Meet Sprocket – the newest member of our family. He’s an 8 month old Terrier cross (We’re not sure what’s in the mix!) adopted puppy from Melbourne’s The Lost Dogs’ Home. Follow along as I share his and my story as a new dog owner learning how to raise a healthy and happy little dog. I’ll also be doing regular updates on JOY 94.9′s Pets-A-Loud about my experiences and what I learn along the way.
Sprocket has started settling into our home really well. His toilet training has progressed (no accidents for weeks!), he’s beginning to understand the routines of our household and he’s as affectionate as ever. Finally he’s able to get out and about after his vaccinations so we’ve been able to start taking him for walks and socialising him with other dogs.
He’s a digger
One of the things we’ve learned very quickly is that Sprocket is a digger! Kevin gets home from work before I do and unfortunately came home to a note from the neighbours telling us that we had a couple of escapees! For a couple of weeks there we had Sprocket and Cynder going under the fence for visits with the neighbours’ dog. Kevin had to try a few strategies to combat this including bricking up parts of the neighbours fence, laying down wire and giving Sprocket some more entertainment throughout the day to discourage digging. He still partakes in a bit of digging around the yard, but thankfully we’ve managed to keep him away from the fence line.
Training at home
Whilst we were waiting for Sprocket to get through his vaccination wait-period we started some basic training at home. We’ve invested in a clicker and have been teaching him the basics of sitting on call and how to give and maintain eye contact with us. Eye contact and attention will be particularly important later on as we try to teach him more complex forms of training. He’s developing well and showing good eye contact and sitting on command. I’m starting to see him do this without needing a food reward or the clicker – so we’re getting there.
First obedience class
Sprocket and I attended our first obedience class at the weekend and I’ll admit – It was completely exhausting. For both us. There’s so much to learn when starting out and a lot of it is information overload. Thankfully there were a number of other new dog trainers in our group and we were all encouraged to learn at our own pace and the pace of the dog. The big learning curve was appropriate technique with Sprocket’s lead and teaching him the correct heel position. The trainers specifically encouraged us to use positive reinforcement as much as possible and to train regularly. The one thing I’ll definitely take with me was the piece of advice to NOT train if you’ve had a crappy day. The last thing you want is to take out your bad day on your dog and get frustrated with them. You want training to be a fun and positive experience for both you and the dog.
It’s been a really fun experience – I’ve had a very busy and stressful time outside of training Sprocket so it’s been nice to focus on something positive, but the key for me will be not to expect too much too soon and learn at my own pace and at Sprocket’s pace. He’s really growing into a wonderful member of the family.
Have you raised dogs? What are your tips for getting a new puppy/dog settled in? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments or at @JB_AU on Twitter.