Keep safe!

Keep safe!
You are responsible for your own safety and that of your dog. The walks listed in this blog are not detailed guides. Plan your route! Click the landrover image for safety advice from Bowland Pennine MRT.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Summer’s gone

Summer has gone and this week we had our first frost!  Been a busy summer, things on most weekends and also another week away in September.  Walks have been mainly local, with plenty of visits to our local park, a few trips to the beach and of course lots of weekends at Worden.  Oddly enough we’ve not been on the moors for months.  We had a day up in the Lakes, where Marley dragged me up Orrest Head which was nice, followed by a walk around Tarn Hows with mum and my sister.  Mostly though summer was about training, continuing to work on loose lead walking and learning to trust him off lead (only when it’s quiet!). We then had a bit of a disastrous period following his neutering, where he was out of action for a few weeks.

Now I’m looking forward to autumn weekends, a few trips to the woods or beach and hopefully a dog who continues to get a little bit calmer. My main mission remains to stop reactivity to kids, birds and bikes but hopefully have some fun with it.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Back to Cornwall

June saw a trip back down to Cornwall, this time to Tregoose Barn, at a fantastic dog friendly holiday home near Helston.  With a huge wooded garden it was pretty much perfect for chilling out, games with a ball or just sniffing round after the visiting rabbits and foxes.

It wasn’t far from Porthleven so we got a few early morning walks in along the coast path and around Loe Pool, somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. Towards the end of our visit I realised Porthleven beach welcomes dogs before 9am so as the tide was out and a calm sea we also had a stroll on the sands.

We visited plenty of pubs and cafes as usual, but this time there was more outside eating and drinking to be done. That proved a challenge is there were playing kids or birds getting close. Whilst he is calming down a bit, he still goes nuts, especially when kids are around. Given that, the lead stayed in for much of the time out and about but the long line was invaluable again as he had his first proper paddle in the sea at Porthluny.

After all the excitement of a summer holiday life back home seems a lot calmer. Even walking on the main road is easier, but not easy, now. Months of training might be stating to pay off!

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Blackpool Prom, Lytham Green and back to Worden Park

Dog training has become a way of life rather than I thing I do! One of the the most important principles of our training programme is to train for the situation, not in the situation. That begs the question, how do you know whether you’re ready for the situation? Two weeks ago we had reasonable success with our ‘bird’ training so last week I thought we’d give a busy and novel environment a go. What better place than Blackpool Prom!

Having parked at South Shore we had a challenging 5 minute walk to South Pier, largely due to paper blowing in the wind.  Clearly not ready for blowing paper yet!  Second was go-karts, which I expect would have been a major tigger a few months ago.  Marley strolled past the noisy karts without concern so I call that a success.  Next was the busy spot around South Pier.  Again, no big issues and we made it happily to the grassy area that lines the prom, watching trams, horses, carriages and the expected stag and hen parties wander past.  Again, no issues.  Eventually, we made it to North Pier and under the shadow of Blackpool Tower we listened to some live music close to a crowd of several hundred people. Success again.  Amongst the crowd was a young boy who decided to run across the prom which prompted some lunging and whining so at that point we headed back, with only birds and blowing litter prompting any reaction.  All in all a good walk in the sunshine and a good test of where we are at.

Last Monday (bank holiday) we headed to Lytham and a nice walk on the prom and through town. Only birds proved a challenge, and another little boy playing football. Monday night was a bit of a nightmare with jumping and humping, prompting a telling off followed by a rethink of our approach to keep a nice calm dog.  With hindsight, his bucket would have been filling all weekend so hardly unsurprisingly it overflowed on Monday night.  We have done lots of calming training since.

Today saw a return to Worden for the first time in a few weeks.  A group of friendly lady runners said hi to him and whilst I wouldn’t have him off lead near runners, he didn’t lunge or jump at them.  More than 5 minutes watching football practice proved a challenge, as did birds (again). We had loads of off lead time though, with other dogs and people around, which was great.

Since we got back he has been a gem, even allowing me to (largely) get on with work on my laptop tonight. Maybe we have turned another corner!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Bronze Award and Meresands Wood

What a great weekend. Saturday morning saw our crazy springer transform in to a dream dog for just long enough to get through his Good Citizen Bronze Award. He really has come on leaps and bounds, or a little less of them, in the past few months. It didn’t quite last for the obligatory photo shoot but hey, he was having fun. Sunday saw a lovely walk at Mere Sands Wood, one of my favourite places to visit when Finney was slowing down. Two circuits of the wood were in order for Marley, who had a good sniff and had some calming (ish) training near the woodland bird table. He even managed some loose lead walking afterwards. Happy days watching the transition from unruly and challenging puppy to a manageable adolescent!

Monday, May 06, 2019

Run to the hills

It’s been a great bank holiday weekend.  With Marley soon turning one I decided it was t8me to get him out and about on the moors.  Yesterday saw an early morning walk in the cold sunshine up to the top of Great Hill, my first trip up there for a couple of years.  It was an ascent full of memories but as we reached Joes Cup and gazed back over the Lancashire landscape towards the sea it was one of those happy to be alive, fit and healthy moments. The walk up was easy thanks to a pulling springer spaniel. Marley was certainly happy on top. Descent was a little more tricky but to be fair the past 4 weeks or so of disciplined heelwork seems to be paying off.

Today saw a morning and late afternoon walk to Jubilee Tower. Again, great to be up on the moors and even after meeting plenty of bikes, runners and a not very friendly collie he generally stayed close on our descent.  Won’t be long before we head for a mountain or two!

Still very jumpy and excitable but a little bit easier to control these days.  We need to get some more pub practice in though.  It’s weeks since we went out.  We did have a nice weekend at my mums over Easter though, where he was pretty well behaved.  We even got up Mam Tor!

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Out and about in springtime with a springer

I love spring. The days are now longer so we get a walk in the light in the morning and plenty of time for a trip to the park after work.  Marley is off lead much of the time on the park these days which is great.  I still clip him back on if there are too many distractions but his recall isn’t bad and he is far more interested in me and a ball than most other things!

We’ve been out and about a lot lately. Last weekend saw a trip to Keswick and Grasmere. It was quite challenging walking around a busy Keswick, and just too much to walk through the park to Derwentwater, but lunch in the Dog and Gun was a fantastic success, as was a visit to a little cafe in Grasmere.

The previous weekend we had a nice walk round Rydal, cut short by a capsized canoe, but that’s another story. We also spent a few hours on The Helm near Oxenholme which was lovely and clearly treasured by local dog walkers.

We are (mainly) sleeping again and other than jumping, humping and still a bit of mouthing Marley is getting a bit more manageable, mainly thanks to lots of boundary training with his bed. Still a long way to go with heelwork!

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Springtime with a springer

Spring has arrived. We made it to the park last night after work for a good half hour of ‘football’ off lead. Still carefully watching for runners, bikes and kids but I am pretty much the focus of attention, which is great. We have also had a good run on Worden Park early morning these past few weeks, visiting our favourite quieter spots for a game of fetch.

Heelwork is slowly improving with high value rewards. Jumping and mouthing is slightly better, although he still gets wildly giddy at times. Sleep at night is terrible in the past week or so. No idea why, but hey, can’t have everything.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

First walk up Pendle Hill

There’s a rule of thumb that you should walk a dog 5 minutes for every month until they are fully grown.  Whilst I get that over exercise can cause problems, and looking back I probably walked Finney too far too soon, there comes a point when you know your dog, especially a springer spaniel, needs more exercise!

Now 9 months old, we’ve not been on a decent moorland walk, so with a hint of spring in the air it was the right time to climb Pendle Hill.  Our ascent began near Sabden, which I think was the place I first attempted to reach the top with Finney (we took a wrong turn in the mist!). Marley was as usual unphased by the walk ahead, dragging me up to the point where I thought he’d give a husky a good run for his money.  Despite the constant pulling, it was good to be back on the hills, and as we walked alongside the peaty stream after leaving the ridge it just felt good!

After a paddle and drink we headed over the paved path to the trig point. Funnily enough I was thinking what a feat it must have been to lay that path, when we hit what resembled the early stages of a building site near the summit. To be fair, it will no doubt be great when finished, as the constant heavy traffic takes its toll on the peat. The summit itself was a huge anticlimax today, with dozens of people ascending from Barley, clearly on some kind of sponsored walk. We rested a while looking towards the Yorkshire Dales before retracing our steps.

A few times I let Marley off lead.  He is like a rocket, racing off until he realises I’m no longer with him at which point he comes racing back (happily). I wouldn’t dare let him off lead where there was a chance of a fellrunner going by. He is still very reactive to fast moving things, be it people, birds or bikes. When we have space though, he’s great.

With all his pulling my legs ache and my arms are wrecked. I bought a new Ruffwear front range harness yesterday so tonight used it with the front clip. Albeit with chicken in my hand, we had a lovely short walk and probably his best heel work to date. Very pleased as I don’t much care for the Halti I bought last month.  It tends to ride up to just below his eye so a bit of a concern. I might go for the opti fit version if I can find one and the front clip doesn’t prove successful.

After an afternoon with the first grass cut of the year, I’m looking forward to spring!

Cornwall in the snow!

Cornwall is fantastic out of season.  Some of my favourite holidays have been in January or February.   Storm watching is exciting, and so it was that when we arrived that 60 mile an hour gusts and huge waves were pounding the coast path between Polzeath and Daymer Bay. It made for an exciting walk and a challenge for the dog, let alone me, to keep our feet on the ground.  We stayed in the little village of Trebetherick, just behind the St Moritz Hotel. A great location for dog owners out of season, with two fantastic beaches within 15 minutes walk, and a great coastal walk linking the two.

Later in the week the weather took an interesting turn, with heavy snow.  After an eventful lunch and afternoon stranded in St Mawgan we had an even more eventful evening stuck on the A39 near Wadebridge. Happily we made it back to our holiday about 9.30!

Next day of course we were rewarded with spectacular snowy scenery!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Jolly January

It’s been a generally good month with our first trip to Roddlesworth, which readers over the past 12 years will know was a favourite haunt for me and Finney.  It was a tough walk, with Marley over excited as usual until I found a quiet spot to let him off lead.  It was great to see him running round and he was far calmer afterwards.  Sadly though he is so excited when he sees runners and cyclists I have to keep him close in most environments whilst our trains continues.

Cue this week and whilst doing our usual stay training (on lead) near a busy road a group of runners go by.  It was a brilliant training opportunity made even more exciting when they stopped for a spontaneous photo, with Marley as their mascot.