May 27, 2005

Nap time.

Sharing a drink with mum.

Plotting course strategy.

Follow the leader.

May 26, 2005

Thommo Training

The last weeks before Red Girl comes home is an opportunity to train the behaviours that I will need from Thommo when we are a two dog house again.

First is to wait on a mat while I get collars and leads on and open the door. My door opens onto a city sidewalk so I have to check they they are not rushing out on top of a little old lady or into the road. I've let this slip a bit while Thommo was an only dog, he can hang around my legs without a problem. So I've gone back to insisting on sit and wait for a release.

Next, is to go to his crate while I take the rubbish out to the bin in the lane. Joel would run up the lane to another cattle dog and they'd bark at each other through the gate. This dog was dead before Thommo arrived, but he would join Joel in running up the lane to bark. Joel is now gone also, so Thommo just races to the end of the lane barking all the way. Diesel would start barking as soon, and whenever, I rustled any plastic in the kitchen. Each dog is becoming more hysterical about rubbish take-out, with less reason. So I've decided the practice stops now. I'm sending Thommo to his crate before touching the kitchen tidy.

Thommo has a good "give it" and "leave it" but he hasn't had to do it with anything of real value for a while, so we'll brush up on those skills as well. I'll also put up the baby gates and reward him for respecting them.

May 24, 2005

Puppy Proofing.

While organising dog beds I also started to think about puppy-proofing areas of the house.

My bathroom / kitchen / laundry area is tiled with a dog door to a small garden. So puppy can be left alone here when necessary. A baby gate to the dining area will let her see Thommo while they sort out their relationship - I have four weeks leave after I collect her so she won't be unsupervised for long periods of time. With this area it is just a matter of tying cupboard door handles, and ensuring nothing is left on benches that might attract attention. My kitchen tidy is tall and has a secure clasp, so it will be fine, but I'll take tempting smelling garbage straight out to the bin in the lane for a while. I had a collapsible laundry basket but Diesel would leap on top and grab an item before it flung him off, so I had to get a more secure model for him - and leave out a t-shirt or sweatpants that he could take into his crate.

The garden is secure with fences that can't be climbed or dug under. There is a dog window onto the lane for them to check passing foot traffic. I'll have to cover half of it until her shoulders are too big to fit through - though this means only Thommo's nose will fit. I have quite a few potplants at the moment - cuttings I'm striking for a friend. I'll have to get them to their new home. Thommo would bring in plants from out of their pots and play with them on the carpet when he was around twelve months, so I had given up on potplants.

The living area is where the dog crates are, she can be in her crate if I am reading or watching television or during meals, and come out when I can give her my undivided attention. One of my few dog rules is that they have to lie down at a distance while I'm eating. At night she'll be in her crate beside my bed. I'll babygate the stairs so she can't climb them unsupervised.

The study is probably the only area where I spend much time that is a potential puppy disaster area; with books, cds and dvds on accessible shelves, power cords, and things that can topple off shelves. In here I'll use a Dog Anchor so she has some freedom to move about while I am working, but not to get herself into trouble. (My dog anchor is not so nifty as this one - it looks remarkably like an ancient weight from a barbell set.)

Of course once she comes home I'll find a few things that aren't indeed puppy-proof, but that's part of the fun.

May 23, 2005

Dog Beds

Three weeks 'till red girl comes home so I thought I'd set up her beds so that Thommo has a chance to get used to them, and choose whether he wants to stay in his bed or move to the new one.

Thommo has a soft sided crate in the living room, a cushion bed in my bedroom and a trampoline bed on the balcony outside my room. He usually sleeps in his crate until I go upstairs to bed, he'll sometimes sleep on the end of my bed, but usually on the balcony in summer and on his cushion in winter. I carried Diesel upstairs when he was little, but he eventually stayed in his crate downstairs - the stairs were very scary for him with restricted use of his legs. Though Joel usually slept downstairs too, unless I'd been away or there was some change to routine.

Should you sleep with your dog? It depends. There has been quite a bit written about dominance and leadership and dogs on furniture. My feeling is that if you and your dog have a relationship problem maybe he shouldn't be on the bed until you have it sorted, but simply kicking him off the bed won't solve the problem.

Of course if you do sleep with your dog, you may have to face the prospect of explaining to your sleep therapist how you would like to get a good night's sleep despite the snoring, farting, squeaking, whining, pushing, scratching and barking.

One third of dog owners do sleep with their pets, and they are catered for in the marketplace by special mattresses that have a mattress top which can be removed and washed to create a healthy sleep environment. These dogs' owners can also discuss night-time temperatures more accurately than their fellow office workers, knowing that it was a three-dog night.

Of course giving Fido his own bed allows you to go to the trouble and expense of finding a bed that matches not only his personality but also your decor - a leather club lounge, or a Moroccan tent? And a sleeping bag for nights away from home?

I use the Snooza range. I bought one and really liked it so haven't really tried anything else, and they are Australian made. In the soft crates they have wool-filled Pet Futons. The raised beds have survived the weather well on the balcony. Thommo has a Cuddler in my room, and Joel's Orthobed is still under the table in my study. I'll get Red Girl a Snooza Cushion for her wire crate, and she can graduate to a Cuddler of her own.

May 11, 2005

Puppy Blogs

I have come across a number of blogs similar to this one, where people are recording their puppy's development and training. I've also come across quite a few which are diaries written 'by' the dog - but we'll say no more about them. Why do people think that if their dog could talk they would do so in baby talk, or with appalling spelling and grammar?

Sue Ailsby's weBlog of a Service Dog In Training follws the life of Stitch from first week home to ten months. Some excellent training information here, in the blog and in articles on the site.

Puptastic and Pup Life are magizine style blogs with lots of general information, news items and photos.

A Puppy & A Plan is the diary of a professional dog trainer as she raises her Doberman puppy, doing baby agility and starter tracking and obedience training.

The Doggy Woggy Photo Blog mainly consists of photos taken at the bloggers local off leash area, but very cute and there are links to information.

May 08, 2005

Posing for the camera at two weeks old.

The three kids napping.

Right-patch Girl snuggled up to mum.