Each week as I sit at my laptop and tap away to fill the page with words, I marvel at how quickly the time passes. Only a few blog posts ago I was bemoaning my dislike of January and now here we are almost at the end of February. Each numbered blog mirrors the number of weeks Margot has been with us and those very difficult times at the beginning have begun to fade into a distant memory. (There are many similarities with having a baby in that respect.) Our pup still has much to learn, but she has made so much progress since those early days. I laugh to myself when I think back to the constant biting at my clothes and my hands, when I wondered if we had made a terrible mistake. And whether that stage would ever pass. And here we are…
Puppy Social #2
After a mix up with the days, we rearranged the second puppy social over at our house. G brought the two border collie pups and his older lab over to us. As you can see from the pictures, Margot once again had a blast mixing with the other dogs. Axel (the one in the orange harness) is still waiting for his forever home, but my brother made a lovely comment about how Freddie and Margot would grow up together when I mentioned how well the two of them were getting on.
It was fascinating seeing how the two border collie puppies worked as a team to try and corner Margot, as their breed would do when rounding up sheep. And even more amazing to see our pup’s speed and agility. She’s quite a few weeks older than them, I know, but she easily outran them around the garden and at one point jumped over Axel’s back very daintily.
There were four adults and four dogs when we went out for a walk in our local area, therefore one each. I took Freddie, who wanted to walk next to Axel in parallel. These two have not had very much lead training yet – I can only compare the walking experience to being pulled on a sled. Wow, he was strong. And the two of them tugged in a perfectly straight line. Dexter was the only one trusted enough to wander off his lead so P had a bit of a break from time to time. I hope that Margot is as well trained as him in the months to come.
Two Meals a Day
At the six-month mark, we have entered the next minefield in terms of conflicting information about how many meals a day our puppy should have. The Kennel Club website states that at over six months dogs should be on two meals a day ‘depending on the breed’. Another website coming up on a Google search called breedadvisor.com states that ‘Twice-daily feeding is generally recommended once your puppy reaches 6 months of age and will continue during their adult life. This schedule tends to work well with a dog’s digestion and hunger patterns – it also fits nicely into most of our daily routines.’ They do also publish a word of warning: ‘Just remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and some pets may require a different feeding schedule due to their breed, size, activity level or an existing medical condition.’ Clear as mud, as usual.
I remember the vet nurse talking to us about feeding Margot twice a day from the six-month mark and my friend last week said the same thing. To be honest, that’s good enough to convince me, along with the information on the back of the AVA dog food packaging. ‘After six months divide the total into two meals a day. This will help balance the nutritional benefit of our AVA formulations throughout the day, before and after the most active times.’ There it is then.
However, it remains a little unclear exactly how much food should be in the daily portion size as the packet’s guide focuses on the expected adult weight, which I have commented on before as being unhelpful. We are reckoning on Margot reaching about 20kg from our last monthly vet check. Typically, that is the top end of one bracket and the bottom of the next one. And the numbers don’t exactly match either in terms of the suggested amount of dry food.
So, after quite a bit of deliberation, we have increased Margot’s food by 30g a day and divide the 300g into two portions, one in the early morning and the other during the early evening. It looks like a huge amount of kibble compared with what we were giving her over three meals. But so far, so good. This week she seems calmer in the house during the day. (It’s either down to the new feeding schedule or possibly the increase in exercise.) Either way, I’m happy with that. I’ll keep you posted.
Who is the Pack Leader?
They say that dogs are a man’s best friend. But on the flip side, does our pup have one? I think that it’s really obvious who her best friend is in our household. Surely it’s down to the amount of time J spends playing with Margot in the garden and getting up early every morning to feed her and take her outside. The way that she cosies up to him in the evenings on the mat in the living room in front of the television is ever so sweet. I’m sure that he enjoys it too. (I’d put money on dogs being very much like humans in that respect – if they have had some really fun, deep bonding time with you and are anticipating more of that, they might stay nearby, ready to play or snuggle up.)
Also, there’s that old adage: ‘The more you put in, the more you get out.’ Margot looks for J all the time when he is at home and she waits in the hallway for him when he goes upstairs. But he deserves her attention with the amount of care and love he shows her in return. She has certainly become J’s dog more than mine. And that’s okay. We have our moments when it is just the two of us in the house in the working week.
But who is the pack leader? Does such a thing even exist? Apparently, yes. The one in the house deemed the top dog is the person who is followed around the most. So that’s me during the working week and J every other time. That time spent teaching Margot to wait and show good manners by letting us go through the door first is also a sign that she respects us as the alpha. Patiently waiting for food is another sign. (In the evening when I ask Margot to sit and wait, I love it when I put the bowl on the floor and she looks up to me to give her permission to start eating.)
Walking Wins and Woes
We are continuing to enjoy the freedom that the new long line is giving us on walks where there is a bit more space. J took Margot up into the forest last weekend on his own and he managed to practise lots of recall training. I have started lengthening the Halti training lead to 2m when we are on footpaths and bridleways to give her more sniffing room. It’s easy to shorten it back to 1m when we walk on pavements next to the road. She does appear to understand when I want her to walk at heel and there is definitely less pulling than there was.
On the flip side, our pup continues to pick up all sorts of nasty things in her mouth when we are out walking. This week it was a tiny dead vole, a frog in the garden (which J successfully rescued), huge clumps of horse poo and some rather large sticks. Not having mastered the command of ‘drop’ or ‘leave’ quite yet, it becomes a game trying to extract anything out of her mouth when she is determined to keep hold of it. And some of those things you would not be wanting to extract with your fingers… (When you are focused on what it is this time she is sniffing at, it’s unbelievable the amount of dog poo which is ignored by other dog owners.)
‘I’m still enjoying the longer walks. Recently, we have been meeting the younger one off the bus in the afternoons. There is a bit of waiting around but when she gets off, I get so excited. I can’t help jumping up and putting my paws all over her. She keeps telling me to get down but I find it really difficult.
Those two boisterous puppies came over to my house. They make a lot of noise and fuss, but they are great fun to run around with. I was faster than them. The chasing game we played was very much two against one. I hope to see them again soon.’
Next week…. new toys and new adventures!
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2 responses to “Dog Blog #17 – She’s Six Months Old…”
Thanks for the blog and your generous comments. For the record, you too are having some very sweet moments with M and she really benefits from your calmness and consistency. Definitely some improvements and the feeding change was a bonus. For anyone reading, puppy Axel is adorable.
Thanks for your comments, J. Feeding change has definitely gone well. And I agree about Axel too.