I feel like we have been on a bit of a rollercoaster again this week. In some ways Margot has made lots of improvements, but there have been a few frustrating (and odd behaviour) moments on occasion, which are outlined in more detail below.
Recently, there has been a sudden increase of counter surfing in the kitchen by our pup, which has been hugely irritating. However, I was delighted to bump into the lovely dog walker again this week who had introduced us to the open safe space I have been using so readily to practise recall. Especially when he made a comment that Margot didn’t seem to be jumping up quite as much now, which was music to my ears! I’ll take that as a huge positive.
Walking off the lead
Walking off the lead has become more relaxing overall. J and I are more confident now that Margot will come back when we call her. In the lovely open space above, she even raced over last weekend when we asked her to whilst mid-run towards another dog.
This was fortuitous and perfectly timed because the previous day up in the forest she managed to slip out of her harness completely at the same time as struggling to get closer to a black Labrador up ahead. I can only imagine what the other dog walkers thought of our lack of control at this point. Fortunately, she didn’t jump all over the other dog which was also being held tightly. We weren’t sure quite what had gone so wrong as it had never happened before. Perhaps it was the lead restraining her when she just wanted to play.
Evenings in the Living Room
Last week P had a couple of school functions in the evening so J and I took it in turns to take her, with the other one remaining at home to dog sit. In the later hours of the day we have established a routine of sorts: we invite Margot to come and sit with us in the living room on her mat. If she can’t settle, we put her out in the hall and try again every so often. She’s either wide awake and ready to play or crashes out. It’s a shame there’s no happy medium yet where she will sit next to one of us quietly and let us stroke her. And when there was only one of us at home, she went and sat nearer the door – as if she was waiting for the other two to come in.
I’m further up the page this week – it’s about time my opinions were given a bit more importance.
I’ve been running around with some other dogs over the last few days on my walks which has been great. It was brilliant bumping into my mate Patch again. He’s great fun to be with as he has as much energy as I have. It does make me very tired though. I’ve started taking a few naps back in the crate as I have more space to myself and it’s cosy in there.
Strange Behaviour when on a Walk
In researching some other slightly odd behaviour exhibited by our pup recently, I discovered a new word via the Oracle: ‘sploot’. According to dictionary.com, ‘Sploot is slang for the pose an animal, especially dogs, cats, and other four-legged pets, makes when it lies on its stomach with its hind legs stretched out back and flat.’ So, my next question to ask is why Margot is ‘splooting’ on the grass while we are out walking? I find it quite embarrassing as she suddenly lies flat on the ground and refuses to move. Sometimes she snaps at the grass or hoovers up any nearby daisy heads.
Other sources I consulted to try and discover a reason for this behaviour suggested that it was a chance to be lazy and comfortable, a sign of relaxation and stretching out those back legs. Interesting idea, but really, on a walk? I’m not sure it looks that relaxing, but I don’t have two back legs to try it out for myself. Apparently, splooting can also be cooling when dogs press their stomachs flat to the ground or on a tiled floor. This makes more sense as Margot tends to perform this manoeuvre on damp verges. She also appears to lick off the moisture from the longer blades of grass so perhaps she is just thirsty. (It hardly seems worth it really if that’s the case.)
I am aware that this position in the company of other dogs is showing submission, and I have seen Margot do this quite a bit in her play. However, it strikes me as rather odd when it’s just the two of us out walking and she suddenly drops to the ground, throws out those back legs and remains still. Not even a treat will entice her to get up. (In fact the only thing I discovered that worked to encourage her to move was by taking her photograph!)
I have also discovered the hard way that Margot will pick up most things she finds, whether it is a stick, leaves, flower heads that have fallen to the floor or various bits of litter. Unfortunately, I have had to remove plastic bottles, vape capsules and other pieces of human detritus from her mouth. (This morning it was one of those tiny plastic portions of UHT milk you put in tea or coffee.) She will drop it sometimes when asked, but often it becomes a game to get it from her. If the litter wasn’t there in the first place, I wouldn’t have to worry about her ingesting it.
Travelling in the Car – what are our options?
Although we have been travelling with our pup in the car for months now, we’re still not entirely sure we have got it quite right. You might remember that in the early days I bought a box contraption that she could sit in. This was loosely linked to the backseat with Margot reinforced by a dog seat belt attached to her harness. It didn’t take long for me to realise that she wasn’t overly interested in sitting inside the box and she also chewed through the seat belt strap before long. Therefore I searched for a chew-proof car restraint which is shorter than the first one we had and doesn’t allow her as much movement in the back seat.
P and I have been taking it in turns to sit in the back with her. Recently, she has taken a while to settle on the short journeys we have done and again we are unsure why. J has been wondering if we should travel with her in the boot instead moving forward. What other options are there when you have a dog in the car with you?
The Highway Code states a seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are the appropriate ways of restraining animals in cars. If we put up a dog guard in between the boot and the back seat, we wouldn’t be able to see what she was chewing on back there. At least if you are sat next to her, you can encourage her mouth away from the seatbelts meant for humans… A cage or crate will take up the entire boot space, we won’t be able to see if she is okay while we are travelling and it needs to be carefully measured to ensure that it will fit before we part with our money – they don’t come cheap. I’m also not clear on whether a dog inside a crate also has to be tethered. So much to think about. I’ll keep you posted.
This week we sprung into British Summer Time and the clocks went forward an hour. And on a Sunday too. I was most confused because my watch had automatically updated overnight by syncing to my phone. At first I thought I had slept in until I spotted an alarm clock which needed to have the time changed manually. It always takes me a good few days to acclimatise to this change every year. Do dogs feel the same? Clearly, they don’t have the same concept of time as we do, but it did make me wonder whether Margot had noticed anything different in terms of eating and sleeping patterns. (The photos below show her very much awake and focused, even if it is on chasing her tail.)
Margot Asleep (or Nearly)
Next week… it’s the Easter holidays!
Feel free to comment, share and spread the word. (Particularly, if you have any tips to control the counter surfing…!)