Monthly Archives: February 2012

Crate training begins

It looks like the honeymoon period is over.  3 days in a row now we’ve gone out for a short period of time and come home to destruction.  Spencer has actually gone climbing to get things off shelves, off the top of the fridge and out of cupboards despite us leaving him a stuffed Kong and some empty boxes to destroy.  He ignored those by the way.  So I have begun crate training him.  Needed to be done anyway as if we get sent anywhere other than Europe he’ll need to be crated to fly.

So, this afternoon we set up Ruperts old crate, I got out the clicker and treats and we began.  His previous owners said he didn’t take well to the crate but I would guess that he wasn’t actually trained to it.  Started off clicking and treating for him just being near it, then for touching it, then for sticking his head in.  Same way I introduced Rupert to it.  Went a bit quicker with Spencer and in our last session I actually shut the door and just fed him treats through the bars.  He’s also had his dinner in there with the door open.  So far so good, he’s not terrified of the crate and showed no distress when I shut the door.  Won’t be shutting him in and leaving him for a while, we’ll build up to that slowly to hopefully avoid any distress.

I was very brave yesterday.  I went to the field and I actually let Spencer off leash.  On my own.  Then 5 minutes later put him back on because I saw someone with a dog who turned and went the other way when they saw us.  Spen saw them just after I leashed him and although he was interested he was far more interested in playing tug with me.  Unfortunately for him someone else came on just after they left so he ended up staying on the long line for the walk.  I have no idea whether this person had a dog or not but it doesn’t make much difference to Spencer, he thinks everyone wants to be slobbered over by a big, excited Labrador.  We’re working on it.  I’m sure he will be a polite, well trained dog one day.

And just because I haven’t shown any pictures of him yet, this was my Rupert Bear.  A dog with more baggage than an international airport and who taught me so much.  On Monday it will be 2 months since kidney failure took him from me and I miss him all the time.  I hope he is having fun chasing sheep at the Rainbow Bridge and that he is free from the demons that haunted him in life.


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A Spencer Eating Monster

Yesterday we went for a nice walk in the woods.  Kept Spen on his long line and practised recalls and waiting when told to.  Mostly so I could untangle him from whatever tree or rock he’d wrapped himself around lol.  The woods aren’t the best place for a long line I suppose but we both enjoyed it.  At one point in the walk we came across what was apparently a Spencer Eating Monster.  We’ve not encountered one of these before, seems they’re quite rare.  Maybe they’ve been pushed to the edge of extinction by the Rupert Eating Monsters that were so common.  Anyway, Spencer saw this horrible creature suddenly materialise in front of him, leaped away with a screech then proceeded to bark at it, rush forward, leap away, bark some more, rush back in again to try to sniff it without getting too close, leap back again.  What was this dreadful monster?  A childs hat stuck on a branch sticking up from the ground.  A terrifying creature indeed!

Anyway, we safely passed the Spencer Eating Monster and eventually came out on the open fields.  Dropped the long line and played some fetch and some tug for a bit then headed back home.  We passed the monster without issue this time, I guess it had been terrified into submission by Spens barking and lunging.  Then we encountered a jogger.  They should wear bells or something so you can hear them coming in time to make sure you have your dog under control while they pass.  I’d been keeping an eye out behind me but I swear this guy came out of nowhere!  Thankfully he was very nice about the fact Spen went to say hello and thanked me for getting him under control so he could pass.  Shortly after this Spencer discovered the stream.  Apparently Spencer really likes water.  He leaped off the bank into it, jump up in the air, spun around, reared up and splashed his front legs down into the water and all sorts.  Then when I insisted on ending his fun and carrying on going home he very kindly shook himself all over me.  I went out with a yellow Labrador, I came home with more of a dirty grey Labrador with black patches.  Who insisted on cuddles leaving me soaking wet and filthy too.

Wednesday was my birthday and hubby and I went out to get something to eat and go bowling.  We ended up not bowling as the lanes were all booked but we had something to eat so not a complete waste.  Got home to find that Spencer had helped himself to some cakes we’d foolishly left where he could reach them.  He’d also helped himself to the empty After Eights boxes and a roll of tin foil.  What he planned on doing with the tin foil I don’t know but he ended up just eating the cardboard box it was in.  Anyway, as soon as we came home he cowered and peed all over.  God knows what he expected us to do to him!  Convinced him we weren’t going to kill him, picked up the bits of chewed and soggy cardboard and life went on.  I guess it’ll teach us to make sure things are put away before going out in future.

I have to admit, I’ve been slacking when it comes to training.  Recall is about all I’ve been working on.  Planning on stepping it up now though, get him so that he knows “touch” and “down” properly.  From there I’ll see what I feel like working on.  Probably “give” since he’ll give up his ball for me to throw but won’t give it to hubby, he seems to want to play keep away with him.

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Group walking and off leash fun

I am considering buying a whole new wardrobe of yellow clothes.  Mostly black and dark blue clothing and a yellow Labrador aren’t the best combination lol.  However, light coloured clothing and muddy walks aren’t a good combination either.  So I guess I’m a bit stuck.

On Sunday hubby and I took Spencer to the local field.  Since the weather had warmed up the pond was unfrozen except for one patch of ice so we let him off leash on the way back round.  He behaved very well, was more interested in having his ball on a  rope thrown and in playing tug than in anything else.  We spent about an hour out, came home when Spen showed signs of getting tired.  Hubby managed to get the ball on a rope stuck in a tree so had to go climbing to get it back.  Spencer spent that time sniffing around then back to playing fetch and tug once the toy was down from the tree.

Yesterday we met up with four other owners and their dog for a group walk.  This was the first time I’d had Spencer around other dogs off leash.  He was highly excited and a bit of a bull in a china shop at first but he did calm down and it seems that once the initial excitement is over he’s fairly polite.  We were out for about an hour and a half, Spen was off leash for about an hour of that.  I’ve discovered that I need to work on his recall around other dogs.  It’s good while alone but he’s very distracted by other dogs running around.  We’ll be arranging more walks with other people and their dogs and working on it.  He never attempted to run off and kept an eye on me, followed “this way!” commands and would come back with the other dogs so hopefully it won’t be too difficult to teach him to come back.  I think if I’d been willing to use his ball on a rope I’d have had no problems but I didn’t want to throw a toy into the group and cause a problem.  Not that there was much need to get him back anyway.  He had an absolutely blast playing with the other dogs but in between playing he sniffed around and explored so he doesn’t seem too obsessive about playing.

Loose leash walking training isn’t going too badly.  He was terrible yesterday but I was expecting that and had him on his harness rather than his collar.  It seems he’s always been allowed to pull on the harness so I’ve gone with using a wide, padded collar to teach loose leash walking and using the harness when I want to actually get somewhere.  It seems to be working well.  It’ll take time but I’ve got plenty of that.

Didn’t get any pictures of yesterdays walk but here’s a couple from Sundays walk.

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First raw meal

Spencer had his first raw meal yesterday, a chicken quarter.  He spent the first 10 minutes licking it and looking puzzled.  I don’t think he’s ever had food he’s had to actually chew before.  He did eventually get the idea though and spent the next 15 or 20 minutes eating his chicken.  Rupert would have demolished about ten of them in the time it took Spencer to eat one but he was used to raw.  Can’t afford to feed raw full time while out here, too expensive and difficult to get anything other than chicken or liver, but I will be giving it on a regular basis to help keep Spencers teeth clean.

We actually made it to the field yesterday too.  I insisted on a loose leash all the way and wasn’t actually expecting to get there but he surprised me, it only took us about 15 minutes to get there.  Not bad really.  Had a nice walk round, some games of tug and poor Spencer was most disappointed to find that all the lovely looking puddles were actually frozen.  I imagine we’ll soon come home absolutely caked in mud from our walks.  The walk home wasn’t quite so nice.  We were doing well at keeping the leash loose until a child behind us started screeching.  Once said child realised that screeching made Spencer turn around and jump about that was it, kept doing it.  Did the mother say anything?  Oh no, she thought it hilarious.  I’m guessing it wouldn’t have been so funny if her small child had been knocked down and stomped all over by a large, over excited Labrador.   I ended up crossing the road and waiting until they’d gone but by that point Spencer was so worked up he spent the next 5 minutes up on his back legs because he was pulling so hard.  Eventually got him calmed down enough to carry on walking fairly nicely and got home.

I think we may need to buy Spen a new teddy.  The one I bought for Luisa, a shelter dog we had for 5 days before they suddenly decided we had too much stuff to be a suitable home for a dog and took her away, has been thoroughly de-stuffed and he carries the skin around pretty much everywhere.  It even comes out for a pee with us.  We’re off shopping today so I’ll see what we can find.  Knowing dogs though a new one just won’t be the same and he’ll continue to carry this raggedy skin everywhere.

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I’m Sarah and I have a 9 month old yellow Labrador named Spencer.  Spencer came to me just under two weeks ago now.  My husband and I lost our beloved mutt, Rupert, to kidney failure at Christmas and were looking for another dog.  I saw an ad for Spencer looking for a new home, enquired about him, went to meet him and we brought him home with us.  He is a lovely dog, very friendly, affectionate and playful.  However, he has no manners and his basic training needs a lot of work.

In the two weeks he’s been here Spencer has learned to sit and wait for me to put his bowl down before diving in, not to jump up at me (well, most of the time, he still gets over excited and forgets occasionally), not to mouth me and not to hurtle straight out of the front door and down the stairs as soon as the door opens the tiniest crack.  We still have a long, long way to go on loose leash walking, he pulls like a steam train!  He is doing very well at sitting on command.  And at sitting when he wants something rather than just jumping all over us or grabbing for what he wants.  He is still inclined to throw himself at anyone who pays him any attention while out.  We’re working on that as I do not want him jumping up at people, he’s too big and we do not want to add to anti dog feeling that seems to be around these days.

Spen has been introduced to the clicker.  He likes the clicker.  It means food is available and when you’re a stomach on legs that is always a good thing!  Currently I’m working on teaching him to touch my hand with his nose.  He’s a little unsure and his touches are rather tentative but he’s getting there.  He does know a couple of commands but I have a feeling they may have been taught by the old punishment based methods.  He gets very upset when told to lie down so I’m re-teaching it as a positive thing and  may have to use a different word when it comes to putting it on voice command.  I’m sure that will cause hubby no end of problems!

Overall, Spencer is making great progress and seems to enjoy the clicker sessions I’ve been doing with him.  And here’s a picture of him enjoying himself on the nearby field.  There’s a large pond there which is partially frozen at the moment so he can’t be fully off leash, we don’t want to be in the news because we’ve had to be rescued or have drowned in a frozen pond!  For now he’s on a long line which gives him some freedom but keeps him safe.

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