Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Settling in..

There's hardly been a spare moment to write since little Miss Betty arrived two weeks ago, but I am pleased to report, she has settled in well and made good friends with big sis Polly.

Polly is proving herself to be tolerant and an excellent teacher for her cheeky little sister. After the initial excitement of Betty's arrival, the only flashpoint came a couple of days later, when Betty tried to steal Polly's new bone and a grumpy Polly gave a fierce growl, scaring Betty enough to run behind my legs yelping and trembling. No grudges were held though and the very next day, Polly allowed Betty to share that self same bone ... dogs eh?! 

Since Betty has been made aware Polly is boss, she has been happy to follow Poll's lead and Polly has been happy to teach little sis the ropes. Speaking of which, I used fleecy tug ropes to encourage my girls to play together from day one - they worked really well to keep them both connected  enough to learn about each other and how to give and take, without allowing play to escalate out of hand. Now if I say 'go get your tug' to Polly, she dashes off to collect one, then takes it to Betty to invite her to join in a game ... it's lovely to watch!

They have progressed to enthusiastic wrestling and games of 'bitey face' this week and I have learned that golden puppies are robust little creatures!  Betty loves to launch herself bodily at Polly and Polly obliges by rolling onto her back so little sis can jump right on top of her. It has been fascinating to watch Polly teaching Betty how to play.  Thankfully they both respond very well to being told 'enough' when I think things should calm down a bit!

Between play bouts, I've introduced a spot of clicker training to start Betty on some early obedience work.  She's a clever little cookie and picks things up fast; already she has mastered a very neat 'sit and stay' for several seconds and definitely recognises the word 'sit'.  She has also grasped 'in your bed' and 'off' (needless to say, that particular word is used frequently at the moment!)  We're currently working on 'down' - she's doing pretty well with the hand signal, staying still for a couple of seconds while I step backwards, but doesn't yet recognise the verbal command on its own;  it's very early days though.  That said, Miss Betty has already worked out that if she goes to her bed and lays very still for a while, she'll probably get half a carrot to chew on - carrot time is definitely Betty's longest 'down stay' each day! 

We've also started on heel work by getting Polly to walk slowly with me round the garden to command and encouraging Betty to walk alongside, rather than running and jumping at us ... click treat whenever she has four feet on the ground and is pointing in the right direction!  Polly is so good with her, ignoring each time her naughty little sis launches herself at her while she plods along by my side.  

Betty hated her lead at first, but thanks to the clicker, will now allow me to clip it on and off, trail it happily behind her in the garden and yesterday, even allowed me pick it up and guide her, which was a really big step forward!  By the way, after all my recall work with Polly, I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I am that Betty already understands the word 'come' and responds to it speedily and enthusiastically! She loves to come to mum, so long may that last!!!!

I fully intended to crate train Betty and on the first day of her arrival, spent time introducing her to the crate by making it a happy place with treats, toys and a cloth bearing her mother dog's scent.  That night, I encouraged a sleepy Betty into her new crate and shut the door feeling very mean as she threw herself bodily at it, crying. I decided to tough it out as per the guidelines though and went to bed, hoping my poor little pup would soon settle.  Not long afterwards, the pitiful cries did indeed quiet and I drifted off to sleep. My husband woke me next morning to tell me a waggy tailed Betty and very sleepy Polly, had greeted him at the kitchen door - it seems we have a Houdini pup and she had managed to escape the crate to spend her night snuggled with big sis Polly instead!

From that night on, I decided to give up with the nasty ol' crate and all the heartache, in favour of having a contented puppy and calm bedtime routine. So I put newspaper on the floor by the back door (the breeder had already toilet trained Betty to newspaper) and set my alarm to wake at 4.00am.  In the past two weeks we have of course had a few night time accidents on the paper, but not nearly as many as I expected and it's only taken a minute or two to clean up when it has happened. By rising so early each morning, I've been able to establish a routine of going to the garden for Betty's first toilet of the day (Polly comes too, always very blearily as she's really not a morning dog!) I'm currently working on pushing the alarm clock back by roughly ten minute increments to gradually train Betty to toilet later each morning.  Last night I decided not to use newspaper and instead place Betty's bed where the newspaper used to be, in the hope it would suggest to her she needed to wait for mum to take her into the garden before toileting.  This morning we were in the garden at 4.40am for an early morning wee, with no accidents whatsoever in the kitchen overnight. Yay!  I am tired as you can probably imagine, but I think it's worth the effort and hopefully shouldn't take too much longer before Betty's morning toilet is pushed back to 6.00am ... then my husband can sort it out before he goes to work, aha!


Wednesday, 8 July 2015


We have been considering a sister for Polly for quite some time as she loves the company of other dogs, so when I heard of a half-sibling litter close to home it seemed as if fate had taken a firm hand in our decision making. Polly's Dad had been mated with a very pretty and gentle golden girl, who, by a stroke of luck, lives only a short drive away from our home.  Let's just say, one thing led to another, the decision was at last taken and Polly's puppy sister Betty will shortly be coming to live with us!

To help acclimatize Polly to the inevitable changes in our home, I have set up Betty's crate and day bed ahead of her arrival and placed her new puppy toys in her bed.  Polly has shown great interest in this activity, sniffing everything very thoroughly; interestingly though, she hasn't yet attempted to play with Betty's toys.  Polly knows I always present her with her own new toys and then give her permission to play with them and as that hasn't yet happened with these particular toys I think she has already worked out they aren't hers to play with ... she's such a clever girl.

Betty's breeder has been very welcoming and helpful, which has meant I have been able to visit several times for cuddles and to enjoy Betty's developmental progress; it has been a great opportunity for me and Betty to become accustomed to one another before she comes home and so much fun!  Our little Betty is a sweet girl, curious and playful, but so far, not overly boisterous ... in fact, I'd say she's seems a very promising little sister personality-wise, for Polly.

So, pretty soon it will be back to basic puppy training for me and as soon as she is old enough to be fully inoculated, Betty will be heading to obedience school to train to be safe and sociable, while big sister Polly enjoys a Summer respite from school and some one-to-one 'Dad' time with my  husband Stuart. 

I am so looking forward to introducing Betty to Polly. Polly has met several puppies on our walks over the past few weeks and proved herself to be surprisingly gentle with them, so I am optimistic the initial sisterly meeting will be a fun, positive experience for both dogs before the the real work begins: toilet training, lead walking, manners at home, manners with other dogs ... yep, here we go again!

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