Sunday, November 14, 2021

No, no, no...

The word "no" is a word often thrown about in the heat of the moment, when our dogs have committed or are about to commit some dreadful "crime", but what does it actually mean?
And does it actually help with your dog's behaviour?
If your child is playing Xbox and their room is a tip, do you yell "no" and hope they understand your meaning - or do you ask them to tidy up?
If your dog is singing the song of his people out of the window because that bearded postman with the hat walked by, then you might be tempted to tell your dog "no".
But what does it tell your dog?
If you are really lucky it might mean to your dog "stop barking" - though of course it could also mean "stop barking at that volume, maybe bark louder?" or "noooooo - there is a scary postman, let's all shout", or "don't bark near the window - lets bark at the cat on tv instead", or "run around and bark"... there are so many options - so many ways a "no" can be taken as a cue to do something else.
If instead of yelling "no", we were to ask our dog to do something else - perhaps recall them away from the window, and then give them a place to settle and something to settle with while you read your post, you are setting your dog up for success. You can reward them instead of blindly yelling "no" and you will be more likely to get that behaviour next time.

"The word "no" interrupts them, so they know what it means..." - yes and no... the word "no" CAN be used as an interrupter, albeit one that likely has many negative connotations attached (so we might train a "positive interrupter" instead but more on that another time)... and doesn't give the dog an idea of what is required next, so they can simply go back to what behaviour prompted the "no" in the first place, or possibly even lead to a different unwanted behaviour.
There are a million things that can follow a "no" - if the "no" is even heeded. But asking for what is actually wanted, that gives the dog a clear example of what to aim for, and what will garner rewards.
If the behaviour is a strongly built in need, like the need to chase, then recalling from squirrels with a treat is not likely to cut it alone. Yelling "no" will likely bear no fruit whatsoever. So instead, we give our dogs things they CAN chase, and reward them for doing so - chaser tuggys are my own dogs favourite. We give them a viable option, and reinforce it.
We also limit the ability to chase squirrels while we are reinforcing chasing the tuggy. So the dog practices what is preferred of them and gets really good at it, and less so that which is unwanted behaviour. In our house, tuggies are the holy grail of chasey things, the dogs LOVE them, because the dogs have built up a history of chasing them and really enjoying it. Not squirrels.
"Training with rewards is about being a pushover, bribing your dog and letting them behave how they please..." say people who resort to harsher methods.
But teaching with rewards and working WITH your dog is simply being more clever. As well as kinder.
The simple act of asking "what would I like my dog to do" and then asking for it, or teaching THAT behaviour is simply FAR more effective and much more fun for both of you.
So next time you are about to say "No" for the millionth time, ask yourself "What can I ask my dog to do instead?" and then teach that and reward your dog for it instead.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

When treats are not enough.

Last night, Mum got my lead out, let me put my own head in my harness for a treat, did the chest clips up, got her coat on and the poo bags and pocket treats ready and off she and I went for a walk.

When we got outside, the most wonderful things were happening. Everything had come alive! 

There was rain and it was really splashy and made the best smells in the ground and noises as it hit things! It patted me on my head and back like a wonderful shower of fun.

There were leaves, glorious leaves, blowing about everywhere, of all different sizes, smells, shapes and colours, each one chanting "chase me" as they blew along the path.

The puddles were big and sloshy, so much fun for my feet to plop about in... and the ones in the mud - ohhhhh I could dig those forever. That squelchy satisfying squish while my feet paddled away to find the elusive bottom of the puddle.

The grass was cool and wet, and all the smells were inviting me to roll in them.

We also saw one of mum's puppy clients and they wanted to play too - so SURELY I was well within my rights to want to be a muddy pup? Ferocious beasts are not designed to stay clean for long.

I couldn't understand why Mum didn't want to join in. I thought she was being a miserable old cow. She took me three times around the houses, and we didn't even get to go to the field or onto the new estate round the back. 

All the best-wet weather action would SURELY be at the field or the new estate round the back? All those muddy, grassy, leafy places! What a waste! I got to sniff the bins, and a few pocket treats when I got up out of the grass... but that was about it. 

Mum looked grumpy and I was starting to get frustrated. I wanted to go over there to chase leaves and play in the mud, and the water, not go with Mum.

Mum said we had to go home as there was no point trying when it was like this out. She said it was her fault for not thinking ahead and that we had to remember that I was still a pup who was still learning. She said we shouldn't practice what we don't want me to get good at. Including being a muddy pup. So we went home. 

Moo said he never liked the rain and couldn't understand what the fuss was about, so he just ignored my complaints and carried on sleeping. Typical!

So fast forward to today. Mum said she can clearly see that I like chasing things. So we forgot all about trying to walk nicely today and went straight to the park, where although I still pulled a bit to get there, once there, Mum clipped on a long line to trail behind me and whipped a surprise new frisbee out for me. It is a nice soft one so it didn't hurt when I wanted to catch it.

Mum asked me to do a few sits and downs, and to walk around with her for a little while, and in return, she threw the frisbee for me to go after. She said we can't do it too much as "repetitive chasing things is bad for my little growing body" but a few throws in between doing other stuff is fine. 

Playing chasey things with Mum is fun. I like doing chasey things best. Even better than chewing things, eating treats or digging. So having chasey things that I am allowed to do, and then using that as a reward for things Mum wants me to do seems a fair compromise. I didn't even notice all the leaves blowing about today as we were having so much fun. Or the other dogs. Or the children in the park. Mum seemed happier too. She said something or other about "Premack", but I was too busy running around on my long line with my new frisbee to listen to that boring trainery stuff.

She gave me lots of treats too and on the way home, even past the cars on the main road, I walked nicely beside her, having a nice little chat with her about the things we could see instead of me trying to chase off after them. I didn't even pull!

Mum said that is good practice doing things we DO want me to learn, instead of things we don't, and that I was a really good girl today. I think actually, I am always a good girl and that it was MUM who behaved better today.

Today was a good walkies.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

It's not my fault everything tastes so good!

I have a big plan in life. I am going to eat the table. I already made a good start on it. Mum bought me some coffee wood sticks, she said they cost her "a bloody fortune", but she really shouldn't have bothered as her "£3 bargain buy from the charity shop" coffee table is much more fun. Mum says I am a toad and she is giving up as "at least if I am eating that, I am not eating anything else". 

Silly Mum. I am a ferocious beast, and beasts eat lots of things. 

I wanted to eat a worm yesterday, but it slithered into the grass and I could only get half of it. So to teach it a lesson I started to dig a hole to get the rest of the worm out of the mud. Mum had only just paid the gardener to do the garden and was not very pleased. I am going to have a digging pit of my very own as Mum said she is pretty sure I would like one. I hope it will have worms in it too.

I noticed that Mum has moved all the stuff off the kitchen side, or at least moved it all to where I can't reach - I think this is really unfair and have been letting her know it too. Soon I will be able to reach more stuff again though, so I keep trying!

Mum said I am getting very good at going for walks now, I only pull a little bit (I can't help that she is so slow!!) and she doesn't need to feed me constantly all the way around, which I am not so sure is a good thing. But it does free up time for looking at things and letting me have a run without me lead on in the field. 

Mum was really surprised at how good I was at coming when called when she had the long line on me, so she lets me have a bit of off-lead time during our walk. We practised loads at home so I already knew what "come" meant. I also know she carries sprats in a pouch and then lets me go off again most of the time, so of course, I am going to come back. When she doesn't let me go off again, she clips my lead on and then we walk to somewhere else that is fun, or have a little scatterfeedy picnic, so I don't mind if it means my off-lead time has finished too much. It would be a different matter if every time she put the lead on it meant we were going home, and there were no sprats involved. Then I wouldn't want to come back very much at all.

Moo is finally realising that I am the best sister and that when I can sit still for more than five minutes (which is hard when you are a Springador), I actually give quite nice cuddles. If I remember not to chew him. He does taste good.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Big Day!

Yesterday I did some more exploring. I went to visit a new vet, and she said I was perfect (even though I peed on her floor. The vet called it a "worry wee" and said many pups do this). I of course already know that I am perfect because my new Mum keeps telling me so. I was very good and got my parasite controls while I was there. I went on the scale and did a really good "sit", and I weigh 10.2kg. 

I also went to visit one of my new Nannies. This Nanny is my Mum's Mum and she has a dog called Harlow. Harlow is a bit big for me to meet right now, but I had fun meeting Nanny, watching cars and saying hello to the people who walked past her front garden where we were sitting. My mum let a few people meet me, and we let a lot of people just walk straight past. Mum doesn't want me thinking it is OK to run up to just everyone and anyone as not all people like dogs. Weirdos.

Nanny let me come to her rather than looming over me - dogs don't like it when people do that, and I quickly realised she was kind and friendly and that I could relax. I didn't even do a worry wee, which amazed my Mum. 

Then, I had my first nibble on a raw bone. Mum only let me have it for a couple of minutes as she said I have a very tiny tummy and we do not want "bone injuries". I disagree - I think bone injuries would be well worth it as the bone was delicious. A meaty lamb rib. But Mum said only a tiny nibble for puppies and then swapped it for some sprats. She said I could have some more in a few days if my tummy stays OK. I like my new foods a LOT! I tried peanut butter too and really like licking it off things. Almost as yummy as slugs.

Then, in the evening, Mum and Aedan went off to football. They don't play with the ball though - they have to watch someone else do it. I would be really good at football. I have one in the garden and it only has a few teeth marks in it. I stayed with my brother Moo and with Ellie-Mai.

Ellie-Mai says Moo is an angel and I am a little monkey. I disagree. I think Moo is a wussy and I am a fearsome beast. It is not my fault that I want to play lots. Or chew lots. Moo wee'd on my head in the garden. Angels don't wee on heads. But he did let me lay next to him for a sleep without walking away, and he is fun when he wants to play. We even sit next to each other to get treats nicely now. He let's me play with his toys too, though Mum said I have to leave his favourites - a pheasant and a duck - alone. I like him, he is a cool brother.
I also did no wees in the house! And I slept from 12 until nearly 8, and only cried for about 2 minutes and only woke up for a wee once!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

We did some exploring!

Today I discovered a dog in the glass under the magic window. 

I tried to show it my brother's chicken, and she also tried to show me hers.

She kept copying me though, so I wasn't too sure about her. Besides... she doesn't smell much like a dog at all... weirdo...

GREAT NEWS: My brother Moo is really good at playing chase in the garden. He finally decided to play with me yesterday evening. I knew he couldn't resist for long. But I didn't realise just how much fun he can be when he is feeling happy. 

We also played ball together with Mum and LOTS of balls, so that we always had at least one each and more on the ground, so there would be no need for any arguments. I, of course, do not need to argue as I am a fearsome beast, and just take what I want. Moo might get grumpy if I do that though and Mum says we have to be "appropriate", and not be too fearsome or beasty. 

When you are as big and tough as me, it is very difficult to remember not to be too fearsome or beasty, but if I want to keep playing with Moo, I will do my best to remember, and Mum will move me away to do something different if she thinks Moo is in need of a rest. After all, he is a bit wussy... But I do like him. 

I also went for a walk yesterday to the park and saw a man throwing things around. I wasn't allowed to go and catch them though, as apparently, he was "juggling" and Mum thought it would be good for me to see something "novel, in a controlled manner". I got some sprats though, so I didn't mind.

I saw a racehorse. In fact, I saw three. They are big and stinky so I thought I had better have a quick look from far across the field and then leave them alone. Mum said I was very clever and a good girl for making a good decision. Not that I had much choice as Mum makes me wear a big long lead on my harness that stops me from going off to chase things. So I chose to come and get more sprats from Mum instead of trying to show the racehorses who is the most fearsome beast in the field.

I also saw a Catses. Moo has warned me about Catses. Especially a black Catses that always runs out to get him. I don't know what the fuss is about - I thought he looked like a great thing to chase. Shame I had this pesky long-line-lead-thing on! 

I did wee on a little girl and also on the Tesco lady (don't tell Moo), so Mum thinks we need to do some "confidence-building games" while I am still little, so it doesn't become a thing. I am not sure this is true - after all, I am a fearsome beast!! And an intrepid explorer now I have been to the park too... but I like the sound of playing games with Mum so I will placate her.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

I am so very fearsome.

Today I met my Grandad and his wife Joyce. My mum had to go to work, and Ellie-Mai and Aedan, my other two humans also had to go and have their jabs, so my Grandad looked after me.

We played in his great big garden for over an hour.

I like Grandad. He makes sure I have plenty of food and water, and is very calm with me. He likes to play with the toys but also let's me go and sniff when I smell something interesting, and he let's me sleep when I am getting worn out. 

Not that I get worn out very often. There is too much fun to be had and mischief to make, to waste time sleeping... fearsome beasts never sleep.

Except at night, when Mum says all fearsome beasts should be in bed. I was very good as we slept in a new room. Moo was happy as he and mum got to sleep on their bed. He likes to cuddle Mum. He thinks he is a fearsome beast like me, but truth is, he is scared of the dark and is a big wussy.

Fearsome beasts may also take naps during the day. This is essential for maximum ferocity when attacking stuffed toys, and to get good height while pouncing on things, like Moo's head. Moo must have been very fearsome when he was younger as he sleeps a LOT.

Their bed is rubbish - I never find any food on it. My bed in my crate is ace though - stuff just appears in there like magic. Last night I found a handful of kibble and two chews. When I woke up mum for a wee at 4.30am, like a good girl, we went back to bed and I found a piece of frozen meat in there! It felt great on my sore teeth! I wonder what will be in there next time? 

Mum says I chew too much to be safe roaming the house at night, so I must go in there. But I get to chew things in there too, so it is great!

I didn't cry last night at bedtime and Mum only had her hand in for a couple of minutes. She was very pleased and so was Moo.

I wonder what mayhem I can cause today?

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

A lesson learned.

It is day 2 with my new family, and today I am very sleepy. I think yesterday was such a big day that I wore myself right out! 

I was very good though and slept in a fabric crate last night with a nice warm bed and brand new blankets in it, next to the sofa. Mum and Moo slept on the sofa and Mum put her hand in the crate so I could cuddle it and feel less lonely. Mum said I had to go in there as I keep eating things I shouldn't. When I am bigger I will be allowed to choose where I want to sleep. I only cried twice and let Mum sleep for at least six hours in total. I didn't even wee in the night, only when Mum woke up and let me out at about 3am. Even Moo was impressed.

I am keeping a very careful ear on what the humans are doing, even while sleeping, as I notice they keep bringing snacks from the place they call "kitchen". I like snacks. I especially like their snacks. I also like Moo's snacks but I am not allowed them. My humans let me try a little bit of raw meat too... OK I nicked it... but sharing is caring, right?

We have other humans here too. A man who is over the fence. Moo barks at him, but I think he seems very nice and gave him my best wag. Sometimes I can hear even more humans out of the window. I wonder if they are nice. Mum says she will socialise me - I think this means I get to go and look at things, including people, so that I know they won't be scary.

I am not allowed to jump on Moo. Especially not while he is trying to sleep. He told me off earlier and Mum said we had to have "time out" so that we could calm down again. She then took Moo on a walk by himself to give him a rest from me! I just want to play with him. Mum says that I am used to having a big litter to play with and he is used to just playing on his own with Mum, so he will need to get used to me, and I will need to get used to him. But... he does now give me sniffs and even tries to play in the garden... and has not been cross with me for hours. He likes me better when we are in the garden as there is lots more space for us than indoors. He also stopped pacing about and is sleeping and calm now, even being a bit waggly and happy, so I guess his walk helped. Mum says we can go to the park later and he will enjoy that as it's his favourite place. I better not tell him it was me who nicked his breakfast.