Thursday, 30 October 2008

A good day

We had a brilliant couple of sessions trying out the about turn walking yesterday. I must have looked mad in the park and it's certainly going to keep me fit! I kept it up for about an hour the first time. I just kept walking in the exact opposite direction from him as soon as he came past me. He started to range shorter and shorter distance and got the idea that he had to keep an eye on me. It really tapped into the thing that he really likes to be 10m ahead of me. We finished off the session with a game of hide and seek round the big trees. Then the best bit, we walked home on the flat collar and lead and more or less made it home with no pulling. Yay!

So will do more of the same today. I think I have to come up with a range of activities where I'm more fun and interesting than what he can get up to on his own devices. Popping out with L this morning with him to do the come game that we used to play when he was little. It's so easy to forget to do this stuff once you've got used to them.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The about turn walk

Interesting method via the Gundog Club forum that I think will work with to turn around Grey's recall. I have sort of developed this myself with him over the last month as one of the ways to get him back is to change direction. But I often call him. So this method means doing lots of about turns away from the dog without calling him.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Grey is a fatty

No way to put this politely. Grey is carrying a bit of surplus weight. Ok, ok, he's a fatty. He might have slowed down in his growth recently and so some of the portions of lamb might have piled on the hips a little. So he's going on a diet again.

New collar new day

I knew I was speaking of success before I should have done regarding the halti and the new walking technique. After two days, Grey started struggling against the Halti for the whole walk. He would lean into it and made snuffling sounds with his breathing, so generally a struggle and it was uncomfortable on my arm. That and much throwing himself on the floor in a toddler protest and trying to rub it off on my trousers. He really hated it and would run and hide in his bed when I got it out, even if it meant going for a walk and was offered with a piece of sausage.

So over the weekend it was suggested I look at two more collars. The first the Gencon headcollar, which works by contracting the whole head and at the back of the head, similar to the TTouch calming bands. My friend kindly lent me hers so we did a swapsie and I gave the Halti back. He struggled a bit when it was put on like a pony with a new bridle. But after his initial protests he settled into it and really responded. I need to manage him more proactively as well, by lifting his head from scenting and stopping him lying on the floor. So we managed a while walking round the park and then through the high street with a well behaved more with me Grey that wasn't fighting the collar. It also doesn't ride up in his eyes. We'll see how he goes from here on if it continues.

We also bumped into Obi four times on the walk. Which was lovely and interesting because I got to see how different they are. Ok there's a big age gap with Obi being six weeks younger. But even at that age, Grey was a more determined to do his own thing on the lead character than Obi seems to be. Still so strange to see another one at the same time as Grey!

The other headcollar I had been recommended was the Dogmatic. It works like the Halti, but it doesn't ride up in the eyes and is good for large strong dogs. Hopefully we won't need it if training goes ok on the Gencon. If I do get one, I've been advised to get either the synthetic leather or the cotton one because the original leather versions need a lot of softening up.

We met Obi!

Swoon, feel bad now that I didn't get a piccie, but we were so excited to meet Obi, the new slovak on the block. He's six weeks younger than Grey and lovely. Funny to see his head pop over the wall as we were on the beach yesterday. Like Grey, a hairy one, but younger. So like seeing how much Grey has changed in the last month or so. I have a feeling that Obi is better behaved than Grey!

They had a good play together, so the first meet went really well. It bodes well for the future.

We had a nice weekend of meeting other dogs. Bumped into the spinone pup that we'd met six weeks ago. He's come along beautifully. Hope to see him again.

I think the sand definitely is behind Grey's gunky eyes. If we've been on the beach he'll always have gunky bits the next morning. I wiped his eyes with a used tea bag to see if that settles it.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Slovak tums

I wonder if sensitive digestion is prevalent in slovaks? Grey was very poorly when we first got him. It turned out after battling with a runny bum for the first 5 weeks with us, despite being on cooked chicken and rice, and him nearly fading away with a raging temp at 9 weeks, that he had two nasty infections: Campylobacter and Giardia. Both infectious to humans and possibly fatal to young pups. We ran fecal tests after he just didn't get any better for weeks on end. It was really hard work keeping up with a puppy with the runs.

As soon as he had had the correct course of medication his digestion improved and became stable. He was then moved to a BARF diet, which is raw feeding. I order in a variety of meat and meaty bones from a specialist supplier. It works out cheaper than a complete food and he's doing really well on it. It also gives him something natural to do rather than just woof down a bowl of biscuits.

I've since spoken to other slovak pup owners and while they've had theirs tested for the same infections as Grey and have come back clear, a few seem to still have sensitive digestions with runny bums. So it makes me wonder if slovaks have sensitve tummys.

A new leash of life

We had a great training session with J today. We tried out a few bits of equipment to see how he got on. The anti-pull harness worked to stop him pulling, but he was still sniffing. This meant he was still very boingy and not with me. The slip lead, he just pulled and pulled and he's clearly not ready for that yet till he walks nicely. The chain we didn't bother. What really made a difference was changing the tactic on the halti head collar. Instead of carrying on with the steering him back on it, he was on a short lead on the head collar end which restricted him from scenting the ground and kept him close to my legs. He seemed to relax into it and it enabled us to walk at a fast pace, which I think he prefers anyway. All in all a much better experience and I felt I had control. Grey was much more focused with his head up. He still got his run off lead, just that on it, he has to be in the game. I can now start taking him everywhere again with me.

I tried it out again this eve on my own and it was still much better. I then had a little go of just training on the flat collar and that was good too. So the pla would be to build up practise of walking in the correct position on the head collar, then to switch to the flat collar eventually.

No more free lunches

From Monday, Grey has not had a feed at lunchtime. He's now on the two meals per day. He's still on the same amount of food, just divided across two meals instead of three. He doesn't seem to mind the change. There have been no protests or meaningful stares. He's also started with the big boy food of chicken carcasses and backs. His teeth have come through enough now for him to start chewing bone again. He's looking good on his natural raw diet. He's on about 1KG of food per day, split into raw meaty bones (RMB) like the chicken backs, lamb breast and ribs. The rest he has minced meat with bone in it and then some offal like kidney, liver, heart. Occaisionally fish like pilchards, an egg including the shell.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Six months old

This weekend Grey turned six months old. He now does his famous drive-by sweep instead of his neat little zoom and sit that he did from being little. But then teenages don't really like to hang out with their mums, do they? It was a big weekend for Grey. He had a first one night stay at the boarding kennels. They thought he was a lovely pup, very calm and sweet! Calm? When I went to pick him up the expression on his face was priceless. He did a double take and realised it was me. I had come back and he didn't live there now! First time for me too. I went to pick up my dog. MY dog!

We had a great walk today in Bekesbourne. We had a run in with a chocolate lab who charged up with a roar and ran Grey over. Nothing hurt except a bit had the stuffing knocked out of him briefly. Before that I managed to get some video of one of his regular drive-bys that are his recent answer to recalls:

Big news is that he had a little swim. There was a river and the bed sloped. So for all of three seconds when his feet left the bottom, the boy was swimming. Here's a video of him paddling:

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Gratuitous puppy photos

I started this blog after Grey was already a little grown up. So I've not posted any of his little pupster photos from the beginning. Here's some unashamed puppy love.

More on his teeth

We had a trip to the vets yesterday, which he gets all very excited about. They're lovely with him which is great. We had a look at his teeth and the lower adult canines are coming through and already are impacting on his upper palette. The vet is going to get in touch with the canine dental specialist to see what's to be done next. The removal of adult canines would be a major op and quite serious as they form part of the jaw. I'm unsure if the acrylic plate will manage the job on the other hand, because his jaw is misaligned rather than just the position of the teeth. So would it manage to push the canines forwards enough to clear the upper front teeth? We'll hopefully hear more this week. Something has to be done though, the adult teeth are much longer and they could pierce the upper palette in a much more serious way than previously.

Other than that we came away with ear drops for a mildly irritated ear. And he weighed in at 24KG. So now he's 25 weeks old he's had a lull in weight gain and dropped down a kilo in ratio to his age in weeks.

We went for a walk in the nearby countryside to the vets. Grey met cows for the first time. He was cool with them until they all drifted up to say hello. He was on the lead so after a quick bark at them he was keen to make a swift exit. I lost my balance and was pulled down a grassy bank through a cow pat. The joy of having a big dog that pulls.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

A start to handstripping

I hadn't really realised I would have to deal with Grey's coat other than the odd brush down with the zoom groom. But last week he was starting to look really hairy and I'd read that the old dead hair needed to be removed to promote a healthy coat that would be waterproof. So I had a go at handstripping and an amazing amount of hair came off. He still looked a bit partchy though, so next advice is to try hand stripping with rubber gloves on, but to watch out as it's quite addictive and I might end up with a weimaraner! I had a run over him today with a comb with a rubber band wrapped round it. He took to it really well and let me do him all over with no bother. Even his paws. By the end though he was looking at me asif to say 'are you finished yet?'

I need to look into whether his beard needs a bit of a trim or not and also to have a go at cutting his nails.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The teenager is arriving

I've noticed the last few days that Grey has started to change when out and about in the outside. From what I've heard, it could be the start of adolescence. His recall has suddenly developed into over shooting and running just out of reach. So we've gone back to working it so he comes back in reach so I can touch his collar. I'm not going to ask for a sit when he gets to me. Need to lower the bar, so that he does come back when I call him. He does react very well on the whistle for recall, it's the arriving at me that's now iffy. So when we're playing fetch with his tuggy toy, I'm blowing the recall whistle as soon as he's reached it. He doesn't have time to think and heads quickly back. If I then back up and change direction if I think he's not going to come back to me fully, we can more or less negotiate that he does get back to me. He's keener to keep up with me than to chase away on his own.

The other hard work is still loose leash walking. It's a constant battle of reinforcement when out on the street. I've switched him back to trying out the halti rather than the Gentle Leader. he seemed quite unhappy in the Gentle Leader. The halti he seems to mind less. Yesterday we tried heelwork round the house and garden and he managed it fine. Nice and close and good attention. So he can do it. It's out on the street that the outside is more exciting than me. But today, we managed to loose leash walk down the street to the park and back with the aid of sausage and liver cake. Hardly any of his eat the treat and boing forwards activities of the last week. So we hopefully have something to work on.