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!

Why won’t my puppy walk?

Some puppies love walkies, from the very first moment they get outside they’re just having a ball. They kind of potter along nearby you taking in all the sights and sounds, likely leaping all over every passerby and wriggling away at every dog! Exactly what you expected owning a puppy to be like.
Some pups, however, don’t quite get the whole walking business. They potter along for a bit and then they put the brakes on. Looking uncertain they lay down or sit or simply attempt to break free of the harness or collar that is trying to hold them prisoner! They don’t seem to be enjoying the experience a huge amount and as we get more frustrated they do too.

      Arthur looking innocent

I picked up Arthur 3 weeks ago now, he is one of those pups! He is a confident young dog but sometimes it just all becomes a bit much. He stops. And he doesn’t often budge. I can get a toy out, I can throw some treats around. I can get all excited, kneel on the floor…yeah you name it I have tried it! He is just a bit miffed by this walking around business, sometimes he is bored, sometimes he is tired. Sometimes he simply doesn’t want to walk. At this age, my main concern is socialisation vs walking on a loose lead. I have seen too many dogs who have never got near people or dogs and ended up with issues as their trainer obsessed over them walking perfectly and having PERFECT manners. He is a puppy, nice manners get rewarded but I want him to be seeing the world I want him to be able to enjoy as he matures.

So here are my top tips for helping a puppy not keen on walkies:
-Do try encouraging your puppy to walk with you, it might not work but if it does, reward them heavily!
-Don’t drag, pull or chastise your puppy for refusing to walk, this will likely worsen their issues with the lead.
-If it is a certain area your puppy doesn’t enjoy/refuses to walk at. Pick them up before you get near the spot and carry them past it. This should help eliminate the behaviour if its certain places and a bad habit vs fear or anxiety.
-Try stopping and standing next to where your puppy is for a moment. Gauge how your puppy is feeling. Now try walking forward slowly again when you think they are ready if your puppy joins you reward them with treats. Sometimes our pups just need a moment and respecting that and moving on will help them.
-Reward them regularly for walking with you. If you like that behaviour vs them refusing to walk then rewarding that more will result in your puppy offering walking next to you more.
-Try walking your puppy somewhere new. Arthur actually prefers busy areas, so we are currently doing lots of trips to more interesting places. You don’t have to walk your puppy there, you can carry or drive them somewhere they prefer. The goal is that your puppy begins to enjoy walking. The time you invest now pays off big time later on.
-Play with your puppy on walks. I jog back and forth with Arthur and he realises keeping with me onlead is great fun!
-Practice leadwork in the home or garden aside from walks, so your puppy learns that being onlead is fun.
-Find a buddy for your puppy to walk with. This can help break the bad habit of stalling as your puppy doesn’t get to rehearse that behaviour when with their friends, they are more likely to continue walking (ensure your puppy is not walking with a reactive dog who they will pick up bad habits from!)

 *This blog is based on a Facebook Post I did. Arthur is now 9 months old and has not refused to walk AT ALL for 3.5 months*

Snoozing in the City – Arthur’s Adventures


Those of you that know me well, know that as well as Arthur I have 3 other dogs. Of these 3, 2 are reactive to other dogs, and one also reactive to people. One of the bigger priorities I have with Arthur is simple, in theory, allow him to become a confident puppy who can handle whatever life throws at him! Essentially, socialise, socialise, socialise!

 


So what is socialisation? The term has become muddied with people seeming to take extremes in approaches. Either frustrating the dog and taking every experience incredibly slowly or pushing a dog into every situation regardless of how they feel. For me socialisation is simple, Arthur should remain confident about whatever the situation was following it. If it challenges him slightly, this is less of a concern while he is a young puppy. Puppies tend to bounce back from situations and if we handle it appropriately we can turn small signs of uncertainty into ones of confidence and joy.

Arthur relaxing around Lincoln Cathedral


So from the very get go Arthur went out in so many different places. Not driving and not wanting to over walk him I either carried him or popped him in a specialised puppy backpack and then popped him on the floor the places where I wanted him to potter. Arthur was quite a bit barky from the moment he had his first walk, this was a worry but not something worth making a massive deal about for me. He was barking from joy and excitement. Not ideal but with every person and dog he saw he got less interested. Walks were about socialising, seeing sights, hearing new sounds and watching the world go by. Less about walking time more about quality time.


Loose lead walking and focus wasn’t of huge importance to me, he was only a baby- it is crazy to expect him to have the self-control of an adult dog. Arthur, being the strange little creature he is, was much more fond of the hustle and bustle of the city than walking down boring roads. His tail wagged furiously when taken to Castle Square in Lincoln. A busy day there was so much to take in, the only thing that caused a slight degree of anxiety was a horse and carriage, but a laugh from me and dropping down with him and he was fine (and has been since!) He settled by my feet often and just because content with everything to see. On more than one occasion he would happily sleep in the middle of the busy City! Always happy to greet new people and dogs, never once attempting to jump up people I ensured I reinforced this behaviour by treating him and this is something that was never an issue.

We didn’t just visit the City though, it was important to go different places every day. So he got used to new roads, dogs, people, sounds and environments. Places that were empty, supermarket car parks, Pets at Home, fun dog shows, large open fields, small playing fields everywhere you can think of! He took a while to adjust to traffic, so we went on walks specifically to address this, finding a busy road with a large path and empty car park and field nearby we went there regularly to play with toys, sometimes even just to chew on a chew or kong. Now traffic is not a concern of his. I didn’t stand and make him look at traffic or reward him for staring at it. Instead, traffic was the background noise to fun things, games with toys and excitement. It wasn’t something to be forced to be near, the sound just became background noise to him.

Arthur enjoying himself at Greetwell Quarry Lincoln

Sleeping around such busy settings and also regularly checking in with me was exactly what I was looking for, and he achieved it so easily. He loved every moment of this and the only quirk he had on walks was a refusal to walk in certain places. Something he no longer does at 7 months (I will write on this in a later blog!) He is now beginning his teenage phase, things are a touch different now, he is more excited about people but he rarely barks at dogs now. He will focus more and perform behaviours on walks as well as enjoying walks with one of his best friends Django! Socialisation is certainly not over yet though- not even slightly!

 

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