Category: Poppy

Dog Walks in Pembrokeshire – Bosherston Lily Ponds

There’s nothing like a long walk during the winter to blow away the cobwebs and make room for some more tea and cake. While we were in Pembrokeshire over Christmas, we went for a lovely walk around Bosherston Lily Ponds and Broadhaven South (not to be with the ‘other’ Broadhaven… which I did.) It’s a great walk that can be extended or shortened, depending on what you’re looking for/what the weather’s doing.

Lily Ponds Lily Ponds Dogwalk The Lily Ponds

We were very lucky with the weather when we went. It was dry, slightly cold and the sun was out, which is when Pembrokeshire is at it’s very best and you can understand why it’s such a popular tourist destination.

BosherstonBosherston rushes

Half way round the ponds is the entrance to Broadhaven South beach, which is well worth visiting in its own right. It’s a gorgeous beach, which Poppy absolutely loved.Broadhaven Bosherston Bosherston Lily Ponds Poppy at BosherstonBroadhaven SouthBroadhaven Dog walkLooking at these pictures now, you’d think we were there in the height of summer! I imagine this beach would be packed then, but we’ll have to go back to find out. Whether you decide to do visit the beach as well or just the lily ponds, it’s a lovely walk, whatever the weather. There’s some great wildlife to be seen too.

The Walk: The walk around the lily ponds is circular and you can find out more here on the National Trust website.
Cost: Free
Car Park: There is a car park for the lily ponds in Bosherston, which is where we parked. There is a fee, but we didn’t realise and the booth wasn’t manned when we were there so we didn’t pay anything. Oops! I’ll make an extra donation to the National Trust next time we’re near one of their places – promise!
Refreshments: There’s a lovely little tea room in Bosherston itself, which does a superb cream tea and serves it on the front lawn.
Toilets: There are toilets in the car park.

Dog Walks in Pembrokeshire – Freshwater East

During a recent visit home to Pembrokeshire, I needed to get on a beach and breath in the sea air. Growing up near the coast means that you miss that salty air when you’re away from it too long. We headed to Freshwater East for a change and it was a great success. We managed to get there during low tide, which meant we had quite a lot of beach to play around on as well as some rock pools for Poppy to play in.

Freshwater EastRock Pools for dogs Freshwater East Pembrokeshire Poppy on Fresh EastFree poo bagsFresh EastDamp dog

Freshwater East is dog friendly all year round and they even had a bank of free dog poo bags, so don’t forget to pick it up and bin it! It’s really popular with families during the nice weather as it’s such a lovely beach so be aware that it can get really busy. During those times, we’d put Poppy on her lead, but when we went, it was pretty quiet so Poppy was allowed to be off the lead for most of her walk, which meant she could leap about in the rock pools. She had so much fun running about the rocks on the beach and leapt over a few, which was ace. She did this again on the other side of the beach, but didn’t realise there was a massive pool of water behind the rock and got completely soaked! She shook it off though and was a real trooper! Fresh East is a lovely beach and we’ll definitely be going back there over Christmas.

The Walk: There are a number of walks you can do around Freshwater East, as well as just walking along the beach. It’s definitely worth being aware when the tide will be out so that you can get as much beach in as you can.
Cost: Free
Car Park: There is a car park at Freshwater East, which is free from 1st November to 31st March. It costs £1 for one hour, £3 for 3 hours and £5 for over three hours.
Refreshments: I can remember going to the shop at Fresh East as a child, but it wasn’t open when we went and I can’t remember if it’s still there, so pack a thermos and some homemade flapjack, just in case.
Toilets: There are toilets at the entrance to the beach.

Dealing with Separation Anxiety

Separation AnxietyA little while ago, after watching a channel 4 documentary on dogs and their secret lives, we recorded Poppy while we went out and found that she very unsettled when left on her own. She got extremely stressed and worked up and showed behaviour such as toileting indoors (once even on our bed!), pacing, panting and howling. While we are very lucky to have extremely understanding and dog loving neighbours, we knew we couldn’t go on letting Poppy be so unhappy while she was on her own. And it’s not like she’s on her own a lot or for long periods of time, but we want a happy, stress free dog. We got in touch with local dog trainers, K9 Playtime Academy Dog Training School and we haven’t looked back.

Our aim is to have a dog who isn’t really bothered if we’re there or not, so that if she needs to be left on her own for a couple of hours, she can. While we’re not quite there, we’re really close. Poppy is an excellent dog for training. She is hugely motivated by food, she’s a very quick learner and she enjoys training – she wags her tail throughout every training session! We’ve trained her to lie down on her mat, with her face on her paws and are working on getting her to lie on her side. We started by just getting her to sit on her mat and have progressed from there. We’re also working on getting her to stay on her mat while we move away. So far, we can get to the front door and have the front door open and she’ll stay on her mat. The next step is for us to go out the front door, close it and get her to stay on her mat. To make sure she doesn’t move, we’ve bought a camera that we can watch her on through our iPhone to see how she’s behaving.

The first time Poppy lay on her mat with her head on her paws, both the trainer and I very nearly cried! During training, you can see Poppy thinking really hard to work out what we want so when she does work it, it’s pretty awesome! We use a clicker throughout training and it works really well. Training sessions always leave us exhausted, but we’ve learnt so, so much and I can’t wait for the day we have a real breakthrough with Poppy and can leave her on her own without her getting stressed. We now know that if we want Poppy to behave in a certain way, we have to shape it, start small and be patient. Quite often, I’ll rush things or think we’ve pushed her too far, when we haven’t at all and I’m just being impatient. One thing is certain, and that’s Poppy will get there. It just takes a little time.

One thing our trainer recommended to us was a relaxation protocol, Champion of My Heart and it works by changing your dogs reactions to things that make them stressed, be it noise, separation anxiety or fear. It works really well and I can’t recommend it enough. Have you tried anything that’s worked particularly well for shaping your dogs behaviour? I think reward based training is always a winner – and why not? It works for me, so why wouldn’t it work for Poppy?!

 

Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – Oxford City

A few weekends ago, we decided to take Poppy into Oxford. We generally don’t walk her in busy places very often because it’s so difficult. Poppy tends to walk with her nose and therefore walks in a zigzag style. When it’s busy, it’s a bit like wrestling a pig rather than walking a dog! But we know we need to train her to walk better in busy places so off we went. And she was a star! She was really well behaved, patient when we went into shops & walked really well on the lead.

Oxford looks beautiful at most times of the year, but especially in autumn. We parked in Norham Gardens, headed along Parks Road and into town. After a bit of a mooch about, we headed towards Jericho. We stopped off at Companion cafe on Little Clarendon Street and then headed back to the car, just in time before it started raining!

Poppy in OxfordRadcliffe History Museum Oxford Sheldonian Oxford Oxford Oxford Bridge Broad Street OxfordPoppy in the city

The Walk: Oxford is such a beautiful city, there are loads of places to walk. We kept to the quieter streets, due to Poppy’s zigzag walking style!
Cost: Free
Car Park: You can park in the Westgate carpark, but it costs a fortune. We parked in Norham Gardens, which is cheaper and nicer. Plus it’s right near University Parks. It’s £3 for two hours.
Refreshments: Oxford is full of lovely cafes. We sat outside Companion in Little Clarendon Street, as the tables are under cover and it’s a nice quiet street.
Toilets: There are some scattered around, but most cafes have them if you can sneak in!