Friday, 8 June 2018

Size really does matter, the story of two black eyes and an overgrown puppy

This week’s blog is brought to you via the power of ice packs (to reduce the swelling so I can open both eyes) and pain killers (because ouch!).

 The new boy (Laird, a huge German Wirehaired Pointer) is gradually settling into the mad house, and prompting me to practice lots of essential training strategies. Sadly there have also been a few casualties, mostly toys but this week I’ve ended up with two black eyes!

Laird might be just 16 months old, but he weighs over 40kg with very little spatial awareness.

I wouldn’t say he’s much clumsier than any of my previous dogs, but Laird is significantly bigger and heavier. That means it is even more important that he doesn’t pull on his collar, can stop and wait when asked and will be able to give things up.

Small dogs can sometimes get away with “naughty” behaviours like rushing up, barking, stealing things or refusing to move off a chair. 

I don’t personally think size should make that much difference to house rules, but it does give a whole new perspective to how we interact with our dogs when you really can’t “make” them do anything.

This week despite the black eyes and bruises, we’ve also had several calm sofa snuggles. There’s been just one attempted humping episode, and several lovely moments with the collie girls.

Integration is an ongoing process, and because of Laird’s size I have to intervene immediately if anything inappropriate might happen. 

So if Laird is being a little rude in his play invitations, I clap my hands to call him over for a treat. When Laird grabs the sofa or thinks about humping (usually when he is over tired), I need to pop him calmly into his crate (and be quicker to notice the signs tomorrow).

There’s no room for dilly-dallying or second chances. While I absolutely do reward EVERYTHING that I like, it’s just as important to make sure the other stuff has consequences too.

I don’t just “ignore the bad behaviour”. It’s not practical to “ignore” Laird trying to play tug with the curtains. And I’m not going to leave the girls to fend for themselves in the middle of enormous GWP zoomies.

Consequences does NOT mean I shout at Laird or tell him off. Even if I wanted to (and I don’t because it won’t build our relationship), Freya would find it very stressful. She hates it when other dogs break the house rules….

Consequences DO mean that I make sure the stuff I don’t like doesn’t end up being fun for Laird.

The result is within three weeks Laird is much calmer in the house. Relationships are building nicely with the girls, and they know how to come to me if they need a break too. Laird isn’t stealing or grabbing things as much, and we’re snuggling together more.

And to make sure we’re having structured fun together, I’ve just signed up for the next block of Sniffing School (Level 1 for Laird, Level 2 for Freya)! So I’m looking forward to seeing you in class in July.

The next term of classes starts in July – the email with all the booking links is on the way to our subscribers and current students - let us know if it hasn't arrived.

Have a wonderful weekend, and don't forget to send us your pics if you are heading to York Pride with your dog too!

Morag, the collie girls and the big yin

PS for anyone who was worried, Laird is fine – he didn’t even notice!

PPS  If you're already canicrossing with your dog, don't miss our social run on Saturday 16th June

Grab your space here!

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