Golden Oldies

Womble is around 14 years old now.

He still has terrier tenacity in spades- as far as he is concerned the postie would have killed us all years ago without his barking!

He still enjoys leaping on Marley, nipping him as he zooms.

He is a big fan of playing with my youngest Whippet Arthur and having a good wrestle!

His age is gradually starting to show though.

As he moves away confused when the Whippets tear past him during one of his potters round the garden.

Now and then we catch him just sat in the garden staring at the house, not realising he can walk straight back in as the back door is wide open.

He leaps to the sofa to shove the others out the way for fuss, but catapults backwards as his legs don’t quite make it up there.

He’s starting to wind down, don’t get me wrong, there is SO much life in the old dog yet! He still rules the Whippets with an iron fist 😉

But I’m becoming more focussed on how we can enjoy time without too much physical exercise.

Womble and Ollie enjoying a nice walk a few years ago

Womble, in true terrier style, would still love a few hours walking a day, but his body would protest severely if I let him.

So we stick to mooches with Arthur for now, simply avoiding dogs he reacts to make for an easy life.

There are still so many things he can enjoy though, and he is very much still getting a lot out of his days.

I feel its important he gets plenty to do still, and so does Ollie. As while Ollie might only be 11 years old, he most certainly feels it more physically than Womble.

Ollie has pretty much always been an old man, so behaviour change wise, there aren’t too many to note! He is just a bit stiffer and wobbly on his legs. It’s more a case of ensuring Ollie does something, anything aside from sleeping!

I’m trying to vary our day to day activities, to keep their minds sharp and their bodies active.

We usually start the day with breakfast, something tasty added each day for variety. Natural yoghurt, sardines, a chicken wing. All are big hits. If I can pop it is a slow feeder I will, to engage those brains a bit more.

Neither can do a good long walk, but I’m very lucky we have a good sized garden!

Womble likes to play music in his spare time!

The two can join some matwork and basic training out there. Some recall games to keep the body moving, trot poles are fun too!

They’re a big fan of hunting out a nice natural rabbit ear or similar chew I’ve hidden, really working that nose, brain and body! They both look so incredibly proud and overjoyed to find it! Even when it’s barely hidden for daft Ollie.

They enjoy a bit of training, for Ollie it’s the stuff he knows well, but it brings such a light to his eyes to spin in circle, shoeing off his skills! Womble likes to work on anything, but his attention span wanes a bit more these days, so fun stuff is usually on the agenda. He’s recently decided he loves a sheepskin tuggy, so he enjoys that one too!

One thing they both enjoy the most though, is to just ensure I sit with them and fuss them. The company and direct attention is what they crave the most.

They might be starting to slow down, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy things still. It just means instead of long walks together, sometimes we just sit in the garden together and appreciate the sounds of the fledgling blackbird (that seems thrilled that he survived a brush with Arthur!)

Ollie and Womble have never hugely clicked. Ollie had firm words with Womble over his humping when he arrived and although Womble backed down, he held a grudge ever since. Ollie had no issues with Womble, after a walk in the rain he’d lick womble and attempt to keep him comfortable. This was always met with a curl of the lip and grumble.

But these days they spend much time together curled up, Womble allows Ollie to engage with him and actively seeks him out for comfort (to lay on perhaps!) These two are such different dogs, but seemingly getting closer as time goes on.

I will be blogging alot more on how these two enjoy life, and new games rather than letting Marley and Arthur hog the limelight!

Happy walks together!

Growing Up – Arthur’s Adventures

You may have noticed that it has been some time since I posted an update on Arthur’s blog. What can I say, teenage dogs are not quite as straight forward as puppies! Arthur has been going through his teenage rebellion stage and in all honesty, its been HELL.

Anyone who has reached here in the past in relation to my reactive Whippet Marley will know that I’m all about honesty, so it would be a big fat whopping lie for me to say having a teenage dog has gone smoothly…and I’m fairly confident that anyone who has seen Arthur at classes of late will know totally that saying he has been angelic would know I’m telling porkies! I can now say without any hesitation that having a teenage dog has been more of a challenge for me than my 2 reactive dogs put together!

Hormones make our cute sweet little puppies turn into crazed little devils, this is the time when they are wired to take more risks, to spread their wings and fly. Arthur has taken this incredibly seriously, he is more like a Lemming than dog, throwing himself at anything and everything that could be AMAZING FUN. If a wall gets in the way or a gate, it’s no worries, just run at it and hope for the best.  Adolescence causes our dogs to become less consistent with progress, more all over the place. So how has Arthur been going through this developmental period? Let’s start from the start…

Arthur’s separation anxiety got worse. Much worse. His anxiety got worse and combined with no frustration tolerance and teen lower tolerance I found myself unable to leave the house alone without pure precision planning. Lots of exercise, training games, valerian drops and getting my coat on and bag out of view and flying out the door. Walking the others caused him to dig at the doors and SCREAM. Living with separation anxiety is a whole blog post in itself, you cannot escape it. It is always there, you have to plan your life around it.

Arthur’s recall has been iffy from the beginning, where most pups follow you offlead Arthur would happily plonk down and stay sat at the opposite end of the field. It didn’t matter would i attempted to engage him within those early weeks he just sat. So we lost valuable time there. He began tracking scents at a young age and racing off at high speed (think spaniel..not whippet, hes got a few identity issues it would seem!) This became combined with ANOTHER issue. Arthur started to become OBSESSED by other dogs. The grass is always greener springs to mind. I couldn’t wait to get a pup who wanted to be around dogs and people, but onlead (and off!) he began with another issue…He would lay down on sight of a dog and do a Collie Creep and stalk. Yep identity issues. He had it down to perfection and its such a focussed fixed stare no food, toy or games can get him out of it. I have to wait until dog passes, or says hello.

You are thinking, why not walk Arthur with Ollie. Ollie is a supremely well behaved older whippet of mine who is so laid back, with beautiful leadwork and recall. Why not? Arthur loves Ollie. LOVES Ollie. He decided to spend his days humping Ollie. Even when onlead, which I can assure anyone, is not easy to handle on a walk! Arthur was just so over enthused at Ollie joining him Ollie decided to start running home when I let him offlead once, even with Arthur onlead. This a dog who has never run from me a day in his life! Arthur was just high on life, this was an over excitement issue, not something that neutering would resolve.

So you are all waiting what super amazing tips have I got, how did I resolve all of these issues (or have I?!) I would love to sit here and type this wonderful magical programme that has cured Arthur of all these issues. A plan that works for every dog, you follow it and POOF your issues are gone. I know people who will convince others that such things exist… but I’ll let you in on my secret to adolescence. Just remember they aren’t doing it to spite you. Be patient, be consistent in your training. BREATHE.

A few months on from the beginning of Arthur’s adolescence, I can safely say he’s starting to become quite the pleasant little dog. His separation anxiety, it’s dwindling with every passing day, becoming less and less of an issue. Rarely does he become distressed now (a whole entire blog for another day though!) Humping Ollie? It still happens, but much rarer. If he does hump, he will respond to his cue “off” and go and settle on his mat instead. Other dogs are becoming less interesting again, its a work in progress but it’s going much more smoothly now his hormones seem to have settled. His frustration tolerance has increased naturally. He actually cares about working through Kongs now, and similar puzzles. Tasks which caused him to give up instantly only a few weeks ago. He has stopped pulling on the lead again, something he began not long ago. Settling and snoozing with the others is now preferable to tearing around the living room looking for mischief to get into.

I can see him, very slowly, maturing into a lovely young dog. One my other dogs enjoy being around rather than just tolerating. Yes, I’ve had to be constantly careful and supervising and put many hours in. But he will be worth it in the end…I am certain! Next job…nailing this recall!

Pups are hard work, teenage dogs even harder. The key is persistence, patience and not chopping and changing methods. It can feel tempting to throw away positive techniques to train your puppy, as they are firing off all sorts of new behaviours. But Arthur would have some severe issues if I hadn’t tackled this period of time with patience and positivity. If I had left him to howl and cry, he would simply learn that I will not help him, and it would have increased his stress levels likely leading him to more serious issues in other areas of his life. If I shouted at or physically corrected him for any of his behaviours I would be dealing with a handshy dog who was working to avoid various situations, instead, he is finally starting to WANT to engage with me.
It’s a hard time, but it will be infinitely worth it. So keep your eyes peeled for my practical tips to surviving adolescence!

A New Chapter – Arthur’s Adventures



Arthur is my 7 month old Whippet puppy. He has been living with us for 4 months now and he is maturing into a nice little puppy. It’s not been easy for him, he came into a home with one dog with a then undiagnosed pain issue, an older jrt who rules the roost and another older whippet who tolerates puppies at best!
Puppies are like sponges. They love learning and catch on fast, there has been a video going round  Facebook of a very young puppy shaped to do various exercises. I was so excited to crack on with Arthur’s training. Arthur however, well he had other ideas…no that’s not true. Ideas require a lot of brain power…Arthur didn’t have a clue!

 

He is SUCH a poser!


Arthur was so unlike the rest of the gang here, they were all so eager to learn and get involved with us as owners. Arthur had no time for people, why would he? At 12 weeks old ,when i picked him up from the breeder, it was very apparent he had minimal attention placed on him and minimal work put in. He was happy and healthy, but he occupied himself with his litter mates, who were all hand shy. Arthur’s stronger level of resilience to handling is what caused me to pick him. I should have forseen that to fit in here he would have some form of quirkiness!

 

Arthur just LOVES Ollie



Arthur looked blankly at all the treats i used. Whether it was a fancy dog treat, cheap dog treat, piece of meat, peanut butter, anything you can think of.. it just wouldn’t float Arthur’s boat. Luring him with anything resulted in another blank expression as he casually wandered off. Patience, I kept telling myself. A few days in and he will get it. Which I found myself repeating at each interval, 1 week in and he will come good…2 weeks repeating the same mantra… On and on until, at around 6 weeks of being here something switched on AHA food is good! He began to learn the basics, and we got to crack on a bit more with recall (that’s another blog for another day!) He loves obedience, less so shaping or tricks. Now he can’t get enough of our training sessions. It has taken some patience, but he is shaping up to be a cracking little dog! Keep your eyes peeled on our future posts, discussing socialisation, recall and how he is getting on with other members of the gang, Marley, Ollie & Womble.

 

Arthur at our Puppy Play sessions