Have you ever wondered what the most important thing is that you can teach your dog? Me too, until last week, when that all changed…

It was a Saturday and I had just completed a busy shift at work and came home to greet my dog, an 18 month cocker spaniel called Romeo. After letting him out of his crate, I let him outside into the garden to do his business (like usual) and then I noticed that the garden gate was wide open, it must’ve been the bin men this morning. I scanned the garden for Romeo, but it was too late… He had already shot out like a flash. I panicked; I didn’t know what to do. Do I chase after him? Do I call him? I knew that his recall wasn’t always 100%, especially when he is on a scent trail (typical cocker) so calling him probably wouldn’t work. He was already halfway down the road at this point, sprinting as fast as he could, my heart was in my mouth. Horrific scenarios ran through my head. Then it hit me… We had recently passed our Good Citizen Dog Scheme Gold Test and one of the exercises we had to complete was the ‘emergency stop’. During training, Romeo was excellent at this, so I pulled out my whistle from my pocket and gave a sharp peep, just like what I had done in the test. Romeo heard the whistle and he instantly knew what to do, he spun round and sat down as quick as he could! He sat and waited for me to walk up to him so I could attach his lead, just like how I had taught him during our training classes. When I approached him, I gave him the biggest fuss ever, I couldn’t describe how relieved and proud I was to have him in my arms. All the hard work and training that I had put into Romeo had paid off and I potentially saved his life…

This is the reason why I am writing this blog post, to show how one exercise can be so vital. If I didn’t have that piece of training in my toolkit, Romeo might not have been here right now. It makes you realise how important training your dog really is and that you really do get out what you put in. I see so many different dog owners with different training styles, some that want to teach their dog anything and everything and others that only want a dog as company and teach it the basics. But if I could give every dog owner a piece of advice it would be to teach their dog the emergency stop, think how many lives it could save… It isn’t just an exercise to help you pass your gold test, but it is a vital piece of training that can be used in real life.

You can start teaching this to puppies as young as 8 weeks or golden oldies as old as 10, it really doesn’t matter how old your dog is. You also don’t need a whistle to teach this either, you can just use your voice (whistles are widely used within the ‘gundog world’). You can even turn it into a game by using an exciting toy or a tennis ball, so it is fun for your dog and not as structured and formal (Romeo really enjoyed using a tennis ball during training!).

Training should be fun and enjoyable for your dog and for you! It shouldn’t be a chore; it should be a bonding activity between you and your dog. You really will see the benefits! Overall the point of this blog post is to basically share my experience and how helpful the emergency stop was in my situation and hopefully shed some light on how vital training your dog really is. Also, what a bonus, if you teach the emergency stop now you will be prepared and ready for your gold test!

~Ruby Brooks~

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