Friday, 5 August 2016

New puppy? Here's what you need to buy

After we'd been and chosen Barney at six weeks, things went really quiet. Deafeningly quiet. We kept waiting to get a collection date but heard nothing. By the time the puppies were almost eight weeks old we decided we couldn't wait any longer before buying things for him. We didn't want to tempt fate, but equally we didn't want to get a puppy home and be completely unprepared.

We tried to think of everything, and were well prepared when we had the call and collected Barney with two days' notice. He's now been with us for eight weeks and this is everything we bought in the first month. Hopefully it'll be useful to someone in a similar situation.

There are various options for training your puppy. We opted for crate training, if you're going down the same route you'll need a crate that will be big enough for your dog when he's fully grown. To encourage him not to foul his crate (not that it's been entirely successful), we blocked half of it off with cardboard so that there was room for his bed but not much more. You can place puppy pads in the other half so he has somewhere to go if he can't keep his legs crossed. We opted for getting up in the night with him instead, so he doesn't get into bad habits. As a result we have a pristine pack of puppy pads. Perhaps they'll come in useful one day and I'm sure if we hadn't had them, we might have needed them on the journey home. I like an insurance policy!
Barney chucking out zzzs
Whilst on the subject of toilet training, we bought plenty of kitchen roll to mop up spills, Dettol wipes to make sure that no scent was left behind which might encourage him to use the same area again and a big box of poo bags (we bought biodegradable ones, no point putting a naturally biodegradable substance in something that will last for two hundred years). I'm amazed how quickly we're getting through the poo bags. Puppies just seem to eat, sleep and poo for the first couple of weeks. 

We also bought some baby wipes for cleaning his eyes and ears, and any other parts which are mucky but don't warrant a full bath. For full baths, we bought some puppy shampoo and a microfibre towel, he's had a lot of baths (don't ask!) and now is really well behaved, there was a lot of squirming and squarking initially though. As he'll need grooming when his adult coat comes through we bought a brush which we use on him every so often, really just to get him used to the process.

We started out with a basket shaped bed, but now have this either in the front room or Andrew's office so he can be in the same room as us, but has his own area. He now has a piece of vet bed in his crate to sleep on.
Bed time
To help them sleep on their first night with you, it's recommended that you place a cuddly toy with their mother and then bring it home. The cuddly toy that we were given was so smelly that it only lasted two days and he slept through the first night we removed it. Probably coincidence, but it's worth doing so you have the option. We also had a radio tuned to the same station that they had on at the breeders. Again, it's anything to make their transition a bit easier.

We'd initially bought a metal food and water bowl (well, two actually, one for inside and one for outside so he always had access to fresh water), but soon replaced the food bowl for a bowl which slowed him down when eating. He ate like it was a race (part of being from a large litter, I guess) but it can't do his system any good. He's still a quick eater, but at least he takes a little longer. We bought some treats to help with training but gave up on them as they upset his stomach. We tend to use praise for training, with bits of kibble if he needs something more. We stuck with the food that he had been on since weaning as our vet favours it. We came home from the breeder with enough to last us a week, and then bought more. It's suggested that if you're changing to something else to do it gradually unless you're moving to a raw diet, which you can do as a straight change. We also bought a clicker to help with his training, we've not used it much but it was good for encouraging him that being quiet is good!
Mmm, lunch
Our first trip out with Barney was a trip to the garden centre up the road to get him a collar and lead. He wasn't even allowed out for walks at that stage but it's good to be prepared. 
Doesn't he look smart?!
As we wanted him to get used to car journeys as soon as possible, I bought him a car seat and a safety harness, so he'd be safe if anything untoward were to happen. He squirmed and squealed for the first few journeys, but now seems happy enough and settles down for a snooze whenever we go out. 
Are we nearly there yet?!
We tried not to go over the top with toys, but it's fair to say we have collected a fair number. Ironically it's things that are free, such as an off-cut of wood or an empty squash bottle which he seems to like the best. 
These were all the toys that came to hand, but Barney couldn't leave them alone for long enough for me to photograph them
When we got Barney he came with a month's free pet insurance. We've since bought an annual policy to make sure that he's covered if he's ever unwell. We could just set the money aside and pay ourselves if he needed treatment, but given the cost of some procedures and medications, we decided it was better safe than sorry. 

We've since bought more things, a water bottle for walks, more beds for around the house and a steam cleaner to clear up muddy foot prints. This dog owning lark isn't cheap, good job he's worth it!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

July round up

Well, July absolutely flew past, my memory is that the weather was good on the whole which is always welcome, especially with a puppy in the house. It's made evening walks much more pleasant.
My boys :)
Barney's been with us for eight weeks now, whilst on the whole I can't remember what it was like before him, I do fondly remember lie ins and lazy Sundays. Oh well... He seems to have had a growth spurt over the last couple of weeks and is teething. No teeth lost yet to leave under his bed for the Puppy Tooth Fairy, but it an only be a matter of time.

My parents came down to see us for another house viewing, and my brother joined us this time. The house we looked at wasn't quite right for them, but it was certainly an experience having five adults and a very excited puppy in our house. Luckily he behaved himself (we'll overlook the biting and toe nibbling), and hopefully he hasn't put anyone off returning. 

Andrew's boss's daughter had been absolutely desperate to meet Barney, they nipped over one Sunday morning at which point she realised that Barney isn't just a cuddly toy, he moves and I'm not sure she was quite prepared for that. She finally stroked him after a lot of persuasion from her father, but I don't think she'll be wanting a puppy of her own quite yet. We met up with them again the following week at their village fete. It's fair to say she pretty much ignored him, he was a huge hit with the rest of the villagers though.
Barney behaving himself, despite the apple bobbing going on a short distance away
Barney is from a litter of nine and I have to admit I never expected to see any of his siblings again, outside social media, as we collected him from a breeder some distance away. Bizarrely, one of his brothers lives 15 miles away so we arranged a reunion. It was fascinating to see the differences between them and exhausting that they hardly stopped for the whole time they were together. I'm hoping Barney will grow out of his constant play-fighting with other dogs.
A brief moment of them both still, building up some energy for another play fight
We've tried to catch up with household jobs over the summer, we had a guy round to fix my iPhone (Barney chewed the mute button, it appears the metal isn't as robust as I'd antiipated), had a shower replaced and the boiler serviced. It's all been a great opportunity to introduce Barney to anyone and everyone in the hope of making him a well socialised puppy. 

As another part of that we've been taking him to Puppy Playgroup. I'd expected it to be obedience training, but it's really just socialising them in a fun environment and teaching them a few basics to stretch their grey matter. There's a huge range of shapes and sizes of puppy there (although bizarrely another similar looking cockapoo), but thankfully Barney seems to be getting more relaxed about the company of other dogs as the weeks go by. 
Not the best photo, but a good indication of the distractions in class!
We took a quick trip to the Midlands to see Andrew's parents as they'd not met Barney. It's fair to say it didn't go brilliantly, they have an eight year old Westie who clearly didn't have any interest in playing with Barney and let him know in no uncertain terms. Barney didn't give up trying though, it ended up being a very noisy experience. Once we'd taken him for a walk in the sun and he'd shown himself up even more we made our excuses and left. I don't think I'll be in a rush to take him back until he's learned that not everyone wants to or has to play with him.
At least it was a nice sunny day for a walk.
It was my birthday towards the end of the month. We normally go away for the weekend, so it was surprisingly nice to spend it at home. We didn't even go out for a meal, opting instead for a barbecue at home so Barney could join us.
Barney was on top form, helping with the laundry
And checking on the contents of the shelf which has all his belongings on, you should have seen the looks on our faces when we found him up there!
In day to day matters, work is still busy but quietening down a little. I've dropped my working hours to four days a week to give me more time to deal with everything that's going on at home. I've also caught the Pokemon Go bug, which is good as it gets me out for a walk at lunch time to visit Pokestops and catch a few more weedles and rattatas. 
Shame that Pokestop across the square is just too far from work
Now onto how I'm doing against my plans for the year...

Read sixteen books
I've had 'How to Train a Superdog' by Gwen Bailey in the bookcase for years. I think my husband bought it for me to convince me that getting a dog would be a fantastic experience, so I'd let him get one. Years on, and here Barney is. Certainly not a superdog by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm looking forward to working through the training exercises in due course.

Find one hundred geocaches
No progress on this, I've spotted a good walk we can take Barney on to introduce him to geocaching. We've got a free weekend in a couple of weeks, hopefully he won't just eat the geocache container.  

Try three gym classes
I've actually started to think about this! Barney's sleeping better and is okay being left for short periods of time, so I may start to be able to make plans. How exciting! 

Meet up with an old friend
No change with this, but it's nice meeting people with Barney, whether it's other dog walkers in the park or puppy owners at puppy school. Few people can resist his hairy face.

Blog once a month
Only one post in June, a guest post I did for Penny at A Penny for Them. You can get details about it here.

Watch a new film once a month
At the moment I'm so tired in the evenings that we're back to watching NCIS and Deep Space Nine. I shouldn't mock, I love it really. 

Take six day trips
No progress on this over the month but hopefully we'll catch up over the remainder of the year, albeit with a very excited hound at our feet!

August looks like another busy month, full of puppy activities. I'm just hoping the weather is kind, as I found out yesterday, a damp dog makes for a very muddy house. Keep your fingers crossed for me!