Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Suprelorin - Day 20

Just under 3 weeks ago I finally decided to get Chester chemically castrated using Suprelorin. It's a little implant that completely cuts testosterone for 6-12 months giving all the usual effects of a full castration but being completely reversible.

There was nothing major in his behaviour which led me to it but a build up of a few things made me want to see if it was his testosterone affecting him.

The vet warned me that his testosterone would go up before it went down and we definitely went through a tricky couple of weeks. I felt he wasn't quite as settled.

We're now on day 20 so it should be starting to take effect. It's really hard to tell whether it has had any effect or whether it's in my head!

We haven't met any entire males the last few days so I can't judge his behaviour then. We've met a few females where he's possibly been a little calmer, but again it would depend on the dog any way.

I do this he is starting to get more focus on me because he's not constantly following his nose (or balls!) I've been upping his training anyway but I think the combination of the 2 has really helped and so far I'm pleased we made the decision to get the Suprelorin.

I'd like to see if things improve even more over the next few weeks. We have obedience and gundog training this weekend and it will be interesting to see if people notice a difference in his behaviour.

I think his testicles will shrink more but I'm hoping he doesn't lose any condition in his coat or build. The vet said he probably won't and it seems to affect longer haired dogs i.e. spaniels.

Not quite sure what we do when the implant starts to wear off. The vet said it's perfectly safe to repeat but the most it's been tested is 4 years. I think after then you'd probably get them fully castrated anyway.

Good things to come this month as a Munsterlander training is coming to do a session with Chester and Jack in a couple of weeks and we also have a weekend booked with Kimberley Gundogs at the end of the month. Fingers crossed Chester keeps improving :)

Thursday, 23 February 2012


We FINALLY moved up to the next gundog group for our Sunday training. This is excellent because it means we get to learn a lot more and there aren't the distractions of the younger dogs. Looking forward to the next session in a couple of weeks.

Attending a days training this Saturday so thought we better brush up on our skills before then so working a bit harder this week with dummies.

Chester is always keen but sometimes a bit sloppy and over enthusiastic so thought I'd give him some long retrieves to really challenge him (although, not sure it's much of a challenge for an energetic viz!).

We walked our usual route and I dropped a dummy when he wasn't looking. Walked a fair distance, round a corner and into another field. I stopped him and send him back. He went straight back, followed the route we had taken and found the dummy. Lovely present too :) Not sure I've ever send him back onto a dummy he can't see and has seen placed around a corner out of sight. I guess it wasn't quite so hard because he did know the route we had walked but he still did well.

Send him off for another long retrieve. This time he had seen the dummy dropped as we walked but I pushed him on until we reached the end of the field then sent him back. By the time he got back with the dummy he was panting so much he couldn't hold the dummy and just dropped it at my feet! Possibly a step too far .. whoops! I am pleased that he will go back over any distance as long as he knows there's something there to find. I know in the working tests last year there were some long retrieves where the younger dogs were loosing their confidence over the long distances and weren't making the retrieve.

Also been putting in lots of steadiness with the dummy getting faster and faster, closer and closer to him. Really impressed as he sat there while the dummy shot past his head! He did turn to watch it but didn't move.

Looking forward to Saturday's training now. Let's see how it all goes down the pan! Positive thinking needed :)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Not so much 'heel work' but pulling on the lead is probably one of my hardest challenges with Chester because there's no quick fix.

I would love him to walk on a loose lead ALL of the time - no matter the distraction. Also, I don't expect any sniffing (stopping to sniff) or peeing up things while he is on the lead. That is reserved for off lead only.

I find it really difficult to teach when we walk twice a day - on the lead, about 20 mins to get to the field where he is off lead. To teach it properly there should be no pulling in this walk each time we do it. Hopefully someone is having the same problem as me and realises this is pretty much impossible without the walk taking at least twice a long and me getting very frustrated!

I needed to find a method where I could teach heel but still go on our normal walks.

Easy solution - make his lead into a figure of 8 and he walks beautifully but I don't want this to become a permanent thing. I only use in really exciting situations.

So instead, we start our walks using figure of 8 lead and once we are in our stride I can slip it off his nose and he'll continue with a loose lead. If I feel him getting ahead of himself again, I can correct (I usually just stop). It also helps if my hand is in my pocket so there's no tension going down the lead (very Dog Whisperer!).

I can now get about half way round the walk with no pulling at all. Surely some time in the future I will be able to get all the way round?!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

More training needed!

I haven't been doing as much training lately as we're tight on time in the mornings and it's so dark after work. The problem is ... it shows!!

Chester is no problem as a pet, he does everything I ask of him (oh, he did pee up a friend's Xmas tree ... that was not cool!). He's just a bit hit and miss on the gundog work.

His enthusiasm is always 110% but his patience is ZERO. Really noticed it at group training recently when there's been a lot of waiting around. Chester likes to bark/moan lots. I get frustrated and this definitely makes it worse. He did really well in the more advanced group but he needs to pass a test to get into that group permenantly. We attempted it on Sunday but his sit stays weren't brilliant and he kept getting up. FAIL!

I think a stint back at obedience should help with this and the patience. Chester won't know what's hit him!

Also at the top of the list is getting his heel work up to standard. Off lead it's pretty much there but there's a little creeping forward. I can address this fairly easily. On the lead it's quite poor! Again, handler error, really need to work on this. It's amazing how much more you enjoy the walk if your dog isn't yanking your arm off.

I'm looking forward to the Spring/Summer when there's a lot more training days/weekends we can attend and learn new skills. Have signed up to the Kennel Club hunting and pointing weekend in March but not have to wait and see if we get a place. Fingers crossed!

Until then, aim is to see an improvement in his general obedience at gundog class when his excitement level is up and there's so much happening.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Settling back in........

Feels like it's been a strange few weeks since we got back from Oz.

I think it took Chester at least 2 weeks to settle back in and I think he found it even harder as his routine changed with the clocks going back.

We now have to train in the mornings and go for a run in the evenings. I find it harder to train him in the morning as time is limited (45 mins - 1hr) unless I want to get up even earlier. No thanks! At the weekends with the light fading so quickly it feels like you do the morning walk then a couple of hours later the afternoon one so I've also swapped to one 2 hour walk in the early afternoon. This works a lot better.

This time last year Chester was only 6 months old and in the evenings we used to do a little 30 mins walk round the roads. Neither of us particularly enjoyed it but he was only young so didn't need a great run.

Now 18 months and used to 2 hours a day I need to think of something a bit more energetic than walking round the roads for an hour. Running! We used to run in the mornings but mostly along the canal and off lead. Now it's dark it has to be on pavements and through town.

Bought Chester a new Nordkyn harness which he seems a lot happier in and can move a lot better (he's a lot stronger!).

We've had a slight back turn as firework time came along. Chester was unimpressed and nervous. I can get him to stay in the room with us on another sofa rather than hiding and make him go outside for a wee but if left alone at night he's decided it's a good idea to open the kitchen door and jump the stair gate. A real pain as he used to be really good at going to bed himself and just staying there until the morning. I decided to put a ban on him coming upstairs with us in the evening (he used to take himself to bed) and having more time in his bed in the kitchen so he was getting used to it again. It wasn't really working so last night reverted to letting him back up again (thinking it was more in his routine). He went to bed on command and was quiet all night :)

Fireworks also affected our run. If he hears anything loud (usually only on the last part of the run) then he stops and lays down. Not good when you are a good 2 miles from home! I thought it would pass as the fireworks ended but it happened again last night. I've decided it's more of a confidence issue. Although he loves to run and pull in the harness, we're doing 4 miles a night and I'm always asking him to be in front and take the lead the whole way. I think sometimes he has enough of this and wants to do normal dog stuff, pee up things and sniff! So when he started to slow last night I let him onto grassy areas asking him to search in hedges etc as we would on walks then a little 'get on' and off we went again to the next area. It seemed to make him a bit happier and we got home with tail up and no more lying down. I'll also take a ball with me this evening. Anything can be achieved with a ball in hand!

Once I feel this has passed I'd like to get him back into the noise of guns. Currently he's not as nervous as he is with fireworks but his ears definitely go back and tail drops. When he sees the other dogs ignoring them he goes back to his normal state. If we take it slowly I think we can get better with this.

Monday, 12 September 2011


Been really pleased with Chester over the past week and today he didn't let me down :)

Took a 1lb dummy out on our walk aiming to do a few retrieves, maybe some hunting as the wind was so strong.

I really pushed him on his 'back' command. This is blind, he hasn't seen me place the dummy. In hindsight, it's a little too far for him and that's why he's not running straight out. I need to cut back to the distance a bit. I am also far from him. There's a strong headwind coming from my right to left.

This is a memory, he's seen me place the dummy then we both walked back to position before he was sent. Really trying to get the present. Still takes a lot of 'HOLD' but it's looking much better. He's a bit speedy and still hasn't learnt to slow down and present in front of me. We'll fix that :) This is a massive achievement from a dog who ran around in circles with the dummy once he returned to me, to one who dropped it 2ft away and now this. Still a work in progress.

Really pleased with those and we finished on a high!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Running Out and Back Command

Had a great session with trainer this week. Hadn't had a 1:1 for a while so thought it might all be a bit of a disaster but we've been good at keeping up the training ourselves and it's paid off.

I mentioned I'd been working on the 'back' command. Usually walking in a line with Chester in front of me, dropping the dummy when he wasn't looking. Putting in a stop then walking past him and giving him the 'back' command to run back for the dummy. He's probably only doing 5-10 paces in a straight line then goes into hunting if he doesn't spot the dummy so I'll have to build this up.

We started on trying to get Chester to run out in a straight line on command. Something he isn't particularly good at as he stays close to me rather than running away. We'd set up 3 sets of markers with dummies next to them and had to aim for each one in turn. The running out didn't go brilliantly but I found I could use the 'back' command to push him back until he spotted the dummy. Not exactly the aim of the exercise but still building up his confidence to run away from me and know there will be something there for him to find.
Changing the exercise slightly, I walked him out placed dummy, walked back and sent him for it. Easy! Next the trainer walked out, pretended to place dummy and then again I could send him out. Once he was in the spot I asked him to hunt for a few minutes then threw the dummy into the search area so he could find and retrieve. Our aim is to be able to stand at one end of the field, issue the 'away' command and Chester runs to the other end until I give him another command, stop, change direction etc.

Next exercise - hunting. Trainer wanted us to hunt all the way up the field and back down again before any reward. Making sure the area was covered, clear hand signals from me and walking in as straighter line as possible. First sweep, not bad. I tend to walk out in each direction to aid him and my hand signals are a bit unclear. Found it a bit tricky to keep Chester at a consistent pace and his enthusiasm up.
Second sweep, much better signals from me and less walking left to right but Chester missed a big section at the beginning. Finally got to the end where there was a dummy - think Chester was relieved! Really need to work on the hunting, making it as consistent as possible and keeping his momentum up until I say otherwise.

Trainer suggested introducing the hunt whistle with the aim that I could eventually send Chester out until he got to the spot I wanted then get him to hunt. We both agreed it is a little more sophisticated than my current method of shouting 'whereiiiiiissssittttttt'!!

Even after a demonstration I don't really get how to make the sound I need from the whistle and Chester ends up stopping or coming back to me on a recall. More practice needed by me!

Looking forward to moving up to the next group at group training on a Sunday. A few more months maybe .....