As the clock struck midnight on the New Year, instead of knocking back champers, we were wrapped up in bed with a Lemsip! We had succumbed to the virus that seemed to be sweeping the nation and it made life with a lively puppy just that bit tougher.
Toby was, of course, adorable but on top of that he was hard work. We have had many puppies in the past but as they grow, you quickly forget the bad bits!
Lack of sleep, they like to wake early, taking them outside (in bad weather) every half an hour, trying to stop them chewing, especially electric cables that you never noticed before and keeping those needle sharp teeth out of your flesh! Not to mention the feeding four times a day! It’s a full-time job and not for the faint hearted.
We are very lucky in that we work from home so we could be with him 24/7. Heaven knows how people cope when they have to go out to work.
A dog crate was an essential piece of kit, especially for those much needed moments of respite and invaluable overnight. Clicker training helped to calm him down and focus his mind for short periods, often leaving him needing a nap and us with some breathing space. We tried out plenty of toys and he loved most of them, but not for long enough. His attention soon returned to chewing rugs, furniture or shoes, that someone had foolishly left lying around.
Two other problems we encountered were sheep poo, and Jack our Border Collie. The field we walk them in has recently been vacated by our pregnant ewes and there was plenty to interest him. We couldn’t get his nose off the ground and quickly taught him a “leave” command, which works about 30% of the time. Jack was a bigger challenge – whereas both Archie and Daisy have welcomed new pups before, this is Jack’s first one. He didn’t react very well and although the 2 shepherds would tolerate Toby, Jack was very snappy.
We tried to work this through by taking them out to one of our large sheds and training them together. Jack realised that being with Toby meant positive things rather than negative.
To a certain extent this has calmed the problem and Jack’s snapping seems to be much more ‘warning’ than intent. Toby does heed those messages when he isn’t hyper-excited, and more often than not, Jack prefers to move away rather than getting involved. We still have work to do, but we are happy with the progress so far.
Despite all of the above, Toby has been an absolute joy. He is so bold, intelligent, quick to learn and entertaining and he’s certainly taught us a thing or two. Last week he started his clicker class and we were very proud of him. He behaved beautifully. But we won’t be resting on our laurels, there is homework to be completed and we are well aware that once he gets comfortable in the new training environment, he may not be quite so polite and well mannered.
Pictured below are the items we found most useful for Toby: