Sunday, 13 November 2016

Barney the cockapoo, puppy to teenager

Barney at eight weeks, the first day we brought him home
Barney reached the grand old age of seven months last weekend and is firmly in the grip of adolescence. He's been with us five months and we haven't been aware of him growing, but looking back on old photos, we can't believe how tiny he was. He also had his first proper haircut yesterday and now looks like a proper dog (sob!) I miss him being a tiny puppy who'd follow me everywhere, but at the same time I'm glad that his training is paying off and he's slightly more controllable.
Barney last week, before haircut. I love the shaggy hound look.
Immediately post groom, where did my puppy go?!
Although he has his moments (helping himself to wood from the wood shed and digging being his current favourites), he's generally pretty good around the house. His greatest downfall is that he loves everyone. He loves meeting people and other dogs and all manners go out of the window, he just jumps all over them. We're trying to teach him some manners, but it's very much a work in progress. He's exactly the same with me, when I come home from work or come downstairs in the morning, he acts like I've been gone for months. When I've actually stayed out for an evening, he was almost apoplectic when I got home. It's nice that he's pleased to see me, but when he greets me with muddy footprints on a clean pair of jeans, I do look forward to him being a little less excited by everything.
What do you mean you didn't need me to help with gardening?
The downside of his exuberance is that he won't take no for an answer, even from other dogs. I'd assumed dogs would understand when other dogs don't want to be bothered. Not our Barney. He'll run up to other dogs, encouraging them to play with him and older dogs who really don't want to be bothered by him ignore him and then when he won't take the hint growl or snap at him. I'm worried he'll get bitten at some point which would be awful when he's such a friendly dog, but I don't know how else to get the message through to him.

The main area where we've noticed his adolescent tendencies is that he'll just ignore us if there's something more interesting he could be doing. Often we'll call him over and he'll come in his own time, taking a diversion via an interesting smell. He'll also look at you as if you're using words he has no comprehension of when you ask him to sit. The only good thing is that he absolutely loves his food and so his memory will return if you have food in your hand. The only other thing that gives away his teenage years (we'll try to ignore the bed humping), is that some days he'll want to climb onto your lap for a cuddle, the next day he can't get away soon enough. I'm hoping it's just a phase as there's nothing nicer than a sofa cuddle with a warm dog on a cold night. 
Today I fancy a cuddle
We've been taking him to puppy school since he was about ten weeks old and whilst he's not the best student, we are making progress. As long as you have food in your hand, he'll sit, lie down, give you a paw, twirl, go around your leg, pray and probably other things I've forgotten. At home he'll sit and stay when we ask him to, but ask him to do it in class and he'll sit, stay for five seconds and then obviously think, "well, if you don't need me, I've spotted something over there to sniff" and wander off. I think that one glitch may keep us in our current level of puppy school for some time. I've had sessions where I've wanted to walk out of the classes and never return, but he's been pretty good over the last couple of weeks. I just hope that continues. His recall has been patchy (again, great until he sees a dog five hundred yards away that he wants to meet), but latterly seems to be improving. Again, as long as you have food with you for him to return for. There's nothing better than a flurry of paws and ears heading straight for you when you call him. 
You just know there's food in that hand
It's really difficult to tell if he's still teething as he has a mouthful of teeth, but still has his upper puppy canines. He doesn't bite as much as he used to, now it's really just if he gets excited and it's mainly just mouthing. Another work in progress! Distraction usually works though, inserting an antler between his jaws or throwing a toy at him gives him something more suitable to chew. He's destroyed a number of soft toys and my sewing skills are finally coming into their own, but I can't resist replacing them when he's so excited running around with a cuddly toy dangling from his jaws.
How many toys do you think I can fit in my bed??
He's slept in a crate since day one, only now he has the whole crate and a large snuggly bed, rather than being restricted to a smaller area with a partition. He's a great sleeper, will lie in as long as we do at the weekend and often in the week lifts his head reluctantly when it's time to get up. We suffered awful sleep deprivation when he was first with us, it's so nice to be back to weekend lie ins.
It's exhausting being a puppy
Touch wood, he's also house trained. We thought our garden was perfect for a puppy, a good size and fully enclosed. That was until he ate the cherries from the ornamental cherry tree, and then the berries from the cherry laurel, and started thinking about the yew berries. Suffice it to say that the yew tree and cherry laurel are no longer with us! He picked up house training fairly quickly as we took him out every hour, after a few weeks once he knew why he was going out we introduced him to the dog flap. Since then he's just come and gone as he likes. We've had a handful of accidents since then, but we've blamed ourselves for most of them. He had numerous accidents in his crate though, mainly due to filling up on berries or slugs and snails before bed time. Luckily he seems to have given up on his invertebrate diet and has been clean overnight for some time. It's such a relief, my husband was a saint for the number of crate clean-ups and puppy baths that he did in the middle of the night or early morning. You live and you learn...

The other good thing is that he seems happy to be left alone, we've only ever left him for a maximum of four or five hours and that's infrequently, but when we come home he runs over to greet us and then does a dramatic stretch, looking as if he's just woken up. Even in the daytime he'll potter around and do his own thing, just coming through occasionally to check up on us before returning to do something more interesting.  

All in all though, we seem to be bringing up a happy, healthy confident dog. He even won dog with the waggiest tail at a dog show last weekend. The judges said he was the clear winner, he was wagging even before the judging started. He's great company and makes me laugh on a daily basis. What more could I ask for??

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