As the title suggests, we have had hot humid weather with heavy rain and clear skies with brilliant sunshine! It has been quite nice. I am certainly not one of those that is going to complain about the heat. I spend all winter desperate to see the sunshine! Saying that, the heat has been too much for the boys so doing all I can to keep them nice and cool. Early morning and late night walks to miss the worst of the heat and Zephy has a nice cool mat in his bed.
We managed to get up to the field for a little play once it had cooled down enough for the dogs. They had such a nice time:
I’ve finished all my exams for this semester so now just working on my research project which goes live in January, loads to do before that but I feel a lot better. Seeing my boys running wild makes me so happy. I can feel the worries melting away. Love it!
I got it into my head that I wanted to see the sunset from West Lomond the other night. I was adamant we were going for a walk. The view would be spectacular. Well, some cracking thunderstorms took place. As we drove to the carpark it rained so hard I nearly had to stop the car. I could barely see a thing. Once we had parked up we thought, lets just go for it. We are here now and the dogs need a walk even if it’s a short one. A bit silly I know but by this point it was only rain and no thunder and lightening. We all had waterproofs on (except Zeph, a little too warm for his) so we braved it. The picture below does not do the weather justice:
The rain did tail off for a little bit and we managed to get a few good pictures:
It wasn’t quite what I had planned and we didn’t venture too close to the hill. We decided to head back to the car once we saw another storm rolling in. The atmosphere was, for lack of a better word, electric. I could have stayed there for hours just watching the weather. And then the heavens opened again and the dogs wanted to go home:
Well, the weather has been aweful the last few days. The rain has been a constant heavy downpour, good Scottish summer as always. Despite the weather, the boys still need a walk. So off we went, waterproofs and all:
One of the few times I will walk the boys together these days. I decided the weather was so bad, there wouldn’t be enough dogs out for me to worry about. The stretch lead gives Zephy a chance to stretch his legs and breaks up the training days for him.
We also had lots of playtime in the sun when it has appeared in the last few weeks:
The boys have been getting a long a lot better these days, still sleeping separately at nights but I think it has helped them:
Lots of cuddling and sofa stealing (before the trainer laid down the law):
It has been a hectic few weeks, and I have started having a play with some wedding makeup (don’t get married until next year) but the dogs have been very helpful:
Anytime I’ve sat down to try on some makeup both of them take it as an opportunity to be very clingy. Any excuse for a cuddle!
Zephyr has taken to nursing some tennis balls. I have to take them off him after he’s finished playing with them properly. He takes them to his bed and nurses them like puppies. It’s the weirdest thing. It can be cute too but not letting him get too protective. However, it does look sweet:
I will start with the ‘boring’ but important bit. We finally got a dog trainer in to see Zephyr. We’ve used her before for Echo when we first moved house. She is a very good trainer, lovely person and uses positive reinforcement mixed with strict rules.
Firstly, It was nice to have someone in the house that wasn’t afraid to tell the dogs off. Both my dogs are obsessed with visitors so they get a bit too close and can be generally quite rude. We decided it was best to have Zephyr out on his own so that we could contain the madness. He was a little unsure about someone else giving him rules but he did do as he was told. We have the suggestion that if we have guests in the house to have one dog out at a time and use leads until they calm down. Since Zeph can be vary especially around men these days (i.e my dad and uncle – both a little nervous around big dogs, so a bad combination). If we put Zeph on a lead, I’ve to stand on the lead which basically forces Zeph to lie down, and when he does I have to say the phrase ‘settle down’. Eventually I should be able to say settle down and he should go and lie down. With Zeph on the lead as well I can put him on one side of me away from guests that way he isn’t going into protect mode.
Secondly, we went for a walk. We are walking him on his halti and collar but have his harness on as an extra ‘hold’ if things do get out of hand. If I see a dog and he’s being really good it’s all positive reinforcement, and calm with the aim of getting closer to dogs in a safe manner. If he starts to focus on a dog, I have to have one end of the lead in one hand and the other in the other hand, and if he is getting irate I’ve to give a quick tug downward with the end of the lead on the halti, with a sharp low “Leave it!”. If he then ‘leaves it’ and walks by or away we go back to positive reinforcement with sausages and a ‘good boy’. If he escalates, and goes to lunge at a dog, I have to hold him and really growl a phrase like “don’t you dare”. Something that can be growled and comes out short and sharp. The aim is to bring his attention back to me. It’s made a difference so far, I think me just taking more charge of things is really the help. I’ve gotten some of my confidence back but to be honest I’ve still not really pushed it yet. Keeping it slow. Walking the dogs separately which means I can focus on training and it means Echo can get a good run off lead without me being dragged along by Zephyr. It has also really improved Zephyr’s ‘heel’. We are taking it slowly. I don’t want to push him to be too close to dogs too soon if it means going backwards again.
Thirdly, dogs are not allowed to follow me around the house. I am putting my foot down with Zephyr wanting to chase everything. I am being a lot stricter, in fact we had a fight over a bone last night, which resulted in Zephyr growling at me because I got too close and me taking the bone off him and him being sent to bed. The stricter rules seem to have benefited both dogs and they actually seem more settled again.
Anyway, I’ll keep you updated. But so far, I have got Zephyrs attention:
I promise I will add some stories soon. I have plenty of pictures to share. I have a few exams coming up over the next few weeks so I’m afraid you will just need to bare with me at the moment.
We had to change the sleeping arrangements a few weeks ago for the boys. Echo still has the hallway and has his pillow at night to snuggle and Zeph is in the kitchen. I had to put a baby gate up to split them up. They used to spend the night snuggling but everytime B went to leave the bathroom and come through to the bedroom, the boys would go for each other but bizarrely straight after they’d snuggle up and sleep like that all night. I eventually grew tired of the nonsense and I think it has something to do with the dogs guarding me so they’ve been split up. It seems to have solved the problem because when B leaves the bathroom there isn’t a peep out of them at all. I am coming to the conclusion that you can have dogs your whole life and never know what anyone of them is thinking. I’ve never met dogs like these two. Love them to bits though. During the day it’s all brotherly love so I know they do get along:
I have stuck to the routine of longer walks as much as possible and it has certainly been paying off. B has been working from home for the last four weeks so the dogs have had so much more freedom and all in all it has led to much more settled puppies:
We’ve been adventuring as well. With B being home we’ve had a few weeknights out walking in different places. I’ve been much calmer lately too. I think the combination of having B there to help and getting out to different places has really helped us all relax.
And as always we have the rescue field to play fetch in:
I am thinking of upgrading the blog account so I can add some videos of the pups playing and of our adventures. Is that something people would like? I think it would help to show their personalities, especially the big guy. He’s so gentle and I know that some of the stories on here might not make it sound like that!
I am using a new laptop (new to me anyway), and I cannot get it to connect to my phone to upload pictures. I will do some proper updates of walks etc in a little bit once I have the patience.
As I discussed in the last post. Zeph had been doing great with walking past other dogs. We went for a walk last night with Zeph, Echo and Lola, and B’s little brother S. We had a great walk, did almost 4 miles which isn’t much but it was a nice saunter enjoying the gorgeous weather we’ve had. We were 10 minutes away when we had a near miss. We saw a boisterous lab up ahead so (all of ours where on lead at this point) we pulled our dogs well off to the side. The owner of the lab panicked, screamed at her dog,a bolshy boy and then hesitated for what felt like ages. Zephy is ok if it’s short and a quick pass and we continue. Well, the woman hesitated, grabbed her dog, then walked almost in line with Zeph and her dog growled at Zeph and that was it. Zeph lunged forward and I couldn’t keep my balance so he gained three feet going for the dog. It’s the first time he’s actually tried to go for a dog. The owner, rightly, got a fright and she ran off with her dog. She stopped a few hundred yards up the path and as soon as the dog was away Zeph instantly stopped his nonesense. It’s like a switch in his silly head. I saw the owner on her phone and I think she was actually calling the police!! We apologised profusely to her because despite that fact I am infuriated by her hesitation, she didn’t deserve to be on the receiving end of that. It’s the worst he’s been and I had a cry once we got home.
I’ve called in a dog trainer that we’ve used before for Echo. She’s a lovely woman, uses common sense and positive reinforcement. I can’t wait to have a session with her. I want my dog back. The dog that Zephy becomes when he’s in that state isn’t my cuddly teddy bear and I am terrified he’s going to hurt someone or another dog in that state. The only word to explain his reaction is ‘hysterical’. It’s worse when he’s with me because he’s also protecting me so we need to get him out of that too. All quite disheartening really.
As I have repeatedly mentioned, sorry about that, Zephs got a thing for other dogs. Or more precisely doesn’t have a thing for other dogs. Coupled with my anxiety about it all, sometimes I feel like we aren’t making any progress at all. Well, this morning, a friend of mine offered to bring along one of her dogs, who is the same age as Zeph, to go for a walk and to see how they got along. I agreed but was nervous about how Zeph would react and a little worried as my friend is quite far along in her pregnancy. I had the muzzle in the car as a back up. It has been such a long time since Zeph had other dogs around him that were friendly that I had no idea how he was going to react. I was sensible though, we went what can be a busy park, but we went to the quieter end, and I had Zephy on his halti and collar. I didn’t want to start with the muzzle etc incase it made it all worse. Well, since Zeph isn’t used to other dogs approaching us, he went mental at my friend and her dog and she was amazingly calm (just what I need) and stood back with her dog to let me calm Zeph back down. We walked a little bit next to each other to let Zeph see that Louie wasn’t going to attack him, and they calmed down. There is a small dog enclosure at the park in a quiet corner so we headed for that. We decided they were calm enough to let them off lead and almost instantly they went for each other. It was a disaster! or so I thought. I just went between them and grabbed Zeph and pushed Louie away and again we calmed them both and they were rewarded once they had sat down and relaxed. Here’s what happened next:
My friend said, just let them go and move away. I had a few tennis balls so Zeph played fetch. The two dogs although, not playing directly with each other, managed a full hour in each others company and ran about:
They even lay down near each other and I also managed to get them to sit next to each other for treats. I haven’t stopped smiling about it. A wonderful experience considering I had my doubts particularly considering how they started out. I don’t want anyone thinking I just threw them in together and left it at that. I was always close enough to break up any potential fights, there was a lot of positive reinforcement (a whole box of sausages) and both dogs were encouraged to behave and sit, return etc when they got a little too excited. It was a very calm experience over all and I cannot tell you how happy I am that Zephy managed this. Proof that he isn’t an aggressive dog, he is just anxious and scared of new dogs (which is every dog). We still have a long way to go to get him nice and chilled out around other dogs but he behaved amazingly. Even at the end of the play time, they both walked out to the cars beside each other and not a sad face at all. All waggy tails and smiley faces. We plan to meet a few more times with just the two of them. Between us we have 4 dogs and that’s just a little too much at the moment. You may recognise Louie, He is Bella’s half brother – from some of the earlier posts. Lovely dog and mad as a brush. Perfect for Zephy.