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

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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?!

No one tells you crate training can look like this…

Nope, not like the cute photo above. If crate training looks like that all the time, it would be fantastic, wouldn’t it? I’ll tell you what actually happened. Let’s go back to 30 hours before that photo was taken.

30 Hours ago…

The four of us took our trip to the breeder’s in the morning to pick up our 9-week old puppy Brett, so that when we came home he would have the larger part of the day to get used to his crate.

You see, when you bring home a puppy, naturally you’d want to house train it as quickly as possible. I learned from what all the helpful literature and online advice available, and talking to other dog owners, that crate training can speed up the potty training process. So it seemed good to us to try it also. After all, it’s worked for so many people, so we had high hopes that it’d work for us too. We imagined that it’d look like this Victoria Stilwell video (we like Victoria Stilwell): Continue reading No one tells you crate training can look like this…

Welcome to Paws for Thought!

Thank you for dropping by my new site!

I’m Janno – a mum, wife, and a first time dog parent. When we decided to have a puppy, I told my friend who inherited her late father’s black Labrador. She said,

“A puppy?! You are going to be busy – it’ll be like having a 2 year-old. In things that they’re not supposed to, having things they aren’t supposed to, things out of reach etc…!!”

She’s absolutely right – it’s like having a toddler. I don’t know where the time goes, and at the end of each day I wonder if I’ve done anything at all constructive that day. I’m tired and busy, and the dog won’t settle unless we’re sitting down with him.

Now that our pup is a little older, these enforced times of lounging around sipping a cup of tea are returning to be more chillaxing occasions rather than frustrations that I’m wasting valuable time. I find myself having the odd moments of reflecting on my experiences of being a first time dog parent.

In preparation for having our very first pup, I did my research on puppies, being a dog owner, dog training, what gear we need, and from various sources – the internet, books, people… However, not dissimilar to being a parent to human beings, living the real thing is not quite the same as what we read and hear. So I thought I’d share with you how I’m finding it in practice – what works for us, what doesn’t – not as a set of instructables, but just our story.

Come paws for thought with me. Hope you enjoy!

Springtime makes people broody!

Just look at the photo above – doesn’t it make you feel warm and fuzzy? The pale-coloured pup on the right buried under his siblings is ours! Now I’m not a broody kind of person. I don’t go all mushy when I see babies of any kind, whether human or animals, and think “I want one!” You know how some people’s voices go really high when they see cute babies, “Aww! So cute! Aren’t you gorgeous!!!” However hard they try not to rush over, somehow the cute babies end up in their arms being squeezed and kissed and dangled on their knees.

No, I’m more of a once-they’re-old-enough-to-hold-a-conversation-kind-of-kid person. Or in the case of animals, not having ever owned any larger pets before, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted a dog. No matter how much the kids promise they’d help out, experience tells me that I would be the one ending up being the main carer, just like with all the other small pets we’ve had over the years. (Actually that’s unfair, because the boys did religiously clean out the hamsters’ cages every week.) So how have we ended up with that adorable pup? Because it wasn’t about me – it never is – although my children would dispute that! Let me explain… Continue reading Springtime makes people broody!

Finding our paws as a first time dog parent