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Thread: New doggie parent

  1. #11


    Thanks for all the advice

    Jacob is settling in, and we are all starting to get into a routine of sorts. He gets a walk for an hour in the morning (in the dark, so he has a red flasher on his collar) and another when my partner gets home from work in the afternoon, plus some play sessions with us. "Touch" (Target?) is a new game that we learnt he knew when we went to the dog training club this week. He LOVES IT!

    We feed him after his walks, so hopefully that will help minimise the risk of bloat. He has a skin condition, so I'm feeding him a "holistic" kibble with sardines on top at night as a treat, or an egg. That, plus his training treats means he is starting to fill out. He was underweight at 23kg, but I really must check what his ideal weight will be, before I turn him into a chubbie!

    We are taking things very slowly. He has settled into sleeping in the entrance area of our home, with access to the patio/garden during the day. We have four chickens that free-range from time-to-time in the bottom yard. When the fence is between them and Jacob, they eye-ball him terribly! They weren't so brave when he barked though. Chickens look so funny when they jump and run, so I think he shows great restraint to not be more keen to chase them. And when I had him down in the yard on leash to start getting him use to them, and was using sits and treating him when he ignored them, he did brilliantly, even when they ran up to see what was going on. We made a hasty retreat and he was very well behaved.

    We also have two cats; one lives predominantly indoors, and the other is indoors mostly, but has a time-share arrangement with the chickens on the bottom yard, depending on whether the chickens are out. (Did I mention these chickens have attitude!) I have set up some baby gates, and plan to next move Jacob's sleeping arrangement into a quiet room where we can sit with him of an evening, but keep the cats separate. Depending on how that goes, we will slowly integrate him into the living room/kitchen. Mind you, Nina, the older cat (11) (and mother of the other cat, Ziggy (9)), likes to sit by the glass sliding doors and watch Jacob who is sitting on the other side, watching her... just the tip of her tail flicking from side to side gives away her evil intentions.

    Our challenges so far have been to stop him pulling when we walk, which we are doing by using lots of treats, encouraging "heel" and tone of voice. Sloooo-oooow works well with him. I'm just using a flat collar and leash, as I really want to give him the chance to succeed with minimum intervention, if that makes sense. We then still have other tools there if we need them in the future, when we know more and have better knowledge and techniques to use them if necessary.

    Our other challenge is to socialise him so he isn't so excitable around other dogs. The first training club night was a bit... challenging. He was overwhelmed. A helicopter dog on the end of a leash barking at everything around him. But we are taking him to the social meet ups at the dog park and he is noticably calmer after a couple of those walks. We met two dogs on our walk this morning, and even though he was excited and a bit jumpy as we walked past, he only barked once.

    Oh, and he's a chewer. Looooves chewing his bed(s). I don't know that it is boredom, or if it is a learned behaviour that he now enjoys... like doggie sudoku, it satisfies his problem-solving urges. (And I feed him his breakfast in a wobble kong, plus plenty of chew bones, ropes, etc...)

    Anyway, Just wanted to say things are going well and yes, I am besotted. He is just tops!

  2. #12


    Jacob is settling in really well. I thought I'd add some pics and comments on where we're at.

    Look at those ears! So cute!

    We've been going to the dog training club, although after four dogs (including us) in the class on the first night, two on the second, we've been on our own for the third and fourth nights. He is calming down when meeting dogs, although will still get wound up by certain dogs that get "in his face" when they are both on leash, as has happened on the training nights. In that case, he gets really distracted and will run around me in circles until I manage to calm him down with distractions of food treats and sits, or jogging off in another direction, etc. With more dominant/confident dogs that we've met in the park, he is polite and rolls over, etc. if they are pushy. (Even had to send off a BIG dog that was mounting him... Jacob wasn't so concerned, but I thought it was taking liberties!) So maybe the barking behaviour is all about two less certain dogs winding each other up? Would love some opinions.

    The trainer this week said I should use a halti to make it easier on myself, but I'm not convinced as yet. He is at his worst in that training environment, so I'd rather work on his good work that he does on a day-to-day basis and decode what gets him so excited, and what we can do to defuse it when it happens. I strongly suspect that the problem is something that can be overcome with me having better skills and knowledge, rather than masking the behaviour with a physical restriction that wouldn't help if he was off leash... am I being too idealistic? Probably. But it has only been a month... and I think he is doing really well in that short amount of time, with owners who are learning on the job. Working on his attention span is another challenge. He is rather pup-like in his behaviour, and many comment that they are surprised that he is four. I really like his openness and playfulness, but it does have a time and place. As we've had a different trainer each week, it has been interesting seeing which ones Jacob really responds to. We had one man who is very quietly spoken and "still" in his presence, if that makes sense, and Jacob was riveted. I think dogs are like horses... they know when someone knows what they are doing! So I am trying to incorporate that quietness into my training with him, and then using lots of excitement as a reward with his toys when we take a break.

    Anyway, I'm booking us all in for a session with a dog trainer (Steve Courtney) so that I can learn as much as I can, can help Jacob keeping loving his life and his very special place in ours, and can ensure that I minimise any bad habits I might inadvertently be teaching him. I'm still reading a lot, but converting that into hands-on experience is going to take me a little longer. I always knew I wanted to have a dog... but this is so much better than I hoped.

    Here he is rocking out his "dog park" wear.


    Really, of the two, I don't think the dog is the one people should be worried about


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