Puppy reactivity & seaside trip!

Mojo is this awesome dog who has been a dream to socialise and train, other than one thing…

He HATES other dogs :/

This goes way beyond normal puppy unease, and is true fear. I can only imagine it’s due to his first home, as there was definitely at least one other dog in the house with him, and the dog/s were completely unsupervised (hence why he came to us, because he was having continuous accidents and things were been destroyed!).

Mojo is doing heaps better with other dogs after weeks of training, but at 15 weeks old he still can’t meet an unknown dog as he’s too scared.

If I know the dog won’t run over to him (maybe the other dog is on lead, or only interested in fetch) Mojo can be on the ground, and we will work on LAT, engage disengage, and general confidence boosting behaviour.

If there is a dog within about 8 feet, Mojo will climb onto my lap for safety. He might do little huffs, but usually he’s happy to sit and watch as I feed treats.

Anything closer than 4ft is in the danger zone. Mojo will back off my lap, growl, and try move away from the dog.

Previously he barked at all dogs, regardless of distance, and trembled. So progress has certainly been made. I can now carry him whilst other dogs are by my feet, and he will do engage disengage. It’s VERY rare he barks in my arms now, unless the other dog is reacting.

The main issue is that he’s 15 weeks old as of this Monday, and not met any strange dogs. I struggled with the idea of ‘throwing him in at the deep end’ and forcing him to meet dogs on walks before his socialisation window closed, but let’s be honest, flooding would just set him up for further failure and much future fear.

So I guess we’ll go slow and steady, and I’ll accept that he will most likely always be reactive, may never be able to meet unknown dogs well, but we can get him more confident around dogs and show him they’re not scary.

If there were ANY decent puppy/training classes nearby, I would give that a shot. Classes can actually be great for reactive dogs as long as they’re well planned, and it could really help him…unfortunately the classes near to us are TERRIBLE. About as bad as it gets. And I’ve not found good classes within 30 miles.

So I can’t go that route and I also don’t know anybody who has a dog that would be good to train around, and even if I did I doubt the owner would understand / help.

Just yesterday there was an interfering old busybody walking two dogs on the beach, one ‘not very nice’ and one supposedly friendly.

After I explained Mojo was a rescue and scared of dogs, she asked “Shall I hold my dog’s bum up to your dog so he can smell it?” (this as Mojo is backing off my lap growling at her dog a few feet away).

Me: *trying to hide a smile at this idea* No thanks, he’s fine just watching for now. He’s learning dogs aren’t scary, so we can’t throw too much at him.

Woman: It’s best if you don’t baby him though, you know. Isn’t it? You can’t treat him like a baby.

Me: (silently) Oh she’s one of those morons. Well, time to completely ignore her

Woman: It’s probably best if you just put him on the ground, stand up, and just ignore him. That’ll be the best for him. So he learns his place. You should probably do that.

Me: *continues to not even look at her whilst reassuring and treating Mojo, who’s doing really well* XD

Eventually she walked off. What an idiot.

Other than that, and some people stupidly interacting with Mojo (saying “oh naughty me, I’m distracting you from training aren’t I!” and reaching for his head when Mojo was focusing on me, a woman who grabbed at his head as she walked past and just carried on walking, etc etc) we had a really nice day 🙂

Train ride on the way there!

Yay seaside 😀

Mojo’s first experience of a proper beach – of course he loved it!!

So much to sniff, so many new things to experience! Seaweed was a huge hit 😀

We walked along the beach and all of a sudden this end-of-the-world siren started. It was SO LOUD!! We were all a little bit freaked, I scooped Mojo up and cuddled him, he was dealing well with it, nobody else seemed panicked…turns out it was to announce the bloody tide coming in!! Really?!

It was at this point we met the stupid woman with the two Lhasa’s. Once they’d gone there was a Lab playing fetch ahead, clearly with no interest in me or Mojo, and so I sat the little guy down and we did some engage disengage.

We couldn’t get a photo fast enough to get the Lab in it (two throws of a ball from the slipway was apparently enough for the dog, then it was back into the car), but you can see Mojo volunteering focus and the edge of the slipway where the Lab was running from!

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After beach fun and saying hello to some people, we carried Mojo around a few shops and then we sat outside whilst my partner ran in to get some drinks and some fish and chips. We found half of a bird’s egg that had hatched, and Mojo decided it was very nice to chew on and mostly eat 😛

We then pootled back to the train station, and just behind there’s two picnic benches so we sat and ate our grub!

Before eating:

After I’d finished eating hahaha!

Working on him tucking out the way in small spaces 😀 ❤

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One quick pootle as my partner drank his cider…

…then it was time to sleep all the way home 🙂

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I was utterly out of spoons after this trip. The rest of the night was spent feeling crummy and napping 😛

I had someone comment on FB asking why Mojo was the only one who got the seaside trip, so though I may as well preempt that and explain here too!

Sasha is too fearful; she couldn’t manage the train journeys and wouldn’t enjoy walking through the small town. Kasper is slightly too nervy, but also just too wild and frantic. And Tolly would get tired very quickly, doesn’t like riding trains or buses, and missed out on so much socialisation it would all be a bit much for her.

 

 

Sasha’s biggest working day

 

Sasha did crazy good today!

We set out and walked up and through town. It was incredibly busy, there were people EVERYWHERE – old people, groups of people, the road was incredibly busy, it was madness!!

Sasha was phenomenal. Not only did she have no nerves at being in such a busy place (which has never happened before) but she did her best yet at following my directional cues and moving out of people’s way. There was really just one person she moved over to and had a cheeky sniff of 😉

She stopped every time I asked and waited at roadsides for the traffic to end – really so proud of her!

We went into the pet shop for her first time. She was great at not wanting to go off and sniff things; despite there being toys, treats and bones at nose level! My partner collected some things as we walked about and did some training – her first time near fish tanks, no problem 😉

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After leaving the pet shop we walked up to join the canal and Sasha could go off lead and have some fun…I say that, but of course Sasha was offering an off lead heel for most the walk XD

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If I run forwards and backwards and we have a game of chase, she’s usually willing to have more fun and stop walking to heel after that XD

Sasha is going through a bit of a fear period atm. So far she has been afraid of:

  • ducks
  • a burger wrapper blowing along in the wind
  • a large black scarf on the ground
  • a feather XD

She is utterly adorable with this fear period.

I drop her lead when she sees something she’s scared of, and walk over to the ‘thing’. I then proceed to examine it and exclaim “wow, oh this is so fun! Sasha look how great this is!” After a few seconds deliberation, Sasha approaches, a mix of caution and excitement.

Once she’s investigated the thing she starts bounding about, incredibly happy and proud of herself 😀

Most time she picks the item up, runs around happily with it in her gob, then drops it and all is forgotten hahaha!

Today when she saw ducks she was curious, and gave them a play bow. So much nicer than her previous reaction ^__^

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We left the canal and crossed the world’s busiest road to the supermarket, and as my partner went inside me and Sasha did some training outside.

As everywhere else today, it was heaving! And of course Sasha was wonderful, because she’s just the perfect puppy 😉

Here I’m marking and rewarding her for putting her attention back onto me (engage disengage) and we do a little heeling too.

After that it was a 15 minute walk home, and in less than a minute after getting back, Sasha was like this XD

Bless the little love, she did so well today ^__^ ❤

Also we are having a really cute time searching Sasha’s family tree on the Kennel Club’s health test scheme – it’s so cute seeing all Sasha’s ancestor’s names and their health test results.

We’ve chased it back to a great great great great grandad in 1994, and then a great great great great grandma and grandad BEFORE I WAS BORN (1989 and 1987!)! Also one of them had a hip score of 1/1 – the average total for this breed is 15 so that’s phenomenal XD

Articles on dog & cat training, body language & help for vet visits

Today I thought I’d share some good articles, on various things – some for cats, some for dogs.

The first link I’m posting is incredible, and aimed at both dog and cat owners.

There is a lot of fantastic information (a LOT of links to other amazing articles) about making vet visits less stressful for your cat or dog. From the obvious of giving out treats, to how to condition your cat at home to enjoying injections and examinations: Low stress at the vets for cats and dogs

Tips on managing dogs and children in the same house, by Dr Sophia Yin.

Wonderful tips for dogs that resource guard their food, and how to help the dog feel less fearful.

Awesome article where someone’s vet had scared their puppy by not understanding how to correctly interact with a dog. Sophia Yin goes on to advise on what to put in a letter to the vet, and there are some good resources for body handling, fear etc too.

This article is amazing; it’s about strangers greeting dogs in entirely the wrong manner. There are good images to show signs of fear or anxiety in dogs, and if there’s one thing to take away from reading this article, it’s got to be this: Inappropriate greeters can put the life of fearful dogs at risk

Here’s a list of fear-free certified professionals (currently none in the UK)

Cat tail / body language:

Important message here; just because a dog is wagging their tail it DOES NOT meant they are friendly!! I’ve heard this so many times and it’s BS, you need to look at the dog’s body language overall:

Info on the different levels of a dog bite – if anybody is interested, Kasper is a level one / low level two.

This info-graphic is great:

The engage-disengage is THE MOST helpful training tool we have ever used, for both Raiden and Kasper. Seriously, EVERY dog owner needs to read about this, it’s so much better than just the Look At That game 😀

Another training one, how to know if your pup is ready to have the difficulty increased when learning something new:

Dog body language:

Cat body language:

How NOT to greet a dog:

Tips for vets (useful for owners too) on managing fearful dogs:

 

Fearful body language in dogs:

The boys rock it

Kasper and Rey had great walks yesterday evening, and were both amazing!

Raiden was fabulous because our friend was with us, and after being in his crate for a full five hours, he was full of energy as it was, then seeing our friend got him very excited.

After a super giddy greeting though, Rey walked like a champ! We rewarded him for lots of eye contact with us to begin with, so he wasn’t tempted to go to our friend or jump up at him, and within minutes Rey was walking calmly as ever 🙂

Ahead of us a reactive Staffy (with an a-hole for an owner) came from a side street, about 12 foot ahead.

Rey began pulling on lead and wagging at the dog, so I did a positive interrupter and he came to me, I asked him to sit, then he was able to go back and do engage-disengage. Carried on with no problems.

In the next field we let Rey off lead, and even with our friend present he was wonderful!

Alongside showing zero interest in our friend other than a wag (in case he had treats!!) Rey paid him no interest, and he even did great with his training – sit, stay, touch and settle (lie with chin on ground) 😀

Yay Rey ^__^

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Rey with wrestler Rey Mysterio who I based his name on!!

Onto Kasper; Kasper is fine with strangers now (even men) when we introduce them properly, so as usual he was great meeting our friend.

We walked through the first few fields with him on lead, then slipped through (/over) a gate into the field we call slug hill, and I decided to let him off lead.

He has never been off lead in this field before, and through two gates he could see cows close by, but I was very confident in his recall and responsiveness. I had no fear about having him off lead with cows in view; sheep, and I would never have done it, but cows caused no concerns.

We walked all around the field and Kasper was stretching his legs and bounding about joyfully – I’ve never seen him so happy! He checked in often (something he doesn’t normally do), didn’t stray far, and came every time I called at top speed!

As we looped back across the large field to the gate we stopped to do some training.We did a distance stay, beg, leave it and touch. We both had so much fun!

I was able to leave Kasper off lead right up to the gate – knowing your dog so well is incredibly helpful sometimes – and when I called him he turned on a dime.

Seriously, when did his recall get this good?! I really wished I’d had my camera on that walk >__<

Two fantastically fun walks with my little super stars ❤

Tonight I went out to meet my partner and Rey on a walk, and I could just make out my partner in the dark so I told him to drop Rey’s lead.

I called him and he rocketed over, lead trailing  behind as we were on a very very quiet path where cars can come. Rey was so giddy to find me unexpectedly, it was adorable!

Also today for the first time the boys tried the Billy No Mates herbal, natural flea and tick protector:

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This powder STINKS!

But the weird thing is Rey (who normally turns his nose up at anything that isn’t meaty or certain vegetables) was eating the powder out the tub!! Yet he claims to be picky, and wouldn’t eat his food the first few times we added salmon oil or the natural wormer!

Afterwards it was all stuck in his beard hahaha 🙂

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And finally, here’s my partner being adorable and encouraging Rey to file his own nails 🙂

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A Rey day!

At one year old, Raiden finally has stamina; this means that we can finally, finally, take him on big walks; oh the joy!

For months and months and months we couldn’t do walks that were longer than 30-40 minutes and, if they were mostly off lead, we had to keep them shorter than half an hour or Raiden would need to be carried home.

Now he’s an adult, (Raiden claims) he could walk for miles!

Today we took him on a walk that we have only ever walked him on, and only once before. The walk actually takes you through a field full of corn, and with Kasper and Zoey we always worried they would wolf a cob down (corn cobs are incredibly dangerous to dogs).

With Raiden we’re confident we could get most things off him no problem, so it’s a very Raiden friendly walk 😀

Here he is very calmly walking past a group of people and a noisy child; he didn’t even glance at them! So different from the puppy I’m used to ^__^

At the first open field, Raiden had chance to go off lead, and explore the new environment.

Also, check this out – A SUCCESSFUL OFF LEAD STAY!!

Also on this walk he held a stay for about 45 seconds right by a busy road, as we waited for cars to clear. Yessss! Remember when I never thought any stay would be possible with this dog, let alone an off lead one or one that was longer than two seconds?! 😀

After a few minutes  off lead pootling a hiker appeared, so we popped Rey on his lead, then a second walker appeared, and then a couple with a dog!

The Cocker Spaniel was on a flexi lead and started bounding and pulling when it saw Rey, constantly stopping and staring and wanting to come over. Raiden did the same thing for maybe two seconds, then began disengaging all by himself!

He would watch the Cocker for a few seconds, disengage and move forwards, then watch for a few seconds, and repeat – it was awesome!

I couldn’t get any photos at the time (dog management mode!) but you can see the dog in the background here and Rey is doing a far away disengage 🙂

He stayed on lead for about five minutes as we navigated the footpath, then was able to go off lead in the next field too.

This one was full of something growing – corn, maize? We all stuck to the footpath and Rey was very happy to stick to the rear and follow in our footsteps 🙂

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I know he’s on lead here but it’s the only photo of the grain I got!

At one point as we were walking along I saw a flash of red, and upon closer inspection it was a ladybird.

I decided to stop and try get a semi-decent photo of it…

…and oh, who is that I see just to the left, demanding a photo too?! XD

Haha, such a cutie 🙂

We followed the path all along the field, then opened the gate and entered a second field, still with Rey off lead. He loved this field because it stank of manure…yum!!

Heading closer to the sea!

At this point it was time to put Rey back on lead, as the next field was smaller and lead to a busy road.

This is the worst part of the walk as cars fly down this road and there are no pavements. To your right there’s a path behind some shrubs, but farmers have it fenced off (yep, even though it’s just a path!)…I think next time we’ll just climb the fence and avoid almost getting hit by speeding cars!

Once we were back on a quiet pavement it was time for a water break…

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…and then after another few minutes’ walking we were on a quiet lane where there weren’t any cars.

Oh, wait a minute.

Some absolute moron ignored the no cars sign and drove down a single lane public footpath that leads to a wooden bridge so narrow even motorbikes can’t cross it!!!

This was the idiotic driver as they had to manage to turn and drive back past us XD

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A little more engage-disengage with another dog!

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And we were home!

What an awesome walk, look at that smile 🙂

 

Fish emergency & yay Ray!

Well, today has been eventful!

Firstly, we woke up to find our new (second hand) 124 litre tank was leaking. Badly.

We leak tested it for 24 hours before moving the fish across, and the fish had been in several days…then all of a sudden it was leaking. We noticed a large wet patch on the floor, but thought maybe it was drips from the condensation guard which overlapped the tank a little.

I filled the tank up and drew a few lines of where the water level was, and we watched over the next few hours with no lid on the tank, to see if it lowered.

My god did it lower.

The wet patch grew larger, and became rather sodden. We noticed another wet patch off to the side too.

Just the day before we had seen a smaller fish tank in a local charity shop that they had tested for leaks, and was on sale for £40. Now how lucky was that?? We rushed to the shop and lugged it home, then quickly transferred the water (and fish!) over.

This meant we had a large empty glass tank, just longing for something small and furry to live inside it!! We called our friend who lives in town and was about to drive over anyway, and asked him to visit a nearby pet shop and pick up a dwarf hamster for us 🙂

We’d already called the pet shop, and yes, they had dwarf hammies in stock – how exciting, I haven’t had a dwarf in years!!

Our friend called us at the pet shop and told us what each hamster looked like: standard grey and white, albino, and a really unusual white and blond hamster – guess which we picked?! 😉

Welcome Lemmiwinks!

Isn’t he beatiful?!

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He seems very confident too! Here’s his first basic set-up:

And this is his current set-up. He has a few extra toys on the way tomorrow from amazon prime 🙂

Can you spot him in the pic below??

That was exciting, and saves a huge empty tank from wasting space around the house; aaaand, here’s the fish in their new tank!

The large (leaky) tank is 124L and the smaller tank is 90L. I’m kinda sad that the fish are back in a smaller tank, but realistically it’s more than big enough for the tiny fish we have in there, and it does look great 🙂

That was all rather stressful haha. I was so scared racing to the charity shop…if they’d sold the tank I’m not sure what we’d have done!!

Once that was all sorted we went out with our friend for the day. When we came back home my partner and friend took Kasper for a walk whilst I stayed home and meddled with the pets, then when they got back it was time to walk Rey.

I’d said to my partner this morning that I wanted to try walk Rey with our friend, because he has matured so much recently and is doing SO MUCH BETTER with impulse control and calmness.

My partner was understandably nervous because the last time Rey met our friend, who he didn’t know (month and months and months ago), he jumped up at them, nipped them repeatedly in complete over-excitement, and when we lead him away to try reorient him, he *screamed* and pulled at the end of the lead.

We tried to continue for ten minutes, trying to encourage him to walk and keeping a distance from our friend, but he was just totally hyped and just shrieked no matter how far away we took him. We called that it and headed home…

That was when Rey was about 7 months old (remember he missed all training and socialisation between 4-6 months old because of issues with Zoey) and since then he really hasn’t seen anyone. He said a brief (20 seconds) hello indoors to our friend about 2 months ago, but that was it.

The only training we did with him and other people was engage-disengage as they walked past us on the pavement. He was easily at the stage of remaining calm around anybody who passed close by, but we hadn’t done anything with people actually interacting with him.

So. We were all nervous 😀

My partner fetched Rey and we waited, chatting easily.

Raiden was sooo happy and excited to see our friend, and jumped up to say hello and get fuss – all this was fine, we have zero issues with Rey jumping up as he’s so small, and only let him interact with others who don’t mind.

We don’t see jumping up as a problem behaviour so long as the owner doesn’t mind, the dog can be called off or asked to stop from jumping, and the dog can be managed around people who don’t want jumping on!

Kasper, for example, knows he shouldn’t jump up (he’s too big!), and so he doesn’t.

After saying hello for five seconds I called Rey away – he came immediately! – and then we started walking. Our friend was walking right with us, within a few feet of Rey, yet Raiden just carried on walking as calmly and beautifully as normal!!!!

I rewarded him very regularly, but he had no interest in turning back to our friend, jumping up etc, and he certainly wasn’t screaming with excitement 😀

We had a very enjoyable walk, each of us commenting on how bloody amazing this was. Raiden walked normally, completely calmly, the entire time.

Towards the end Rey was getting tired / bored, but instead of jumping up at our friend, he turned a few times, looked at him, then carried on walking!

Little man earnt lots of chicken on that walk, and what an amazing dog he is. I so love when dogs get past that teenager stage hahaha, Raiden is SO improved even after no actual training involving interaction!

Honestly, we REALLY couldn’t believe it. I think our jaws hit the floor!

Totally made my day 🙂

The good

I’ve been whining a lot about the boys lately and the things they haven’t been doing so well at. Today I’m going to talk about the things they’re rocking!

1. Kasper

Kasper is gradually getting used to sleeping in the pen at night, as oppose to on top of us in the bed.

At first he would whine and whine, not loudly but repeatedly. He would dig at the beds, pace, and was just generally miserable and annoying. Over the past few nights he’s getting better and better in there.

The last two nights he’s finished his two puzzle feeders, then settled down to sleep 🙂

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And his most recent walks, wow, he’s been incredibly responsive.

He’s still lunged and snapped madly at certain fields of grass (to the point where we almost have to run through them otherwise he will make himself sick!), but he’s done things immediately when asked – come to me, sit, wait, stand to the side (for cars / cyclists / people passing).

Yesterday he waited calmly whilst our front door was unlocked, even though literally a foot away there was a builder loudly working on next door – old men were one of Kasper’s biggest fears, yet he barely glanced at this builder, so I’d say we’re rocking that!

Today on a walk an older woman came over to talk to us, and Kasper was amazing.

I asked her not to stroke him and explained he was a fearful rescue dog, and if he approached her she could stroke him. Kasper kept checking in with me for treats and waited patiently a few feet from her. We did some training as we spoke with her (she loved his beg trick!) and after we’d been talking for a few minutes Kasper went to her for fuss!!

He sat at her feet and was giving off his comfortable-but-not-threatening body language (huge grin and loose waggy tail, but low). After about 10 seconds he took himself a few feet away again and continued training with me 😀 😀 😀

Those are big, big deals for us ^__^

2. Raiden

Raiden is, in general, doing extremely well around distractions.

He can reliably walk past farm animals, hikers, people walking, cyclists, and probably lots more things I’m blanking…he has moments of unexpected ‘this person is the most exciting thing ever and I am gonna refuse to move’, usually with toddlers, extremely young children, and of course other dogs.

Other dogs are a big issue, as when they get too close for Rey, he loses it and that’s when the pulling and screechy-yaps begin.

When they aren’t close enough to push him over-threshold though, he can do well most the time…today for example on the other side of a chain link fence, about 20ft away, two very large dogs were running about off lead.

Raiden did perfect LAT / engage-disengage, he wasn’t even remotely excited.

His recall has been great this past few days, he has been coming when called from sniffs, distractions, all sorts. I can’t fault him.

The ‘hey up’ cue we’re working on (which means FREEZE! – I use it for road sides) is going amazingly well, and 90% of the time I’ll say “hey up” and he will turn into a statue 😀

So there you have it 😉