Colour me pink and call me proud.
Yes, Mazikeen passed her Puppy Foundation exams. I thought, if I am honest, that we would not pass as she can be a little distracted, which is due to her breed being super alert and watching for everything.
I had to prove that I could give both verbal and non-verbal commands, some and that she could understand and follow them. As well as this I had to show I could inspect my dog and check everything with her cooperation throughout.
The first test was recalling her with one word only, and when she got to me to sit and wait for her reward. The second recall was like the last, but this time, littered between her and me were balls, toys, snacks and bowls of food, so lots of distraction. The time came, and with one word she recalled straight back to me ignoring all the distractions that she passed and sat in front of me waiting for her reward. As she did the best recall sets she was given a prize, which was lovely dried fish blocks.
Next up was for her to sit and stay for 10 seconds with only one command, and me to walk away. Obediently she sat, and I walked backwards away from her, all the time keeping eye contact, and mentally telling her to stay. After what seemed like a lifetime of waiting I was allowed to call her, so rather than saying anything, I nodded to her and she ran over and received her reward.
The next test was one of the hardest, which was walking on loose-lead walking. Now, if you are a dog family, you will know that dogs just want to pull and explore quite literally everywhere and be about 30 foot in front of us. Mazikeen, being a springer with boundless energy just wants to be running all the time, and so quite a lot of times will be pulling that much, she will be walking, or hopping should I say, on her back legs as the harness stops her getting any further. The day before Maz and I went off to a quiet field with no distractions to train as I was determined to get her walking with me. The only way I could do this was to drop pieces of smelly treats in front of her so that she walked with me, this worked for a bit, but then a bird would pass or a tree would creak in the wind and off she went back up on two legs (Darwin would have been proud). After 30 minutes solid, she finally seemed to grasp what I wanted her to do. Before we went into the training hall I practised outside too with her for another half hour. Our time came and we had to start at one cone, she had to sit, then we walked at a leisurely pace to a cone at the other end of the hall, she had to sit, then we walked back to the first cone. However, Maz decided that for this she would go deaf at the cones, and just did not want to sit. I got quite frustrated and thought that this was her and me failing. She finally sat, and when we went to walk she seemed to be okay, with the odd moment of wanting to dash off, as there were dogs either side of the hall, and two in particular (brothers) were making that much noise it distracted me, nevermind Maz. The instructor told me to do it again and told the old man and woman to control their dogs. This was our last time. Before we set off, the instructor told us that apart from the distractions some of our loose-lead walking was “beautiful”. We had to shine and do this, this was my nemesis and I wanted us to beat it. GO! She sat, I nodded, we walked, she was focused on me all the way, she sat on command, I nodded, then we returned back to the first cone, and she sat again without needing command. Success!
Finally, I had to do the full dog inspection, and it was done.
So, what now? I hear you ask. Well, I have enrolled us in the intermediate training course, which when we have passed that advanced, then finally agility, and with a bit of luck competitions.