Sprocket Update – Going off lead

Happy Sprocket

Meet Sprocket – the newest member of our family. He’s an 10 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.

It’s Sprocket’s birthday! Well, we’re guessing it is – being a stray we’re not exactly sure when his birthday is so we’ve made a guesstimate for his first birthday. Sprocket is still very much a puppy – full of energy and curiosity and his infamous cheeky streak. At the moment obedience training is all about getting him to the point where we can take him off lead. Because he’s still quite young he doesn’t always pay attention or stay focused so the challenge is to keep him engaged and happy during training. Eventually we want to get to the point that he will listen to commands by voice, stay focused at a distance and trust him off lead – particularly with other dogs around!

The lesson I’ve taken out of our recent training is that it can be way too easy to get frustrated and the forget the most important part – have fun. He’s learned some basic commands and tricks, but as we get more complex it can be quite mentally taxing for both of us. Our obedience club makes a particular effort to teach us about enjoying training with our dogs and making sure your dog considers training to be a fun and positive experience.

With quite a hectic schedule in other parts of our lives (work, social life) it’s been hard to find regular training times so our upcoming priority is to get back into a routine of daily training so Sprocket can continue learning and maturing and so we can strengthen our connection together. He’s in the early stages of learning more flashy tricks like jumping through hoops and the like so I can’t wait to show off what he’s learned.

-JB

Sprocket update: First visit to dog dancing

Sprocket

Meet Sprocket – the newest member of our family. He’s an 10 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.

Our lesson for this Sprocket update? Never leave the cupboard door open.

Our terrier cross Sprocket (the sneaky little bugger) has broken not once, but TWICE into his food and filled his belly up to the point he can barely move. As the months go on we can see more parts of Sprocket’s personality and his sneaky side is definitely a feature. We’ll be keeping a closer eye on the cupboard door in future! Sneaky is just one trait though – he’s a very affectionate pup (sometimes overly!) and loves to lick, lick, lick, lick, lick – particularly first thing in the morning to wake you up. When he’s tired he can be a bit of a grump, but loves nothing more than at the end of the day to jump up into your lap, curl up and have a bit of a snuggle and a snooze.

For the first time we’ve taken Sprocket to try dog dancing (Check out Kevin and Cynder’s work here) to see whether it’s something he enjoys. We’ve started teaching Sprocket some fun tricks such as spins and twirls, but what he really loves is standing up on his hind legs. Ever since we taught it to him – it’s all he wants to do! At dog dancing we learned about refining our techniques, back leg awareness and some of the basic building blocks that put together a routine. Dog dancing was fun, but because he’s still just a puppy he only got a little while in before getting a bit tired and distracted – though I reckon he loved all the attention…and treats!

My challenge ahead is keeping up a regular training schedule with Sprocket and making sure we fit the time in each day for at least five minutes. He’s progressing well with his training, but it’ll all be made much easier if we’re consistent. It’s been a few weeks since a proper obedience class, but we have been practising so I look forward to seeing how he goes in our next class.

-JB

Sprocket update: Smart little boy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Meet Sprocket – the newest member of our family. He’s an 10 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.

Our smart little man is growing up already!

Since our last update, our terrier cross Sprocket has progressed to class 2 at obedience training and doing great! He’s starting to learn more complex commands such as staying, recalls and stands.

What I find really important in training is that I understand the logic behind each command and technique so I can place it in the bigger picture of his training. Learning isolated commands and tricks might be fun, but I’m learning to ask our trainers to explain the context of each lesson more.

I now feel I’m beginning to understand the psychology behind our little man much better. One of my proudest moments has been teaching him to go to bed. Initially you could tell he disliked bed time and would do anything to avoid it (cower away, refuse to move) but with lots of positive encouragement and support we now only need to call out “bed!” (OK, sometimes he needs a little push to get moving!) to get him and Cynder to their respective beds. It was a moment that showed me just how powerful consistent positive reinforcement is with our training and our daily routines.

Soon I’m looking forward to taking him new places and eventually…the beach! I can’t wait!

-JB

Sprocket’s training begins

Training with Sprocket
Sprocket and I at our first obedience class

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.

-JB

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.

Meet Sprocket!

Sprocket

 

Meet Sprocket – the newest member of our family. He’s a 7 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.

First impressions

The moment one of the staff at The Lost Dogs’ Home introduced me to and handed me Sprocket’s lead the cheeky little boy rolled straight onto his back for a scratch and a belly rub.

What.

A.

Cutie.

It didn’t take long to decide that he was the puppy for us. Of course Kevin and I already live with Cynder – so she came along with us to the home to meet him too and see how they got along. It was quite a nervous moment wondering if these two would get along, but after a bit of hesitation it didn’t take too long for Cynder and Sprocket to become friendly. In fact…a little too friendly with Sprocket taking a particular liking to putting his nose right into Cynder’s “underside”.

After sorting out paperwork and logistics with the home and getting some supplies Sprocket was in the car with Cynder ready to come home.

Sprocket2

 

Getting started

Sprocket settled into home pretty well, but getting started we had a few priorities to sort out:

Bed time – Cynder sleeps in the laundry so our first priority was to get Sprocket used to his new shared sleeping quarters. For the first few nights he barked for about 10-15 minutes after being put to bed, but thankfully this didn’t last too long and he settled into his new routine.

Toilet training – There’s no way of knowing Sprocket’s previous training so figuring this out was a case of trial and error. I learned that with toilet training it is absolutely vital to catch the puppy in the act or otherwise they will have no idea what they’ve done wrong and to reward them when they display the right behaviour (going to the toilet outside). This meant keeping a VERY close eye on Sprocket whilst in the house. Despite a few accidents here and there he picked up toilet training fairly quickly (it’s possible he had already been trained before he found himself on the streets) and we’ve made sure to give him regular toilet breaks and time outside.

Food – When he  got home Sprocket was very timid with his food and for the first few days would only eat from our hands. Over time we managed to teach him to get over this dependency and eat food independently from his bowl. This involved a lot of encouragement and positive reinforcement, but now he can’t wait for dinner time! (An even tries to sneak food from Cynder’s bowl!)

Manners – Sprocket is a VERY cheeky little boy and an intelligent little dog. This has made some basic manners training fairly easy so far, but he certainly has a personality! So far training has included teaching him the boundaries of play (a puppy-like squeal and disruption/halt to play time whenever he bites or gets too rough – bite inhibition), teaching him to sit and the early stages of teaching eye contact and attentiveness.  This has been done with a mix of treats and a dog training clicker.

The next steps

Sprocket has just received his latest vaccination which means soon we’ll be able to start taking him for walks, socialising him with other dogs and starting formal training classes. I’m looking forward to learning these skills and helping Sprocket to become a healthy, happy and well trained puppy. He’s got a wonderful personality and has fitted into our household so well. I’m particularly looking forward to taking him on his first trip to the beach and teaching him some cool tricks!

-JB

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.