Monthly Archives: May 2012

Water play

Yesterday was rather warm here so I found a big plastic tub, filled it with water then made hubby carry it out and put it on the balcony.  Spencer was in heaven!  Well, he would have been if he could have fit his whole body in there but unfortunately it was too small for that so he had to make do with just splashing around and blowing bubbles in it.  I did get a video and some pictures of him playing in it though.

I don’t know how to add a video or even whether I can but here’s the link to it for anyone who does want to see it.  If the link works anyway.

Not really got much to add.  I’ve been slacking on the training side of things again.  Loose leash walking is about all I’ve been working on lately.  He’s doing great with it, he just needs reminding at times.  Especially if he gets excited about something.  He’s met quite a few other dogs lately.  It seems the nicer weather has brought everyone out of hiding.  He’s not had much chance to play with any due to the leash law still being in play until mid July but he’s been able to meet and greet and although he’s still very excited and a bit much for most dogs he does seem to be calming down a little with it.  I try to move him on before anyones dog feels they have to get physical with him.  It doesn’t really seem fair to put another dog in the position where they feel they have to go that far because my dog is a rude pain in the ass with no manners.

Busybody who had a go at me about keeping Spen on a little concrete balcony seems to have had a go at my neighbour for the same thing today.  She was out there yelling about how she walks her dog every day and my neighbour was yelling back anyway.  God forbid we have our doors open and let our dogs go out on the balcony if they choose to do so!

And I’ve had 2 people ask about clicker training!  Okay, it’s only 2 people out of god only knows how many but it’s a start right?

On a not so good note Spen has been at the vets and has had to have blood tests and a poo sample sent off as he keeps being sick for no apparent reason.  Still waiting on the results of those but I will say one thing, there are times when firm poo is NOT an advantage.  Such as when trying to scoop small amounts of it into a test tube with a flimsy spatula type thing.  Especially when you’re doing this in public because you don’t have a garden!  Spencer hasn’t been sick since we went to the vets about it last Tuesday.  Bloody typical isn’t it? lol.

Oh, and hubby came for a walk with us last week and this is the “short cut” we took back to the main path.

The whole bloody path was like that!  Spen was in Labrador heaven, mud and water to splash around in.  I lost a trainer at one point and did my loving husband help me?  Did he heck!  I was left to hop around trying to keep my balance and retrieve said shoe from the mud while he stood laughing at me!  Men!  We made it back to the main path though and sent Spen into the stream to clean off the worst of the mud.

Haven’t been out yet today as it’s so hot.  Think it’s getting to the time when I’ll have to start walking him either early morning (ugh!) or in the evening.  Especially as so many of the little pools and streams have dried up.

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Scary advice

Man there is really some seriously scary advice on how to train your dog and how to deal with any problems you’re having with them.  Why are people so insistent that to train a dog you need to “show him you’re the boss” or resort to force, pain or fear to get the dog to do what you want or not do what you don’t want?

Take jumping up for example.  Easiest and quickest way I’ve found to stop it is to simply teach the dog to sit to greet people.  He can’t be sitting down and jumping all over you at the same time and if you’re consistent it becomes such an ingrained habit that the dog will automatically sit to greet some one.  Yet over and over and over again I see people recommending kneeing the dog hard in the chest/stomach.  Or grabbing the paws and squeezing.  Or walking forward and standing on the dogs back paws.  I’ve even seen someone recommend to grab the dog, slam it to the floor and hold it there by the throat!  All because the dog has greeted someone in a way we humans find inappropriate!

Resource guarding is a huge one where I see punishment recommended and yet chances are all punishing a dog for this is going to do is make the problem worse.  No, your dog guarding things from you isn’t acceptable from a human point of view.  From a dog point of view however it’s another matter.  In dog society possession is law.  If it’s in your dogs mouth then in his mind it is his and if you swoop down and take it from him you are being incredibly rude and he is well within his rights to tell you so and use reasonable force to prevent you from stealing his prize.  I’ve had a serious resource guarder and it is not fun to live with.  And I made him that way!  How?  By constantly taking his food and bones and chews away from him to prove I was boss!  I spent 9 years living with a dog who would bite me if I even walked past him while he had a bone.  The last 6 or 7 months of his life I worked on the problem by throwing bits of cheese or ham or chicken or other yummy stuff in his direction whenever he had a high value chew or was eating his meals and I think I would have turned him around if he hadn’t passed away.  This is the same method I used with Rupert who was as chilled around food as it is possible to get.  I have no idea whether he was that chilled when I got him, I wasn’t risking being bitten so started off at a good distance.  I also do it with Spencer although he’s shown no signs of guarding.  Such an easy thing to do, such a low, low risk of anyone being hurt and yet people prefer to go with scruffing the dog, rolling the dog, yelling at the dog, taking the dogs prize away etc.

Why are we so hell bent on punishing our dogs that it’s the first thing people tend to try?  Is it really such an alien concept to actually teach the dog what we DO want it to do instead of constantly punishing what we don’t like?  I’ve had people tell me I will never stop my dog jumping up unless I physically punish him for doing so.  I’ve had people tell me he’ll never walk nicely on leash unless I make pulling painful.  I’m sorry, I do not buy this.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe it is possible to live with a dog and never, ever punish it in any way.  But I have no need to hit my dog.  Or yell at him (although I admit, I’m human, it happens now and then).  Or frighten him into complying.

There are consequences for my dog doing undesirable things at times.  If his teeth touch my skin while playing tug (yes, I play the dreaded tug game!  That’s a post for another time though.) then the game ends instantly.  If he goes to charge out the door as it opens the door gets quickly shut and it does not open until he’s back in a sit.  If he forgets himself in excitement and goes to jump up I walk away, taking away what it is he wants most, attention.  It took maybe 3 days for Spencer to learn these rules.  And this was after 9 months of getting away with these behaviours.  Rupert took a little longer, a couple of weeks to learn to be calm for his leash to be put on and withdrawing attention meant leaving the room and shutting the door, not just turning away.  But he learned.

And personally I find it easier to look at a behaviour and think “well what would I like him to do instead?” and teach that.  It makes solving a problem much quicker since the dog is being told “this is what I want” instead of simply being told “no, I don’t like that” and having to guess at what it is I do want him to do.  So why are people so against doing things this way?  I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve said things like “well that’s just letting him get away with it” or “that’s just bribing him to do what I want” and I honestly don’t understand that mind set.

Hmmm…I think I’ve waffled enough now for one post.  And I’m not sure I’ve really made any point, I’ve kinda just rambled on and on with my own thoughts.  But hey, it’s my blog so I suppose I’m allowed to do that.  Let’s have a picture of the worlds most cheerful Lab (as he’s been christened by someone) to end shall we?

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Happy first birthday!

Today is Spencers first birthday.  He has celebrated it by having a massive attack of the Kevins and being a royal pain in the ass.  I thought I’d take him for a nice walk this morning.  I’m sure he enjoyed the walk but my arms are now about 6 inches longer than they were when I got out of bed.  I also have a slight rope burn across my stomach where he decided to take off in the opposite direction to the one I was walking in, got the long line wrapped around me and just did not stop when he hit the end of it.  So yeah, gloves might protect your hands but apparently a hoodie will not protect your stomach.

We finished the walk on a good note though, I actually managed to get him walking on a loose leash on his harness!  In fact I walked him all the way from the woods to the flat on his harness with the leash loose.  Using the clicker means I get a loose leash walking that looks a bit more formal than what I was aiming for, he’s right by me and keeps glancing up at me but I can live with that.  I just don’t want him walking with his head practically wrapped around my leg to stare into my eyes the whole time lol.

We’ve been to the local pet shop today and bought him 2 new toys and some treats.  One of his toys is a treat dispensing ball.  The other is something my hubby says is meant to be an octopus but it only has 4 legs.  Not tried him with the treat ball yet as he had his breakfast while practising loose leash walking but he’s been rolling around with the “octopus” in his mouth and making strange noises at it.  I think he likes it 😀

Hubby says he’ll come for a walk with us tomorrow.  If it’s not raining anyway.  If it were up to him Spencer wouldn’t be walked in the rain, proper fair weather walker he is!  I don’t really mind the rain, I love how the woods smell when it’s wet and don’t mind being soaked as long as I know I can go home, shower and put on nice dry clothes.  Spencer doesn’t even seem to notice the rain, he’s too busy delighting in all the water on the ground to notice the stuff coming from the sky.  I kinda like hubby coming for walk with us, it’s nice to have someone to talk to and someone there to help if anything bad does happen.  But on the other hand I also like the walks with just me and Spencer.  It’s peaceful and relaxing (for the most part anyway!) and once we’re on the fields I can just relax and enjoy being out.  Plus when hubby isn’t there the ball on a rope doesn’t get flung into trees.

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Another nice walk

Had a fantastic walk with Spencer today.  I guess he got all his Kevins out yesterday so could be have well today.  On the way to the woods we did some more clicker training for loose leash walking.  He wasn’t quite as good as he was on the way home yesterday but since he was highly excited I wasn’t expecting him to be.  He still did very well though and he did absolutely brilliant on the way home, especially considering I’d run out of treats by that point so was only using praise.  We will get there with this loose leash walking if it bloody kills me!  I’m sure it’s karma.  Rupert was so good on leash unless he saw another dog and I used to wonder why people just put up with their dogs towing them along.  Now I have Spen who is a freaking nightmare on leash.  I will never feel smug again.  Well, I probably will actually but I won’t assume it’s always easy to teach a dog not to pull.

He’s decided he quite likes the idea of doing some training while we’re out on his walk and at times I end up with him glued to my side, offering sits, downs and touching my hand with his nose.  I usually do a couple of things with him and then send him off to be a dog again but he tends to run a few metres then come back and ask to do some more.  I’m guessing after a certain amount of time running around and sniffing he’s burned off all his excess energy and is ready to settle down and work because this happens every single day.

Got quite a lot of pics today, I’ll post some of the better ones now.

I love the last one.  It is just so typically him.  So happy and enthusiastic and getting so much enjoyment out of simply being there doing what he’s doing.  Will be off out again with him tomorrow.  Is it bad that I’m hoping it’s not a nice day so that we don’t have to worry about fair weather walkers, joggers and cyclists?  At least the ones out in all weathers are generally polite and considerate.  The ones who come out just when the sun is shining on the other hand…ugh.  Ah well, we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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Been noticing a few changes around here lately.  Some relating to Spencer directly, some completely unrelated.  For one thing, where the hell did all this greenery suddenly appear from??  Seriously, it’s as though someone waved a magic wand and we went from bare, brown branches and short grass to lush green foliage, long grass and flowers and weeds everywhere overnight!   I sat on this bench just last week and I can assure you I was in absolutely no danger of being stung by nettles!

Needless to say, I didn’t sit there yesterday!  Spencers swimming pool has also dried up completely.  All that’s left is cracked, dry earth.  Poor Spen was baffled by the fact the water was gone.  He does so love to swim and splash around.  So I’ve been looking at google maps in the hopes that I can somehow navigate my way to some of these ponds and streams I can see on there.  I have a feeling I may end up completely lost though.

Spencer himself has also changed in some ways.  It’s as though he’s finally transferred himself to us properly if you know what I mean.  Up until very recently it’s been like he’s been waiting for his old owners to come back for him and he hasn’t fully bonded with us.  Well lately he seems…different.  It’s all very subtle and not much I can really put my finger on but there’s definitely a difference with him.  He’s far more cuddly for one thing.  He’s always liked attention but not so much cuddles while now he can be quite insistent about getting in your lap and having proper cuddles.  He’s also started sleeping on the bed with me at night instead of taking himself off to his crate and sleeping there.  He doesn’t always spend the whole night there but he spends an awful lot of it cuddled right up to me.  I dunno…he just seems more ours the last week than he ever has done before.

Another big change coming next week.  My husband quits smoking.  I’m honestly dreading it.  He quit for 6 months about 5 years ago, we gave up together.  He was bloody horrible for the entire time he stopped smoking.  I mean really horrible.  I didn’t live with him then and got my head bitten off multiple times a day for nothing so god only knows what it’s going to be like now we’re living together!  I think me and Spencer may be going on lots of evening walks and long walks on the weekend lol.

Spencers walk yesterday was a bit of a freaking nightmare.  The first 45 minutes he was absolute hell.  He lunged, he pulled, he barked, he did zoomies on his leash.  Apparently he got it all out of his system though and was an angel for the last part of the walk.  I even started shaping some heelwork with him.  I’m not looking for an obedience type heel, just for him to walk next to me on a loose leash.  He’s not doing badly at keeping the leash loose but he tends to be a bit all over the place so yesterday I decided to try and tighten it up a bit.  Started on the walk back through the woods coming home and simply clicked him every time he got anywhere near my side.  By the time we reached the estate I had a dog who was practically glued to my side.  No doubt we’ll go out today and he’ll be pulling like a steam train again but it just shows I can get him to understand what it is I want, it’s just a matter of putting in the time and effort to get it.

And of course I can’t not post a picture of Mr Fabulous himself can I?

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I dislike people

I’ve decided that sometimes I really, really dislike people.  The past week has been full of people I want to slap some sense into for various reasons.

Firstly, there is absolutely no need to scream and flap when you see me and my dog on the opposite side of the road just walking along calmly.  What the hell do you think is going to happen?  He’s suddenly going to morph into Cujo, tear me limb from limb and then come charging across to savage you???  I think the chances of that happening are extremely small, practically zero in fact.  So please, get a grip on yourself and just carry on about your business while my dog and I carry on with ours.  All your screaming and flapping around does is ensure my dog looks at you which then makes you scream even more loudly and flap even more.

Secondly.  If you don’t like dogs that is fine.  However, running across the road and a large patch of grass to scream and stamp and flail and throw stones at them is really unnecessary.  And if you ever actually manage to hit my dog with one I can assure you you will live to regret it.  And not because you’ll end up bitten, I wouldn’t risk my dogs life by allowing him close enough to bite you even if he wanted to.  Which, by the way, he doesn’t.  Oh, and teaching your children to do the same is beyond stupid.  What a wonderful way to make sure your child is highly likely to be bitten at some point.

Thirdly.  If you get a dog, have problems with said dog please don’t waste everyones time by asking for advice that you have absolutely NO intention of even trying before putting the dog up for rehoming.  You say the advice you got didn’t work, well maybe if you gave it more than 24 hours you’d see a difference.  None of us can wave a magic wand and magically make your dogs behavioural problems go away in the blink of an eye!  If you’re not prepared to put in any effort and just want rid of the dog then say so at the start instead of letting people write out lengthy messages offering advice that you’ll just ignore or will half heartedly attempt for one day before deciding it isn’t working.

Fourthly (is that even a word?) no, my Labrador isn’t skin and bones, your dog is grossly fat.  So please feel free to report me for starving my dog, I’m sure anyone with half a brain can see that he is in no way wasting away and is in fact a healthy weight.  This is the same dog you accused me of not walking and keeping locked out on a tiny concrete balcony despite my door clearly being open and my dog still being wet and muddy from a long walk through the woods.  I think you’re just trying to cause trouble to be honest.


Okay, enough ranting.  Spencer is doing absolutely fantastic.  I’m working on recall to a whistle with him and he’s responding extremely well.  He turns and comes running back immediately.  Not tried it with big distractions yet but I’m sure we’ll get there if I carry on working with him.  His loose leash walking is coming on really well.  For the most part he’s even being quite good on the harness and long line with it.  If we encounter another dog it all goes out the window with sheer excitement but again, with work I’m sure we’ll overcome that.

Hardly what I’d call skin and bone!

And a funny face.

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