The Nala – who is training who

I’ve finally got round to downloading the Audio book of ‘let my people surf‘ by Yvon Chouinard. Patagonia is one of my most admired brands so I’m really looking forward to the book. I’m only 1 chapter in and already loving it.

Yvon talks about his early life and his hawk training. Yes, actual hawk training (I may want to be him a little bit…)

When a 15 year old has to trap a wild Goshawk, stay up all night with her until the bird develops enough trust to fall asleep on his fist and then train the proud bird using only positive reenforcement, the Zen master would have to ask who is training who here.

Yvon Chouinard

This is how I feel about Nala and her training. I always considered myself a calm person (as long as we don’t watch an Arsenal match together after a couple of coffees you will believe me). The following is on the Hungarian Vizsla Wikipedia page:

…must be trained gently and without harsh commands or strong physical correction, as they have sensitive temperaments and can be easily damaged if trained too harshly. However the owner must show quiet authority in training, otherwise the dog is likely to take over the training session.

No pressure then.

Be calm but firm. In control but kind.

Or you may break your dog permanently…

Nala has been a wonderful addition to our family in so many ways. One of the biggest bonuses is that because positive reenforcement is the only way to go with the breed I have to find a calm head space before working with Nala. After months of owning Nala I find myself in a calmer head space in general.

We are working on Nala’s training, and in the best possible way she is allowing us to work on training ourselves at the same time.

The Nala – preparing for a baby

Pippa and I are expecting our first baby in May.

We couldn’t be more excited.

The nursery is being painted (more to be done tonight) the buggy, car seat, cot and everything else has been bought.

We’re ready(ish).

The one variable we are still working on is The Nala. She has been the sole focus of our lives for the last few months since she came into our home. This will change in a couple of months when Baby Tucker arrives.

We have a book which comes with a cd of baby noises, we’re going to learn to walk beside the buggy with Nala. Nala will learn to settle whilst Pippa feeds the baby. We even have a doll to show Nala how to behave when we are holding the baby.

We won’t know how Nala will be until we bring the baby home. I’m ever hopeful that Nala will love the baby with all her heart.

We’re preparing like she will go mental but expecting her to be fine.

The Nala – Progress

I keep hearing that the Marines make their bed first thing in the morning. It sets you up for the day on a win, you’ve already achieved something in the first 30 seconds of the day.

I keep hearing that, but apparently I also keep repeating it. Whenever I go to tell Pippa that story she smiles and says ‘I know’. The kindest possible way to say ‘you tell me that roughly twice a day’.

This morning Nala and I got up at 6:35, played some chase. Chase is a game Nala invented where she grabs a toy, walks over to you and taps you with one paw and exepcts you to chase her round the dining table until she gets bored.

She doesn’t get bored easily.

We then went on a walk. Lead training is the current order of the day. Last nights walk and this mornings were SO successful. There is work to do but she is walking better than ever. A win.

Breakfast was next. A mix of Duck, beef and deer. For her, not me obviously. There are some mornings I don’t even fancy cereal – duck isn’t a breakfast meal for me.

We then made her peanut butter and banana kongs to go in the freezer for her nap times.

We unloaded the dishwasher, took the bin out and made Pippa tea (well I did, Nala wandered about with a toy).

I couldn’t feel more productive. The day has started on a win.

Here’s how the day would have gone without Nala.

This morning I woke up at 7:20, grabbed a shower and left for the train.

When we were buying Nala people all said ‘your life will change competely’ and ‘good luck getting any sleep’ followed by ‘are you really prepared for a puppy’.

Our lives have changed completely, all for the better. I do go to bed earlier and wake up earlier to play with my dog, she sleeps 11 hours at night with not a peep. Was I prepared for a puppy? I’m not sure I was. I thought I was. It is more wonderful than I could have imagined.

Nala has improved our lives in so many ways, starting each day on a win is just one.

The Nala – Train the brain and body

The dog has four legs and one head and all five need activity in different ways – both physical and mental.

Nina Ottosson

Nala is a Vizsla. A simple Google search will quickly warn you that a Vizsla is not for everyone.  They have the brain activity requirements of a rocket scientist and the physical requirements of an Olympic long distance runner.

Frightening right.

Nala does need exercise, her brain gets bored very, very easily but she is also wonderful. She is cuddly, kind to strangers and a wonderful companion.

I put that in because it is no bad thing that she needs exercise and mental work, we chose her in part for that reason.

Getting Nala a physical workout is easy. She will walk as far as you want to (only up to 45 mins at the moment due to bone formation) and will them crash. The trouble with that is that because of all this exercise and her all raw diet her fitness very quickly adapts. What will send her to sleep on a Saturday will not scratch the surface on the Thursday.

Now for the brain!

The brain workout consistently wipes her out. Scent work, treat gambling and lead work all tire the little pups brain out. Again, she quickly learns but a lot slower than her fitness adapts.

This week I have ordered Nala’s first Nina Ottosson games. We’ve ordered the following:

Dog Magic (Level 1)

Dog Spinny (Level 1)

I’ve heard great things but held off up until this point and focussed on other games.

They arrive later this week. Let’s see how Nala likes a mental sweat…

The Nala – ‘You need to watch out for…’

This is Nala. I think she looks like Jar Jar Binks.

Nala is a hyperactive puppy who loves life. This involves being interested in everything, greeting everyone with equal enthusiasm and generally being lovely.

Training Nala is fun. She gets new tricks quite quickly, unless she’d rather be doing something else (sniffing a tree, chasing a leaf etc). We intend to get that little dog brain working as hard as possible with Gun dog training, swimming, trail running and agility training.

Which brings me to day 1 of this weeks subject – Nala the dog.

I received roughly 1 trillion scare stories about buying a Vizsla. They’re too energetic, they’re too big, they will destroy your house. None of these came true.

Lots of sentences start with ‘you need to watch out for’.


1) You want to go running with her? You need to watch out that she doesn’t get so fast she doesn’t run away.

2) You’re doing agility? Watch out that she doesn’t get so clever she goes mental.

3) You’re crate training her? Watch out that she doesn’t develop separation anxiety.

Nala has been absolutely lovely, I can’t decide if people were worried when they didn’t need to be or we just lucked out.

This week I shall be writing about Nala, how we got her, how we’re training her and what’s next.

Happy Monday!