Sunday, 18 March 2012

Rodders gets a treat

It is Mothering Sunday and Rodders got me a card! How clever is he???? I would have been happier if it contained some sweeties for me but he had put kibble in it! Never mind, I can't complain too much, at least I got one.

I had to go food shopping and while I was out I managed to get Rodders some Chicken Wings. I have been toying with the idea of changing him to a BARF diet (Bones and Raw Food) as he really does seem to get fed up with just kibble. I have tried adding in some vegetables which has kept his interest for a little while and I have recently added in some wet food mixed through it which he seems to enjoy.

Todays experiment with a chicken wing was to see how he coped with it. Well he has picked it up, carried it about, chewed on it, slept a bit, chewed some more, thrown it about, slept again and finally finished it.

It looks like it was a big success. But I think we are going to have to find a way to either pen him in while he is eating these sorts of things or he is going to have to eat in the garden!

Before we can move to a BARF diet I do need to do some more research so that I can ensure he is getting all the essential vitamins and minerals and I probably need a larger freezer and a food processor so that I can prepare ahead and freeze in portions.

You can also buy it in ready prepared but I need to research that more too.

We got told off

Rodders and I headed off up the Nicky Line early this morning as the sun was shining. He was really good and came back when called and was happy running about and sniffing as we made our way to Keans Fields.

Once we turned around and headed home things didn't go quite so well. There was a family of four in front of us. Rodders would run up behind them and then stop and wait for me. He then got braver and got ahead of them a couple of times. The young boy seemed to be fascinated by Rodders and kept turning around to talk to me. He asked if he could stroke Rodders and I explained that he is only a puppy and still getting used to people and if he tried to approach him Rodders would probably come running back to me, sure enough he did!

Looking back I should probably have put Rodders back on his lead but I didn't. By the time we got to the bridge by the church Rodders was happily skipping ahead of us and I managed to overtake the family.

As we got near the steps to the Rugby Field I was calling Rodders back to me when the young boy shouted I'll get him for you and ran past me. I did ask him not to as Rodders would just run away from him and he said that it would be OK, he would get in front of him. Um, how do you expect to do that without chasing him? Grrrrr.

Sure enough Rodders was a bit spooked and ran off up the steps to the right, heading away from the Ruby Field, in to some garages out of my sight. The young boy stopped on the Nicky Line, probably spooked by the loud barking coming from the direction Rodders had gone in.

As soon as I could see up there I spotted two men with two Staffie type dogs. One of the men was holding both dogs, the other man was trying to keep Rodders away from them. I walked towards them and got Rodders to come to me so that I could put his lead back on and apologised and explained that he had a child running after him and wasn't paying attention to me. They were not impressed and said it is people like us that give their dogs a bad name, if Rodders hadn't been kept away he doesn't know what his older dog would have done. I apologised again and beat a hasty retreat and headed back towards home.

On the way back we stopped to talk to Lillian, one of my neighbours. She mentioned that Rodders seems to love going out with the dog walker but she was a bit concerned that he gets such a long walk for a little dog. She was happier once I explained that Sue picks up a lot of dogs, walks them for an hour, and then drops them all back home.

A Family Lunch

Rodders and I had a busy day yesterday as we were going to a family lunch at my big sisters.

We were up early and had a walk before coming home for me to shower and change. Rodders got a spruce up too so that he was looking his best.

It takes us almost two hours to get there and Rodders was his usual brilliant self in the car, he wasn't even bothered about getting out of his crate when we got there so I suspect he had been fast asleep.

As we walked in to the house he started off quite confidently and then realised that there were lots of people there making a noise and darted back to my side. Gradually he was happy to let people approach him for a play or a fuss though. When he is used to just me and sometimes OH it must seem a bit daunting to be surrounded by my sisters, nieces, boyfriends, guests and the odd husband!

He was happy running about the garden playing off lead and came back when called.

During lunch he settled on his snuggle fleece once we had all sat down and didn't move until people were getting up from the table to clear away the main course things and bring in dessert.

After lunch he even went out in to the garden with my sister Kirstty and her friend Gill for a run about without me.

As you can see, by the end of the day he was more than happy to be snuggled up with someone else!

I wonder if he remembers that Pete and Ailie were the first people that looked after him so that I could go out for the day.

Once everyone settled down to watch England playing rugby things got a little loud. Rodders took it in his stride but stayed close to my side.

All too soon it was time to head home. Rodders seemed to be worn out by his day as, after he hd eaten his supper, he flopped on the bed pad and stayed there until bed time!

The self drying dog

If you throw a towel over Rodders when he comes inside on a wet day he does quite a good job of trying to dry himself off!

The 5 o'clock club

Every evening about 5pm there is an unofficial dog club meet up on the Rugby Field. People just turn up with their dogs and we stand around chatting while the dogs run about and play off lead. There are dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages but they all seem to get on.

We have Springer Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Dogue de Bordeaux, German Shepherds, Greyhounds, Labradors and of course a Miniature Schnauzer.

Some times they are happy chasing a ball, others times chasing each other. So far Rodders seems to get on with all of them but his favourite is Basil (from Basildon) the toy poodle. This is them playing.

New Dog School

Rodders and I went off to the new dog school on Wednesday evening and it was very different to what we are used to. I'm not even sure that he realised he was at school!

It is much more relaxed and not regimented in any way. They are happy if the dog is on a loose lead walking somewhere close to you, it doesn't matter if they are not right at your side as long as they are somewhere near you. It doesn't even seem to matter if the dog is on your left or right. When they show you an exercise to do you go off and do it in your own space with the trainer walking around amongst you and offering help. They also change the exercise fairly quickly so that the dogs do not get bored.

Rodders did brilliantly at sit and stay while I walked away from him and then came back, he was fine while I pretended to tie my shoe laces at his side too. In fact he just ignored me. He was fine with walking and stop, when I said stop he just sat at my side.

I am not sure he has got the hang of clicker training, he just sits down whenever I click.

There was one exercise that confused the hell out of him though. The trainer brought around a washing up bowl and the idea was to get your dog to interact with it as a way of learning to free shape and to work away from you. For every interaction you click and treat in the bowl. Rodders didn't get this at all. He just sat and looked at it. If I did get him to acknowledge it and gave a click and treat he didn't take the treat out of the bowl. We tried to move the bowl and out it back down, still nothing. We swapped the bowl for a cardboard box, still nothing. We swapped it for a bit of round plastic with a hole in the middle for putting posts in to and we got a reaction.

In some ways he is already more advanced than the other dogs there. hey still seem to be working in front whereas Rodders is used to doing things at my side.

The other nice thing is that they email you course notes the following morning so I can share them with OH and we can talk about them. So far he seems to understand this sort of training more than me.

We will keep going and see how we do over the 7 weeks.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Rodders relationship with OH

Rodders gets so excited when OH arrives and he just cannot wait to be picked up for a fuss. Whenever possible he goes out to the gate to meet him and dances all the way to the back door beside him.

They always play rough which Rodders seems to love and they chase each other about both upstairs and downstairs. When OH sits in the Papasan Chair Rodders goes running for a snuggle.

This week a couple of different things happened.

Firstly Rodders asked to go up for a cuddle.

Also, when he was tired and wanted to flop, rather than lay at my feet on his bed pad he lay on the floor at OH's feet.

OH is probably much more lenient with Rodders than I am but he still manages to get him to do anything he wants him too and can say no to him if he needs to (normally when Rodders wants to come upstairs to wake me too early!). That is one of the reasons he gets to do the good jobs like checking his teeth and giving him his flea and worm treatment. OH has had dogs before and he really is far better with them than me, he is also teaching me as I go. Luckily some of it is common sense but I do need the occasional pointer. There really isn't much I can't do with him now, although he isn't keen on me doing his ears.

OH isn't here everyday and Rodders seems to understand that but on Saturday morning he just wouldn't settle until I had let him go upstairs to check out the bedroom and bathroom. Once he knew that OH wasn't here he was happy to be with me.

I am so glad that they have a special relationship! My relationship with them is pretty special too!

Sorry Pet Supermarket

Yesterday we went to Pet Supermanrket at St Albans to get Rodders new collar and lead. The little horror piddled his way around the shop and they had to get the mop and bucket out a couple of times to clear up after him.

He got to say hello to a few dogs, including a poodle crossed with an Old English and a Staffie Cross that had only been rescued from a Dogs Home that morning, she was very sweet and quiet.

We were in their ages and came out with some treats for Rodders (Some Rawhides, Bulls Pizzle, Fish4Dogs Little Stars), a couple of tins of dog food to add to his kibble as well as the collar and lead.

The staff in here are really good and always ask before they approach your dog. The young girl on the till came out to say hello to Rodders and he was a little shy with her, even when she was trying to give him a treat but he did sit nicely when asked.


Rodders has always been quite good at coming back when called but he has been chancing his arm more and more recently. This probably coincides with me giving him a little bit more freedom. For example when we go out to the car I have been letting him walk there on his own, he has had a little run around the green but comes back to me when called. He has also been allowed off lead on the Nicky Line and he has been testing that by running up the steps back to the Rugby field and not coming back when asked.

Yesterday when we went out to the car he ran off around the corner, luckily he didn't go off the grass but he also didn't come back and I had to tell him off when I caught up with him.

Later in the day I had my car out the back to clean it out. To start with Rodders was happy in the garden with the gate open (especially when Bob and Pat tried to go and say hello to him!), he then got a bit braver and came out beside the car and was happy sniffing around.  Then he started to wander off towards the road and I called him back but he wouldn't come, he did stop and look back before carrying on out of the garages and on to the grass where I caught up with him. He got told off again and put back in the garden with the gate shut.

This mornings walk on the Nicky Line he just would not come back at all and  tried to chase after a jogger so he ended up back on his lead for the rest of the walk, even when we bumped in to Higgins the German Shepherd with his Dad. I don't think he was too happy at not being allowed to run around and play but he has to learn.

We have done some practice in the house during the day with the clicker and treats and he was coming back fine & he came back in from the garden when called so we went off for another walk on the Nicky Line.

This afternoon's walk was so different from this morning. He was happy running about off lead and either coming back when called or waiting when told for me to catch him up. He even sat and waited for 3 joggers to go past us. I did have to change direction and walk away a couple of times but he soon came running after me. There was one sticky point when he tried to go up some steps half way between the church and Queensway but I stayed where I was and he came back to me after he had had a sniff about.

After walking from the church to Queensway and back to the Rugby field I was really pleased with how well he had done. He also said hello to a greyhound and let his owners give him a fuss but he gave a couple sitting on a log drinking a wide berth - probably best!

And then it went wrong! He heard a family on the rugby field playing and went to investigate. As he isn't used to children, and he wasn't showing any signs of coming back, I went after him. He had sat himself down and was watching them playing with a ball. I clicked him back on his lead and we headed home. After this morning's walk I was quite pleased with how we had done.

Time for a change

I have been really unsettled at Dog School since the woman with the Doberman and the Electric Collar and so I have been investigating other options.

I have decided to go with a company called The Family Dog in Redbourn after reading their website and visiting their class (without Rodders) last Wednesday evening. It is a completely different way of training, they use clickers, and it seems much gentler and geared towards a family pet who can have fun but behave  with the emphasis on rewarding good behaviour rather than the regimented sort of training we are used to where bad behaviour is checked. I am hoping that Rodders will take to it.

We start the 7 week intermediate classes on Wednesday evening at 7.30.and we have started clicker training today. I have also had to buy Rodders a new collar (& lead as it had to match!) as they will not accept choke chains.

My last task after class on Saturday was to have a quick chat with Sam to let her know. She was brilliant and said that there were no hard feelings and the door is always open for us to come back. I would probably had said a bit more about our reasons for leaving but Pete had done the class and was still about. If our classes were always with Sam I probably wouldn't even have considered changing to be fair but she only does every other saturday and we can't do the Friday class.

Anyway, time will tell if we are making the right choice.

Rodders Dog School - how different 2 weeks can be!

Last week at Dog School Rodders and I had a disastrous lesson. I don't know if it was because I wasn't feeling well or if he just had the devil in him but not a lot seemed to go right, he wanted to play with the other dogs rather than walk to heel, he wouldn't go down, his recall was iffy and his sit and wait was dreadful. The only thing he seemed to do right was to sit!

This week he was a different dog entirely. We got there early so that he could run about and play with the other dogs first (we did this for a short time last week too) and he had a great time and was starting to stick up for himself a bit better if bigger dogs were bowling him over or getting a bit rough.

When Sam called us in to class he took a few minutes to realise that he was back on his lead and it was time to stop playing and it was difficult to get him to line up and lay down at the start but he was really good after that. We were doing a lot of close heel work, working in two lines going in opposite directions, and he was paying attention to me rather than the other dogs. When it came to weaving through the lines of dogs he sat and waited patiently with only one blip as a dog came past and then walked to heel through to the front when it was our turn. This was also done in parallel lines so he had Wordsworth (the King Charles from his puppy class) beside him. Wordsworth kept whining while we were sitting waiting and Rodders looked over at him a couple of times but didn't leave my side.

We then jogged up the field towards the agility course throwing in some sits and downs. Once on the agility course Rodders did really well. He went through the lifebelt without too much trouble and jumped over a couple of the fences that he has refused to entertain before. As always he loved the A Frame and the Tunnel.

After a play with tuggy's (Rodders will let his go and sit for you to throw it again but will not fetch it) we walked to the end of the field to let the dogs off lead for some play and to practice recall. Rodders went a little to pot here, once he went to the wrong person but sat beautifully, another time he wouldn't come at all and another time he and four other dogs ran off to play together - to his credit he was the first dog to come back. We also practiced sit and wait, which is quite tough when there are 10 other dogs around you, but Rodders was fine.

By now it was almost the end of the class and we walked back to the hall walking to heel and sitting. He sat and waited at the door nicely and was happy to lay between my legs when Sam ran through todays good and bad points and came round to meet and greet as she took our money.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

The rest of Friday

when I popped home at lunch time the cleaner was in and Rodders was already out in the garden, he didn't even hear me come in the door, chat to Skevi or walk through the house and open the patio door. Once he did spot me he was very excited and came running over for a cuddle.

Rodders was very good when it was time for me to go back to work, I asked him to sit and stay as I told him I had to go to work and gave him a treat before heading out of the door. He didn't make a peep.

As soon as I got home I changed in to my dog walking jeans and we headed up to the rugby field and on to the Nicky Line. We walked parallel to the rugby field with Rodders off lead and he was a very good boy, coming back to me when called.

We came on to the rugby field by the 5 A Side pitch and Rodders had a scamper about on the grass. He loves being off lead but there is something extra exciting about being off lead on grass. When I called him back to me to slip his lead back on he came full pelt with his ears flapping.

There were a couple of people out on the field with their dogs already, a lab and a young German Shepherd, and I wasn't sure how Rodders would react. Once we were with them it was obvious that they all wanted to play so I let Rodders off again. He was having a great time chasing about after the other 2 dogs although the German Shepherds owner was a bit worried that he was being a bit rough, he may have been but Rodders kept his tail up and kept going back for more. They played for about 30 minutes before we all went our separate ways.

I don't think that Rodders has anything wrong with his tummy but in the 45 minutes that we were out he managed to poo four times! All quite firm and normal, but a lot of it.

Once back home Rodders had a play in the garden and his tea before we settled down on the sofa for a while. This cold has taken it out of me a bit and I was cream crackered after a couple of days back at work.

I was making poached eggs for my tea and managed to break one so Rodders got an extra treat. He was really funny, he wouldn't eat it out of the bowl unless I held it up for him but lapped it up eagerly when I did.  He usually gets fed just outside the kitchen door and I out the eggy bowl down there while I served up my dinner. Rodders was in the kitchen at that point and when I went and sat at the dining table to eat he stayed there barking at the bowl just outside the door. The silly puppy would not come out the kitchen until I got up and lifted the bowl, I have no idea what that was about!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Friday morning

OH got up with Rodders at some ungodly hour and let me stay in bed for a while. I mislaid my phone last night and he and Rodders found it when the alarm went off!

Once OH was ready to get ready for work he sent Rodders upstairs to wake me. There is nothing like a beardy nose poking in to your face to wake you with a smile. In fact it is so good that Rodders usually has to get sent upstairs to do it again before I actually get up! When he goes down stairs in between he usually takes one of my dirty socks with him that OH has to rescue from his mouth.

Rodders has been really cuddly all week and this morning was no exception. He came up on to my knee for a while and, when OH was ready to go, he had to stop and give Rodders a last cuddle.

As always Rodders went out to the gate to say goodbye to OH. Usually he comes back to me as soon as OH opens the gate but this morning he didn't want to. OH told him to sit and stay and Rodders sat there and watched him as he packed the car, he didn't move a muscle!

He was happy to stay out in the garden once OH shut the gate and only came in when I wanted to go upstairs.

When it was time for me to go to work he was lying on his bed pad by the sofa. He usually comes and climbs in to his crate without being asked, not this morning though. I went over to talk to him and he just rolled on to his back so that I could rub his tummy. I then picked him up and gave him a cuddle before putting him down on the floor. He was then happy to walk in to his crate.

Thursday night

OH was going to be home at a reasonable time tonight so he suggested that we went to the pub for dinner. We like going there as Rodders is allowed to come too.

I gave him his supper before we went but he didn't eat too much of it. Good job really as I had a pocket full of treats with me incase they were needed and then the pub staff gave him three huge dog biscuits - we only let him munch his way through 2 of them they were that big!

OH was in charge of Rodders tonight and made sure that he sat and waited at the door on the way out. The only thing he forgot is that Rodders gets a treat each time he goes in his crate.

When we got to the pub it was really busy, and we were there just after 6.30pm, luckily we found a small table. There wasn't much space for Rodders but he found a spot at OH's feet where he could see what was going on.

He was so good, he didn't try to wander too far and he did sit or lie down for most of the time. We had a great meal, as always, and were well looked after by the staff. As we went to leave a couple were asking us about Rodders and commented about how well he was behaved for a youngster. OH reminded me that I wanted a dog that I can take anywhere and I have succeeded. I keep reading about dogs getting to 7 months and then being really naughty or wilful, I really hope that we don't have to go through that with Rodders. He really is such a good little boy and I am very lucky.

When we got back home I told OH to drop his lead and let him walk to the house on his own. Well Rodders decided that he wasn't coming straight in like normal, there was lots of PMail to pick up at the street sign and then some lovely grass to sniff and wee on. The journey from the car to the house usually takes seconds took about 5 minutes. OH was all for going and bringing him in but I just kept calling him and he did come eventually.

By the time we got home we were all exhausted and after a cuppa and a bit of television it was time for bed. Rodders has started being a monkey at bed time and, even if he does go out in to the garden, he usually doesn't bother having a piddle. Luckily his bladder seems to be quite strong and this hasn't been a problem. So far.......