Poppy’s BOOST Training by Lynne Clarke
I got Poppy as a young puppy in August 2016 and went through all the normal training sessions expected of a new dog owner. I spent a small fortune on course after course and although Poppy learned to do a sit and a stand; to sit and wait at a gate while I opened it and walked through first, none of this learning transferred to the world outside the training room. It seems that Poppy is a Naughty but Nice Dog. Not sure why I am surprised as I chose the feistiest puppy left from the litter!
I signed up for the Boost programme at Devon Dogs ( 5 hours of lessons over three days) and booked into the on-site accommodation for my stay at the beginning of June. It was just going to be me and Poppy for our 4 day stay and whilst I was looking forward to the training sessions, I also wondered what I had let myself in for.
My first session in Poppy’s Boost Training
I arrived on Monday and was shown to the well-equipped Annexe and left to settle in. My first training session with the wonderful Michelle was over lunchtime on the Tuesday. This session was indoors because the weather was not very good. There were so many things around the area that could have distracted Poppy but, having talked with Michelle about Poppy before she was brought in to the room, Michelle organised the training to minimise Poppy’s interactions with anyone or anything but me. We did a lot of calming work on the boundary as well as figure of 8 walking before doing 2 feet on.
Part way through the session another trainer, dog and owner joined us which could have been a reaction triggering event. Again, the entrance of the new dog was well planned and happened while I engaged Poppy in figure of 8 walking. Normally new dogs cause Poppy to either want to go over and play or to freeze and stare at them. However, Poppy barely gave the other dog a glance and carried on with figure of 8 walking and then went on to practice A2B. Before I knew it, the two-hour session was over.
Calmness & Arousal
Training on Wednesday and Thursday continued to work on calmness and arousal up and arousal down and I cannot believe the difference in Poppy in such a short time. On Thursday, as we walked into the training field, Poppy’s hackles rose and she began a low growl when she saw a small road roller had been left in the car park. Unsure of what it was, Poppy became anxious and wanted to freeze and stare it out!
I mentioned this to Michelle before we started working with Poppy and she decided to build a visit to the road roller into our training session. By walking diagonally towards the offending machine, Poppy didn’t even notice it. We then did figure of 8 walking, gradually moving closer to the road roller. Poppy did not bat an eye! When we were right next to it, Poppy had a bit of a sniff of it and quickly dismissed it as a non-event.
Figure 8 Walking
Later, I took Poppy to the beach and we did some figure of 8 walking as soon as we got there. She was so calm and walked past at least a dozen dogs without any reaction at all. The power of figure of 8 walking is phenomenal. Michelle was a fantastic coach to work with and I finished my final session with her with a plan of action for when I get back home- figure of 8 walking is high on the action plan.
I am now looking for opportunities to return for more training.
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About the Author: My name is Lynne Clarke. I live in the East Riding of Yorkshire and I got my first puppy 3 years ago in August as I approached retirement after 40 years in the teaching profession. Much as I enjoyed my work, it did not leave any time for much else, let alone a pet. In the final eighteen months or so of my career, I decided to be kinder to myself and allow myself time at weekends and in the evenings for things other than work. Poppy is such a delightful dog but she is also kind of naughty at times. She makes me laugh so much with some of her antics. Having Poppy has made a huge difference to my retirement. She is a reason to get up in the morning, she occupies my time and I just want to be the best owner she could possibly have so that she can have the best life possible. Ad Training academy and Devon dogs have been absolute life changers for both Poppy and me.