Dog Blog

It’s so exciting to have dogs back on the farm after so long. 

Pirata (Pirate) and Bandolera (Bandit) are both females who were found abandoned under a car when they were only a few weeks old. They were extremely fortunate that the car owner fostered them until they came to us on 18 August 2022 at approximately six months old. There was a lot of anticipation (and a little apprehension) before they arrived but they have turned out to be friendly, playful companions.

As with the horses we first had to put certain management strategies into place before we could think about training. We erected a large fence around the yurt (our home) plus a good chunk of land so the dogs have somewhere safe to be with freedom when they are not out and about with us.

As we are outdoor people and live in a yurt, we had no areas to create separation either from each other to prevent resource guarding as they grow; or from ourselves if we are eating outdoors, or don’t want the dogs jumping on us when we are sleeping; or from small children whilst they are learning how the dogs like to be handled; or from other animals such as cats and horses whilst they get used to each other. The fence and gates have made it easier to get quiet time (for humans or dogs) to prevent mishaps and allow us personal space for calm training.

After management comes enrichment. Before training in our calm safe space, we need to make sure the dogs are having their needs met. Both are very enthusiastic about the enrichment with lickie mats, kongs and cardboard boxes – especially when full of goodies.

We are learning how to apply our knowledge of behaviour change science to force-free dog training. We have the support of Emma at Hound Charming whilst we are learning this transition, and have worked on recall with low and medium distraction, counter conditioning to cats, started loose leash walking (without a leash), and started counter conditioning with a harness.

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