Follow this blog to see Orchid’s progress, from eight weeks old. We will watch her learn, socialise and look at many things you can learn with your puppy.

Water! Orchid has been introduced to water and smashed it. She loved it. Not the most elegant of swimmers, but that comes with experience and practise. However, no hesitation in going out for the retrieve or picking new water dummies and every single one delivered to hand.

She is also working her way through the Level Two Gundog Beginner syllabus. We are still not rushing things with her; it’s so important to make sure you have the foundations before pushing on. Otherwise you just move issues with you rather than iron them out, and often the dog is allowed to self reward again and again. It is not a competition and we always work with the dog in front of us.

Orchid has had a busy weekend. Saturday she participated in our Reliable Recall workshop. She did well working with new dogs and people and we were very pleased with her performance. We tried some different treats and discovered she is not that keen on chicken. Preferring cocktail sausages but sticking with her all time favourite primula cheese. Then on Sunday she graduated from our Level One Puppy Basics course Training continues to progress. Looking at teaching the stop whistle to be seen by her as the start of something fun. Some basic marked retrieves, memory retrieves and as she is doing those well we have started to look at directional work.

It’s been a busy few weeks for puppy Orchid. She is doing well in puppy class. We are not rushing it and making sure the basics are there before pushing on. There is a tendency to rush to more “exciting” training but if you haven’t got the foundations right you just take problems with you. We are very pleased with how focused she remain on us and the task while surrounded by other (gorgeous!) puppies and their owners. Although continuing to work on our bond with her, she is spending more time with the other members of Seadogs Training Team. This week she had an off lead walk in the wood where we thought we would be able to test her recall….however this didn’t go according to plan as she didn’t leave us. What a good girl. She also got her feet wet in the pond which she loved and even though she was very excited from getting a little wet, remained focused and close.

Orchid has had another little trip away to Staffordshire while we hosted a shoot day there for a lovely team of guns. She was very good, as we are now beginning to expect from her. Training has been ramped up a little as she now joins in our Level One Puppy Basics class on Sunday mornings. She is coping with the other dogs and distractions well and remaining focused. She has also demonstrated exercises for the other students with growing confidence.

So Orchid is back from her very first holiday. A lot to ask of a 6 month old puppy, but she took it all in her stride. Had two nights in a hotel as we stopped over on the way to and back from the cottage. We didn’t hear a peep out of her despite the noise going on. Settled well in the cottage with all the other dogs, and travelled well. We have cameras so can check on them through out to make sure everything is ok . Not one accident in a new place. She spent some time in the garden playing, “training” walks. We are still making sure the heel work doesn’t slip away. So we never set up to get to a particular point and just go with how well she is walking and obviously the duration she is out as she is still under 12 months. She also got to train in a new environment in fabulous spaniel training ground. Keeping her close while hunting, a little stop whistle work and a few retrieves. All back to hand. She also had her first ever training session out with another dog. She was awesome. She was happy left in the truck or cottage while others went out without her. So despite our reservations Orchid made it onto the good list “actually”! She has settled back at home well. We are busy catching up and enjoying the final month of the shooting season, but looking forward to continuing the training with her.

So this past week Team Seadogs have been away in Shropshire for our annual shooting trip. This was Orchid’s first holiday and she was very good. She took a little while to settle in her mobile kennel (canvas crate) and shared with Gin to help with that. But after about half an hour she settled down and we didn’t hear anything from her until she needed something. The trip away also saw Orchid doing her first group walks. Her heelwork has been progressing well otherwise we wouldn’t have introduced the other dogs into it. We were also mindful not to go on a “walk” but simply use the opportunity to train with other dogs which is huge for Orchid as others dogs are a big distraction to her. So we chose a location and walked as far as we got, not setting a destination so we could end it if needed. However she was a good girl and we got to go a little way on all occasions. Only being five months old she’s not doing any more than 25 minutes of exercise anyway. We also continued her pub training and she loved the attention from the staff and others in the bar.

This week Orchid had her first full groom. Previously having had one extra thing added each time; it was time to bring it all together. She was very good and it was nice to have her part of the team as all had a full groom on the same day. It’s also been the first of the fireworks. I don’t think Orchid even noticed! In fact she was in the garden doing some training when one lot went off and she just carried on with the training; tail wagging continuously.

Orchid continues to love her training and is doing well. Still really fun and short sessions and nothing formal at the moment. She spends a little time out in classes watching for a few minutes from way back while she has a toilet break to get used to the atmosphere. Now over 10kg it has been time for her to spend a little time with one or more of the other dogs, so she has been travelling in the truck with Gin. Not always as it’s important to mix it up and make sure she is still happy on her own. Gin is an excellent companion for her as she just completely ignores her! She aces “ignore the bad behaviour”. Orchid has also spent some time in the kennel with Gin and Iris during the day. She still wants to play lots as she is so young so it is all controlled. She has also begun to spend some time in the permanent crate in doors as she is now too big to fit between the bars.

Now weighing 9.45kg! And 18 weeks old now. This week training continues; keeping it fun and in short sessions. Proofing and concentrating on keeping her close. Orchid has also been introduced to free work and enrichment activities. Great to watch her move and deal with new things. She loved it!!! This all happens in the Seadogs Team treatment room which she also loves as we use that to do training when the weather is bad. She’s also been going in there and seeing the physio equipment to get used to different objects and textures. Also since last time she has had a couple of training walks; concentrating on heel work in new areas with new experiences.

Orchid continues to get big; now 8.65kg. Training is going well, keeping sessions short and fun and concentrating on conditioning the basics. Then proofing in new places. We all had a trip out to The Tiny Tipple Company at the beginning of the week and Orchid had cuddles with Karen. Another new person and place. She has also had her first pub visit. She took it all in her stride until another dog came around the other table and took her by surprise. She soon got over it and enjoyed a biscuit while sitting at Rob’s feet.

This week saw Orchid meeting up with her sister. One of our clients had another bitch from the same litter, so after a training session she was allowed some puppy play time with Orchid. However Orchid was not really up to for it, and wanted to come and hide with one of us. She was very submissive and not all boisterous. Training continues and we have begun to bring in a little stop whistle work; keeping it fun and informal at this stage. We continue to proof in different environments. Another bath this week for her too and she is happy in the bath and with the blaster. She is very good having her nails cut which have to be done very regularly and also having her ears clean. It’s so important for your dog to be happy to be touched all over.

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated Orchids log. This is mainly due to the shooting season starting so we have been busy. Only to get busier as the season goes on. Orchid has not been out on the shoots; she is far too young. If we have had to take her then we park away from the guns. She sees the other dogs come and go, but that’s no different to any other time. She is getting big now weighing 8.4kg. She’s met Julie’s horse and was a little wary but all good experience for her. She has now been introduced to Gin and Iris and spent some time out with them in the garden, in the kennel and with each in the truck. She’s also spent a little time with Conker too. Not too long as we don’t want her bonding with them and she can be full on so want it to be a good experience for everyone. She can now go a little longer overnight, which is great for Julie who likes to be in bed early. We are very pleased with how she is settling in and is fitting in well. She is quiet in the truck while we train or shoot and at home in her crate. When she makes noise she needs something; toilet or drink. She can empty her road refresher bowl so we don’t leave it in. She is looking more and more like our beautiful (late) Tigerlily who would be her Great Aunt on her maternal side.

Orchid continues to learn manners, boundaries and how life works here at Seadogs HQ. She is now very calm in her puppy pen in the garden when the other team members come out. She still is not mixing too much with them as she needs to learn that life doesn’t revolve around her and be happy doing nothing while others are doing something. Puppy class continued this week and both Orchid and Esther are doing very well. Students are doing their homework! We also had a minor injury on another dog so she was quiet and calm in the box while we did a tail gate check on Rose and cleaned and treated a superficial wound (glad to say back to 100% by the next day). All this is “socialisation”; so many people think to socialise a puppy you have to let it have a free for all with other dogs. We don’t want that from our dogs. Although we want them to get along we want them to bond with us and not others and ignore other dogs when out and about. This week has seen the temperature rise and it’s Orchid’s first experience of intense heat. Remember young and old dogs can’t regulate their heat as well as adult dogs. So training under the trees so we could use the shade and also introduce another environment. Very short session before back in the truck with fans and heat extraction along with plenty of drinking water to keep cool.

This weekend Orchid attended her first puppy class alongside Labrador puppy Esther. Both now fully vaccinated we were able to begin proofing the training. We looked at focus work using the Cato board; hugely distracting environment but they both coped well. The beginnings of recall from one board to another, the recall/find it game, sit-stand-down and heel position. Also every day training continues; toilet training, learning to be happy on her own, crate training. Alongside play and short bursts of training.

Another busy learning week for Orchid. She is getting big having hit 5kg this week :-0 She is continuing to be content on her own spending a little time in her crate in the house while I did a little grooming on others. She is mad for a tennis ball! So we are keeping that drive by only do a couple of retrieves a week. There is so much more you can do with your dog other than retrieving. Talking of training we are continuing with the placeboard training; focus, heel position and beginnings of extended sit. She has also mastered sit-stand-down. This week we began teaching “leave”. As of Friday she is allowed out in to the big wide world, so we can now begin proofing behaviour in different places. Exciting times. Iris has moved inside this week for a few days post op, so Orchid has another companion. Although still not mixing as I don’t want either to get hurt and Iris is not allowed to play. There is plenty of time for Orchid to mix with the other dogs so for the moment it’s all separate so all dogs get to 1:1 time with us.

This weekend saw Orchid hit 4kg 🙂 She is now 4.05kg. Really finding her appetite and loves working for her food so we are really creating the drive for it. Our weekends are always busy with workshops, full training days, 1:1 training and running our progressive training courses. So the dogs learn to settle in the truck while all of that goes on around them. We are mindful to make sure Orchid is away from any shots fired at this early age, but other than that she has to learn to settle. Sunday afternoon we had some time to train our dogs along with some friends. Taking dogs out of the truck away from Orchid, putting others back in. This will also be transferred to shoot days as not all of the dogs come out for all of the time. Some drives will see all of them out, other drives one dog, other drives a mixture depending on the day and the drive. This is the training we are concentrating on at the moment until she is fully vaccinated.

12th August. A lazy morning for us here at Seadogs HQ. No work booked until later in the day so we up early to let Orchid and the rest of the team out for toileting. We are not feeding breakfast at this time as we don’t want Orchid learning breakfast is always early. Sometimes it has to be. Once everyone was sorted out we loaded all the dogs up and went off to hydrotherapy. A new experience for Orchid. She met the hydrotherapists and then went back into the truck while Conker and Gin had their work outs. Then we all went off to a local wood where Orchid would stay in the truck while others went off having fun. Rob stayed back and did some 1:1 training with Rose. This is important for all the other dogs to get their quality time too, but also for Orchid to realise it’s not all about her. Puppies can be all consuming, just by the nature of the work, so it is so important for them to know it’s not always about them. So Rob took Rose a little way from the truck to train but close enough to hear if Orchid was getting distressed. Also, more importantly, to be close for security of the other dogs. Julie took Molly & Iris for a lovely walk around the woods which they all enjoyed. Every walk being training so off lead and on lead heelwork and “with me” work. Then back to the training centre for 1:1 clients and Orchid visited a friends house so she could meet her. Orchid took it all in her stride and fell asleep in my arms while we chatted.

11th August. Breakfast hand fed while Orchid was at heel. The work party day today at the training centre. Lots of noises; mowers, strimmer, voices, kettles. 😉 Settling down while work was done. Before 1:1 later in the afternoon and home for some bonding.

10th August: Today started with breakfast training on placeboard for 2 minutes before putting the rest of Orchids breakfast down for her to finish. Then she settled in her crate to let her breakfast settle and spent sometime on her own while Julie groomed Molly, Conker, Gin and Iris. Rose had been groomed Saturday. Then another visitor for cup of tea. Interspersed with play times. All very short and fun making sure all of the toys come from us. We are the best thing in Orchids world! Then Orchid had a little bath, was introduced to the blaster and clippers. Had her ears cleaned and nails trimmed. She was very good for it all. Again short; but important to begin getting used to everything. It was weigh in day for all the team today.

9th August: 5am start and after toileting resettled in crate while Rob went to the pool. Orchid is very good and staying indoors while I sort the other dogs out and feed. We have had some playtime during the day and we have started charging the clicker today as she is becoming more interested in food. Incorporating meal times in to training we did some place board training with dinner this evening. Horrible weather outside so we did it in the comfort of the treatment room.

Also today was the first time Orchid took herself outside to toilet. We have been taking her out regularly, but today she has taken herself out.

7th & 8th August: Orchid’s first weekend. Saturday she met another new person as some of the other dogs and Rob had a reiki session. She was very settled in her crate while the other dogs came in one by one. Learning it’s not all about her. Sundays are always full on with classes and even more so this week as it was the beginning of new ones. She was quiet in the truck and clean. There was lots going on. We made sure we parked a good distance away from any shots. Although she has to get used to noises we don’t want to frighten her as we certainly don’t want her gun shy and will introduce her to shot properly when she is older. At the end of training on Sunday, and after we had had a cuppa, we did some training with Rose, Conker and Gin and then Molly and Iris. So Orchid gets used to being in the box on her own and watching the others doing fun things. She was as good as gold; just quietly watched. We’ve also started to condition the recall whistle and sit whistle as she is now sitting for food. Both nights she has continued to sleep through until 5am and be clean over night.

Friday 6th August: Orchid’s day started at 5:15am. Once again clean over night. Breakfast and more exploration of the garden.

Today Orchid was left indoors on her own for the first time while we did some jobs in the garden and groomed other dogs in the treatment room. We didn’t hear a peep out of her and when we checked the camera she was sleeping. So some playtime was called for afterwards as a reward. Before doing it again while we both went out to feed all of the other dogs in the evening. Orchid also had her first ice cube today. She loved it! Another day with no accidents. Tomorrow she will meet another new person as some of the other dogs and Rob have Reiki in the morning.

Thursday 5th August: This morning we had visitors at home for a cup of tea. Orchid had a little play but was more interested in crashing out with Rob. Comments were how calm she was. We also introduced her to the place board. She has been walking over them, but today we looked at getting the sit on it. Very very short session; literally 2 minutes. At the moment Orchid is not food driven but she does like praise as a reward.

After lunch it was the trip to the vets for health check and first lot of vaccinations. This was a proofing exercise for travelling too, as she was taken to the vet in the car rather than the truck. This proved very interesting!! Orchid was little noisy to start with, but soon settled. She was very happy to go with the vet and apparently she was very good including having dye in her eyes to make sure they were all healthy. Having been weighed it was good to know the vets scales read the same as mine at home. Currently weighing 3.4 kg. Next lot of vaccinations booked in the diary. In the meantime socialisation continues in many other ways than “walking”. Tonight she slept through until 5.15am and was clean again.

WEDNESDAY 4TH AUGUST; Day two. Today was a trip out to the training centre. We didn’t have any clients in until much later in the day so took the opportunity to see how she would settle in the truck with things going on around her, knowing we could ignore any noise. However this little superstar took it all in her stride. She was upgraded from her carrier to a compartment of her own. Again we wanted to do this supervised to make sure she didn’t try and destroy the dog box. She crashed out and slept for most of the day. Having some cuddles with new people, and getting used to us working at the back of the truck. Making cups of tea, going to the drawers. Also very importantly seeing the other dogs coming out and doing things; toileting, training etc. This is the beginning of her learning that not everything is about her. She excelled at this task, and we can only hope this continues as have a busy day Sunday. Once again she slept through until 5am and was clean overnight.

May be an image of dog
May be an image of dog

Tuesday 3rd August – First full day. Today we focused on bringing in routine. Toileting, breakfast, some time to explore her new home. Molly, our eldest dog, lives inside so they have been out together while supervised. Molly has her den to get into if she has enough of a young puppy, and also tells dogs off nicely. Toilet training began. Watching her and making sure she was taken outside after sleeping, drinking, playing, eating. Then being patient and staying outside until she went. We then began to condition the command “toilet”. Only saying it when she was doing it. If she was pottering about we would put her out every thirty minutes. This worked so we will stay with that for a few days. As yet no accidents! When Orchid crashed out, we would put her into her crate, but leave the door open so she begins to learn it’s a nice place to be. Also that it’s a chill out place. Throughout the day she began taking herself in there; even if only walking in and out. Many people expect a pup/dog to settle in a crate without teaching them. Crate training is so important in our opinion. It means they can stay safe when you can’t supervise them, they begin to learn to be happy in their own company, they learn to do nothing. For us it’s also an opportunity for us to begin conditioning the word “bed”. This will eventually become a command and will be transferred to anywhere we want her to settle; kennel, truck, portable kennels on holiday, coat on pub floor. It’s also essential for them to be happy in a crate for when later in life they may need to spend time at the vet. This can be a stressful time so if they are used to a crate it’s one less thing that’s unfamiliar to them. They may also need to be on crate rest for injury or post op.

Learning that my flowers are not for consumption!!!!

We also started Orchid’s bedtime routine. Some playtime, toileting and then into her crate to settle down. As it was her first proper night we waiting until she fell asleep outside of the crate and then gently moved her into it for the night. Once again knowing she had done everything so if she make noise we could leave her to it. This night; her second one with us; she was quiet and slept through until 5am 🙂 She was also clean over night.

The first night can be very hard for your puppy. We had a long journey; 6 1/2 hrs. So there wasn’t any routine. We got her out of the truck first and let her in the garden to toilet. She then had some food. Then of course you need to wait until she has toileted again. Keeping everything fun and not putting any pressure on your puppy. Remember they know nothing at all! All they know is to make noise to get their Mum’s and siblings attention. Suddenly none of those are there and only you; which they don’t yet know.

Orchid’s first night: Orchid slept in her small crate that she had travelled back in to try and keep some continuity. It was a long noisy night lol. Remember she doesn’t know what is expected or where she is. However we are now conditioning her that noise doesn’t get her anything at all. We made sure she was fed, watered and toileted (both!) before putting her to bed. Then she was left to it. We did not go to her or talk to her; that would have rewarded her noise. We were all very tired from the long trip but you have to start as you mean to go on

May be an image of dog and indoor
May be an image of animal and indoor

When collecting your puppy make sure you have a safe way of transporting them home. Even if it is a short journey. Remember it is illegal to transport a dog that is not secure. We are lucky that the back of our truck is kitted out for the dogs; with a fan and heat extraction system along with a remote temperature warning system. That way we can make sure it is always comfortable for them and if it gets too hot or too cold we would get a notification to our telephone. Along with cameras we can see how they are. For young pups we use a small plastic crate so they feel safe and secure, and also means they don’t get to destroy anything. It is also so much easier to clean out should they have a little accident; which is highly likely on that first trip. With dogs that travel well in the back compartment she also had company. I would never travel the pup with another dog, no matter how good you think it is. A bigger dog can hurt a young pup. It is also the very beginning of them learning to be content on their own.

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