Archive for the ‘Rose’s Reflections’ Category

Walking with the Woofs – My Story   Leave a comment

Lately I’ve been thinking about how to help people achieve relaxed, enjoyable walks with their dogs, using my years of experience walking German Shepherds and Jack Russell Terriers.

It starts with a good place to walk, preferably off lead, although it can still be a great experience on lead.  Off lead is where most guardians come unstuck, but if you can get it right, the pleasure of walking with your fast moving, free dogs is immense!

So here’s what happens with my dogs:

We go regularly to the park – a wonderful, huge space ringed by the Hottentots Holland Mountains, with sports fields and open grassed areas.  A river chortles along one side, at this time of the year it is boiling and tumbling rather than chortling after all the rain.  There are lots of trees along the river so it’s a pleasure even in summer.   Many locals run and cycle there, and of course it’s a dog walker’s paradise.  There are busy times of the day when you can pass more than 50 people and their dogs, depending on which way you go. 

Sometimes we go to the beach at Strand.  Here it can be more challenging for my big, energetic girls (GSDs) who cover so much ground quickly as the space is narrower with fewer options for changing direction and avoiding a possible problem.  I am so proud of them when they meet and greet and politely choose not to respond to silly little yappers, or jumpy youngsters.  They keep an eye on me and all I need to do is keep moving and maybe quietly call them away to have them break away and come after me.  Shepherd bitches are not known for their patience so I am aware of their tolerance limits.  Uschi usually chooses to not engage, but if she does she’s polite and disinterested.  If she’s carrying a toy she’ll warn with a growl but never anything more.  She’s a balanced dog with a happy temperament.   Her daughter Minka is more reactive and much more interested in interacting with other dogs, but not keen on playing anymore.  If a game starts I have to watch her that she doesn’t switch from ‘play’ to ‘prey’.  Rather bossy, in typical insecure child fashion.

We’ve had 3 Jack Russells over the years and it’s been just as much fun with them, despite their terrier tendencies to prefer going down a mole hill to keeping up with me!  Sometimes it was my 2 GSDS, Pepsi our JR and my dad’s JR Minchie too – 4 bitches all walking very happily together.  Sadly we had to put Pepsi (see photo in  post Reflections 27/12/11) and Minchie to sleep in May so now it’s just the big girls.

I’ll unpack my tips on achieving a happy walk in the next post.

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Dogs and Cats Together   Leave a comment

Dogs and Cat Can Be Friends

Clients often ask me how they can help their new puppies get on with their cat.  I feel a little inadequate to answer this as it seems like we’ve had both forever and whichever is the newest beast just slots into the family.  But of course it’s not really quite so easy. A few ideas:  If the puppy is new, I’d introduce it with lots of treats and clicker handy.  Puppy needs to be restrained, but perhaps begin by allowing it to sniff back of cat and visa versa.  Some people recommend putting the cat in a cage/crate and allowing dog to sniff and both to get used to being in the same room without the excitement level going up too much.  Any time the pup looks like he’s about to get too focused or start chasing, I’d interrupt and distract him back to me, click and treat.  Calm is everything!

The photo above is Uschi mothering and playing – really playing, bouncing around and paws patting – with a little kitten we fostered a while back.  The kitten was awesome, quite unafraid, walked all over the dogs, loved being washed and actually initiated play with the enormous Shepherds.  I am MAD about my GSDs with kittens.  Being a vet’s house we often foster tiny kittens and the GSDs have never given us a second’s worry with them.  I get quite choked up watching the inter species interaction and how each use’s it’s species calming signals and greeting rituals and somehow they understand each other.  This kitten should’ve stayed in this house, it was divine!  Lucky new owners.

This and that   Leave a comment

Been away from my blog for ages, can’t believe it’s May already.  It’s been a little quiet for puppies the last few weeks – always happens around this time of year.  Just wish it’d happen during winter so then I’d have less worrying about the weather.  We usually go on holiday May-June, it goes quiet for pups about April so when I’m available for class there are no pups, then they all start phoning a few weeks before we go away, so I can’t help them as there’s not enough time.  Old Murphy has fun getting it all wrong!  Sad to not be able to help owners and pups, sad to say goodbye to money!

This is Boris, just one of 4 Boerboels in class lately.  Such a super firm character, going to be huge!  Good luck Elle, Lynda and Helmien with your future giants.

As member of Good Hope GSD Federation Club, I’ve had my arm twisted to present a seminar.  As I’ve been reading and learning more and more about how dogs are and are not related to wolves, I’ve decided to talk about that for the first part of the seminar.  It’s important for trainers and owners to realize how our understanding of our dogs is affected by what we understand about wolves and the history of dogs.  The second part of the seminar will be related to puppy development, urgent things puppies need to learn, myths around dog training, and a bit about adolescent dogs.  It’s the first time I’ve made a power point presentation, so I’m hoping it’ll turn out well.  I’ve been enjoying the challenge anyway.

Reflections   Leave a comment

Just counting up puppies for the year and it’s close to 100!  I’ve never kept tabs before so I’ll have to go back and check previous records to see if this is more or less than previous years.  As usual there was a quiet patch or two, quite nice if one can relax and not stress about the lack of income!  As I trust in God to keep me on the right path, so I trust He’ll make it clear when this line of work and passion is done.  For now I’m grateful to the owners who entrusted themselves and their pups to me, and to ThinkingPets for their support and information.

In the new year I’ll be tidying up the

Our 15 yr old Jack Russell, Kirsty's pal, now slowly fading.

The last stage – it’s also important that we take care of our faithful companions when they’re old and tired, not just when they’re bright and new.

‘stuff’ that accumulates, getting shelves put up and buying containers.  I never stop keeping my eyes open for new ideas for the ground course so all suggestions welcome!  There are already 5 or so pups waiting to start class next week but for now I’m enjoying time with my family and a chance to catch up with friends, and the overflowing inbox!

The people who come to class are generally enthusiastic and keen to learn, but they’re the tip of the iceberg. For every pup that gets into a puppy class in South Africa there are millions more who don’t, some of them because the owner is comfortable with doing their own thing, but so many because they know no better or couldn’t care less.  I wish there was some way to take this concept into the places that need it most.  Having been involved in animal welfare/rescue work years ago, it’s just depressing that we are still not really making an impact for the better.  The welfare organisations are mostly involved in ‘after the fact’ kind of help, not able somehow to do meaningful teaching to change mindsets.  At the vet we still see so much ignorance that borders on cruelty, selfishness and stupidity too – and not just among the poor.  How I wish there was a law that checked your income before you were allowed a pet at all – don’t go moaning about cost of food, training and vet expenses after you make the choice, first count the potential cost then decide.  Being the guardian of a pet is a privilege, not a right.  But here I am preaching to the converted again!  This is one of my pet ‘themes’ so please bear with me.

Hopefully in the new year I’ll have a chance to figure out more about blogging methods to improve what I do here.  For now I muddle along, but it could be better!

Posted 27/12/2011 by Rose's Puppy School in Rose's Reflections

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Person – dog: spot the difference!   Leave a comment

I’m a person  – it’s a dog – so why would I expect the dog to do human?  We humans are so arrogant in our ‘master of the universe’ attitude that we choose to bring another species into our homes and then expect it/them to change to suit us.  We shout and moan, smack and punish, teach it “I’m the boss”…yeah, right!  We expect the animal to know what we want without teaching what that means, then feel justified in dishing out punishment because our wishes are not obeyed.   We know that keeping a pet is expensive, but we moan about vet fees, training fees, food prices, and ask for discount or head off for the animal welfare to help us out.  I despair for the human race when we cannot even get the pet thing right, never mind bringing up our kids, or world peace!

Ok, rant over for now…but did you know that the majority of puppies don’t get to see their 2nd birthday?  That’s why I do puppy classes, and love my clients who bring their babies while they’re still cute to begin on the right path so that their dogs will become truly part of the family, a joy and not a burden.  They’re the good guys and I respect them for trying to do things the right way.

Another book I’ve downloaded is by Ian Dunbar, vet and behaviourist extraordinaire:  “Before You Get Your Puppy“.  Here’s his take on what needs to be taught asap, preferably pre 16 weeks:

The Most Important Things To Teach Your Puppy

1. Bite Inhibition

2. Socialization with People

3. Household Etiquette

4. Home Alone

5. Sit and Settle Down Commands

6. Dog-Dog Socialization

The Most Urgent Things To Teach Your Puppy

1. Household Etiquette

2. Home Alone

3. Socialization with People

4. Dog-Dog Socialization

5. Sit and Settle Down Commands

6. Bite Inhibition

If these basics are instilled then the next steps are easier, and having a fluffy companion becomes a pleasure, not a stress.