With it being the Easter holidays, we have had more freedom to explore together by taking Margot a bit further afield. Again we have been on a bit of a rollercoaster with some highs and lows. We are all still on a steep learning curve with constant changes.
We went to see Alice, our favourite veterinary nurse, last weekend for another weigh-in (16.1kg for those of you who are interested). Now that Margot is well over the 15kg threshold for the flea, tick and worming treatments, we don’t need to go each month to see the nurse. (To be honest I was a bit disappointed because I find these visits very reassuring…) Our pup was not very well-behaved on this occasion, continually jumping up and even chewing on a plastic attachment connected to the window blind. Alice, being Alice, was really kind, spending most of the 15-minute chat turning her back and putting her hands in her pockets to try and discourage Margot. She mentioned that as she was now over seven months old, we could be entering the dreaded ‘teenage years’.
Apparently, puppies reach adolescence any time after six months and this is when their behaviour appears to regress and they seem to forget everything you have taught them. Oh joy. We have certainly experienced some of this over the last few days which you can read about below.
Travelling in the Car (Update)
In last week’s post, I was deliberating over making changes to travelling in the car with Margot. Having her sat tethered in the back with one of us was proving rather stressful for the third passenger and each one of us experienced heightened excitement and some nibbling whilst next to her. It was also really off-putting for the driver.
A couple of people we spoke to travel with their dog in the boot and recommended it as the best option, so we decided to try the same thing. We ordered a dog guard from Halfords and J fitted it easily to the backseat headrests. His car has a boot liner which is ideal on wet, muddy days. And so far, so good. We have taken Margot on a couple of short journeys and one for about an hour. It is fair to say that it has been a far more positive experience. With one of her mattresses to rest on, she can stay comfy lying flat or she can sit up and look out of the back window at the world go by.
There has been no whining so far either – in fact she has been much quieter on the whole. We still keep her tethered for safety so she can’t instantly jump out when we open the boot. I guess if and when we travel anywhere with a view to staying overnight, the luggage will have to go on the back seat – we shall have to travel lightly…
Back to Badbury Rings
With no prospect of rain on the horizon, we took Margot back to Badbury Rings for a walk. The last time we were here, we were using the long line to try and practise her recall. Today we were hoping to keep her off the lead for as long as possible. We did meet quite a few other dogs whilst walking on the footpath up to the rings’ enclosure, practising the etiquette of putting her back on the lead when they approached.
At the gate we noticed a small square sign stating that dogs had to be kept on leads inside the rings area. (We didn’t notice this before, although we were still using a lead at that point. And there were definitely loads of dogs running about off their leads on our last visit.) Taking a slightly different route, we kept walking along a footpath, which was very quiet. There was one other dog we met, who was very friendly. Its owner told us that he was very well-behaved when he was on his own with them, but recall wasn’t so great with other dogs around. Our pup is still much the same although definitely improving at times.
On the second half of the walk on the way back to the car, we needed to stroll through the rings’ enclosure where there was another sign warning about dogs being on leads. We followed the rules as we always do even though there were plenty of canines running free. At one point J decided to let Margot off the lead as she was really straining and she ran like the wind after two spaniels. Only this time she failed to come back when we called her and continued playing. The other owners laughed and said: ‘When they go, there is no stopping them.’ I wondered how we would encourage her back… She did return, but only after quite a bit more racing about.
The beach at Studland is one of my favourite places in Dorset. With blue skies and the sun shining, it was another perfect spring day to take Margot back to the seaside. Yet many other dog owners clearly had the same idea, and who can blame them really? Walking along the sand had its mixture of highs and lows: she was on the lead, off the lead, splashing about in the sea with P, drinking the sea water (I’m not sure why…) and enjoying the frolicking on the sand.
The high number of other dogs on the beach made this occasion more stressful than I would have liked. And the sound of the sea made it even more difficult for our pup to listen. Until we found a walk back through the dunes and the woodland, which was far less busy. Back at the cafe we all enjoyed an ice-cream, Margot included. (We noted that this doggy dessert should only be given as an occasional treat. She certainly lapped it up.)
Recall Failure… Other Options?
After another embarrassing moment where our pup ran across a grassy verge towards another dog and jumped up at their owner, ignoring our calls to come back, I began wondering if there was anything in Alice’s comment about Margot reaching adolescence? Or was she just testing the boundaries and desperate to play. She certainly isn’t phased by the size of any other dogs she meets. (In fact it’s often the smaller ones who can be nippy and growly rather than the gentle giants.)
J wondered if it was time we introduced a whistle as another weapon in our recall armoury. He researched one that is meant for Retrievers – something to do with the pitch apparently – and ordered it from Amazon. Will it work? Probably not overnight, so more training required for sure. In the meantime, with the recall it’s back to square one with practice, practice, practice. (And not being so hard on ourselves when she doesn’t come back the first time, every time.) I’ll keep you posted with how the whistle training goes.
I really enjoyed my time on the beach even though the big people got really stressed and kept shouting at me to come back when I just wanted to play with the other dogs running around. I’m not sure about the taste of sea water. It made me really desperate for the toilet all afternoon.
I’m happier with the new system in the car. I can see the world go by out of the window and sprawl out in the back by myself. I hope we go on some more adventures again soon.
Next week… out and about part 2 and early whistle training.
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3 responses to “Dog Blog #23 – Out & About”
It’s quite cathartic to read about the highs and lows in this blog. I think it would be really useful to someone thinking rationally about dog ownership. Dog in the hatchback us a watershed moment. J x
The adolescence age is the hardest to stay positive!
So they say…! X