My take on socialisation

Several times recently I’ve seen others advising that people don’t socialise their puppy “too much”, an example being that a pet shop visit was too much for a 10-12 week old puppy. I even read once that puppies under 5 months shouldn’t be socialised or taken out much.

In my opinion, this is all total and utter bulls**t πŸ˜‰

Puppies are born as fairly blank slates. Sure, they all have individual temperaments, but for the most part they are confident, neutral about new experiences, and want to make friends with EVERYTHING.

When we used to run puppy classes, I would tell owners that if they had a “nervous” puppy, it was a sign they would need to step up their game and really work hard to show their pup that the world and everything in it is a fun place.

Puppies are supposed to be confident.Β 

As soon as your puppy comes home, they can begin to be socialised. Because they won’t be fully vaccinated at 8 weeks, there are two options:

1) Concentrate on socialisation in the home; invite guests over, introduce to pets, vacuums, the washing machine, garden, play noises on YouTube etc etc.

(handling and dremel socialisation, some easy ‘at home’ socialisation)

2) Take them outside but carry them everywhere until they are vaccinated. The risk of them catching anything is so, so small, and this way you can socialise them with everything!

We carry puppies about from the day after we bring them home.

At first the walks are very short. This is to not overwhelm them, so we can observe their confidence, and judge how well they can hold their tiny bladders!! (eg. Mojo at 10 weeks could easily hold his bladder for 90-120 minutes, Raiden at the same age could only manage 20 minutes!!)

There is one huge thing you always need to remember when socialising a puppy –

You must take it at their pace!!

With confident puppies, by their second week home we are carrying them everywhere.

They join us on dog walks, which exposes them to roads, people, dogs, birds, cows, sheep, and many more things.

We carry them into town and into pet-friendly shops; this is a great way for them to meet strangers whilst with us (as we know very few people in this area), and also exposes them to busy roads, busy shops, new smells, new lighting etc.

We also sit outside supermarkets with them, which is great as they get to watch people push trolleys, here the clatter, and they have exposure to dozens of people in one sitting.

These are from when Mojo was older, but at his youngest he would just sleep through all this or lie and watch! πŸ™‚

 

If you have an extremely confident puppy (terrier puppies tend to fall into this bracket) you often won’t have anything holding socialisation trips back – pupper will be happy to go anywhere, see anything, and fall asleep in your arms when tired.

Mojo has had dozens and dozens of socialisation trips in the few weeks he has been with us, and until he was old enough to go down on the ground, he mainly slept on them all. I’m talking heaving traffic and air horns on the road RIGHT NEXT TO HIM, and he would sleep through it. When we went into a charity shop he would briefly pop up to see if anyone would fuss him, then it was back to sleeping!!

However, if you have a fearful puppy, you need to socialise themΒ as much as possible BUTΒ at *their* pace.

Read up on calming signals, stressed behaviour, and get to know your little one really well. You need to be aware of the tiniest sign of unease in your puppy. If someone wants to pet them, does your puppy want that to happen? A normal puppy will be desperately squirmy to say hi; an obviously fearful pup may turn away, lick their lips and tremble, but an uninterested puppy is often fearful too.

You can’t socialise a puppy too much, but you can rush a puppy and put it in situations it is not comfortable with.

12 week old Mojo could go literally anyway and be fine; 12 weeks old Sasha was fearful of many things and terrified of strangers, she wouldn’t have done well in a lot of situations!

You NEED to get puppies out into the world and expose them to as much as possible, at the speed that is right for them. The socialisation window for a puppy closes at 14-16 weeks old, and before that happens they need to have been taught that everything they have seen is positive.

After 16 weeks, they start to greet new things with caution, so before they reach that age they need to have enjoyed many, many things.If you teach a young puppy that experiencing new things is exciting and positive, this confidence carries across to experiencing new things as adults.

Raiden was a perfect example of this; he was well socialised and a confident little pup, and as an adult anything he stumbled across he wanted to explore and befriend!

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If you wait until after 5 months to socialise your puppy, you will most likely end up with a very fearful pup. Or it could swing the other way, and you could have a puppy that becomes madly excited about everything because it’s their first time experiencing it!

Imagine locking a child inside a house until they were about 8-10 years old, and not exposing them to anything…

Socialisation isn’t just rushing out and thrusting your puppy into every situation (and I’ve seen that, where well-intentioned owners pass their trembling puppy into strangers’ arms for ‘socialisation’, or drag them on lead to an unknown dog to ‘play’), it’s about exposing your dog to the world and making sure they’re happy with it πŸ™‚

Also, another hard concept for a lot of people to understand, puppies can be trained immediately upon coming home, and most of them REALLY ENJOY IT!! πŸ˜‰

Training is a great way to bond with a puppy, it teaches them how to learn and use their brain, and there’s no better way to set your pup up for success than to practice training when they’re young and want to work for you!

 

Boo: happiness in dog form

Wow, how hot have these days been?!

28*C today, and I know I bitch about our house every summer, but the entire row of houses we are a part of are all phenomenally warm. This means barely having to use your heating in winter, but barely being able to cope in summer.

Today we, along with all the other houses, had our double rear doors and our living room window open, and it barely made any difference. We stripped down and misted ourselves with water, because it really is that unbearably warm.

And, of course, you can’t even escape on dog walks, because it’s too hot outdoors for the pups!!

At 8pm it was finally cool enough to manage a fairly short walk that takes you past a pond (for swimming and drinking) and a trough that Boo can drink from too. So me and my Doodle-dog headed out.

It’s always risky letting me walk him alone, because he is NOT the sort of dog I can manage if I’m at all seizey, but today had been a good day, I was feeling solid, and I had the lead hands free around my shoulders. As safe as possible.

And the walk was fab!

Check out all these Kasper smiles, we had a blast!!

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Had a “yay training pays off!” moment on this walk too.

We were down at the watering hole, and we turned to leave, Boo sprinting ahead, and there was an old guy hiking that must have snuck up on us. Old men were Boo’s biggest fears back in the day.

Well, Boo saw this guy and before I could even react, automatically turned and ran to sit at my feet. Hell. Yes. Good boy Boo!!

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And two of his favourite activities. Mad rolling.

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Scratching the crust off cow poo to get to the warm gooey centre HAHAHA

Before & after amputation: week 1

Before amputation, we considered many things to try help Toller, from a wheelchair to the vets’ suggestions.

The vets refused to consider amputation for Tolly’s injury (every connective bone in her paw broken), as they wanted to keep her “whole”.

We were given two options, pushed by two different vets.

  1. Re-wiring surgery

This is an invasive surgery where wires are used to attach her bones back together.

This was pushed by the head vet at the surgery when we went to collect Tolly after her first x-ray. The head vet brought Tolly in, passed her over saying “So you know what she’s done, yes? Broken every bone connecting her toes, silly little girl!” (uhuh, because being run into by a much larger dog running full speed makes HER silly?!?!), “You really must do the rewiring surgery, you’ll need to sort that out as soon as possible.”

That was all the advice given to us when we collected Tolly after her x-ray. We were with this awful for woman for less than two minutes, and later found out they’d charged us a consultation fee (Β£38 I think) for that!!

I spent quite some time researching this surgery, and everything I read was extremely negative. There was no way of knowing how effective it would be, recovery was a long arduous process, and there was a high chance of complications and further surgeries needed.

Just no.

2. Splints and crate rest

Toller has 6-8 weeks strict crate rest, and her paw is splinted to allow it to heal in the correct position.

This was pushed by the second vet we saw, who told us not to opt for the surgery because she thought Tolly would make a full recovery with crate rest, to the point where she could go on walks, be active, and you ‘wouldn’t even be able to tell’ that paw had ever been injured.

With both vets refusing to even consider amputation, we went with the second vets’ opinion. Unfortunately none of the vets could put a splint on properly; the first fell off in less than 4 hours, the second after a few days, and so the vet said to leave her bare and she would heal just as well.

Fast forward 11 weeks and Toller was absolutely miserable; she’d missed out on almost three months socialisation, training and exercise (5 months – 8 months old), she had been on very strict crate rest (the only time she walked was to go to the toilet), and she was so broken that we honestly wondered whether we should have her put to sleep.

When our vet declared Toller ‘fully recovered’, and where she basically still had to live a life of crate rest AND we could see the foot visibly getting worse, we started looking into other options.

Toller’s leg 5 weeks ago

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Toller’s leg 1.5 weeks ago

When we finally found a vet that would agree to amputate, Toller had the surgery in less than a week, and 24 hours after surgery she was walking. She is far more mobile now than she has been for the last 11 weeks πŸ™‚

And, pictures speak a 1000 words, so here are some before photos.

When you look at her eyes and you see the misery, THAT is why we were considering having her PTS. That is no life for a 5-8 month old puppy to live, and it was *breaking* her.

And the difference. Look at her eyes, look at her smile!

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To anybody who is in a similar situation, here is my advice to you – DON’T GIVE UP.

You may need to see several different vets before you find one that listens. You will find vets that tell you to listen to the first vet, that say they need to ask “permission”…keep trucking, you will find your vet.

Make sure you do your research, so you can spot when a vet is lying or doesn’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Research your pup’s injury, the treatment the vet is recommending, and know your shit when it comes to amputation. The tripawds forum is amazing.

The more you push, the sooner your pup can be on the road to recovery!

Recovery from amputation is insanely speedy (Tolly is off pain meds, her amputation was 8 days ago) and your pup will be so much happier for it πŸ™‚

Puppy socialisation & training

 

Mojo is 12 weeks old, and at that marvelous stage where all he really wants is to focus on me and make me happy.

This obviously works in my favour for training πŸ˜‰

The great thing about this guy is that he LOVES training. Whilst it’s a huge farce to have a 12 week old puppy that needs socialising and training, he’ll hopefully be placed with our friend in less than a month, as soon as our friend’s moved into his flat. It does make things stupid difficult with training Sasha and walking Pudder everyday, but we’re managing. Just about.

At 12 weeks I’ve taught Mojo

  • Sit
  • Down
  • Wait
  • Touch
  • Recall

You should have seen him today, in the middle of a HEAVING town centre walking about completely focused and sitting on cue. It was great, and made even better by people walking past with their mouths hanging open, exclaiming “he’s so small and can SIT!”

It makes me laugh that people don’t realise you can start teaching puppies as young as 6 weeks old πŸ™‚

Here we were waiting outside a supermarket – look at that focus!

His first walk – coming away from poop, sitting in a new environment, and emergency recall from Sasha πŸ™‚

First heeling outdoors

Off lead exploring and recall

Mojo’s socialisation has involved him being carried EVERYWHERE.

He’s been up a mountain, in charity shops, in a pet shop, sat outside half a dozen shops, sat in the square, been to the beach and the forest and the play park…he’s been a busy little bee πŸ˜›

He’s seen cats and cows and sheep and guinea pigs

Here he is checking out new surfaces at 12 weeks old

Today he had his first solo walk, just him and us! This was also his first time wearing a harness, as our smallest finally fits him!!

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We went into town and he walked up the main street, walked outside two different supermarkets, and got to greet half a dozen people. He was confident with everything (toddlers on push bikes, prams, every person, loud lorries going past, trolleys etc) and his focus was immense.

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He hasn’t met any unknown dogs yet.

Today we bumped into a dog we met the two times we were at puppy class with Sasha, 6 months back…and whilst it *should* have been a good fit (the dog’s a JRT and it was with a Cocker), unfortunately the dog is now rude, reactive and snappy. So no meeting for Mojo, he’s reactive enough as it is πŸ˜„

It was also incredibly annoying as I had to keep Sasha on lead around them, otherwise she might have accidentally hurt them in play, but the other dog’s owner didn’t see her dog as doing anything wrong. This meantΒ it was Sasha on a 6ft lead whilst this other dog bothered her. Ugh.

However Mojo has had exposure to our dogs (who all love him), which is fab!

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I’m knuckling down with grooming training too.

When this goof got dropped in our laps he wasn’t in the best state – he had a belly full of worms (which we cleared out) and two rear dew claws with curled nails, meaning the nail had grown all the way round and grown INTO his flesh. This meant we had to introduce him to nail trims asap, with both clippers and the dremel – thankfully he’s a huge foodie so it was easy.

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Wormy belly – it was HUGE!!

On top of that he’s a mild resource guarder (which requires urgent training, if left as a RG’er at 11 weeks he would most likely be terrible as an adult!) AND reactive; he will bark at children or dogs barking that catch him unawares.

He’s a complicated little dude, but very confident (99.9% of the time when he reacts, he was asleep and they woke him up), and thrives on training. He loves cuddles, has zero issues with handling, and is a fab little man.

Our friend has been a bit off-and-on whether he wants him or not (their family dog gets nothing but walks, so our friend is always a little surprised when he comes to ours’ and sees how much we do with our pups!), but hopefully Mojo will be living with him by the end of next month πŸ™‚

So atm juggling everyone is hard. But we’re managing, and it’s not for forever. The main thing is Mojo’s doing great in his training, and he’s happy & healthy.

Look at this fuzzy little nugget though – who WOULDN’T love him?!

Sasha: 9 month update!

I’ve been kinda putting this off, because it’s gonna get lengthy, but I do want to write out all our successes and many, many frustrations πŸ˜€

Firstly, here are the cues Sasha knows at 9 months, with tasks in green:

  1. Sit
  2. Down
  3. Touch
  4. Wait
  5. Recall
  6. Leave it
  7. Up
  8. Off
  9. This way (turning)
  10. Let’s go
  11. Back up (too far ahead on lead)
  12. Stop (freeze when walking)
  13. Side (move to the curb and wait to cross the road)
  14. Cross
  15. ‘Tween (between my legs)
  16. Two (front paws on an object)
  17. See (look at me)
  18. Positive Interrupter (stop what you’re doing, come to me for a treat)
  19. Drop
  20. Hoop (sit from down)
  21. Head up (stop sniffing and look up when walking)
  22. Tall (stand on back legs)
  23. DPT
  24. Seizure alert
  25. Check (if you’ve done a seizure alert, do it again so I can be sure)
  26. Stim alert
  27. Panic alert
  28. Over
  29. Circle
  30. Go get daddy

I’ve probably missed a few, but never mind.

Sasha entered a teenage phase over a month ago, and she is AWFUL!! Although entering her teens meant she had some form of personality (and wasn’t just an overly timid, bland puppy) she turned from at least being an obedient little one into a giddy dog that’s testing the boundaries, leaps all over the place, nips bums and is just aΒ gobshite πŸ˜„

She’s hilariously funny, very spunky, and SO DAMN FRUSTRATING!

This means mainly we’ve been taking things back to basics, because she’s trying her hardest to forget all her training πŸ˜‰

As a result training sessions are short (eg. on an hour long walk we might start with 10 minutes free time on lead, 10 minutes off lead free time, 10 minutes on lead working etc), Β I’ve lowered my expectations, but am making sure Sasha knows she can’t get away with things.

Sasha is actually the worst teenager we’ve had, because before this she was so…beige HAHAHA. She’s honestly like a different dog, and whilst she’s way more fun now and I mostly enjoy the challenge, dealing with my frustration when she’s being a gobshite (eg. refusing to sit and just grinning at me wagging her tail) can be difficult!

Having to get her to do what I want, but without losing my patience, is hard for me.

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Sometimes she seems so fantastically trained, and I’m so proud of her!

We continue to work on impulse control. Her “leave it” is awesome, but in other ways impulse control has taken a huge dive. Β She’s started trying to approach people as we’re walking, her stays need building up basically from scratch, and for the first time EVER she blew off recall yesterday.

Ah, teenage dogs…

As a result of her teenage-ness, strict mummy has had to emerge. Any time I ask something of Sasha, I make sure she does it. If she breaks a stay, she’s told to get back into it. If she keeps breaking it, I make it easier for her – but she still has to do it.

Any situations she getsΒ highly excited around, we train and train and train, until she’s able to focus and not act like a loon. Once she’s nailed it, I let her off duty so she can de-stress…she’s still not allowed to pull on lead or go wild, but she can sniff, move away etc.

A good example of this were sheep on the beach about a week ago. They were EVERYWHERE, and some surprisingly close. Sasha lost it when they all started running, and was bouncing about on the end of the lead after them. We spent 10 minutes learning we had to be calm around them; this meant heeling, holding stays even as they ran behind me, and focusing.

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The same thing around cows

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One of our biggest struggles is people.

Sasha is now more confident around people, and so she looks like she wants to say hi – if allowed she will pull hugely towards people. BUT the instant they try interact with her (lean over, reach out, try stroke her head etc) she becomes anxious &Β scuttles away. So that’s *really* annoying.

We have a two pronged attack; 1) Teach Sasha to stay close and completely ignore people, even when they try interact with her, and 2) COVER her new harness in patches telling people to stop, ignore her, she’s in training etc.

The ‘spoonie side’ of her training is going really well.

She’s nailed stim and anxiety alerts, and responds within seconds of me beginning, even if she’s off lead and distracted. Her seizure alerts are good, and we’re also adding a crying response.

Me having a seizure on the canal, then coming around and rewarding her

Seizure alert, and waiting to feel better

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Deep pressure therapy

Something we’ve been working on are our stays. Sasha SUCKS at stays, she’s just about okay if there are no distractions…

…but any distraction and she’s dreadful.

If we’re stood about talking to someone, she will be looking about, turning, trying to walk fowards or back etc. If she’s doing a sit or down stay with distractions, she breaks super easily!

These are things we’ve been working hard on, which was why I was so proud of her doing this around new people and my partner opening gifts yesterday πŸ™‚

And these were some really tough stays I put her through today!

First, me swinging

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Focus around lots of tiny calves ❀

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And finally we’re still trying to get in as much public access work as we can, in pet friendly places. But with a tripawd and foster pup, it’s tough!

I’m not too concerned about getting her everywhere though, because we don’t have the patches attached to her new harness yet anyway, but we checked out a new pet shop recently πŸ™‚

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So we have a good amount of positives. Mainly…

  • she has personality now, and is more fun!
  • she’s enjoying training more than when she was a puppy
  • she’s grown in confidence so much
  • she has loads of energy now, hikes are fun!
  • strict mummy is having a good effect on training πŸ˜‰
  • her spoonie training is paying off big time

But we have things to work on too, obviously

  • bomb proof recall, seeing as she blew it yesterday!
  • focus, and the fact she has to focus around everything
  • forcing through the teenage gobshite-ness!!!
  • continue confidence building

Aaaand that’s our 9 month update πŸ™‚

Happy 7th Birthday Boo!

Today has been Kasper and my partner’s birthdays.

I’ve had a really shit day. My worst day for seizures in this seizure-heavy week. Loads of guilt about being ill and ruining the day (for my partner especially) and to top it off we did a walk with my partner’s parents, our first time seeing them in a year, and one of the first things they said was “I thought she was supposed to be well trained?” about Sasha.

This was because she was running about off lead having fun. Like, seriously? Way to make me feel like utter shit, I definitely haven’t been working my arse off for the past 6 months trying to give her any semblance of confidence and show her training is fun. I really wish I hadn’t been so out of it with seizures, I would’ve loved to have ‘responded’ πŸ˜›

I was really fucking proud of her on this walk too! She was confident around new people, did THREE seizure alerts on the walk, and held focus and did good whilst we stood about, my partner opened presents etc. For a teenage gobshite and a dog who is nervous with strangers, she rocked!

So, his comment crushed me. Really upset, and really ill at the time too. Bleh. Oh look, so badly trained -_-

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That’s his parents stood right behind Sasha here – look at her happy face!

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Opening presents

Anyway. Kasper had a good day at least.

The day started with his gifts arriving!! They weren’t due until the end of this week, so that was cool.

We got some treats going in the food dehydrator asap, but as we weren’t expecting it we hadn’t bought meat in, so apple slices, sweet potato chews, and potato ‘crisps’ will have to do!

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Alongside a food dehydrator, he got a new Sumo puzzle feeder (topped with a frozen treat to act as a ‘plug’!)

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And his final birthday gift, a new collar πŸ™‚

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I wrote out a message to him πŸ˜‰

Happy birthday, Boo!

And his final birthday good-ness was an off lead walk. Lots of tearing about like a crazy thing, chasing smells, some training, and even a paddle in his favourite pond. He LOVED it! Yeah, Boo had a good birthday alright πŸ™‚

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Very quick Tolly update!

For her walk today she went to the football field. She was sprinting about like a loon, and the cutest thing? SHE AUTO SAT WHEN SHE CAME TO ME!!

One of the earliest things I teach puppies is an auto sit – get called to me, sit. Come to me unasked, sit. Unsure of something, sit. Toller hasn’t done any training or had chance to do an auto sit in 11 long weeks, so the fact she offered this was just so darn sweet. This dog guys, this dog ❀

4 days after amputation: first walk!

Oh guys.

Toller had her first walk today, and it was amazing.

Every action, you could just see the joy. She sniffed EVERYTHING!! She was so intrigued and happy to be out in the world again and walking, it was amazing. She was sniffing, springing, playing, pulling up flowers…it was so darn cute.

She was SO HAPPY. It was truly wonderful to see πŸ™‚

Can you imagine if the first vets had agreed to amputation immediately? She would have been walking less than a week after the accident, as oppose toΒ eleven weeks after 😦 Still, at least it got done, and she’s LOVING IT!!

We were saying today, we’ve not seen her trip once since tripawd life haha!

She got to see our friend today who was over visiting Mojo, and he was *amazed* at how skilled she is walking. Next time he’s over, in about a week, we’ll do a 5 minute walk with her πŸ™‚

Anyway, this is what you’ve all been waiting for – a video of her entire walk!