Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Christmas Day Walk.

Well Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate Christmas, happy holidays or whatever if you celebrate something else or nothing at all.  But enough of the political correct stuff lol.  I celebrate Christmas so todays walk was a Christmas Day one.  Sadly I remembered to take my camera but forgot to put the memory card in so no pics of todays walk I’m afraid.  Got hubby to drop me and the Spendog off in town this afternoon figuring we’d go through the woods for a peaceful, quiet, relaxing walk.  It’s Christmas Day after all right and people are going to be inside having eaten far too much turkey and chocolate and god only knows what else.  Well how wrong could I be,  I think the entire of Lower Saxony had descended on the park and woods this afternoon!  I have honestly never seen it so busy, it was practically crowded at times.  It seems Germans like to go for walks and bike rides on Christmas Day.

So yeah, not quite the relaxing, peaceful, stress free walk I anticipated but we had a nice walk anyway.  We saw god knows how many dogs and even more people.  Some on foot, some on bikes.  Spencer spent the entire walk on a Flexi leash which is something I’m not particularly keen on but my hands go so numb with a wet and cold long line that I just can’t keep a grip on it.  We had several dogs come up to him which got him ridiculously over excited in general and so we had to go back to sitting and waiting for other dogs to pass rather than just passing them.  But at least he was able to do that without too much difficulty.  One woman looked at me like dirt because he got a bit over enthusiastic about interacting with her dog (who had been allowed to run up to him from about 50m away!) but for the most part all the meet and greets he had were polite.  He didn’t manage to pluck up the courage to jump off the bank into the deeper part of the river, it takes him a few minutes to do that and today I just kept walking, but he did have a paddle in the shallower part which has a nice slope down to it.  As we were coming out of the woods to go home I spotted a family with an unclipped, immaculately groomed and clean cocker spaniel coming towards us.  So I put my big, muddy,wet lump of a Labradork into a sit and asked him to wait figuring they’re not going to want their dog interacting with an obvious lout like Spen.  But to my surprise they asked if it was okay for theirs to say hello, at least that’s what I think they were asking, my German and their English were equally good lol.  Cocker seemed a little timid at first but Spen held a sit nicely and then she (I assume a female because of Spens interest, he tends to be uninterested in most males after a hello) invited him to play.  So they had a few minutes playing together much to the delight of the children.  Very polite and gentle play it was too.

It was another walk that made me realise just how much things have changed.  12 months ago I’d have likely been frustrated, angry and ready to cry half way through.  Today there were a few “oh for gods sake Spen!” moments but nothing major and I actually enjoyed the walk overall.  As I say, sadly no pictures as the memory card stayed home in the computer.  Not that I think I’d have taken many anyway with how busy it was.

Last Sundays husky meet started off as just Spen, Demon and Willow as seems to be usual at the moment.  Not sure why everyone seems to have suddenly stopped going, there’s been talk of “incidents” and “drama” but I honestly haven’t a clue what’s gone on and I’ve been at almost all the meets in the last year.  But anyway, about half an hour in we saw someone come onto the field with 2 dogs so leashed ours up not trusting them not to go over and introduce themselves.  Stood watching and was sure I recognised one of the dogs so took a wander over to see and it was Spendogs bestest buddy Khan the Rottie with his owner and their new dog.  So they joined us for a bit.  Spencer was over the moon to see Khan and completely abandoned poor Willow in order to have mutual humping sessions and the occasional bout of wrestling with him.  Wasn’t so keen on poor Bolt though!  He really is not keen on dogs he’s never met before being ill mannered and/or over exuberant.  How quickly he’s forgotten that just 12 months ago he was lacking in the manners department and thought bouncing on other dogs heads was perfectly acceptable!

I do have pics from Sunday so since I didn’t get any today I’ll post those ones instead lol.

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In other news, we did a Secret Santa with a bunch of other people.  Spencer got to open his on Sunday after the meet.  Well, I had to open it for him, unlike Rupert he had absolutely no idea what to do when handed a wrapped up box.  He got lots of nice goodies as you can see


That leash is lovely.  Really soft and squidgy and comfortable to hold even when he’s over excited and pulling like a steam train.  But his favourite present is the hedgehog.  As soon as I opened the box he grabbed the hedgehog and ran off with it and has been carrying it around ever since.  It’s come out for a pee with him several times, it’s come down to do the laundry, it’s gone to bed with him, it’s been tucked into the corner behind the curtain and has even gone into his crate with him when we’re going out.

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And the training dummy has been put to use as a scent work toy.  It’s one you can open and put things inside so it’s had a catnip scented toy in it and been scented itself and we took it out on the field for the first time yesterday.  I got all disheartened about how badly Spen did out there then came home, watched the videos I’d taken of him playing find it (I won’t call it scent work because at this stage I don’t think he was using his nose so much as spotting the dummy) and wondered why the hell I’d thought he’d done so terribly.  No, he wasn’t brilliant and insanely focused like he is in the flat but I shouldn’t expect that for his first time in a high distraction environment.  He did really, really well and I need a kick for being disheartened.

Here’s the video, it’s not a long one.  I was basically just dropping the toy while he was up ahead sniffing and then sending him back to find it.

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No bad dogs, only bad owners

If there is one phrase guaranteed to make me see red it’s the “no bad dogs, only bad owners” one.  Or anything that basically says that all a dogs problems are down to how it’s raised and if you’ve got an aggressive dog then it’s all your fault and you’re a terrible owner.  I hate it.  Absolutely hate it.  Just seeing it written down makes me angry.  Irrationally angry really.  For one, it simply is not true.  For another I can’t describe how it feels to have a dog with issues, to be working on those issues and managing the dog so both the dog and anyone around it is kept safe, only to have some sanctimonious little know it all (not my first choice of words but since my mum reads my blog I’ll keep it clean lol) smugly turn around and basically say it’s all your fault.  Do people have any idea how hurtful that comment is?  Any idea how close I came to showing them just how awful a person I was by giving in to the rage that rose up when those words spewed from their mouth?  Do they not realise how very unfair it is to be blamed for the issues your dog has when those issues have been caused by other people being unable or unwilling to control their own rude or aggressive dogs?  Or children.  Or themselves.  Whichever fits.  Dogs were the issue for Rupert so that’s what I tend to talk about.  Seriously, it is NOT always the owners fault that a dog is aggressive or fearful or doesn’t have good manners.

Let’s look at some of the things that can contribute to creating a dog who reacts badly to certain things shall we?

First, breeding.  There are dogs being bred who quite simply shouldn’t be bred.  Health reasons aside it is thought that traits such as anxiety and fearfulness may have a genetic component.  People simply throwing two dogs together to get puppies to sell to make money aren’t thinking of temperament.  Or health for that matter.  Sure, you can say it’s the owners fault for not going to a good breeder.  But what if the dog is a rescue?  Their own fault for choosing to rescue?

Incorrect socialisation.  Socialisation is a case of quality over quantity in some respects.  People seem to think that simply exposing a dog to things is socialising it.  It isn’t.  Having good experiences with those things is important.  Not going to try to go into the ins and outs of it here, there’s plenty of stuff out there on the internet about socialisation but here’s an article I like

Bad experiences.  In some cases all it takes is one bad experience to cause long lasting issues that require a lot of work.  Some dogs simply do not bounce back well from them even as adults.  Spencer will shake off an unpleasant incident with another dog, Rupert could not, it took him a good few days to calm back down and in that time he’d be far more on edge than normal.  Spencer seems able to go “yeah, yeah, whatever” at another dog raging at him from a few metres away, Rupert couldn’t.  And again, where Spen is over it almost before it’s happened, Rupert took ages to get over it.  It ruined the rest of his walk if not his entire day.  And bad experiences don’t have to involve aggression.  A young puppy being bounced all over by an over enthusiastic adolescent or mobbed by a group of people all wanting to fuss it at once is probably not having a good experience.  Nor does it need to “man up and deal with it” as many seem to believe.

Punishing the behaviour.  I think it’s perfectly natural for us to go “whoa, no, that is not acceptable behaviour!” and punish a dog whenever it shows aggression.  But doing so does nothing to change the dogs feelings towards whatever it is reacting badly to.  Punish a dog for growling at a child and you may well suppress the growl, stop the dog from doing it.  But that dog is still going to be just as uncomfortable about the child if not more so because it has been punished for showing its discomfort.  There seem to be a lot of people fall foul of bad trainers unfortunately.  It’s easy to know where to look to find a decent trainer if you already know, if you’re the average pet owner however you’re probably not going to have any idea that organisations such as the PPG exist and are probably going to use google or something to find a trainer near you and chances are it’s going to be one of those old school, punish the dog types.  Having done a quick google search myself a certain franchise features heavily in the UK.  As do many “whisperers” and “listeners” who promise very quick results.

There are probably plenty of other things that can contribute to a dog reacting badly to things but this is going to be long enough as it is.  Now yes, you could say that some of these are down to the way the owner has handled the dog.  But still, is it the owners fault?  If you don’t know the history of the dog you have absolutely no idea whether it is a rescue dog that came with those issues.  You don’t know that it has been punished for its behaviour.  You don’t know whether or not it has had bad experiences previously.  You don’t know whether the owner, realising they had problems, called in a supposed professional and knowing no better followed advice that made the problems worse.  Or perhaps they’ve had good advice and are working to rectify the problems they’re having.  It seems a hell of a lot easier to find advice that says hurt or frighten the dog than anything else unless you’re familiar with dog training terminology. Either way, they really do not need someone judging them, telling them it’s all their own fault, that they’re a terrible owner etc.  Your dog lunging and barking and snarling is embarrassing and unpleasant enough without someone who has no clue whatsoever about you and your dog spouting what is often complete and utter rubbish.

Are dogs who react badly to certain triggers bad dogs?  No, they’re not.  But that doesn’t mean that they have a bad owner either.  Please, just think a little before thoughtlessly quoting that awful phrase at them.  One day you may be the one having issues and that phrase may become the red rag to a bull that it is to me.

Apologies for the rant.  I seem to have seen this sentiment all over the place lately and as I say, it just makes me see red.


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Debunking the Stubborn Hound Myth

I’m sure we’ve all heard that some breeds are stupid, some breeds are highly intelligent, some breeds are highly trainable, others are too stubborn to be trained and various other things along those lines.  Well today I thought I’d post this fantastic video that proves that Beagles are not the untrainable, stubborn, stupid dogs I see so many people describing them as.  I have never met her owner but consider her to be a friend and she and Miss Tinker have made me see Beagles in a whole new light.  She has given permission for me to share the video, hopefully it will help to show people that when the right methods are used those “stubborn” hound dogs can certainly shine 🙂

Is Tink an anomaly?  I don’t think she is to be honest.  I think the fact she’s learned the behaviours she has and is so willing to do what is asked of her is because her owner has put in the time and effort to work out what makes her tick and how to bring out the best in her.  As a team they put me and Spendog to shame, they  really do, but I find them so inspiring, watching that video makes me want to teach Spen a bunch of tricks I can put together like that.  It’s brilliant!

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A coat and the first snow of the year

We had our first snow of the year a few days ago.  Sadly I’m sure it won’t be the last snow of the year though.  The same day the snow arrived so did the coat a friend sent to him, a happy coincidence really.  Not that he really needs a coat in the snow, he doesn’t seem to feel the cold at all.  The coat is more so that he can go swimming on cold days without me worrying that he’s going to freeze to death on the way home.  The RSPCA face he does when there’s perfectly good water to swim in and I won’t let him is just too much to bear lol.  So I took him outside to try on the coat and take a picture


But he got the zoomies and so I got yet more pictures confirming that my dog is a Labradork rather than the staid and sensible Labrador I thought I was getting 😉

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He really does love the snow.  He also seems to like the coat, it has been carried around the flat a few times.  So that night we went for a walk in the dark in the snow.  I love night time walks, they’re so much more peaceful than the day time ones because it seems most people don’t like to walk when and where it’s not well lit.   It was only a short walk as I wasn’t well but it was pleasant and gave Spen the chance to get all his snow induced silliness out.  Very difficult to take good pictures when you can’t actually see your dog though.  I got lots of pics of nothing.  Really do need to get him a better light up collar as his kept switching itself off every few minutes.

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Went to the husky meet again yesterday.  More like the Spencer, Demon and Willow show at the moment though.  Not that Spen minds, Willow is the love of his life.  He’s actually spending more time playing ball now than he used to though.  Yesterday hubby came with us and Spen spent a good chunk of his time playing fetch with him.  At one point 2 dogs came to the fence so Spen said hi, spent a few minutes whining and wagging his tail and sniffing them through the fence.  Then went back to playing fetch and completely ignoring them.  Once he’s said hello to a dog then for the most part he loses interest, it’s just the fact he feels he HAS to approach and say hello that’s the problem.  He’ll sometimes play if we’re standing around but even then a lot of the time he’ll start offering me behaviours instead.  Or will play for a short time then come and ask me to do something.  Willow is about the only exception.  Maybe one day we’ll reach the point where he can ignore other dogs completely.  Maybe.  I’ve no objection to him meeting and greeting willing dogs, I just don’t want him running up to every dog he sees before I can check with the other owner that it’s okay.  He’s far better than he was though so that’s progress 🙂

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