The trouble with dog training

It always takes one hairy moment, or an unfortunate incident, to cement any resolve to take action. As a person who tends not to see any new year resolution past February, it may be a non-starter to even embark on a training programme for my dog. But what happened a couple of weeks before Christmas forced me to do something, because I don’t want a repeat of the distress and embarrassment caused…

It was a sunny wintry day. Brett and I went on our habitual walk onto the local playing fields. I let him off lead for a run around, as many people do, but I usually only do so when there are no one else about or only when we recognise the other dogs or people. We live in a quiet village so that’s not usually a problem. Brett has always been a very friendly dog who would run up to any stranger, person or dog alike, and most people in the village don’t mind that, save a few (and you quickly learn which ones to avoid). There is no point calling him once he’s spotted someone, as he’s always too far from me by then and all his focus is on the other person.

So on this occasion, whilst I was finding sticks to throw for Brett, he spotted a fella coming round the corner with two small dogs off leash. Instantly he dashed over to greet them, stopping halfway to lie down indicating his friendliness and invitation to play. There was me jogging over and calling out, “Are you OK with him? He’s quite friendly.” The man replied, “Yes, yes…” but before we knew it, Brett was running after one of his jack russells, who decided it didn’t like the look of my big dog and legged it round the corner. Being a young retriever, Brett thought it was a great game and followed it out of the entrance to these playing fields and down the lane towards the main road! Continue reading The trouble with dog training

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Essential equipment for new puppy

One of the most exciting things about getting a new puppy is, apart from the new puppy him/herself, going shopping to prepare for the new arrival. Well, perhaps it’s just me and shopping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s got to be done, hasn’t it? We left most of the shopping for essentials till two weeks before we brought home our puppy, as we had the time on our annual holiday to do it. Believe me, shopping with the whole family is rarely a stress free event, but I wanted everyone to have an input. So it was when we were holidaying in the Cotswolds last year, we found a little pets supply shop called Pets Corner in Stratford-upon-Avon and ventured in there.

I cannot sing its praises enough, as the staff were so helpful and knowledgeable. Alas, there is not a branch near where we live, but since then I have found their website very user friendly should you wish to order online. So if anyone’s finding the shopping side of things a bit daunting, here’s a puppy checklist which I hope will be helpful. I can only write about our own experience, what we initially bought, and how we found the products as tested out by our very own Golden Retriever pup Brett.

I must state from the outset that some of the products in this post are Amazon affiliated, so if you click through and make a purchase from Amazon UK, I shall be paid a small commission. I am not being sponsored by anyone, so all the links provided are what I can find the best deals on currently. As a brand new dog parent, I have spent hundreds of pounds on pet products, only to wish that I have found a better deal sooner, so I’m starting a dog products review section in the hope of helping fellow new dog parents to find some good buys, especially in the UK. All prices are correct at the time of writing this post, however they may vary from time to time.

So without further adieu, here’s the initial puppy essentials product checklist. I’ve divided it into 4 parts:

1. Puppy play and chew

2. Dog walking essentials

3. Living arrangements and cleaning up!

4. Grooming basics

Continue reading Essential equipment for new puppy

Things we never noticed before we had a dog

My husband came home one day from his morning walk with the dog to announce, “Guess what! Brett found an empty Viagra foil pack on the ground!” Try as you might, but it’s hard not to wonder whether someone you know in the village is taking this over-the-counter pill, or whether someone threw it out of the car window as they drove by!

Being a dog parent certainly opened our eyes in different ways. There are things we never noticed before until we’ve got our pup. To start with, we can never view the same places we’ve been to hundreds of times before in the same way. Things we used to do without a thought now requires planning beforehand. Continue reading Things we never noticed before we had a dog

First holiday with our dog

Oh dear, I have lost momentum and not given my blog any attention for months! I simply had not got back into the habit of writing since our holiday. You see, we were gearing up for our very first holiday with our dog Brett. Thinking back to last year, just before we brought home our new puppy, we booked a last minute cottage in this country which meant that our holiday didn’t cost the earth, which was somewhat different to the previous few years where we went abroad. We knew we had some serious outlay ahead, and we actually did a lot of shopping on that holiday in anticipation of our new bundle of joy, hence a cheaper vacation!

This summer though, I managed to book our holiday earlier in the year so that there was still a good choice of cottages available. I found this website with a beautiful name for wonderfully luxurious cottages in Yorkshire! Continue reading First holiday with our dog

5 Changes in our lives we didn’t expect as first time dog owners

In our previous lives as non-dog owners, we’ve visited plenty of people who owned dogs and stayed with friends and relatives with their dogs, but whether we weren’t paying much attention to their canine companions or these dogs were so well under control, we just didn’t register what impact owning a dog can have on you – not only on your lifestyle, but on your very own selves.

We were on a steep learning curve as first time dog parents when we brought home our new puppy. Nearly one year on, it’s time to look back and reflect on the way Brett has changed our lives. I can safely say that there’s no regret, and here’s why:

Continue reading 5 Changes in our lives we didn’t expect as first time dog owners

Our puppy is one!

I have recently signed up with the Amazon.co.uk Associates program, as invariably on my blog I would be mentioning the many products and items I have bought from Amazon.co.uk and other websites. So I thought, “Why not?” I’m not being sponsored by any company or websites, and any opinions or reviews are my own. So this is the disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you. 

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This day seemed like it was never coming, because when your pup had been looking like a fully grown dog for a few months, it’s hard to think that he’s still not quite a year old yet. I guess being a first time dog owner, it amazes me how rapidly a puppy grows in the first few months. From about nine months though, Brett looked as big and certainly weighed as much as an adult golden retriever (at a whopping 38kg and about 25 inches tall at the withers). Continue reading Our puppy is one!

Walking my dog and being friends with God

I help run an after school club in our village, and here’s the blog post I published for it which I thought is relevant for both sites – you know, two birds and all that! For those of you who’s found my other site – my heartfelt thanks for reading my post. For those of you who’s coming across this for the first time, please tell me what you think…

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Part of living in a village is that everybody seems to know everybody’s business – the children at Kids’ Club tell us that they often see me or my husband walking our dog past their houses and their school. Last year we welcomed home a friendly golden retriever pup with a lovely temperament. However, he is an inquisitive energetic dog. Being first time dog owners, there’s still much to learn about dog training and how to keep your dog under control in public places, especially when our “puppy” Brett is now a big exuberant one-year old who likes to run up and greet everyone. My new hobby seems to be watching dog training videos and reading up about the various approaches that dog trainers use. I particularly like the more modern positive reinforcement method, built on the premise that one would be more likely to repeat a behaviour if that behaviour produces a favourable outcome.

4-week old BrettI wish I’d discovered this YouTube channel much sooner, because here the dog trainer Zak George shows you how to get your dog to pay attention to you. He doesn’t use force, and it is clear from the videos that he loves every dog he meets and works with. He explains that it’s much better to train a dog to want to listen to you. Rather than using external physical correction or punishment such as choke, prong and shock collars, he builds the dog’s desire to comply from within. Because dogs are smart enough to recognise that as soon as these restraints are off, you have no control over them, and they can do whatever they wish then. He shows dog owners how to communicate clearly to their dogs, and make training sessions fun so that dogs love to learn. Dog owners who use positive reinforcement methods have a much better relationship with their dogs. And that’s what I am hoping for – I want my dog to love me, and to love doing what I tell him to do! Continue reading Walking my dog and being friends with God

“Which is more disgusting – baby or puppy?”

What can possibly be disgusting about babies or puppies – they’re so cute! But youngsters have a way of voicing passing thoughts that adults sometimes have. Yep! Son No. 2 asked that question one evening – the mind boggles at the topics of conversations we have at the tea table. He was asking me and my husband what we found to be more disgusting – dealing with a baby, or a puppy. Well, the short answer my Lovely gave was “Baby!”, but I disagreed.

Here’s the long answer, and if you happen to be having a meal or a nice snack while reading this, you may wish to finish eating first before you continue! Continue reading “Which is more disgusting – baby or puppy?”

To boldly go where no puppy’s gone before

Brett is a nosey dog. There’s no doubt about it – I’ve had people say that about him. (It’s a small village we live in, and all the dog walkers know him.) When he was only about 11 weeks old, we took him to a dog trainer for an initial assessment. She said that he’s a confident and inquisitive puppy, and should be very biddable. That’s very nicely put, isn’t it?

So what does a confident, curious pup do? Always pushing the boundaries, trying to set his own rules!

Here he is, at 3½ months of age, redefining where he’d like to sleep.

When Brett became house trained, we expanded his world a little. We allowed him in the lounge and the dining room, and life became more civilised for all of us as we could relax, watch TV together and eat with the pup lying at our feet. However, he was not allowed upstairs, apart from when we needed to shower him. Continue reading To boldly go where no puppy’s gone before

What have I done?!

When I cast my mind back to the very first days of being a new parent, if I were being completely honest, there had been times that I asked, “What have I done?” Now don’t get me wrong – life with a baby was definitely a positive experience for us. We had been preparing for the new arrival, but things like “birth plan” and any other kind of plans all went out the window pretty quickly.

You know, you have this gorgeous little bundle that’s so angelic when asleep, but could turn into a wailing monster in the waking hours that you wonder what’s wrong with the baby (or us); the mountain of washing just sits there while you dress like a slob; the dishes still have to be done before you can cook your next meal; with the constant feeding and nappy changes, you’re so exhausted that you don’t have time for personal hygiene. Oh, did I mention that the lack of sleep would just make anybody snap?

You don’t know what’s hit you, and you feel like a bad parent already. No wonder baby blues are common, and you don’t even need to be a woman suffering the effects of the hormones!

Puppy blues?

Well, that was years ago, and I must have conveniently forgotten what it was like. However, I was quickly reminded of those baby blues in the first weeks of having a puppy, and I can’t even claim that hormones were wreaking havoc. I didn’t physically give birth to the pup, did I? Continue reading What have I done?!

Finding our paws as a first time dog parent