All posts by Jackie

Separation anxiety or not?

I thought my Specs-post-writing days were over, but this little ‘problem’ is quite interesting so definitely deserves a mention.

As you know from one of my early posts, Specs was introduced to crates and play pens from day one.  Crates and pens make life with a puppy immeasurably easier – no worries about toilet accidents on the carpet, nor about them chewing your favourite slippers.  And, my favourite, when you go on holiday you take the crate with you and then you don’t incur the wrath of the holiday home owners who have asked very politely that you keep dogs off the furniture. Continue reading Separation anxiety or not?

Specs muddy after a walk in the rain

Specs is nearly one year old

Yes, little Specs is no longer Specs the Puppy, but is now Specs the Dog (only I reckon she’s so cute she’ll always look like a puppy).

Our intention of blogging for a year never really made it past six months, partly because life just sort of took over, and also because, well, once puppies get to six months it just isn’t as interesting, is it?

The last six months may not have been as interesting, but they’ve certainly been fun.  Specs was without question the best puppy in the history of the universe, and is now undoubtedly the best dog.  She’s still little, she’s still cute, she’s still a ball of energy, and she still poops on the floor (only not very often now and only when mum ignores her requests to be out – bad mum!).

Her agility training never came to much, which is a shame as she definitely has champion potential, but to get to that level requires a lot of time, commitment and money.  Plus that’s not why I bought Specs: I bought her to be my constant companion, friend and stand up comedian, and she’s certainly all of those things.

Despite not doing the agility, the early training and socialisation has paid off in spades.  Specs is amazingly biddable and just loves everyone.  She does bark occasionally at loud noises, and doesn’t like strange things appearing out of the bushes, but give her a couple of seconds to work out what they are (usually people in wet weather gear at the moment) and she calms down straight away.

The wide range of training we did with her at a young age apparently, according to Jen, builds all sorts of networks in the brain which stay there forever, so when I eventually took Specs back to training class (as I did last autumn) she outshone the rest of the class who had been coming for many weeks.  I’d love to take the credit for that but I really can’t – it was all down to Mary, who now has to do even better with Gracie the Yorkillon.

Me and Specs can’t wait to meet her!

My trip to the vet’s

Today has NOT been a Good Day.  Mum took me to the vet’s this morning. I usually like going there because they’re very kind and they love me and they give me treats, but this morning I tried to make friends with the vet but he stuck something up my bottom and I didn’t like it.

Then mum left me all alone in a cage, and I went to sleep and then woke up later with a stupid pink pyjama thingy on.

Mum says I’ll be better soon and that it’s all for the best.  She says I’ve been “spayed” which means I’ll live a lot longer so I’ll have longer with Mum and all my friends and get to eat more treats and play more games. Yeah!

Changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act

I’ve been prompted to write this by a couple of recent incidents.

The first was told to me by a friend of mine whose six-year old daughter was recently badly scared by her neighbour’s dog, which my friend described as looking a bit like a ‘large shih tzu’.  The dog had been let out, off lead, into the street by the neighbour.  When my friend and her daughter tried to walk into their house, the dog came running up to them, barking, hackles raised.  No physical harm was done to the daughter, though she was very badly shocked.

The second incident was more serious and happened just this morning.  Tragically, a three week old baby boy was attacked and killed, in the house, by a ‘small terrier’.

Neither of the dogs in these incidents could ever be described as belonging to one of the banned breeds.  In the first incident my friend chose not to report the matter to the police in the interests of neighbourly relations.  In the second, a man has been arrested.

If neither dog was a banned breed, how come both of these incidents, even the more minor one, are matters for the police?

Because the Dangerous Dogs Act was updated last year.  You can find an overview on the government’s website, but they key points for those of us with what we would normally consider to be ‘harmless’ dogs are:

It’s against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, eg:

  • in a public place
  • in a private place, eg a neighbour’s house or garden
  • in the owner’s home

The law applies to all dogs.

Out of control

Your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:

  • injures someone
  • makes someone worried that it might injure them

A court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if:

  • it injures someone’s animal
  • the owner of the animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal

I’ve highlighted the key phrases for us responsible pet owners: the law applies to all dogs, and the dog does not have to injure – just making someone worried is enough.

So what should we do to make sure we keep our dogs, and the public, safe?
  • If you’re worried about your dog’s behaviour, then you might want to consider walking him on a lead.
  • Even if you’re not, I would always strongly advise that you put your dog on a lead when there are children around – especially children eating.  It takes a special dog to resist the lure of an ice cream held at nose height, and his actions could so easily be misconstrued it’s just not worth the risk.
  • Work hard on that recall training.  Even if you can’t see anyone around, people do have a habit of appearing from round a corner.  If your dog has a good recall, you stand a much better chance of getting the dog under control while you get a chance to assess the situation.
  • Never ever ever leave your child and dog unattended together.  Never.  Just don’t.  It is your job to teach your child and your dog how to play nicely together, so just being in the same room isn’t enough – you need to be actively supervising their interaction.  And if you’re not, the dog needs to be in its box or at the other side of the baby gate. The most placid dog will bite if given the right provocation.  If your toddler falls over the dog while exploring the living room, would you really blame your dog for trying to protect himself?  Maybe not, but the police would take a dim view and you could lose your dog forever. Or even, like the incident today,  your dog and your child.  Please don’t let that happen.

House training update

Shh, don’t tell anyone, but we had a bit of a breakthrough this week. Little Specs is finally staying dry all night. Yippee! No more rushing down in the morning to try to catch her before she fully wakes up, and, with any luck, I might be able to stop buying all those puppy pads too.

But (yes, there’s always a but) she’s still not reliable, not at all, no way José. She’s still not yet five months old so it’ll be a while yet before she’s declared safe to run unsupervised on the carpet. For now, she still stays in her cage when I can’t supervise her, she still gets toilet breaks at least every two hours, if not more, and the puppy pads still stay in the cage – though hopefully a lot less of them.

And of course next week she goes to get speyed, so it could all quite easily go to pot then – either because of the stress of the experience, or because of the upset to her hormones.

And that brings me to my final point – if your puppy is showing absolutely no signs of progress by about this age, don’t be frightened to get her checked out by the vet. It’ll most likely be nothing to worry about, and could well be easily fixable.


Training titbits

This is a subject which is discussed endlessly by everyone from new puppy owners to old hand trainers, as well as all their friends and relatives, not to mention the people in the pet shop.  Everyone has a different opinion, but here’s my take on it.

I have three types of dog training titbits: stuff I’ve cooked myself, Specs’ normal kibble and stuff bought from the shop (but don’t tell Jen!). Continue reading Training titbits

Specs with a big bit of seaweed

My first trip to the beach

I was supposed to be at Aunty Jen’s today, but me and mum had a special day on the beach.  Mum said she had a big decision to make. I’m not sure why that meant we had to go to the beach, but humans are funny things.

I really liked the beach. I’ve never been there before and it smelled all strange – salty and fishy and seaweedy.  And it felt really funny on  my feet.  The sand got stuck between my toes and the grass was much tougher than the grass in our garden. Continue reading My first trip to the beach

Specs running with her gang

Letting puppy off lead

Well it’s been nearly two weeks now since little Specs was allowed to go for a walk, so I thought I’d do a quick progress report.

I’d forgotten quite how traumatic it is to take a very young puppy for a walk.  I made a big mistake the first couple of times by taking her and Wilf out together – bad move! Specs was, of course, dancing from side to side, so we had the expected lead tangling to sort out, but she took it to a whole new level when she started running underneath his tummy.  And it’s not like he’s a big dog himself! Continue reading Letting puppy off lead