Category Archives: Dogs

Daisy gets a workout

We tackle CDRM…

With Daisy’s back legs becoming progressively more and more wobbly we decided to make enquiries about whether there was any kind of exercise she could be doing which may help. We are lucky enough to have an excellent hydrotherapy pool locally (Fusion Vet Physio) which we have visited in the past when trying to get Toby to swim. That failed miserably as he refused point blank to go in, but they also offer physio and rehab, so after a referral from our vet we took Daisy along for a consultation.

She doesn’t travel well but managed to arrive without vomiting, which that was a bonus!

The owner and qualified physiotherapist is a lovely lady who certainly knows her stuff. She immediately put us at ease and made us feel that there was some hope of keeping Daisy on all fours for a while longer if we put in some effort.

Like a top athlete, she will need to warm up in the mornings before she goes out for her walk, and she has a full programme of exercises to increase muscle tone, remind her that she has two legs at the rear and help her use them. She also ends the day with a gentle massage.

In addition, she has a swim booked for next month; we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we have more luck getting her in the pool than we did with Toby!

Thankfully, she can carry on with her usual exercise regime which involves chasing her favourite toy of all time, the Puller!

Toby dresses up as a lamp

We could do with some shin pads…

Lambing is just about done, and we have a lovely crop of cute babies this year, although there have been some triplets which means we have had to bottle feed, topping up the mother’s milk. There is just one ewe left lounging in the maternity suite, but since we didn’t get them scanned this year we can’t be sure she’s even pregnant, we think she’s just enjoying the extra special treatment!

So, just when we thought we could go back to sleeping at night, Toby stepped up and put a stop to all that. First of all, he had a bad tummy upset, of course, it started at the weekend. On Sunday we cracked and took him to the emergency vet where he got antibiotics and some paste for his gut. We also discovered that the ‘starve them for 24 hours’ rule was no more. Apparently, it’s been decided that that isn’t effective. Toby was pleased, as despite his upset stomach, he was his usual ravenous self.

Sunday evening he set off for his walk and made a mad dash across the field where the rabbits hang out, smashing into a metal gate hinge on the way.

The result was a painful yelp and a limp for a few minutes. When he came inside afterwards, we spotted a small gash at the top of his leg which actually looked quite deep. A night of groaning followed and so Monday morning first thing he was back at the vet! They took one look and decided it needed to be closed up, so he stayed in and had quite a big operation. There was more damage internally and, of course, bruising, so now he has a shaved leg and plenty of stitches!

When we got him home, he was like a zombie for about 24 hours, but now he’s recovered slightly, and regained his energetic bounce.  We really didn’t want to put a cone on him as no dog enjoys wearing one, so he started off wearing an old pyjama jacket buttoned on his back to prevent him getting to his stitches. Sadly that didn’t last long, and as they began to itch, he began to nibble at them. We had to put the cone on him and felt so guilty because he was clearly stressed by it, however, a clicker and some chicken breast worked their magic, and he soon cheered up!

He’s now discovered the true power of the cone and uses it to great effect to manoeuvre around the house with everyone keen to clear a path for him. Heaven help our shins, and the rest of our bodies come to that!

It’s Christmas!

Proper snow…

It’s the first proper snowfall we’ve had for a few years, and the dogs absolutely loved it!

Although it can be a bit of a pain, one advantage of snow is that the dogs come back spotlessly clean from their walks. No need for a watering can wash twice a day!

It’s unlikely to be with us on Christmas day, regardless of how many times Bing sings about it, but wherever you are, whatever weather you have, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Training Lines Team


 

Daisy causes us concern

Daisy perks up at the sight of a Puller…

We’ve been concerned about Daisy for several months now; she has been very reluctant to go on her twice-daily walks with the others, which was very unusual for her, preferring to stay in her favourite spot under the kitchen table.

Some days after much coaxing she would manage a lap of the field but would then hang out at the gate until it was time to go back indoors. Also when she stood up, her back legs seemed unsteady, even wobbly.

We began to fear the worst. CDRM, degenerative myelopathy which affects German Shepherds and results in them losing feeling in their back end and therefore being unable to walk on all fours. We have been through it before with our big rescue shepherd, Blitz and spent a couple of years helping him walk with a hoist made from old sweatshirts. We did build him some wheels, but he never had to use them.

Consequently, we knew the test, tuck her toes under on her back foot and wait to see if she can properly realign it. Although pretty basic and far from conclusive, she passed with flying colours.

We also reinstated the Pullers at walk time. While the field had been full of uncut hay, we stopped throwing them as it was impossible for the dogs to enjoy a good chase in the dense grass. As soon as Daisy saw the Puller come out, her enthusiasm soared. She loves her Puller!  We introduced it to her with a mild exercise routine of short runs and gentle pulls but quite honestly just carrying it around seems to give her great pleasure. She was doing much better but still stiff, so we took her to the vet and waited with bated breath for the verdict.

Well, it was far from conclusive, but her hips and back legs are a little stiff with arthritis, so she is now on pain relief, and we are supplementing her raw diet with vitamins.

She does seem a lot better and is now one of the first at the door once again at walk time. We are continuing with the mild Puller exercises, and she looks happier in herself.  We will keep watch on her and take whatever steps necessary to keep her comfortable and enjoying life to the full.

Toby’s Fetch n Treat fun

Toby has a crack at the Fetch n Treat

Since Toby Pup started returning his feeding bowl to us every day, which we developed into a fun game with all of the dogs’ bowls, we often try out different things to see how he gets on.

We thought he might like to give the All For Paws Fetch n Treat a go.

The Fetch n Treat is a simple mechanical toy that requires a dog to drop a tennis ball into a hole at the top. The tennis ball travels down the chute and rolls out of the bottom of the toy, and as it does so it trips a lever which causes treats to fall out too!

As Toby loves toys AND treats, it’s no surprise that the Fetch n Treat is a big hit!

We tend to use Pet Munchies treats in most situations. For this toy, we cut a Lamb Stix treat along the length and then sliced it into tiny pieces.  We felt that these small pieces would work better in the mechanism, and so it proved.

The first step was to encourage him to drop the ball in the right place. As he knows the ‘give’ command (most of the time), we encouraged him into position and said ‘give’ while he was above the Fetch n Treat, and with some minor deflection, it went in. After 3 or 4 goes, we saw the lightbulb moment in his face, and off he went. Such fun to watch!

Heres Toby in action!

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Track and train

Toby tries tracking…

We are always looking for new things for Toby to try as he likes to be busy!  A local trainer mentioned she did tracking classes and we were keen to have a go with the boy.

She came over to give us some pointers to get us started and it wasn’t long before Toby was fully engaged.  We started by stomping out a trail, dropping cocktail sausages on the way and leaving a jackpot at the end.  He loved it and couldn’t contain his excitement, and proved to be an excellent tracker.  We decided to train a few times a week, and found that in the afternoons (our designated training time) he was pacing the house and whining to get going!

Then we hit a bit of a snag.  We started off by using fields where the grass was pretty long so the trail was easy to see, both for us and him.  We added complications like curves and doubling back and also crossing tracks from previous sessions, and we were convinced that it was his nose he was using, not his eyes.

However, then we moved to a different field where the sheep had recently grazed.  The grass was shorter and there were lots of other distracting scents to throw him off.  Firstly, we could no longer see the trail we had made, so it was difficult to ensure when we backtracked we were following exactly the same route, and secondly, when we set off with him we found it harder to tell if he was following the trail correctly!

We also introduced an “article” for him to find, which might have confused him further.

We will need to take a step back and try again when the weather is better, to ensure he has a good grip on the basics (standard practice when training new skills or behaviours), otherwise he will become discouraged and frustrated.

Speaking of the weather, thanks to daily rain, we have been unable to cut the grass for haymaking and the way things are going, we could end up with none this year!

Here’s Toby in action:

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A trip to the other side

We get away…

Sadly, this month we lost our milking goat, Betsy.  One evening she had an upset tummy and the next day she was gone.  It was quite a shock for us and we are left with only two goats, neither of which are in milk.  We find ourselves running out of milk constantly as we can’t get used to buying it from the shops!

She was milked twice a day every day and therefore we could never really leave the croft for very long.  In fact we haven’t both had a night away from here for the last 13 years!

As we had relatives staying with us who could look after the dogs and keep an eye on the rest of the menagerie, we took the opportunity to snatch a few days break on the West Coast.

We stayed in a lovely B&B and spent our days sightseeing at Fort Augustus, Fort William and of course, we couldn’t miss the great glen, Glencoe. The weather wasn’t great but it didn’t rain too much and thankfully, the midges were nowhere to be seen.

Now our batteries are recharged, we are ready to tackle hay making, should the sun ever decide to return.

In the meantime Toby is reaching the adolescent ‘naughty teenager’ stage in his life, and as he is also getting bigger and heavier, it is important to try and maintain his training while he works through it.  Not easy for us, particularly as his training classes have finished and the incentive to show off his week’s work has finished with them!

Thankfully he has one particular trick to fall back on, which he perfoms twice daily at feeding time – ‘Bring da Bowl’.  Once all of the dogs have finished eating, we line the bowls up and Toby fetches them all one by one!  Here he is in action:

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Board Meeting

Our dogs take their work seriously…

Once again this year, we were the proud sponsors of Bring Your Dog to Work Day on 23rd June, in aid of two charities, All Dogs Matter and Animals Asia.  For dogs all over the country it must have been a revelation to discover where their humans disappear to every day.  Hopefully there weren’t too many mishaps and all participants arrived armed with treats, water bowls and, of course, poo bags!

For us it was business as usual, as our dogs are lucky enough to be with us at work all the time. However, we decided to have some fun by giving them all a “job” and taking taking pictures in various poses.

Daisy was our Call Manager

Archie became the Dispatch Manager

Toby began by tackling the Paperwork, but was so clever we promoted him to Presentations

Jack, although a member of the Board, already has a day job – rounding up sheep!

It was quite a training challenge persauding them to pose for the camera, but there is always a way to achieve what you want and the clicker proved a great asset.  That and some tasty treats of course!

If you have pictures of your “working dogs” we would love to see them.

Wet, wet, wet!

Toby becomes a water baby…

This month has been particularly wet here and pretty warm too.  Sadly frosty mornings, where the dogs come home dry, seem to be a thing of the past. At the end of every walk, the “dog-o-matic”, otherwise known as a watering can, comes out and they all get a cold shower.  Soaking wet towels, litter the porch and we can’t dry them fast enough.  The hayfield has developed a couple of large puddles or mini-lakes and we discovered that Toby loves them, he’s a real water baby!  The others avoid paddling but he rushes in with such enthusiasm and sprays us all in his wake.  Unfortunately, he’s quite partial to a mud bath too!

Because of the poor weather conditions the ewes and lambs are still inside as we don’t want to risk letting them out into the sodden fields.  However, they are all in one large pen together so the babies have lots of friends to play with.

Toby finished his puppy classes with flying colours.  He performed his “Bang Bang” trick at the end of term party in front of everyone.  We were worried that he would be too excited to go through with it on the night, but he did us proud.

Next month he starts Junior classes and we are looking forward to continuing his clicker training as he is doing so well.  Notwithstanding the fact that the journey too and fro is a bit of a nightmare, as there have been so many road closures with diversions of up to 20 miles along winding roads.  This has caused poor Toby to be sick on the long drive there.  Thankfully, on the way home, he’s usually so exhausted, he sleeps all the way!

His relationship with Jack, our Border Collie has improved 100%.  They are now best friends and wrestle together for hours, albeit rather noisily!

See Toby’s water antics in the video below:

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Toby Pup and the Treat Ringer Orb

Toby Pup tries out a Treat Ringer Orb from Starmark

Toby loves trying out new toys for us, and today we introduce him to the Treat Ringer Orb from Starmark.

Starmark’s Treat Ringer toys are made of firm plastic and they have a wide outer with a hard to reach rail inside.  Edible Treat Rings are pushed onto this inner rail for your dog to try and remove. Not easy!

The Ringers are supplied with some treat rings, but they are available separately too for when you need to refill.

For most dogs it can be quite a challenging toy at first and during Toby’s initial 20 minute session he did not manage to remove one singe ring. However, during play the rings do become softer and easier to work.  Plus, as with most toys, dogs become more adept over time so in subsequent sessions he does manage to remove the treats eventually.

A couple of months on, and Toby still loves it!

See how he got on in our video below:

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