Easy like a Sunday morning (Or not)

Last night both the boys were very good after their training walk. I gave them both a filled bone and they settled down for two hours! I managed to have a wee gin, we had the record player on (some old queen records for the night) and I managed to read a few pages of my book. It was just lovely.

So this morning, I was hoping I’d get the same. It did start off quite nicely with some cuddles on the floor:

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Oh how wrong I was. Echo has decided that today, he is going to be a complete nuisance. He spent the morning stealing toys from Zeph and being quite aggressive about it. I had to intervene a number of times. And at one point they were fighting over a piece of rope they had removed from a toy so I thought I’d remove it. Well Echo turned his possessive aggression on me. I have learned that if I let my dogs win an argument they will win every time. Well as I went to take the rope, and asked him to ‘give’. He clamped his jaws round it tighter and started growling and snarling at me. I won’t take that nonsense off any dog. I managed to lift the water bottle we have for just these incidents and I gave him a few scooshes of water. It was enough to prize his jaws open from the rope and take it. However, as the rope left his mouth he decided to try and fill it with my arm. I managed to grab his scruff faster and held him for a few minutes. He continued to snarl at me the whole time so he was quietly taken to his crate and given a time out. I have only had him react like this 3 times now since we have owned him, and all over stolen items. I am trying my best to work on his possession but it is not all the time so it’s quite hard to train out. This possessive behaviour is apparently a trait in spaniels but that doesn’t mean it is acceptable. I am very careful with him if he stolen anything, and if we are at around other people’s houses, I ask them not to take things from him if he has stolen them but to let me get it. I am not scared of my dog, and I have no fear of him if he goes to bite (like all dogs he knows when he as done wrong) but you can’t let him win by keeping the item or by backing down. Luckily this is very rare. He has been rather good upto now and has been handing over items with a simple ‘give’. So today was a big step backwards.

After this episode I hurried Ben along and decided that we clearly had to take them out earlier this morning than we normally would on a Sunday. So we went tot he park for a wander round. Echo got to play fetch and was being good, bringing the ball back, ignoring other people etc. They were both very good and even managed to keep them listening when once again we came upon three dogs off lead with the owners way in front and oblivious to us being there.

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On the way back to the car there must have been a good smell on the playing fields so Echo completely switched off. We managed to get him back and to play it safe we put them both back on the lead. I could tell Echo was on the verge of ‘kicking off’ again  so we left the walk on a good note; we made them sit before they were allowed in the car and they are always made to sit again in the car and  are rewarded with a biscuit before I close the door:

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Arriving back at the house Echo proceeded to be silly with his toys and all Zephy wanted to do was sleep. So Echo is currently huffing in his bed and Zeph is sound asleep on the floor. I have no idea what has gotten into Echo today, especially since he was such a good dog yesterday. Obviously just having a moment today which is frustrating.

An attempt at training in the park.

We went to the park yesterday with both the dogs. It is a great big park that has lots of play areas, skate parks a great big pond with all the ducks and geese included and it is generally very busy. I thought it would be great to take both the dogs down as a training exercise (I usually  like to walk where there are no people at all, very unsociable!). The park also has lots of wide open fields etc.

We walked around the busy parts of the park first, with the boys on their leads, to get them used to all the chaos and to show Zephy that it’s no big deal. He did very well I have to say. After this we went to an area of the fields where there was no one around to do some sit, sit and stay and some recall. I had the two dogs sitting at my feet, still on leads and Ben was a short distance away. I had just unclipped Zephy’s lead to do some recall with him when a very friendly collie type dog came running over and jumped all over the boys. Well at this point I am holding Echo by his collar to stop him pulling me off my feet and Zeph is trying his best to not get stood on. The owner sauntered over, making a poor attempt to call the dog in and even said to the dog “come on ****** you’re disrupting training”….If you know I’m trying to train my dogs and you can see I am trying, then why are you letting your dog run wild!?? I stayed calm though and she eventually came to gather her dog. It took me a minute or two but I calmed down my two and we tried again.

After three good recalls from Zeph, we were interrupted by yet another dog! Owner nowhere to be seen or heard at all. A big black lab that took to slavering all over Zeph while he was with Ben. Again, I was wrestling with Echo who was desperate to say hello. Still no owner to be seen or heard, eventually though, the dog took itself away. I was starting to get annoyed. If my dogs are off lead, I am forever calling them back and watching them. And unless I see it is ok, I don’t let my dogs go and bother others.

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(Ben with Zephy and the black lab that was being nosy)

Eventually we were left to it and Zephy did very well on his recall and he managed a few sit and stays which is fab. Echo had a turn as well. His recall was not perfect as he thought it was a game but managed all the sits and all the stays. We made it more difficult for him as he is older. They both behaved very well considering the interruptions.

(Zephys recall excitement, below)

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(Me with dogs, having recalled them and made them sit)

On the way back tot he car the first dog that interrupted was at us again. Now both my boys were again, on the lead and had been walking nicely. It is hard enough to train dogs without other dog owners allowing their dogs to run riot; Not that my dogs are always the best behaved but at the very least I apologise profusely!

Anyway, wee rant over. I am very pleased with how the boys behaved and training is coming along nicely with Zeph. Still having to correct Echo but I think he is just being cheeky at the moment. Hopefully he gets back to listening soon!

A lesson learned/Scary Guard Dogs

I have never been a big fan of little dogs. I find they can be awfully yappy and it is not the first time I’ve had one go for the ankles (not that that has ever stopped me wanting cuddles). Let me paint you a wee picture.

My neighbour next door does not seem too keen on us, she has a permanent scowl on her face but she does give a smile if you say hello. I try to be as friendly as possible to all the neighbours, I think it is polite. Anyway, my first meeting with this neighbour consisted of her giving Echo a fuss over the fence, which appealed to his ego. The second time I interacted with her was awful. I had just been to the park with Echo (this is before Zeph arrived), and he was in the back of the car. I had parked in the drive and as I had always done, I opened the front door and then went to let Echo out of the car. I hadn’t noticed at this point that my neighbour was leaving her garden. Echo did. As soon as I opened the boot of the car he dashed out the car, out into the street, and down the road to greet the neighbour. Well, she screamed. She screamed bloody murder. I was mortified. I was calling Echo, whistling him etc. Do you think that little b***er would come back!? He thought this was a great game. Her screaming, wanting to play obviously, and her arms flailing everywhere, making it more fun, and with me shouting at him, it was clearly a big signal to be an idiot.

Before I go further I would like to say, I completely understand her reaction (to a degree). She didn’t see him coming, she was minding her own business and all of a sudden a hyper, energetic, springy, slavering black dog just suddening appears and starts to jump up at her. However, given that she had fussed him before I thought she might have perhaps been a bit calmer in her reaction, but then again, I know my dog wouldn’t hurt her (he is just energetic and doesn’t stop moving) I guess if you don’t know that, a dog jumping at you all of a sudden is pretty scary.

So Echo finally comes back to the garden with a grin on his face (by this time I have said the phrase ‘I am so sorry’ about a million times). He has caused such a scene it was unbelievable, a crowd at the bus stop, a fellow dog walker and various parents/children going to school. It took Echo a grand total of two minutes to realise that I was so close to losing my temper. He was quickly marched into the house by his scruff once I got a hold of him and he went to straight to his bed to sulk.

Now it was completely my fault. I accept that. I should have paid more attention to my surroundings and I should have locked the gates on the drive before letting him out of the car. I very nearly lost a dog because I wasn’t paying attention. The road outside is not a main road but it is a bus route. What if he had been run over? What if he had knocked a child down? Jumped at a complete stranger? What if my neighbour reported this? (she’d be within her rights to). Once I had calmed down I sat and cuddled into Echo for ages before I went to work. I even had a wee cry because I was so upset. How do you explain to a dog that running off like that is dangerous for so many reasons. You can’t. And I can tell you I felt horrendous. All the ‘What ifs’ ran through my head for the rest of the day at work. I felt sick.

The first thing I did when I went home was take a handwritten apology card and some chocolate to my neighbours door and I apologised in person and made sure she was ok. She took it really well and said she had gotten a fright. She wasn’t expecting to see him. She actually smiled and said “Can I ask what’s wrong with him that he is so mad?”. I just laughed. I had no answer to that one at all. I promised her it would never happen again and we left it at that on good terms.

Lesson learned: Always be three steps ahead of the dog and never expect him to always react the same way twice. I now always have Echo on a lead in the front garden, especially now I have discovered a few gaps in the hedges!

Well you can imagine her “joy” when she saw we had a new puppy (bare in mind the incident just described happened months ago). As a rule, I don’t allow my dogs to bark incessantly, there is nothing I hate more than a dog who constantly barks; and as of that fiasco with Echo, I have never allowed either dog to cause trouble. I have been very careful.  Occasionally my boys let out a bark of joy when they are playing with each other but it is not constant and I remind them to stop if they get out of hand.

It is not the first time, my dear neighbour has been seen scowling out of her window watching the dogs, even if they have been silent (which is most of the time). I caught her watching me out at 5.30 in the morning with the pup because he was desperate for a pee. How she knew I was out, I have no idea. When I looked at her watching me she quickly closed the curtains again. I have no idea, what else I may have done to offend her but clearly I have.

Anyway, back to this yappy dog. The house on the other side of my lovely neighbour has a little fluffy dog, I have no idea what breed as I can’t see it over the multitude of fences between us. It was a sunny day, I was out hanging out washing and my dogs were snoozing in the sunshine in the garden. My neighbour was out and failed to acknowledge me and went to talk to the neighbour with the yappy dog. Now this dog barked more in 10 minutes than either of my two dogs have done in their lives. It was constant and piercing. In response to yappy dog, both Echo and Zephyr gave a loud bark each and stopped. I was given dirty looks from over the fence. I feel that stereotyping of dogs is taken a bit too far if that’s what’s going on. My two dogs are so cuddly and friendly (a trait which gets Echo in trouble, he doesn’t realise that not everybody wants a cuddle) and in Zephyrs case, lazy.

Here is a picture of my big, scary and clearly fiercely aggressive dogs guarding their ‘mum’ while I hang out the washing:

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They stayed like that for the 5 minutes it took me to finish up and then they came inside when they were told to. Clearly very badly behaved and out of control dogs. It is amazing how one mistake can be carried forward (one which I still feel guilty about!).

I love my dogs and yes they can misbehave at the worst possible moments but they are not viscious, they are not evil, they are cheeky and playful and like children that have the same traits, it gets them in trouble sometimes. I couldn’t imagine a life without all the dogs. It would be dull and boring, and I think it would be harder to smile on those tough days if I didn’t have them being silly or giving me a cuddle. I don’t understand people who ‘aren’t dog people’. It’s like saying ‘I don’t want to have a loyal companion who can make me smile when I’m upset’. The world would be a better place if we all could all live and accept dogs as part of our daily lives.

I have made a vow to myself to never let my dogs upset another person, and I work hard at training them etc to make sure they can be the best dogs they can be (although if anyone was to come between me and my dogs!). But sometimes, peoples reactions make it harder to calm a dog down. For instance, Flailing and screaming at a dog that wants to play is like waving a toy in its face. Being loud and aggressive to a dog that is in a state of aggression is asking it to fight. Perhaps we all need a lesson in body language, not just for communicating with our animals but perhaps with each other too. Communication is the only way to resolve any problems.

And if in doubt, time for a cuppa 🙂

The Stats for the boys.

Echo


Pet Name:  Echo/Pudding cup/************* (can’t repeat that one!)

Age: 1 year and 6 months

Breed: Working Cocker Spaniel

Weight: 19kg

Energy Level: Hyper beyond all reason – will run for hours

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Zephyr


Pet Name: Zephyr/Zephy/Cupcake

Age: 14 weeks

Breed: Rottweiler

Weight: 14kg (at the moment!)

Energy Level: Lazy, as little movement as possible

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The determined Spaniel

For some reason, having shown no previous interest in the armchair, Echo is absolutely determined to be on it now. I think he is using it as a ‘safe place’.

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Little does he realise that Zeph will soon be much bigger! Everytime I turn my back, or leave the room or indeed switch on the laptop, he takes a chance and curls up.

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“Please mum, I am so comfy!”.

At the moment it is a war on who is more determined. If I let him stay on the armchair, he will want on the sofa, if he gets up on the sofa he will want up on people’s laps. Which is fine if the person is ok with it and if Echo is dry, but can you imagine the mess made by a mucky and wet spaniel who moves at a million miles an hour. I can tell you it is not pretty. I spend my life cleaning mud off everything, and that’s with drying him at the door. It’s like he saves up the mud somewhere.

Speaking of cleaning, it is time to clean the car out. It is starting to smell from all the dog!

A sick day.

Today Zephyr is not well.

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Apologies but it is about to get a wee bit graphic!

I think he must have eaten something that clearly doesn’t agree with him as Echo (and our friend’s dog who visited yesterday) are both fighting fit. Zephy has had such an upset stomach this morning and annoyingly I didn’t notice until I had already given him breakfast! Out on his walk it was so bad, there was no chance of being able to pick it up. After a few bouts of diarrhoea though there was no more. At this point I was hoping that was the end of it.

Well, we got home and I nipped to the loo and came back into the living room to a wonderful smell. I noticed there was a few drops of poopy mucus on the floor and then a few spots of blood. I cleaned it up and all the time thinking ‘wow that is a hell of a smell from just a wee bit of poop’. I didn’t think anything of it and I checked Zephyr over and he was fine, just snoozing on the carpet. I went to fetch the scented candles to help rid the living room of the smell and when I returned my brain finally registered the spray, of what was clearly explosive diarrhoea, next to the radiator (on the other side of the room from the bits I’d already cleaned up). The smell was pretty bad to the point I was gagging. I managed to clean it up and triple bagged it! The windows were thrown open and by sheer coincidence I happen to have Ben’s parents carpet cleaning hoover in the house. I am so happy it is here. I put both dogs to their beds and I have managed to wash the carpet. It is spotless and thankfully, the smell has gone too! The candles are still burning and the window is still open though.

The plan of action today is now to starve Zephy and to let him have a lazy day. No training or any more walks, just snoozing. Luckily he is still drinking water, which is good news. If he passes any more blood I will need to take him to the vets but hoping it is purely down to the irritation of him having poo’d so much. Fingers crossed he is feeling better tomorrow. Luckily for us, the vets are two streets over and open 7 days a week so if he takes a turn for the worst we have help. He still seems bright enough and he has had a play with Echo since making a mess on the carpet so he can’t be feeling too bad at the moment.

Echo is taking full advantage of the attention Zeph has had and is trying his luck on the “no dogs on the furniture” rule:

No dogs on the furniture

I had turned my back for less than a minute! Safe to say he has not been allowed to stay there…despite how adorable he makes himself look.

Sibling rivalry

As all siblings are aware, there is an inborn rivalry. At the moment I am likening my dogs to a toddler (Echo) and a newborn (Zephy) and Echo is not happy that there is a new baby on the scene. Like all big jealous big brothers, Echo has been trying his hardest to get Zephy in trouble.

I was making lunch the other week and it all goes quiet in the living room where the dogs are. Silence may be golden but when you have puppies it is nothing but suspicious. So I crept through to the living room to find that my house plant had been pulled over and was scattered all over the carpet. As I walked into the room, Echo took a few steps away from the carnage leaving little Zeph in the middle of it all. Now, knowing my Echo, I know fine well it was him that tipped the plant but he gives me this look as if to say “Mum, I can’t believe what he has done!”. Cheeky monkey that he is. He gave me the biggest spaniel eyes when he realised I knew what he was upto.

The second incident involved the doormat. Echo has a bad habit of retrieving the door mat and taking it to his bed. Well on this occasion, I happened to be able to see what unfolded. I kept quiet as I watched Echo parade the doormat in front of Zeph to get his attention. Once Zeph was firmly on top of the doormat having a wee nibble, I stepped through to intervene before it was damaged and I have never seen Echo drop something so fast. He let go of the mat and sat away from it again to say “see what trouble you’ve brought in, he is such a bad dog”. Well, they both got told off and Echo was sent to his bed for two minutes. Poor Zephy looked ever so confused.

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Let sleeping dogs lie

There is something amazingly satisfying about having your dogs fall asleep in your company. It is a sign that they feel safe, content and comfortable in your presence. There isn’t a day goes by that my sleeping dogs don’t make me smile. The bigger deal for me here is that Echo, our wired boy, is actually learning to settle and I am certain it is the positive influence from Zephyr.

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Weeks 1 to 4 (8wks old to 12wks)

It has been 4 weeks since we brough home Zephyr. It has been tough going; it is so easy to forget how much hard work a puppy really is. Although, saying that, both my dogs are currently sleeping which is lovely 🙂

Week 1: The first week was all about finding a routine that worked for all of us. Zeph isn’t the easiest puppy I’ve had in terms of getting him to sleep through the night and he is a very chatty dog, always making some kind of noise which I don’t mind except at silly O’clock in the morning! We spent the first week making sure the dogs experience of each other was friendly happy. Echo was a bit confused by the puppy but also amazingly excited at having a new buddy. WP_20150622_07_15_08_Pro

Zephyr was not able to manage a whole night asleep without needing out at least twice. With both Ben and myself working full time it has been a tiring few weeks. I have been getting up at half 5 in the morning so that I have time to get them both fed, walked and tired out again in time for us going to work. In the first week, as I mentioned previously, Zeph hated being left alone (which is understandable being from a litter of 10!). I called in the help of Lori (our dog walker) and my friend. They took it in turns to stop by the house, while I was working, to make the periods of time that Zeph was alone much shorter for him. It made a massive difference and really helped the separation anxiety.

All in all, Zephy did manage surprisingly well in his first week. He is a very laid back dog generally.

Week 2: By this time, with a lot of training and effort, Zephy was starting to get used to being left alone. He was still having a wee cry but it lasted a few minutes and then he went to sleep. I knew we were getting somewhere when I came home at lunch time and he was sound asleep:

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I found an old Rotti toy I had as a child and I put that in his cage and I have to say that it was a magical toy! He was obviously needing a buddy to snuggle up to and this toy was it. Whenever I leave I put the toy in the cage and he goes straight in and lies cuddled up to it. I didn’t realise the power of this toy until I had to wash it (it was covered in pee!) and it wasn’t dry in time for bed time. Zeph started off just sitting crying and crying and I knew it wasn’t because he needed out. I took a chance at him missing his toy so I took another of my childhood toys, a bunny rabbit which is roughly the same size as the other toy, and gave him that. As soon as the toy went in the cage with him he instantly went to sleep cuddled up. It was magical. My big fierce Rottie needs a cuddly toy to sleep. It is ever so sweet.

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Week 3: Zeph was 11 weeks old by week 3. He had his second vaccinations and was ready to start exploring the world. I haven’t been very far at all with him, just small short walks in the park. He is a big scaredy cat when it comes to almost everything so we have been using gentle encouragement and praise to get him over his fears. He is very popular with the other dog walkers and so has had lots of fuss and cuddles from other people and he has met lots of dogs.

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Week 4: Zeph is not far off Echo in size now, he is growing so fast! The two dogs have mostly been getting on, we have had a few ‘fights’ where I have intervened to stop them getting carried away. Zeph is now able to be left alone for upto 4 hours at a time, which is perfect for going to and from work. The boys are settling down faster after walks and are able to play better too. I still won’t leave them alone together as I don’t want to risk any injuries. As they get older I hope to be able to let them settle down together when we are out but for now they are in their crates and they seem quite happy with it.

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Echo has always been a very possessive dog, particularly if he has stolen something. We didn’t introduce toys to the dogs when they were together until week 3. We initially tried giving them a toy each and sitting on the floor with them to stop any aggression but Echo was so focused on the toy that Zephy had that he was getting carried away. If we hadn’t been sitting with the dogs I am certain there would of been an injury. It was very clear that this approach would not work as it gave a very limited selection for the dogs to focus on. So I tried the approach of overwhelming them. I put out all the toys the dogs had, some 15 toys, and although we still had to keep a check on Echo, it seems to have worked. If there are enough toys that they can’t hoard any particular one, they seem to accept that there is enough.

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Zeph is also holding his own now and if he is happily settled with a toy and Echo tries to steal it, he gives a warning growl which Echo mostly listens to and backs off. This approach has also made it easier to take things back from Echo when he steals so all in all, we have success so far!

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Both my dogs are very cuddly and it is so nice that they are working out it is ok for them to cuddle up for a nap and long may the acceptance continue.

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