Sunday, 24 November 2013

Further afield

The last 10 days or so has been pretty good, all things considered. Ruby's toilet training is coming on well. She has got to the point where she will now deliberately let us know she wants to go outside, even barking to get our attention if we are being a bit lax. There are still occasional puddles on the conservatory floor, but these seem to appear if Ruby gets excited, if we are not paying enough attention, or sometimes if she wants to wind us up.

Ok, so I'm hidden. You can't see
me, right?
We are slowly but surely taking her a bit further afield now. The last two weekends have involved walks in the local woods. She loves it amongst the trees, especially as most of the leaves are now on the ground. We've met loads of other dog walkers and as usual, most of them make a big fuss of Ruby.

I've heard a couple of 'horror' stories of certain people with aggressive dogs, causing problems for responsible owners and their animals. There is apparently one oldish lady who walks a big bulldog type breed and leaves it off the leash. When it gets aggressive with other dogs, she just says she can't control him because it's her son's dog (sigh). 

I also got a facebook message passed on today, warning of a couple walking four dogs. Two on the lead, and two (staffies) off the lead. According to the report, despite the owners saying they were friendly, the staffies attacked someone's dog.

I'm sure there is an element of 'chinese whispers' going on but I have to admit to being a little worried. I'm not sure I would know how to react if an aggressive dog tried to attack Ruby. It seems the trend these days to get the bigger terrier breeds and other potentially dangerous types. Add this to the fact that such dogs can (at least in my neighbourhood) attract owners who appear to WANT their dogs to be scary and intimidating, and there is a recipe for problems. 

All that said, the people I have met on my walks so far have been nice enough. Today for instance there was a young woman walking two dogs off the lead. One seemed to be a labrador type although I think it was a cross breed. It had a muzzle on but as soon as it saw Ruby it ran straight at her. Poor Ruby let out a loud yelp and tried to run away. She seemed terrified. The dog didn't appear too aggressive; more boisterous so I kept Ruby on a short lead and got her to sniff the other dog. It growled at me though, which I suppose might explain the muzzle. The woman called the dog and kept hold of it as we walked off. 

Dog tired
All in all, the walks have been great and Ruby is loving the experience of new places. At first, she was really focussed on sniffing things and checking out pretty much every tree in the woods. However, after about 10 minutes I started to encourage her to listen to me by commanding her to lie down. I would do this now and again and by the end of the walk Ruby was immediately dropping to the ground on command. I have started doing this over and over whenever we are away from roads. Not too often as I want her to experience things in her own time; but enough to keep it in her mind that I am the boss.

We are still having issues with Ruby focusing on cars when walking at the roadside. Other owners of puppies from the same (and previous) litters from our breeder have said they too have this problem. One of the solutions seems to be to get them so used to (and bored of) traffic that they get to the point where they ignore it. So I have started going to the nearest main road and walking Ruby along when the road is busy. It does seem to have an effect after about five minutes. She seems to get sick of trying to run after the cars and ends up being more responsive to me. I think this one is going to be a tough nut to crack though, so it's just a matter of doing the leg work, over and over until she realises that cars are not interesting and that if she behaves and pays attention to me, there might be a nice treat in it.

It's now just over 2 months in to our Border Collie experience and despite some challenges, a bit of sleep deprivation, a change in lifestyle and an understanding that most things need to be planned around the dog, I wouldn't go back to life before Ruby. At the start of all this, I did get the sense that there were a lot of self-righteous BC owners and dog owners in general that expressed a degree of 'snobbery' about a newbie owner. I felt a bit defensive about all this, given that getting Ruby was not a decision we took lightly. On the other hand, it is fair to say that a lot of people evidently do not look into dog ownership deeply enough and end up with an animal they can not handle and no longer want. This is particularly true with the BC breed and I totally understand how lovers of such animals don't want to see the rescue centres fill up with unwanted Collies.

From my point of view, I have always been confident that we would meet the needs of our dog both physically and mentally. That said, I am aware of an extremely good safety net called Gillian. Should we have come to the conclusion that we had made a mistake, Gillian would take her dog back and give her a good home on a working farm. So either way, Ruby would never be destined for a rescue centre. It's a moot point anyway as she is part of the family already and is definitely here to stay. 

I'll TELL you when to stop stroking me

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Fast and furious

Ruby is growing fast. Already I'm finding myself looking back at photographs from a month ago and thinking that I can barely remember her being THAT small.

We're making some progress with training. She sits and lies down pretty well on command although she still tends to ignore me when focused on something. I've also been getting somewhere with 'stay'. I've found this a harder nut to crack, mainly because it essentially involves telling her NOT to do something. In the house she is getting really good at it. I can command her to stay and she will lay on the spot while I walk back a good 5 yards or so. I will then stop and maintain eye contact for up to a minute before walking back to her. Only when I get back to her will I give her praise for staying. It's sinking in I think.

Look at my tongue. Big, isn't it?
The walking on the lead saga is continuing. She does pull a lot when at the roadside and it got to the point where I became a bit worried about her damaging her throat. I've tried all kinds of things including distraction with treats, pulling up and in with the lead, talking to her to keep her attention, commanding to sit, wait etc.....nothing has worked. She becomes incredibly focused on the road and the vehicles on it and even with the tastiest of treats, she just moves around it as if to say, "get that food out of my face".

The latest harness we have got makes things much easier. It is much harder for her to pull and it will soon check her. Eventually I want to go back to the collar but I think I'll wait until the training has kicked in a bit more.

Ruby has had two visits to dog training now and we are going back again tomorrow night. To be honest, it's benefitting me more than the dog. The trainer is good at picking up on little things such as when I called her. I was crouched and as she ran towards me I leaned forward and to the side to give her the treat. The trainer spotted this and advised that I use the treat to 'lure' her right in to me before giving her the treat. That way, she would get used to coming right up to me rather than stop 2 feet away.

Toilet training is having its ups and downs. She is good with the poo side of things (unless we are REALLY not paying attention). But when it comes to the pee, she can often just run into the conservatory and immediately squat and pee before we have any time to react. We still take her outside regularly but she can be out for 10 minutes and do nothing but pee as soon as back in the house. There is some progress having constantly praised her every time she goes outside. I can often now tell her to "go pee" and she will do it. So overall, I think we are getting there. I have to remember she is still only a 4 month old puppy.

The walks around the estate are interesting as I have discovered so many people with dogs. I never noticed how many other dogs there were until I started taking Ruby out. Mind you, I did only tend to drive in and out of the estate in my car. We met a really unusual cross breed last week. It was a BC / Akita cross. It looked more like an Akita than a collie and belonged to a couple and their 3 young kids. I have to say I wasn't convinced about having such a dog with small kids. If it has the Akita dominance and the collie drive, it will be a real handful.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Time flies

It's a whole week since my last post. I don't know where the time goes. Overall it's been a decent week. Ruby went to her first training class at Calverley Dog Training Club on Wednesday evening and did ok. There were only 3 other dogs there so we got plenty of attention. Ted the brown spaniel, lulu the beagle and a titchy little squashed faced mop of a dog. No memory of what it was called and not sure what breed it was. No doubt I'll get to know it better over the coming weeks.

You are a leaf and you will do as I command - Or I will
stare at you until you obey.
For a first lesson it wasn't bad. Ruby wanted to play with the other dogs and to start with she kept letting a bit of wee out whenever she met a new dog or owner. In terms of the training we had to stand in a square and take it in turns to walk our dog around all the others, trying to keep the dog focused on walking with us and NOT getting distracted by the other dogs. The first time it didn't go too well. But on the second attempt I put plenty of energy and effort into keeping Ruby on task and she did really well.

Local walks each day are becoming a bit stressful at the moment. Ruby pulls frantically on her lead, to the point where she is on her back legs and almost choking herself. However many times I stop, tell her to wait, and then try again, she immediately goes back to frantic pulling. She is not so bad when away from the roads so I think it might have something to do with traffic. However, the roads on the estate aren't that busy and even when there are no cars driving by, she still pulls like mad. 

She is much better with a harness but there are two issues here. First, I WANT to train her to walk with a collar/lead without pulling. Second, she has slipped the harness a few times. She seems to 'back out' of it somehow. It's never happened on the roadside as she is too busy forging ahead. But when we get to the farmer's field and start to go through the gate, she turns to face us, pulls backwards, and if we are not careful, she is out of the harness. 

For the time being, I think I'm going to go back to the harness as at least she isn't putting pressure on her throat. It also pulls her up much better and she seems a lot calmer when walking on the roadside. I just need to watch her like a hawk in case she tries to get out of it. She would definitely chase passing cars and it would not end well.

Does my bum look big in this?
We went back to the park today. Ruby does like going there. She met loads of dogs, saw a football match, distracted one of the players who was trying to warm up, and tried her best to chase after the footballs.

There are certainly no worries around her socialising with other dogs or people. She behaves really well, loves meeting people and getting strokes, and always seems to act appropriately with other dogs.

Later, when I took her for a teatime stroll around the estate, she did a big poop on a patch of grass en route. Not a particularly interesting fact I grant you. But actually it is a bit of a milestone. Up until that point, she had never done a wee or a poop while out. She has always held it in until we got home, then rushed to the back garden to 'evacuate'. So squatting down and firing out a huge poop on today's walk was an achievement. 

Well done Ruby. And well done me for cleaning it all up and disposing properly; not leaving it there just because nobody was looking. It riles me when people do that. Nothing worse than going about your business and having to dodge piles of dog mess left there by ignorant owners who are too lazy/selfish to take it away.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Back to the park

We've been back to our local park twice this weekend. Don't get me wrong; Ruby likes the exercise. But I get the impression it's the social scene that she really goes for. Not a single person can go by without Ruby insisting on a stroke and a bit of a play. She is such a cutie that she gets away with it; even when the most serious, unfriendly looking person approaches, they generally melt once Ruby introduces herself.

I know you want me to come out from under here. But
I don't think I will.
I've also been doing some training with Ruby this weekend. We have reinforced sit and lie-down, both at home and in the park. I've also been working on 'stay'. She seemed to get the idea today but it definitely needs more work.

She is pretty good at 'wait'. I use 'wait' when we get to a road we need to cross. I always tell Ruby to wait and when I am sure it is clear, I will say 'cross over'. She seems to understand this quite well.

'Fetch' and 'Drop it' are also coming on very well. She pretty much always drops anything I get her to fetch if I give the command. It's a bit more of a struggle to get her to drop something she knows she shouldn't have. For instance, she nicked some tissue that Sarah had been using to blow her nose (she has a bad cold). I told Ruby to drop it, but she simply bolted under the sofa so she could rip up the tissue in peace. Puppies eh!

I can still fit under here and I'm
NOT coming out.

Not to worry. She is growing so quickly that it won't be long before she is too big to fit under the sofa. 

Thursday, 24 October 2013


As I've said in a previous post, Ruby is no bother on the lead when off the beaten track. However, when on the roadside, she will pull until she is choking. Although it is something I'm working on, I'm not happy that she is half strangling herself. So I thought I would try a harness.
What IS this thing you are
making me wear?

I got the small size as I thought the X-Small would be obsolete very soon. However, it is a little on the large side for her. Nothing too drastic but there is a bit of slack.

We started on our walk and the harness was excellent. It checked her pulling just fine and the walk along the roadside was much less of a tug-of-war.

I decided to pay a visit to my parents and as I was in the house talking to the old man, my mother was in the garden looking after Ruby. After 5 minutes my mother informed me that Ruby had rolled on her back and slipped out of the harness. Hmmmm. She sussed that out a bit easily. I'm hoping it's because it is a bit big rather than a design that Ruby can 'Houdini' out of at will.

The rest of the walk went fine; although as I went through the gate to the field behind our house, Ruby turned to face me and pulled away, almost slipping out of the harness again. It looks like it's back to the collar until she grows a little more.

Your pesky contraption won't hold
me....mwah hahah
Once we arrived back home, I left the harness on to see if she got used to it. Maybe if she felt comfortable with it on, she would be less inclined to try to get out of it.

She seemed happy enough, laying at my feet, merrily chewing one of her toys. I quickly checked my Twitter and Facebook on my phone while she was calm. After a few minutes I looked down at her to see a contented puppy calmly chewing on the harness she had removed from her body. How did she even do that? Oh right! Border Collies are clever. It also appears that they are escape artists.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Getting down and dirty

So, over the last couple of days, I've been taking Ruby a little bit further than last week on her walks. Not too far as I don't want to overdo it. But just walking on the footpath around the estate is a little boring to say the least.

We've started going up to the top of the estate and on to a small dirt track that runs along the back of the estate. We can then get on to the field behind our house and walk down through the grass to the house.

After a splash in the puddles
Ruby is pretty impressed with the new route. It's also much easier to walk her away from traffic. It seems she only strains at the lead when on the roadside. She is determined to push ahead and won't stop for anything. Then when a car approaches she gets down low, waits until it passes, then makes as if to chase it. I take her mind off the car and she again shoots off, pulling at the extent of her lead. As much as I try to get her to 'heel', she will strain until she is choking herself.

As soon as we are on a path away from the roadside, she calms right down and trots merrily along. I need to get her used to traffic and roads and as such, I am not going to avoid walking her around the street. However, it's not much fun at the moment as it turns into a tug of war. 

We are starting obedience classes next Wednesday so I'm hopeful that the trainer there will get to work and give me some good advice/techniques for focusing Ruby away from the traffic and on to taking notice of me.

When we get up onto the dirt track, Ruby has been loving the puddles. She marches right through them and seems to love getting wet and muddy. Everybody we meet has loved Ruby so far. Other dog owners comment on how cute she is. Ruby obliges by being a little star around other dogs. She tends to roll over and show them her belly, then have a good sniff, making sure she keeps low to the ground.

Two lads rode up behind us on their motorbikes today and when I moved to the side and held Ruby, one of them commented "nice dog mate" as he rode past. 

Last week, a lady walking a poodle told me she had seen Ruby the night before. Apparently her husband had been pulling up to their house and had noticed me walking Ruby. Not wanting his wife to miss the cute puppy, he phoned her from his car and told her to look out of the window. I must remember to tell Gillian (the breeder). She will be so proud of how much admiration one of her dogs is attracting.

A fine looking dog. But then I AM biased

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A walk in the park

Fuzzy moon
Today started at 7am with the moon shining brightly. Or at least it was trying to shine brightly through the mist.

Misty morning
Within the space of around 30 minutes, we had dark misty pre-dawn with a smudged but bright moon, totally clear skies with a bright clear moon, dawn breaking with bright sunshine, and finally cloud covering and drizzle. And all the time, Ruby was playing in the back garden. By the time we went back inside, the view from the front window was quite impressive. The sun had come up and there was mist in the valley. A bank of fog was also moving slowly from right to left across the moor.

Today was the day we tried out the car crate for the first time. We wanted to make sure that Ruby's first journey in the crate was both short, and had a nice experience at the end of it. The first part of the plan unravelled slightly due to some roadworks. The journey took much longer than expected and Ruby yelped the whole way. 

However, once we got to Sarah's mum's and got Ruby out of the car, all the complaining was forgotten. We (that's me, Sarah, Rhianna and Anne) took Ruby into the park on a 'flexi' lead. She had a great time. I was really impressed that although she was distracted by all the different things going on, she didn't just run to the limit of the lead an try to pull. She ran ahead a little, then stopped and waited. She kept coming back to us and was forever checking to see that we were following her.

Ruby met a few dogs (and a few humans) on her walk. One dog gave her a fright as it was not on a lead, and although friendly, when it ran towards Ruby, she let out a squeal and retreated rather quickly.

All in all, Ruby had a great time and loved having a run around in the open. On the way home she barely let out a whimper in her crate. I think she has already got the idea that the crate leads to nice things.

Happy dreams
We got back home and she crashed out underneath the sofa. So much to take in for a puppy.

Other than the trip to the park, toilet training is having its ups and downs. It's amazing that however much you think you are keeping an eye on her, you can go to take her outside and notice a puddle on the conservatory floor. Goodness knows how she manages to keep doing it without us noticing. I must get some of that enzyme cleaner again. There must be traces of urine smell on the floor so she thinks that is where she should go. The last product didn't agree with Sarah who really didn't like the smell of it. I'll try another brand and see if it works (and smells) better.

Ruby with her  ball on
Training is also having it's good and bad days. She can be quite stubborn, especially when she is excited. I'm looking forward to getting started with the obedience classes so I can get some expert advice. She sits and lies down pretty well on command but getting her to come to me and to stay is proving more of a challenge. But hey, she's only 13 weeks old so maybe my expectations are a bit high. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Ready to roll

The travel crate arrived yesterday and it fits in the back of the new estate car just fine. Anchoring it was a little more of an issue than it should have been. But that was more down to the company that I had ordered cam buckle cargo lashing straps from. Instead of 6 of these proper cargo lashes, I got 2 of the ones I had paid for plus 4 x rainbow coloured suitcase straps with flimsy plastic buckles and thin, weak webbing. Not a happy bunny.

On a happier note, Ruby is really getting into the walking thing. She is meeting lots of people and other dogs and having a great time. We are going to take her on a little trip in the car at the weekend. We want to get her used to the crate for travelling in. So we are going to take her to a local park and let her have some fun. 

I rang Calverley Dog Training Club last night and spoke with the guy who does the training. Unfortunately there are no spaces left in his Monday night puppy training classes but the good news is that he thinks that Ruby would be fine in the 'beginners' class that he runs on Wednesdays. Although they take dogs of all ages, he is convinced that Ruby will settle in, particularly given she is a Border Collie (his favourite breed ever).

I am still amazed by how quickly she is growing. She bears little resemblance to the little teddy bear type puppy we brought home 4 weeks ago. She looks like a smaller version of an adult Border Collie. Her legs are getting long, and her snout is also getting longer. She is amazingly intelligent and is settling into the family very well.

We still have our challenges in terms of toilet training but generally she is very good and there are only occasional accidents (usually our fault for not paying attention). She goes to her bed on command and appears happy and content (as you can tell by this picture)...

She's such a tart

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

What the deuce?

Ruby is loving her walks. We started going on a 15 minute route around the block on Saturday and have done it each day since. When I say 15 minutes, it would take that long at a constant brisk walking pace. Obviously a puppy wants to stop and check out everything so it is taking a lot longer.

Each time I take Ruby out, she is getting better at paying attention to me. She still stops every time a car goes by but appears less frightened. In fact she tends to prick up her ears, wait for the car to go by and then try to chase it. Today, she was really good at obeying "wait". As soon as she made to pull in the direction of a car, I told her to wait. Most times it would do the trick.

I've also been practicing the "heel" command. It's having some limited success but doesn't tend to work on the roadside as there is so much going on. She just ploughs ahead in a determined fashion. Until she decides there is an interesting smell somewhere.

On the path between the 2 main roads, she changes and tonight she walked right beside me with a loose lead (for most of the way).

At one point, she stopped to sniff what I thought was a pile of dog poop. Turns out it was a frog that had decided to come and sit on the path in the rain.

Ruby was really interested but thankfully didn't make any attempt to bite or grab the frog. She just seemed curious.

We left froggy to his amphibious musings and carried on our way. As the weather was pretty blustery, there was nobody else around so we didn't get a chance to stop and talk to any other humans. 

Once again, having got home, Ruby went straight to the back door and wanted to go out to toilet. She has not associated going for a walk with doing her business. Not that I mind. Even though I go armed with poop bags, it suits me if she holds it until we get home. I can then clean it up at my leisure and I don't have to walk the rest of the way carrying a bag of dog poo.

Yes. I'm a pooping in your
strawberry tub
Tonight,  she pooped in unusual spots. Normally she will go into a quiet corner of the undergrowth. But tonight she did one poop on the limestones and a second one in the strawberry tub. Yes, she jumped into the planter and promptly pooped one down in what was left of the strawberry plants. I've no idea why she did this.

Last night and this morning, Ruby went into her crate on command. Not the first time I told her, but after repeating a couple of times, she just got in and laid down. She was being left for a couple of hours this morning so I gave her a Kong with treats/peanut butter inside so she would have something to do. When my mum got there, she was 'happy as Larry'.

I'm about to give the dog training club a call as she can start puppy classes next Monday. The car crate has been despatched so it should be all systems go.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Centre of attention

Another little walk before dinner and we went the same route as we did at the weekend. This time I went on my own and Ruby set off like a freight train. I spent much of the walk encouraging, telling, coaxing and bribing her to walk at my heel without pulling at the chain. She would get the idea for a few seconds, then something else would get her attention and it was back to pulling me along. 

You talking to me?
Although she would stop frequently to sniff things, it wasn't as often as before. It seems as though she is getting familiar with the route and the smells. She still flinched to some degree when cars drove past. Sometimes she would look quite scared but other times she just looked alert. Then once the car had gone by, she made as if to run after it. I'm making the effort to try to take her attention away from the cars but without sounding obvious about it. I think if I make too much of a fuss, it might just add to the problem. Calm distraction and act disinterested I think is the best way.

Once away from the road, we met a lady walking her little dog in the opposite direction. She was very nice and made the effort to get her dog to introduce itself to Ruby. Ruby seemed scared at first but once they had sniffed each other for a few seconds, she was fine. A few minutes later a man with a large German Shepherd approached. The lady with the small dog asked him if his dog was ok with others. He said that she was absolutely fine. So Ruby and the other little dog had a bit of a play with the German Shepherd. We all then went our separate ways. 

So Ruby is gradually getting more familiar with traffic, other people, other dogs and in the case of yesterday's walk, children's buggies. She does get the idea of walking at my heel on a loose lead. It's just that she has her puppy head on and is so interested in all the new things that she just doesn't listen. Hey ho. I'll keep persevering. I'm also going to book puppy training classes (hopefully from next Monday), so I will be getting some 'expert' help. 

Back home and Ruby did 2 poops in the garden. She has so far made no effort to go to the toilet on our travels. I'm still keeping a close eye on her poops as they are sometimes quite solid and sometimes quite loose. Her food regime has settled down and apart from a few treats and maybe some banana in her Kong, she doesn't have anything that could upset her. I suspect she may just be quite sensitive to even small changes in her diet. The last 4 weeks have seen an amazing transformation in me from sane adult to having an unhealthy obsession with dog poop. 

OMG. A kid in a buggy.

Up at 6:30am to find Sarah had already beat me to it. She had heard Ruby whimper at around 6:15 and had got up to take her out. Just in time as she did a large poop in the garden. At least she held it in.

I promptly took over dog-sitting duty and Sarah went back to bed. Ruby obliged by going to sleep and stayed asleep for a couple of hours. I sat and watched the Japanese F1 GP in peace. Sebastian Vettel won (again). 5th one in a row for him and in touching distance of the title. Lewis Hamilton got a puncture going into the first corner of the first lap and eventually retired from the race on the ninth lap. Ruby noticed NONE of this.

Stop with the photos. I'm
Later in the day we took her out for another walk. Same route as yesterday. Down the estate to my parents. A chat on the doorstep and then up the path and around the estate. 15 minutes non-stop would do it. However, Ruby is so interested in just about every bush, lamp-post, patch of grass, driveway, car (parked), car (driving by), bird, pedestrian, leaf, piece of paper, drain...etc...that the 15 minute walk takes around an hour.

She does enjoy the walk though. On this occasion, we passed a family with young children, one of whom was in a buggy/push-chair. Ruby saw them coming and looked freaked out; like she does with cars going by. So we stopped and waited. The family were really nice and stopped to pet Ruby, allowing her to sniff the buggy. I think it was just that she had never seen one before. Something that, to us, seems so normal and 'unthreatening' was pretty unnerving for Ruby. She quickly got over it though.

After arriving back home, Ruby was pretty tired (as the photos show) so she crashed out on the floor in the living room for a while.

A few bursts of energy and she settled until around 11:00pm. Everyone else had gone to bed and I had stayed up to make sure that Ruby got a toilet trip before bed. Unfortunately, she woke up and almost immediately crouched in the living room, spraying poop on the carpet and wall. I ushered her into the conservatory and before I could even grab her lead, she had let loose her bowels all over the floor. Just to rub salt in the wound, she finished the poop, moved a couple of feet under the table and peed a huge puddle. So it was out with the kitchen towel, carrier bag, scooper and cleaner. 15 minutes later all was clean so I took Ruby outside into the cold, rainy night to see if she needed to make another deposit. However, nothing was forthcoming. She soon fell asleep again so I tucked her in her crate, switched off the TV and lights and dragged myself upstairs to write the blog before bed.

Monday tomorrow, and my mum is coming round at about 11am until 1pm. She will stay until my mother-in-law arrives. Ruby should have plenty of company. I just hope she behaves and that the 'accident' tonight is not a sign of things to come. Not least because her poop looked quite runny again. It would be bordering on soul destroying if, after all the trouble with diarrhoea, she has again gone back to having runny poop. As if toilet training a puppy isn't challenging enough!

Saturday, 12 October 2013


We decided to take Ruby around the block for a walk this afternoon. The vet had told us that 'unofficially' she can go out as from Wednesday as long as she is not taken somewhere that loads of dogs congregate. We waited a little longer to be sure as 'officially' she isn't supposed to go out into the world until next Wednesday.

Anyhoo, out we went. Ruby on her normal lead (rather than the extendable thing), a pocket full of treats in case distraction was needed, waterproof coats, and fingers crossed. 

What the Deuce?
To begin with, Ruby was managing a few steps at a time before stopping to sniff and explore pretty much anything and everything. A big bird of some description flew over us and Ruby stopped to watch in fascination.

Slow progress was made getting to the end of the street. Then a car drove by. It freaked Ruby out a little and she tried to run away, then she turned around and made as if to run after the car (presumably she thought it needed to be rounded up).

Getting friendly with Buddha
She remained quite spooked by the cars but I kept trying to take her mind off them. Every time one approached I talked to her and distracted her with the offer of a treat. It was working quite well and she settled down a fair bit. She still flinched when a 4x4 or diesel with a loud engine went by but she wasn't too bad. When we got to my parents house we stood talking to my dad and Ruby positioned herself next to the car on the drive, watching all the other cars driving by. She seemed interested but not frightened (as the picture above shows).

As we were on our way back home, we went past a bloke walking his dog (on the opposite side of the street). Ruby paid attention and her ears pricked up. But she didn't make any attempt to go towards the other dog and didn't bark or growl. When we got to the end of our drive, Ruby picked up speed and ran to the front door. She seemed relieved to be home. It must have been a lot to take in but she did pretty well for her first time.
Let me in's wet out here.

Apart from the walk, Ruby has spent a lot of time in the garden today. She continues to love chewing things; bark chips, twigs and bamboo shoots to name but a few. She also noticed our Buddha and decided to take a closer look.

She enjoys rooting around in the garden, digging here and there and generally getting down and dirty with the soil. 

So day one of the introduction to the big wide world has been completed. From now on, the real fun starts. Meeting other people, dogs, cats, children, cars etc...etc.... And short trips to the garden to go to the toilet and have a little play will no longer 'cut it'.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Border Collie Intelligence

I knew the Border Collie was an intelligent dog but some of Ruby's antics have still taken me by surprise. At just under 12 weeks old, she has clearly been keeping a close eye on where we put some of the good stuff (ie rubbish).

Our Bin
We have a brabantia bin just like this one, in our kitchen. We will put all manner of kitchen waste in there and Ruby has clearly been taking note of all this. 

Cue Ruby suddenly deciding to see what all the fuss is about by copying what we do. So she promptly got on her hind legs and whacked her front legs down onto the lid, causing it to flip open. She could then just about reach her snout into the bin to check out all the goodies.

Another thing she has learned is that if she grabs the draught protecting strip along the base of the kitchen door, she can pull the door open and get out into the hallway. So I decided to use her natural curiosity and intelligence to set her a little test. She has been playing with a crushed 1 litre plastic milk carton for the last few days. Today, I crammed in some her dried food, ensuring it was well packed into the crushed inside and would not fall out easily. For the next 45 minutes, Ruby used a variety of methods to release the tasty treats. She stood the carton on its end, grabbed it by the handle and whacked it against the sofa...and so on. She got every last treat out of the bottle eventually.

They grow so quickly
I keep having to look twice at Ruby as I still find it hard to believe how quickly she is growing. Rhianna put these two pictures together to show the difference in just under 4 weeks. 

Her levels of energy and craziness seem to be growing at roughly the same rate. Mind you, it's hardly surprising given that she is still officially not allowed out into the big wide world. Her injections are effective (so the vet says) from next Wednesday. However, we are going to take her for a walk this weekend; making sure that she doesn't get too close to other dogs or their poops. I'm hoping that by getting her out and about and properly exercised, she will be less inclined to go mental. Of course, being a puppy, she is going to have her fair share of mad moments but it must be really frustrating for her to only be able to go into our back garden and nowhere else.

I am also going to contact our local dog training club this week as they offer puppy training classes each Monday evening. It will be good to get some structure to my training as I have hit a bit of a wall when it comes to trying to get Ruby to 'stay' and 'come'. She is a quick learner but it can be difficult to get her to focus when she gets giddy. Again, I have to accept that as a young puppy, she will be like this, but still, I would welcome some experienced input. 

Once the basics are in place, I want to take Ruby to visit Gillian (the breeder) so she can socialise with some of the dogs on the farm and maybe do a bit of herding. But all that comes later.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


I'm not able to put a big post up today as I am about to set off for a conference in Slough. I'm staying at a hotel overnight and then travelling back home after the conference tomorrow evening. It is unlikely I will get chance to post tomorrow, but hoping to be back to normal by Friday.

Ruby is being looked after by my mother this afternoon. I'm hoping she behaves herself. So far today, everything has been ok. She's toileted outside when we've taken her and she's played nicely. 

It's MY stick
Ruby has a thing about bamboo. She loves running around the garden with a stick in her mouth. As you can see she enjoys it immensely.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Milk carton

Ruby likes plastic milk cartons......she REALLY likes plastic milk cartons. There was an empty one next to our kitchen waste bin and when Ruby noticed it, the game was on.

MY carton
She played with it relentlessly. It didn't take her long to get the screw top off the bottle and then it was a matter of steadily biting and lying on the bottle to squash it as flat as she could. 

The best thing (as far as Ruby was concerned) was the fact that the bottle had a handle. She soon found that grabbing it by the handle meant she could race up and down carrying the bottle without fear of dropping it. She also likes to play fetch with the bottle and takes great delight in one of us 'pretending' to throw it one way, then suddenly changing direction and throwing it another way. It rarely caught her out though. Must be something to do with the BC focus.

Toileting wise, Ruby has been pretty good today. Apart from doing one poop in the conservatory without anyone noticing. However, not content with leaving the little present, she found my mother-in-law's slippers, picked one of them up, took it to the pile of poop and dropped it on top. That got everyone's attention!

Time for a power nap before more fun
All this fooling around made her a tired puppy and as it was quite warm, she decided to crash out on the conservatory floor. In less than 4 weeks, she has grown loads. Her legs are MUCH longer and she no longer resembles the little squat puppy we brought home. Soon we will only have the photographs to show how small she once was. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

Crate training - a new dawn

Last night we tried a new approach to crate training. I had installed the divider into the crate to make it much smaller. It is now just big enough for Ruby to stand and turn around. It fits her bed perfectly and has no room to move around any further than the size of the bed.

Before putting her to bed I made sure she went poop outside (around 10:30pm) and then settled her down in the crate. Sarah decided to get up at around 2am to check on her and although she was fast asleep, she woke when Sarah entered the room. Outside they went and Ruby obliged straight away. Then it was back into the crate until 6:30am. No accidents and outside for another toilet trip. Great stuff.

We are basically going by the book and it seemed to work. We had not tried it up to now as Ruby's stomach was 'icky' and it was obvious she would have difficulty in holding it in had she needed the toilet. The last thing I wanted was an upset dog after messing her bed.

Ruby was back in the crate at 8:00am as Rhianna was out. She got home somewhere around 10:30ish to find Ruby happy enough but looking like she wanted to go pee. It was obvious that she was avoiding soiling her bed so it was a good day overall.

My mother then came up to see Ruby and Rhianna so she could get a handle on what the routine is. With Rhianna starting work part time from Wednesday, my mother will be round to make sure Ruby is ok and that she gets fed, watered and toileted throughout the day. 

This trampoline is MUCH
more fun than going poop
It will be interesting to see how Ruby fares tonight. She did the business at around 7:30pm but although she has been outside plenty of times since, she has shown no interest in 'vacating her bowels'. I tried again just before bed but Ruby simply went to her new favourite spot and chewed on a twig for a while. Eventually, it became clear that she was not going to do anything toilet wise so in we came. 

She is now safely tucked up in her crate and awaiting what will no doubt be another early hours excursion to the garden.

We have only had Ruby for just over 3 weeks but she has already grown loads. Although we don't tend to notice day by day, she will suddenly surprise us by putting her front paws on something and showing us that she can now reach things that would have been impossible only a few days before.

Tonight she put her front paws on a nest of tables we have in the living room and was able to reach over and (nearly) take a drink of Sarah's hot tea. It just adds another dimension to watching her. You think something is out of reach but she has grown so quickly that she takes you unawares.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Size IS everything

Ruby's stomach is getting much better. She has pooped in her crate for the last 2 nights and avoided using the puppy pad. After some good advice from Gillian (puppy's breeder) we have decided to dispense with the pad, use the divider in the crate to make it smaller and see how we go. I'm going to set my alarm for 3am and take Ruby out. Hopefully the absence of the pad and the fact that the space in the crate is just big enough for her bed will encourage her to 'hold it in'. Up to now, I haven't been confident that she is capable of holding it in given the diarrhoea. We'll see.

It really IS a dog's life
We've also spent all day reinforcing her going wee/poop outside by much praise and intermittent treats. She has done pretty well with it although she is so clever that I believe she was doing poops in 2 stages in order to try to get 2 treats for separate 'toilet events'. Crafty! It didn't work though, because she only gets the treat sometimes.

 After a whirlwind of activity this morning, Ruby settled down for a well-earned rest. She slept on my legs though, so by the time she woke up, my backside was pretty damn numb. I didn't have the heart to kick her off me though. She looked far too comfortable.

To break the monotony of just going in and out of the back garden, we took her out front a couple of times. We have a private parking area in front of our block of 4 town houses so there was no real danger of her coming in to contact with other dogs (or their poop). There is still over a week before she can officially get properly out and about but there shouldn't be a problem as long as we are careful. 
I'm not pooping until I
get a treat

Later today my sister in law Rhiannon came over with her two children Catherine and Patrick. We took Ruby out the front again for a bit of fresh air. She loves the patch of grass and was happily playing on it until she suddenly went in to herding mode. Even for such a small puppy it was impressive. She was down so flat to the ground and quickly moved then down again. Luckily she never goes outside without the lead otherwise Catherine and Patrick would have been well and truly herded (somewhere).

Patrick is nervous of dogs so his reaction did add to Ruby's herding instinct. He was really good though. He stopped and stood still when I asked him to; which must have taken some willpower for a 6 year old who is already skittish around dogs. I took Ruby's mind off herding by calling her and walking her down the drive, and all was well.

I'm sure that once she gets a bit bigger I will be calling up Gillian and asking her nicely if we can bring Ruby up for some herding lessons. She will absolutely love it. And Ruby should like it too....hehe.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Picking up the Puppymobile

Up at 7am this morning, so Ruby had let us have a bit of a lie in. When I got up, she was laid in her crate but had done a poop all over her blanket. Cue some cleaning up of bedding, crate and doggy. She seems to have settled down after the diarrhoea saga and I'm at the point where I am having to decide whether to use the divider in the crate to make it smaller. It might help with the training by deterring Ruby from going to the toilet in the crate. Then again, most mornings, if she has done anything it will usually be on the puppy pad inside the litter tray. A darn site easier to clean up than doing it on her bed. I might give it another few weeks until she is that bit bigger. 

Today was the day that I picked up the new car. The VW Passat estate that will be Ruby's mode of transport to nice places once she can start to go out. It has plenty of room for a travel crate and is a real nice car to drive. I have to say that I was sorry to see my Volvo S40 2.0D go as it has served me well. But it was starting to get a bit old (8 years old) and it was likely that some serious money would have needed to be spent on it. Still, I liked that car a lot. Hey-ho, life goes on. At least if I need to transport a wardrobe or grandfather clock I won't need to hire a van.

Ruby has flipped between lively and sleepy all day. Sarah is starting to get irritated that Ruby can jump/nip at her a lot and whatever she does it seems to have little effect. I appreciate that puppies are going to do it but I can often quickly calm her and stop her doing it to me; whereas Ruby doesn't seem to react to the same strategy with Sarah. I think I need to do some more reading on tips to establish the pack hierarchy.

Although Ruby has not been too bad at chewing things she shouldn't, when she gets excited she can have a right go at her dog bed.

Here she is after being told to stop chewing the cushion in the bed. She had pulled it out from the bed and was ragging it around (having a great time). I distracted her with something more interesting but she soon went back to the bed. She likes the woolly pile on one side of the cushion and will tug at it, then start digging at it until she can push her nose underneath. She then gets a grip and pulls it out from the bed.

As you can see, she is good at effecting a "What?...surely you're not blaming me.." pose.

Friday, 4 October 2013


We are guilty of taking our eye off the ball a few times today. No damage done apart from a couple of poops on the conservatory floor. Ruby did her bit but we weren't always responsive enough to the signs. I'm sure she'll have us trained before long.

I attempted some training with her this evening but decided not to use treats given that her stomach has been problematic. Nevertheless, she did well. She is getting really good at fetch and will run, pick up the object, bring it back and drop it at my feet. There is a bit of a pattern forming though; she does it 2 or 3 times and then decides to run back with the object but not give it to me. I think she gets to the point where she thinks 'enough is enough'. 

I attempted to progress Ruby with 'stay', and had a measure of success but she then started to get a bit giddy and I decided to call it a day. It's definitely the trickiest command so far. I think I'll wait until puppy training classes to get serious with that one. I need to remember that she is still less than 11 weeks old and we've only had her for 3 weeks.

I'm pretty tired tonight and I'm picking up the new car tomorrow, so I think I will leave it at that for this entry. I didn't get chance to get a picture of Ruby tonight so I've just put up one from my little archive...

Wet dog

Thursday, 3 October 2013

A quiet day

And a quiet day it has been. Ruby has been really good today. She has eaten, slept, gone to the toilet and played, all in a nice, well-behaved way. That is, until I arrived home and I made the 'cry wolf' mistake again. She had gone to the back door a few times only to come back into the house when I went to investigate. The one time I thought she was 'pulling my chain' she decided to curl down a massive poop on the conservatory floor. Of course, I realise it is wholly my own fault. And to be fair, the floor is vinyl (as I think I have said before), so cleaning up any 'accidents' is not a big deal.

On the other side of the coin, I was just getting ready to crate her at bedtime and she made as if to go to the back door. I followed her, put her on the lead and took her outside. A big poop followed almost immediately. She is doing a great job after only a couple of weeks. She does know that outside is the place to go. It is the fault of the human family members when we don't pay attention enough and she ends up dropping one inside the house. Never mind, she will have us trained before too long.

We are all really looking forward to when we can start taking Ruby out and about. The vet say we can start a week after her injection (which was yesterday) as long as we keep her away from other dogs and dog poop. So a little walk around the block should be fine. Then a week later, she will be ready to enter the big wide world.

We bumped into an old neighbour (ex-neighbour rather than one of advancing years) in the vet yesterday. Katie had 2 greyhounds and she was always exercising them in the fields behind our house. Sadly one of the dogs died a week ago but she still takes the other one out for walks every day. Katie has offered to show us a few walks around our local woods, starting with a short 20 minute one that should not be too much for Ruby. Should be good to start with.

Unhand me or I shall lick
your face
Ruby was playful tonight and we took it in turns to keep her occupied. She likes having her belly tickled and doesn't seem to have a particularly favourite toy. She fluctuates between favourites although she will always go for the Kong as long as it has banana inside it.

The antler chew is also one she spends a lot of time with as well as a milk flavoured nylabone. Oh, she also likes to tug on the cut off leg of a pair of jeans that has been knotted at one end. And of course there is the old faithful, flattened plastic drink bottle.

We are slowly but surely building up her collection so eventually she will have a box full. That is when the training on how to put them all away will start. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Father Dougal (again)

For once I'm not going to dwell on the bowel shennanigans except to say that they are much better today.

Ruby has been very well behaved today with nothing of particular to report. We then took her to the Vet for her second injection. This time there were quite a few other animals around in the waiting area. A cat, a big white dalmatian and a pug. The lady with the pug seemed to be one of those dog owners who anthropomorphise their pet, treating it like an equal (or even superior) member of the family. It was a grumpy little thing that kept straining to come over to us and see Ruby, then snorting and making little barky growls. The lady kept telling it to stop and to come to her. Or rather she was 'asking' it in a sweet little 'please listen to me' voice. Ruby occasionally lifted her head, pricked up her ears and had a little sniff of the air. But that was it as far as her reaction went.

Suddenly one of the assistants went to the entrance and asked everyone to hold on to their pets, before a large bloke came through the door holding a big black pit-bull looking thing with enormous jaws. They bustled it straight through to the vet treatment room. 

Maybe it's just me but I can't understand why people are allowed to have animals like that. Or more specifically, I can't understand why "just anyone" is allowed to keep an animal like that. It was clearly volatile and capable of tearing up any of the other creatures (or humans for that matter) in the waiting area. I mean, it's not as if just anyone can legally own an alligator or a hyena or a leopard. And for good reason - BECAUSE THEY CAN HURT/KILL PEOPLE.

These huge headed, massive jawed slabs of muscle can wreak as much damage as some of the animals mentioned above. Yet they can be bought by any little chavvy scrote who wants to use one to intimidate and frighten others. 

Anyway - rant over. Ruby took her turn and was as calm as ever. She had her injection and also had the kennel cough vaccine as a solution down her nostril. We also got a worming tablet for her to take on Saturday. Finally, Father Dougal gave me the vaccination certificate so I can get Ruby booked in for puppy training classes.

Back home and Ruby got to chew on a Kong stuffed with banana. She likes banana.

Ruby likes banana

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Nippy puppy

As a puppy, Ruby is prone to the odd bout of excitement where she loses the plot a little. She does sometimes jump up at me, snapping and grabbing my clothing but my reaction tends to work pretty well. I just stand up and slowly keep walking towards her, staring. She usually stops more or less straight away and then lies down at my feet. I then give her a toy to chew on and praise her for chewing it.

This doesn't seem to work as well for every member of the family though. We are all being consistent with her in making it clear that any kind of contact on our skin with her teeth is a bad thing. I regularly see advice that suggests 'yelping' in mock pain and then ignoring the dog. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. I get the yelping thing. It gives instant feedback that tells Ruby that she has caused pain. The idea being that she regulates the use of her mouth and if she DOES use her teeth, she uses less pressure so as not to invoke a yelp.

In some cases, especially when she has a hold of clothing, the 'yelp' response seems only to increase her excitement. I guess it's a puppy thing so I'm not particularly concerned. The main thing is not to encourage or reward her for such behaviour. I'm sure as she starts to get a bit older, she will learn that dog teeth and human skin are not a good mix.

Last night was much better - poop wise. Ruby had not soiled in her crate at all and when we got up at "zero crack sparrow fart", she went outside and did her business like a real pro. She did poop on the conservatory floor later in the day but it's vinyl so it cleans up nice and easy. Again, the consensus is to 'ignore' these little infractions and heartily praise her toileting in the right areas. 

That said, I did try 'hedging my bets' today, by putting the night time litter tray in the doorway in the hope that Ruby would feel able to use it rather than go on the floor if our excursions to the garden were not timed properly. worked....kind of......

She used the litter tray alright:

Hmm..this is interesting. I wonder if I can sleep
in it....or eat it.
But not in the way I intended. She grabbed the puppy training pad and started tearing it up, then sat in the tray and played in it for a while. Oh, and she tried to eat it as well.

Never a dull moment with the little darling.