Training the dog in front of you. It’s one of those things I feel is really important.
No dog is the same. They all have different likes and dislikes, they all have different quirks to their character. They can be the same breed as other dogs you have had in the past, they can be the same age as things you have taught previous dogs. But they cannot be the same dog.
Arthur has been with us for almost 2 years now. I knew I should expect many challenges adding another dog to the household. Marley and Womble are both reactive and highly strung, but both were at a point where they were much improved. I knew my biggest battle would be preventing reactivity in this loudmouth little puppy. Arthur has developed a few quirks as he has matured, however I am starting to realise something very important. Arthur is not Marley. Arthur is his own dog, I need to relax!!
The last 6 months Arthur’s tolerance for young males has decreased drastically, he has got a little more vocal and bouncy on lead. I have pretty much been avoiding dogs for the last 6 months, not deliberately. Just as a standard I guess. Once issues appear, you need to manage them. I am so used to Marley’s much more severe issues, it seemed the sensible step. But I found the more I have avoided…the more tense I have become. The more I have avoided, the more stressed I have been.
I should add I don’t mean walking him at midnight but instead seeing dogs and crossing roads. Avoiding areas where dogs go off lead. It was easier, less stressful. It became the new normal. However, I stumbled back into a routine of walking where many dogs go again recently. Every time someone asks “Is he friendly?” I feel myself hesitate and pause for so long ” Erm..yeah…I guess..He can be a bit much though?” I should answer YES he is friendly! There is nothing wrong with Arthur. Yep, he will tell inappropriate young males off..but that is fair. He probably pushes it a little now and then, but the other dogs push him as a starting point. He doesn’t really deserve to be postured at and jumped all over. It probably hurts him with his incredibly light frame!
On meeting more and more dogs again,I realised that actually, Arthur hasn’t had an issue…I have. I have been so worried that actually, Arthur was the problem. When I know if I was working with him as a customers dog, I would explain that although Arthur needs to learn manners in some situations, most of the time he’s being on the ball when telling another dog to back off- and he has every right to. I let Marley’s issue’s take over (Well, he doesn’t like to be left out!)
Do I have much to work on with Arthur? Absolutely! But I need to work on it and realise he won’t be dreadful, and he won’t be traumatized, and he won’t traumatize another dog. Arthur is Arthur. I need to not get worried he will be like Marley. They are almost polar opposites in every way.
Whether it is another dog you have or have had in the past, or even a friend’s dog; don’t expect the same behaviour. Don’t expect to resolve it in the same way. Appreciate your dog for who he is. And ensure that you are respecting them for the individual they are.
I realise that once again I have neglected this blog! Life has got in the way, as it easily can.
Expect to see more of my inane ramblings in future, on my 4 dogs and a bit more on the work we do with customer’s dogs now and then!
Fireworks are very challenging for some dogs to handle, the sound can be very overwhelming. It can cause some dogs to spiral into a panic and get into a state.
If this were one night that could be predicted, it would make everything easier for us as dog owners, but we all know that it is generally more like a few days, to a few weeks to even a few months of the noises for some of us!
Get prepared NOW. Do you not wait until the night.
Be prepared if you have:
-A puppy, you may not know how they will handle the noises. -A recently rescued dog. Again you may not know how they will handle these sounds. -An older dog. An older dog may develop fears as they age that they didn’t previously have in their youth. -A generally anxious dog. Fireworks could easily be a trigger for dogs who are generally anxious. -A dog you KNOW is already scared of fireworks.
Start your prep NOW, don’t delay it.
Search “fireworks” in youtube, and play this sound in the background frequently. Ensure its at the lowest volume possible. So as not to distress your dog. This is important.
Play this quietly at a barely audible level for a few days, then increase the volume after a few playthroughs, only increasing the volume by one “notch” each time. If your dog is reacting or showing signs of anxiety- go back a step. Over the coming few weeks increase the volume very slowly. Do not rush this.
By doing this you will help your dog become accustomed to the sounds.
Often people say to me “But my dogs KNOWS when its the computer and when its not real” Some dogs can become more anxious when they are real, as there will be physical pressure and sounds much closer and higher. However desensitizing them to the sounds at the very least goes a long way. My top tip for this is to buy a bluetooth speaker, rig it up to your phone or computer. Then place the speaker near a window. This will help give a more realistic effect of the sound and where it comes from.
For my dogs, I will be exposing them to the sounds at very low levels when they are relaxed, and when they are having meals. So they are getting positive associations and associations with relaxation too.
-Ensure that your dog’s i.d and microchip details are up to date. Your dog should be safe and secure on fireworks night, but as discussed earlier you cannot always know when people might let them off nearby on other days. Having all contact details up to date will ensure your dog is quickly reunited should anything go wrong. -Speak to your vet if you are concerned about your dog and how badly they will handle it, they will be able to advise appropriately.
-If your dog is anxious DON’T let them out in the evening on fireworks night. It is NOT worth the risk. Keep them secure. -DO NOT take your dog out during the fireworks. This will not reduce their fear and will more than likely backfire. -DO reassure your dog if they approach you when they are anxious. You cannot reinforce a fear in your dog. Your presence will likely provide them with more comfort.
-Try giving your dog a den, such as a crate or quiet place in the house. This will help them feel more secure. One of my dogs prefers the landing or upstairs on fireworks night so he is allowed to sleep there. -A thundershirt or anxiety wrap can be ideal for some dogs. BUT please get your dog used to wearing it BEFORE fireworks. Some dogs can shut down and become anxious wearing one, refusing to move. Some owners may misinterpret this as a dog who is relaxed, and then when fireworks arrive the dog will be doubly stressed. Ensure your dog is used to wearing one, and being rewarded for moving around in one if they look uncomfortable.
-Sprays and plugins can be helpful, some dogs get on great with Pet Remedy while others do well with adaptil, while some dogs may appear to show no signs of reduced stress with them. -Dorwest Valerian Drops are fast acting and provide my oldest Whippet Ollie with much relief on fireworks night.
Whatever happens, be there for your dog and prep your dogs well.
This is something that I hear often, particularly from puppy owners. It can be a nightmare, as you are calling and calling your puppy in from the garden, and this doesn’t work and they continue to run around, in fact when you go to approach them to bring them in… they seem to think its a game and run around more right?
Dogs do what works for them, so we need to be sure coming in when called pays off for your dog.
Think about when you call your dog when they are in the garden. Chances are high you call them, they might initially return, and then you shut them in.
Wow. Double whammy of not so fun! Not only did they not get paid for their good behaviour, but then they had to be shut in, that is a bad result for a dog who wants to enjoy time in the garden.
If you call them in a few times, don’t reward them and shut them in.. and your dog finds time in the garden pays off more…they will decide staying in the garden pays off more, and start ignoring you calling them in. This is what usually happens and then the dog becomes more and more likely to refuse.
There are two simple tips that will help ensure your dog comes flying to you when you need them to come in from the garden!
1. Practice recall in the garden alot. Make sure you are paying your dog with high value treats, be sure not to nag and only use their name and recall command once in a really exciting way!
2. Practice by the back door, call your dog reward them for coming…then let them back into the garden! This teaches them that being called into the house doesn’t mean the end of fun! This will really help to strengthen your dogs recall into the house as it means good things and doesn’t always mean the end of fun.
Also, never chase your dog to bring them in, this WILL make it into a game or make returning to the house stressful, instead practice as suggested above.
Practice little and often and you will find that your dog is soon flying into the house whenever you call them!
It has almost been a year since Arthur came into our house like a little whirlwind! He came in and changed life for all of us with his various quirks. He settled in beautifully with Marley, and they have become firm friends, despite a few challenges along the way (Marley’s determination Arthur’s ears are detachable being just one!) It’s hard to believe that in February of last year Marley was struggling badly with pain and his behaviour was spiralling to such a bad level. Marley had always been reactive to people and dogs on walks, but this had become very manageable with a lot of work and commitment, with him and Ollie able to walk and see dogs with no reaction to the majority of dogs we saw. HowevMarley’seys behaviour was becoming very worrying in the home, he had began to redirect on people and dogs at events that triggered his anxiety. Mainly if someone at the door or dogs the other side of the fence. Marley would began to grab and bite whoever was closest whether human or canine when he could hear the neighbours dogs, and began to snap and bite towards us when we went to answer the door. Along with this he had become hesitant about walking again, and had several episodes where he became lame suddenly and his gait just seemed “off” to me. He had begun growling when any of the dogs went near him when sleeping and started to lash out more and more. Marley has always had a lot of problems, quite a few of the more serious ones in recent years related to his Epilepsy. But he was becoming harder and harder to handle, and more and more agitated. We were told to greatly reduce his exercise to look for improvement. This seemed to help, and I continued to work solidly on his behaviour. Keeping him onlead in the garden and away from the fencing. Very carefully desensitizing him to the door being knocked on and me answering it, as well as ensuring he got the most amazing treats throughout. Marley is a pessimistic dog, so training is always a challenge. He needs so many more positive or neutral experiences to counter balance old behaviour patterns than the average dog. His behaviour began to improve again and he began to relax more and more. (This is the super short version of his training!) After many tests and vet visits he was diagnosed with Cervical Disc Disease, this was shortly after Arthur came home. Having a diagnosis was a great relief. Arthur began to bond closely with Marley and seemed to provide him much comfort when he was uncertain. I reduced Marley’s out of the home exercise for a while. It was becoming a challenge to walk him without him reacting due to pain, and on equipment that didn’t cause him further discomfort (he found harnesses most uncomfortable for some reason!) He has enjoyed much playing with Arthur, and brain games and only recently have I realised that Marley is actually much calmer and happier. I had always been incredibly worried about adding a puppy into the home with Marley, however for Marley it seems to have provided him a comfort. Marley has not had a seizure since September 2017. This is the longest period of time he hasn’t had a seizure since his epilepsy began. Marley is enjoying life at the pace he dictates, and he’s loving that! He gets a walk if he wants, fuss when he wants, puzzles and training when he wants! He is still a much more confident dog than he ever was and I am keen to keep him that way by still taking him out whenever he wants a walk or to meet friends and their dogs he loves!
As soon as Arthur was brought home I was determined he would be crate trained. There are so many benefits to this including the potential for him to come to training sessions with me when he matured. I had various kongs and chews at the ready. A massive spanner was put in the works though, as I have previously mentioned, Arthur would not eat from Kong’s, he would not eat chews, and he really didn’t entertain food for the first few weeks. So how did crate training go?
It didn’t. Arthur had a crate at his breeder’s so I assumed he would have been ok, I attempted training in the daytime. This just didn’t happen, food wasn’t very interesting. I tried placing his meals in there, he ate and left promptly. I tried popping him in his crate with the door open when he was in a deep puppy sleep, he scooted straight out. He slept with his crate directly next to my bed at night with minimal interruptions but with random whimperings throughout the night once his bladder could manage it he joined me on the bed. I assume because he was used to spending every moment he could with his littermates and minimal input from the humans in his household at the breeders it was all a lot to take in, he was 12 weeks old which was a month older than the age i had wanted to bring a puppy home at.
Arthur bonded fast with everyone, in his own fashion. To the point not being in the room with us caused hysterics. I do not believe in ignoring a distressed dog. There is science to suggest this does much harm and knocks a puppies self-confidence, particularly at a young age. This meant he spent most of his time with us, and I had to watch his every waking move to interrupt him dive bombing on my oldest whippet, or chewing up the skirting boards. Toys were not very interesting either. Plastic Bottles were at least of some interest, so many of those were given to him for entertainment.
A month or so into Arthur joining us, Marley (one of my older whippets) had to go on 6 weeks of complete rest- including no play with Arthur. Including no Arthur attaching himself to his neck. So we had to put up a gate to separate them unless sleeping. Arthur did not appreciate this, neither did Marley. Arthur’s anxiety about being separated increased. There was much frustration, crying and an Arthur thinking he could chew up a metal gate (he probably could!) This was managed by increasing Arthur’s exercise and mental stimulation (sit for the plastic bottle went down well, odd little dog!)
The last 6 months have been a busy blur! But at some point, Arthur began to enjoy food and chews! I had begun leaving him with a dental stick which occupied him while I left. This helped stop him crying when I left. However, going upstairs was against the rules (Arthur’s rules!), walking the others were against the rules too. He didn’t spend time harassing me for attention, he got plenty of that so would happily settle when I was around, but he lacked any independence.
So Arthur is now almost 9 months old. Arthur will go in his crate when presented with the opportunity, but will not remain in it for long without food! Arthur cannot be left if I go in the back garden with one of the others for training. So where do we go from here? Well ignoring the issue isn’t an option, we have managed it until this point but unless we address it, it will always be managed not dealt with.
You can see above some vague, wittering notes. These are to keep me motivated, I am very busy lately day to day. If a plan is not made, something does not get done. Having a plan prior to the session means we can see what works and what does not. Currently, we are building independence. This is NOT achieved by ignoring Arthur, this is NOT achieved by reducing exercise. This is achieved by allowing Arthur to feel that GOOD things happen when he is separate. Planning ahead I have several kongs in the fridge, a moderate level of difficulty. To keep him occupied and to challenge him enough to take his mind from me. Too easy? He does it and whines, too difficult? He quickly gives up. It must be full of high value treats, or he loses interest.
I put the toy down, on his mat that he enjoys settling on anyway, set the timer. And I leave the room, closing the gate behind me. I do nothing exciting, usually typing something up. I am out of sight, but the door is not closed, that is too much of a challenge currently. I have tended to work on this in an evening, when he is naturally more tired and likely to settle, setting him up to succeed. We are moving to morning times too. I will continue to increase time and then begin to start doing more with the others. If he begins to react, i have pushed him too far. Behaviour is always information! I hate to see it when trainers describe anxious dogs as bossy, Arthur is unhappy being alone. So he must learn it is a positive thing. Keep an eye on his blog to see how he progresses on this one! I have a feeling it’s going to be a bumpy ride!