit I got a bit lazy and stopped all the training. And with that, he lost everything we had worked on! So this last week I have been working hard on loose lead walking. Starting in the house with lots of tasty treats at the ready! I started with one step, click and reward. Gradually I increased the number of steps, moved the training to the garden, onto the driveway and onto our road outside the house. We can now do about 200 steps of loose lead walking around the roads right outside our house, which is a great improvement. Next months aim will be to get to our field which is about a 5 minute walk down a country lane – FULL of amazing smells, horses, bushes and cats so LOTS of distractions.
Alongside the loose lead walking I have done a small bit of off lead heelwork. Again starting in the house, I used the command ‘Close’ and use my right hand to position him. To start with I click and reward each time he touches his nose to my hand. He now knows the position and just like the lead walking I gradually increase the amount of steps. We can do about 50 steps heelwork on the road outside our house and in the field at the moment. (Note: we live on a very quiet residential road with minimal cars).
For September I would like to work on the following:
- Increase duration of loose lead walking and heelwork
- Continue boundary training
- Teach him ‘hold’
- Teach him to walk backwards and place back feet on objects (this should help with his contacts in agility)
Next month I will try and do some videos of his training!
Would love to hear about what you guys are working on with your dogs, or if you have any training tips!