Agility

Daisy is a very active dog and I do struggle sometimes to keep up with her. I wanted to find something that might channel her love of running and her abundant energy. Agility seemed to be the answer. I’d seen it on the TV and I’d been to an agility festival where the dogs and handlers seemed to have a great time. So with slight hesitation, I booked us on to a 6 week beginners agility course.

Now I’m not the fittest of people, and exercise doesn’t come naturally to me. But I wanted to do this for Daisy. I realised just how out of shape I was, and I realised just how fast Daisy was! I was totally out of my depth the first couple of weeks, but as I kept at it, small achievements were worth it. I managed to get Daisy through a tunnel, which I had never been able to do before. I was so proud of her!

There have been times when I have thought to myself that I can’t do it, that I’m not the sort of person that does agility. I have thought that I’m not good enough because I haven’t always given the correct signals to Daisy, which has resulted in her being confused as to what I wanted her to do. However, I have also found that small things mean a lot and that I get so much out of seeing Daisy being focussed and having fun.

I was really conscious of the fact that Daisy barks a lot when she’s on the lead around other dogs. I thought the club were going to kick me out. But they didn’t mind, and said that it just shows she is excited and getting into it. That made me relax and not worry about it. In turn, I think that this has helped Daisy to be more relaxed. Because of her tendency to bark at other dogs, I have to work hard during the hour or so to keep her attention when having a break. She is very easily distracted. Thankfully, she is really food-orientated, so I probably get through a whole bag of treats in one session!

I’m not the most confident person, and I have found that I have had to challenge myself mentally and physically to do agility. But I would say that the more I do it, the more I realise that I don’t have to be perfect, Daisy doesn’t have to get it right all the time, and that it is as much about having fun as anything else. I have really noticed a difference in the way Daisy responds to me since starting to agility. Her focus on me has improved greatly, and I feel the bond between us has got stronger. I am really proud of how much she has worked. It takes a small distraction for her to run off and play, but she chooses to stay with me. Well most of the time anyway!

For any owner that struggles with focussing their dog, or that wants to strengthen that bond, I would really recommend agility. It challenges your dog mentally and physically. It will also challenge you as an owner. But I would say that you will get so much out of it, and your relationship will blossom!

Being Social

One of the most important in a dog’s life is the opportunity to socialise with other dogs. The consequences of not introducing your dog to other dogs can be great including aggression borne out of fear. The dog training company Daisy and I attend has recently started running social walks once a month. In my opinion, this is a great idea for getting the dogs used to being around other dogs, and it also allows dogs that aren’t allowed off lead to have social time with dogs.

When we expose our dogs to different experiences, they become more confident and their self esteem grows. This can help in preventing fear-aggression responses and help make them more resilient to change and stress. Your dog will often respond in a way that is a product of your interaction together and your responses to the environment. So next time you are out and about, think about how you are responding to the world around you.

It makes me so happy to see Daisy having fun and chasing other dogs to play. On the days that I worry about being a bad owner, I try to remember the good things I do, the videos help as a visual aid.

Socialisation doesn’t just happen in puppyhood and it is never too late to begin, especially if you have rescued your dog. The more you dog is around other dogs and people, the more they will learn/

I would really recommend socialising your dogs regularly and as early as possible if you have a puppy. The more your dog can be around other the dogs, the more that they learn acceptable behaviour, and the more they can have fun while playing!

Daisy’s First Day at Daycare

Today was Daisy’s first day at her new daycare. Unfortunately the one she went to before ended as the woman is branching out into training and 1-2-1 help for behavioural problems. This is great as I think she will be fab, but it meant I had to find a new place for Daisy to go to. With all the warnings about being careful when choosing the right daycare, it took me time for feel confident in my choice. Along with that, I wanted to make sure that where she was going was a place that was friendly and force free.

So today was her first proper day. She got dropped off in the morning and I went to pick her up in the evening. I went in and the dogs awaiting their lifts were in crates. They let Daisy out, and she wagged her bum and her tail, she was so excited to see me. She bombed around the building while I asked how she had been and settled payment. She had played with the small dogs, big dogs and the puppies. She had been a lovely dog and had even settled in the office while people worked away. This I was proud of as Daisy is not one to just lie about, especially when there are other dogs to play with.

I got her home and it was like she’d been away for ages. She helped herself to the throw on the sofa and my clothes. I got her dinner ready and put her in the hall. I put her food in a Kong and leave her on her own for about twenty minutes while she eats and settles down. This was after great advice regarding Daisy’s separation anxiety. Food is a great way to tackle separation anxiety, and even better for a food motivated dog. The idea is that Daisy associates being on her own with getting yummy food, and therefore comes to feel that is a good thing to be on her own for a bit. It has been a long process, but she is a lot better than she used to be!

Why I Train Positively

Positive Dog Training is still relatively new even though it has been around for a couple of decades now. People still train their dogs using force, even as little as using choke collars or pulling back on the lead when walking. Unfortunately, this does not teach the dog what to do, it only teaches them to be afraid. Welcome to the world of positive dog training. There are four main parts to positive training:

1. Use positive training

2. Avoid the use of intimidation and physical punishment or fear

3. Understand the misconceptions of dominance theory

4. Learn about the canine experience from the dog’s point of view

So what is positive reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement means rewarding a behaviour you want, which means your dog will offer that behaviour more. When paired with negative punishment (the removal or withholding of something the dog wants like food, attention, toys, or human contact for a short period of time) or using a vocal interrupter to redirect negative behaviour onto a wanted behaviour and to guide a dog into making the right choices, these methods are a foundational element of the core of positive training. Traditional trainers argue that positive training shows a lack of leadership, but the truth is that the most respected and successful leaders are able to affect change without the use of force.

Why doesn’t punishment work?

Science has shown that punitive training methods don’t work long term and may create aggression problems or exacerbate any pre-existing aggression.

What is dominance theory and why isn’t it true?

Dominance theory is based on research into wolves and how they operate in packs. The study showed that wolves would show aggression and violence to protect or claim resources. They would dominate the other wolves and there was a definite alpha dog. However, the research was flawed as these wolves were studied in captivity and weren’t related. All scientific research since has disproved the theory. Your dog knows that you are not a dog, and isn’t trying to dominate you. If they are rushing through the door, it is because they want something beyond the door, not because they are trying to dominate you. There is no pack, and you don’t need to be their pack leader. They need you to be their guide and their friend.

Why do I need to see things from my dog’s point of view?

If you want to build a positive relationship with your dog, then you need to put yourself in your dog’s paws. Learn about the breed of your dog, learn about the makeup of a dog and what they need. Spend time just observing your dog’s body language. Learn to think dog and talk dog.

To find out more, then make sure to go to www.moderndoggroup.com

To find a positive trainer, go to www.moderndoggroup.com/directory

On Puggles

I have been researching breeds for a project I am doing at the moment. Along with this, I have also seen programs on the TV about puppies. I can plainly see that it is very important to research breeds and the needs of a puppy, and that if this isn’t done, it can lead to negative consequences for both the family and the dog.

Saying this, you would expect that I did a lot of research before picking Daisy. You would be wrong.

Daisy is a Puggle, which is a cross between a Beagle and a Pug. if I had looked more into the personalities of these breeds, then i would have been better prepared for what I would be letting myself in for. When I was choosing a dog, I wanted a smallish dog, who wasn’t sedentary, but wasn’t too energetic. I wanted a companion who I could share life with, but not a dog who was so much effort that I would be stressed. I looked for a long time for the right dog. I visited a few and after a while, I went to see Daisy.

I had decided I didn’t want a young puppy as I wasn’t experienced enough, and I didn’t want an old dog as I wanted a long life with it. Daisy was 7 months old. When I visited, she was bouncy and wanted to play. She showed that she could do basic obedience tasks and was crate-trained. She was obedient and a right character. I loved her already. I wanted the best for her. So I took her home.

Since then, my life has changed in so many ways. I have realised that puggle’s need a lot of stimulation and exercise. Daisy could go for hours on a walk if she could. She isn’t content on resting on the sofa. She always needs to be doing something. This has been both good and bad. I struggle with my mental health and I worry that I don’t give her enough stimulation. I don’t have enough energy to keep up with her and I find this difficult. I often feel frustrated and wish she would lie down. But then I look at what she has brought me. I get out and about, I enjoy the walks we have. I enjoy playing with her and her funny quirks. I love her character and her affection. She is well behaved (most of the time) and easily trainable. Thanks to her, I have learned so much about the world of dogs and had more opportunities that I ever would have thought.

While I wouldn’t change her for the world, I can’t stress enough the importance of reading up on breeds and how to look after and train a puppy or dog. This will ensure you get the right dog for your lifestyle and that behavioural problems are less likely.

For more information on breeds and puppy tips see www.moderndoggroup.comĀ 

Welcome

Welcome to the first post in Daisy the Puggle’s blog. I have had her for just over a year now. She is a bundle of energy and hard work, but also a joy and pleasure to share my life with. There are struggles we have. We are currently working on her separation anxiety and her lead reactivity. It is a long process, but she is starting to get the hang of it. There will be many interesting encounters and stories along the way and I hope you will join us. Thanks for reading!