I tried a new thing with Erik as I had to take Ragnar on a shoot all day on his own so I needed to leave Erik with my parents for the day. This is a first for Erik as I have never left him with anyone else previously, he has always either been with me in the car or left at home for short periods of time. I had done a couple of sessions where I walked the boys separately and so he was left for 30 mins or so with my parents and then left him for the day. He was apparently a bit confused and went looking for me initially but then settled down and was quite happy for the rest of the day. I’m pleased with this and will be doing some more leaving him with my parents over the coming months as I may need to leave him with them when I start to compete with Ragnar in Working Tests over the summer. It is not always possible to get back to a dog left in the car at lunch time if they work through.
We had another joint lesson with Gwen and I worked on heel work with distractions and tidying up Erik’s heel position and making it more independent and consistent. He was mostly quiet whilst he was watching. He found it difficult when I was doing some retrieve work with Ragnar. I need to invest in a remote treat dispenser to make rewarding the watching dog easier from a distance.
I took Erik out on the same shoot that I took Ragnar to previously and he worked very well. Quiet in the beaters wagon on the way to the first drive but was a bit noisy when we had to drop off other beaters on the second drive and we had to stay in the wagon because we were in the last group to be dropped off. He did manage some standing around without being noisy and on the third drive we had a long wait before we began and he managed with me standing still and was quiet for a lot of the time. He managed to look for treats and was not too bad at all. I can see some great improvements overall but still some way to go. He worked very well and was generally responsive to his whistles although he could be a little sharper. I am looking forward to next year when I will be able to work him every week consistently. I am interested to see what affect being able to work him every week has on his behaviour.
I took Erik out for two more half days on the new shoot and it was a bit of a mixed bag with noise. Some good bits and some not so good bits. The gamekeeper has invited me to go over to the shoot grounds to train during this year so I will take him up on the offer and go and just hang out and do crate games stuff and lead work and general boring things to habituate Erik to being there without working and to being around birds without being able to work them.
Erik’s shoulder problems seem to be improving greatly with the physio exercises and stretches and the fur over his shoulders which was all curly is now starting to lie down properly again showing that the muscle spasms are reducing. He is also more comfortable with his hydro treadmill so hopefully if we can continue building his strength and fitness over this year then by next season, he should be ready to work every week.
Erik has been posing for some more photographs for my next book, he is really great sitting still and doing what is needed. I think he secretly likes posing!!