Woof!!!

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There’s no more appropriate bowl for our boy than this. Except when he’s meant to be testing his self control, that is.

In the last post I outlined all our plans for getting some control over our Beagles in the great outdoors, but after a couple of weeks of practice those plans have had to be revised. As I mentioned last time, Biggles sails through all the self control exercises. The reason for this, I think, is that they don’t tap into the primal hunting¬† behaviors that can give us such a headache on hillwalk. You might argue that doesn’t matter and that the training will nevertheless give him greater self control over time, but I tend to doubt it. You see he’s just so chilled during the training that we spend all our time trying to gee him up and none trying to calm him down.

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Time for self control training Dad? Yeah.. I’ll be right there after my nap.

One day I made what I thought was an irresistible food sock – brimming over with chicken and other tasty stuff. I let him stay beside me in the kitchen as I prepared it; he was wagging reasonably enthusiastically throughout so I had high hopes. However the moment we headed out into the garden, he realized this was an exercise and not a free-for-all and lost all interest in the sock. I made a little hole in it, tied it to the end of the lunge whip and took off round the garden like a nutter in the hope that he’d give chase. His reaction? He found a few traces of bird poo on the grass and started rolling in it. I responded by making a bigger hole in the sock (so that half of the contents fell out), and dangled it just above his nose. He just sat calmly ignoring it, with a blank look on his face and a big white guano stain on one ear flap. To complete this epic failure, when I gave up and let him back in the house he headed straight into the kitchen and “boinged” the oven gloves off of the worktop. Needless to say we’ve given up on the “classic” self control exercises, and instead I’m now concentrating on trying to keep him calm when he sees the postman approaching the house – one of the few things at home that really does get him excited.

Beanie on the other hand has no trouble getting thoroughly excited for the self-control exercises, in fact it would be more accurate to say she gets excited by the exercises. She does whatever is required of her to get the reward, but then for the rest of the day she’s wired, into everything and quite likely to give poor Biggles a good telling off if he puts a foot wrong. Ironically the worst exercise of all in this respect is the chill mat; she now gets over excited at the very sight of it and woofs demandingly when we take it away. So we’ve had to abandon the mat training for Beanie, at least in its original form. Instead we can maybe train her to see it as a surrogate basket – not a rewarding thing, but somewhere comfortable that you just have stay in/on until you’re told otherwise.

And yet in the midst of all these failures we had a remarkably quiet sunset trip up Ben A’an.

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It’s fair to say the biggest trouble we had on that trip came from the cheap Tesco popup shelter we’d brought to help with the wind chill. Like all of these things it popped up easy enough, but getting it back into its collapsed state and into its carry bag was another story entirely. As we wrestled with the shelter Beanie & Biggles wrestled with each other – but other than that, our pups were just great. Even on the way down there was minimal pulling and only the tiniest baying outbreak just as we arrived back at the car.

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Any takers for a play fight on a mountain? It would seem so..

Encouraged by this apparent progress (which was more than likely a fluke) we invested in some camping gear. We’ve already got a caravan which is great for a holiday of several days or so, but it’s overkill for a brief overnight visit just to take in a sunset/sunrise in the highlands. So, after years of flat out refusing ever to contemplate camping, we now have a tent. It’s apparently quite a good one as far these things go..

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It’s quite roomy inside, and has a built in chin rest for boy Beagles.

Biggles has already taken a liking to the sleeping bags. I dunno where the rest of us are going to sleep, but he’s going to be nice and comfy, that’s for sure.

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Of course it’s one thing to do a practice camping session in the garden; the real deal – in a campsite or even worse “wild camping” – is likely to be a completely different experience. The cynic in me believes that Beanie and Biggles kept their woofers in check on Ben A’an just so we’d trust them in a tent. Maybe in a few weeks time we’ll be chasing two escaped baying Beagles round a mountain top in complete darkness!