Canine capers with Dodford dog whisperer Laura
Dodford dog whisperer Laura Wylie gives help and advice with Gusher's puppy column.
Did you, like me, grow up watching dogs on television shows and in films? Man's best friend at their very best.
The loyality of Toto, who didn't leave Dorothy's side even when they were under attack from flying monkeys and the amazing Lassie who was always there to save the day.
These dogs demonstrate the special bond between dogs and humans - loyalty, friendship and love. Without being asked, they knew exactly what was needed of them and when, all without a lead to stop them straying.
Nowadays we are flooded with images in adverts, which add to the dream of having a dog. From Daventry's very own Buster the Boxer bouncing on a trampoline, to dogs jumping into the car for a family road trip.
Social media is a place where dog lovers are sharing beautiful, idyllic, photo's of their dogs. Family holiday shots of the children running along the sand with the dog by their side. Children cuddled up with a gorgeous puppy. Christmas morning, surrounded by presents with the whole family sat in matching pyjamas ... including the dog!
There is no doubt, we are a dog loving nation. Dogs are trending in Tic Toc videos and lots have their own Instagram accounts.
But, what is the reality of puppy ownership?
Each puppy is different, but there are very common puppy problems. Puppies experience a fear period between eight and 11 weeks old, and typically this is when they leave the security of the litter and go to their new homes making the new experience scarier. For many of them, this first car journey is a traumatic event. They may cry, shake, wee, poo or be travel sick.
"It's OK, they are just scared, we just need to get them home".
Once they arrive home the real challenges start. Sleepless nights, walking around the garden in your dressing gown at 3am, wishing that your puppy would empty their bladder quickly so you can return to bed. Toilet training is tiring and requires the humans of the family to be hyper vigilant to avoid accidents. It is likely the carpets and rugs will get cleaned more then you were hoping.
"What have you got in your mouth now?!"
Puppies chew - lots! Rotating a variety of natural chews can direct them away from chewing your shoes, remote controls, skirting boards and chair legs. They are skilled gardeners and as they explore the world with their mouths, they will bring the outside inside - bits of sticks, stones, leaves, clumps of mud that they have just dug out a hole in your flower bed.
Yes, little land sharks bite. Those tiny mouths are full of needle sharp teeth and they haven't yet learnt how to control how hard they bite when playing. The good news is puppy biting is normal behaviour and does not mean they are aggressive. Those with young children might have had the idea that the puppy and children will grow up happily together, and suddenly find themselves with screaching children, waving their hands and feet around whilst the puppy is trying to hang onto their socks. It almost becomes a game of 'the floor is lava' with children jumping up onto furniture to avoid the snapping land shark. Training the puppy and the children how to behave around each other is an extra time comsuning exercise that wasn't bargained for.
"What have I done?!"
This is quite a common thought as the puppy blues kick in. The tiredness and emotional exhaustion has been likened to having a new baby in the house - but babies don't have teeth, stay where you put them and wear nappies. If everyone posted the reality of puppy ownership on social media, I think it would help new puppy owners adust their expectations rather than looking through rose tinted glasses.
Don't panic, it is not all doom and gloom, far from it. With a bit of research and support from a qualified trainer, you can cruise smoothly through this tricky puppy stage. This is such an important part of their development and our opportunity to teach these little sponges about the world. Using modern reward based training method you can help them to grow into happy, confident, well mannered adult dogs.
Have fun, enjoy them and don't take things personally.
If you are considering getting a puppy, feel free to contact me for advice on what breed might suit you and your family. Email [email protected]
Laura's dog training sessions take place at Dodford Village Hall. For more information, visit www.lwdt.info.