We don’t know what changes the near future is going to bring to our lives.
What we can be sure of is that many dogs will find the loss of near constant companionship distressing and it may trigger a range of behaviour problems.
Research quoted by the RSPCA found that 8 out of 10 dogs don’t cope when they are left alone but most don’t show obvious signs such as chewing, barking or toileting.
Coping when left alone doesn’t come naturally to dogs so what can we do to prepare them?
begin to leave them alone for short periods of time
give them an enjoyable activity to occupy them e.g. stuffed Kong, snuffle mat
make sure to return before they have finished their activity or become distressed
yo-yo the time, leave them for e.g. 3s, 5s, 2s, 7s, 10s, 4s and so on
repeat this as many times in a day as you can manage
Consider what your daily routine is likely to be and begin to alter your dog’s activities to fit. For example, if you are home schooling your children, your dog could learn to be left alone during lessons.
Try to work with your dog so that their confidence increases and NEVER punish them for showing you that they are distressed. It will make matters worse. If you need help and advice please contact me on 0794 1122737 or you may find the links below helpful:
Since my last blog, the scares about our pets potentially carrying Covid 19 have vastly reduced the opportunities to socialise our puppies with strangers in the traditional way. Many people will not want to interact with a puppy even if we maintain our own social distance. So we have to be a little bit more inventive.
In addition to the suggestions made previously, teach them to sit and wait as people maintain their social distance and pass by. In this way we can teach puppies to sit to greet strangers more easily when restrictions relax. Look for signs that your puppy may be nervous such as, hanging back, lip licking, yawning, scratching. If so move a little further away and sprinkle several, small, very tasty treats on the floor for your puppy to sniff and find.
Whichever technique we use we are teaching puppies that people approaching mean good things are coming from us. As pups mature they naturally become more fearful of new things in their world and we can counteract that by making sure they have lots of positive experiences when they are very young. For ideas of activities to help your puppy, see my previous blog Covid 19 and puppy socialisation.
know that puppies need to get out and about to learn about the world.
want our puppy to grow into a friendly, confident dog
current restrictions on social distancing are making this more
difficult but not impossible
It is vital to give our puppies as much appropriate socialisation as we can in these early months
Here are a few ideas to
get you going:
Your puppy needs to learn about their new home and to trust their new family through gentle encouragement, handling and play
A houseline attached to your puppy’s collar can help you manage them easily when necessary. You can use it to prevent jumping up, chasing the cat, etc so you can reward them for doing the right thing
Your puppy doesn’t have to be vaccinated to go for ‘walks’, carry them along the street, take short car trips to new places where they can sit on your lap, watch the world go by and have some snacks
As your puppy becomes more confident, introduce changes in your appearance and new things at home using, for example, hats, rucksack, mask, wig, umbrella and so on. Give them safe packaging to explore and play with, put some of their food in as encouragment
When your puppy is able to walk away from home you can use the houseline or a 2m Double Ended lead (e.g. Halti®)to allow them a 3 second meeting with any safe dog you meet (if they want to) while maintaining social distancing recommendations. Make sure you reward them well for coming away with you
Let your puppy interact with as many people as possible using equipment which will allow you to maintain social distance. Some may be nervous of this, in which case sprinkle a few treats on the floor for your pup to find and eat as the person passes by
the last 3 months Sully has continued to visit beaches, sheep, woods,
horses, shops and fields, meeting people and friendly dogs. He has
also had a lovely house-sitter take care of him, and Braccy, for 2
weeks while I was away. He is very handy round the home as he loves
biting water from the hosepipe, sweeping leaves and mowing the lawn.
Very recently he tried his paws at garden landscaping!
7 months Sully is no longer a biddable puppy but an adolescent with
his own ideas which may not always coincide with mine! For example,
coming indoors used to be easy but he has learned that mostly it
means that I am going out so now he is reluctant to do so. Not even
is easy to become frustrated especially if time is tight, but getting
cross won’t fix this. So firstly I call him in my normal recall
voice, in the vain hope he will respond, then I go part way down the
garden, turn and call ‘ready, steady, run’ and we run into the house
together. Then his reward will be waiting on his bed
a positive note I can see the handsome and lovely boy he will become
and it makes my heart swell with love and pride – just before I
discover another hole in the lawn!
Sully has now lived with me for more than half his life! The last month has been a whirlwind of learning how to manage his new experiences, rest, exercise and play which are changing as he grows up. I try to ensure a new experience each day along with at least one 10 to 15 minute walk in fields or woods. His walks consist of a lot of stopping and sniffing, listening and looking and not a great deal of walking. Puppies have a lot to learn about the world and I believe it is important to let them take their time.
Sully started Puppy School last week, practising the skills he has learned at home and meeting other puppies. The group is real mixture of breeds; Boxer, German Shepherd, Border Terrier, Cocker Spaniel x Poodle as well as Sully, which is great experience for all the pups.
He has also generally became more likely to bite for no obvious reason. That told me that he is teething and has some discomfort from his adult teeth cutting through. Whenever I notice him chewing something I quickly offered him a suitable item. As I feed my dogs a raw diet Sully has been gnawing on bones straight from the freezer. (Some puppies enjoy frozen vegetables or you can freeze their food in a Kong®) His need to chew will continue for the next few months as he grows and his teeth settle into his jaws so I need to make sure I have a good supply of bones and chews. I DO know where I can get some great chews from, if you need some get in touch!
Life now has a routine
based around Sully and his needs, my work and caring for Braccy and
Bingo. He’s still on 4 meals a day but supper will no longer be
served after the weekend.
He has several very short training sessions each day so he’s learning to stay still for handling, grooming and toweling. Also sit, down and stand. We also play the follow me game which is basically a baby version of walking on a lead nicely.
Sully loves to play tug
and fetch. I try to change the toys he plays with each day. Much of
this is from the recycling bin, cardboard boxes or tubes with treats
hidden inside, milk containers with stones/water/rice or nothing
inside. Once he’s finished with them they go back into the bin.
He has met some very nice dogs and played, visited pet shops, watched some horses grazing, sat on a bench and watched traffic and people pass by, yesterday he went to Go Outdoors. We have just returned from his 3rd visit to the vets to be weighed. Over the next few weeks I will continue to broaden his positive experiences with the outside world.
The journey to collect
Sully, my 8 wk old Border Collie puppy, from his breeder was one of
mixed emotions. I was excited to bring him home and start our new
life together but still grieving for the unexpected loss of my young
dog last year.
I prepared his
travelling crate with fleecy bedding from my house and his breeder’s.
I used Pet
Remedy, a natural product which has a calming
effect on cats, dogs and other species. Despite this, he spent half
the journey telling everyone he had been kidnapped. Every time he
looked like he was falling asleep he cried again.
I carefully introduced
him to my older dog (Braccy) and cat (Bingo) using a light collar and
houseline (see earlier blog) to manage him and keep all of them
feeling safe. We explored the garden together. He went to the toilet,
had his dinner and supper.
At bedtime it took a
while to settle him in his pen and all seemed well. I got up the next
day to find he had climbed out the pen, eaten the cat’s food and
litter tray contents and was asleep in Braccy’s bed!
owners believe that socialisation is allowing their puppy meets as
many dogs as possible.
it is so much more than that
need to learn about the living world, people, cats, cows, sheep,
dogs, swans, horses etc. There are different shapes and sizes in all
of the above
also need to learn about ‘stuff’, wheelie bins, doorbells, vacuum
cleaners, hot ovens, stairs, cars, smoke alarms and so on
breeders raise puppies in their home and help them to gain confidence
with daily, gentle, new experiences so that they are more likely to
slot into their new home with few problems.
early environment can be crucial for some pups, if they have had
limited experiences, maybe living in a kennel or stable, then moving
to a new home can be a difficult time for them. They have so much
more to cope with than a well-raised puppy.
you can help by building their confidence with new experiences which
can be as simple as putting their food into several pieces of
scrunched up paper in a cardboard box or taking them out to sit on
your lap to watch the world go by. It could involve a car trip to a
local pet shop or sitting in a car park watching vehicles and
shopping trolleys pass by.
most important thing is that your puppy enjoys the experience. If you
watch they will show how they are feeling.
is good sign if your puppy has a relaxed face and is taking treats
happily. Yawning and mouth-licking usually mean that the puppy is
anxious not, as many people think, tired and hungry.
care needs to be taken with puppies when meeting other dogs to make
sure that they are not worried or have a bad experience. Make sure
that the dog wants to meet up, ask the owner to have them on lead so
that you can allow your puppy to approach as close as is comfortable
for them. Keep the meeting brief and move on. Protect your puppy from
bouncy, friendly dogs as well as aggressive dogs. Early scary
experiences will have a lifelong impact and sometimes can cause pups
to grow up to be aggressive when on the lead.
you think enrolling on to a puppy party might be useful then visit
without your puppy so that you can be sure that pups are carefully
supervised and it is not a free for all. If you decide to take your
puppy and you are concerned for them then intervene, help them out if
they need it.
to make sure your puppy has one new enjoyable experience each day.
do make sure they get plenty of rest; learning about the world can be
The sudden change in the weather has been a shock to our systems and our dogs.
Dogs cool themselves by panting, they need cooler moving air in order to maintain a safe body temperature.
That is why it can be so dangerous to leave a dog in a vehicle
At home make sure they have shaded spaces to relax and plenty of fresh cool water.
Try to get some air movement too.
Some dogs love to wallow in a paddling pool and can be great fun for everyone
Walking your dog earlier in the morning and evening will allow them to enjoy their walk much more than in the heat of the day
Don’t forget the 5 second rule, it you cannot hold the back of your hand on the pavement for 5 seconds it is too hot for your dog and may burn his feet. Today I saw several dogs being walked on pavements during the hot part of the day.