9 Month Pupdate

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A quick update on some of our challenges of puppyhood.

Riggs training is going pretty well, in classes he is doing excellent. At home I can see a big difference too, he is much calmer when I prep his food. He is dealing with his frustration levels better, not trying to eat cabinet door knobs, the floor or jump up as much. Jumping on counters is still an issue, but he’s doing it less and less.

He is still jumping on people to say hi, I’m pleased he is such a social butterfly, so I don’t want to punish him for do it. Just show him what he should be doing. It’s improving, but a slow process.

He’s gotten better when leash walking with Tess, he’s trying not to play as much on the leash or antagonize Tess. He’s still walking pretty well on his own in the city. I took him out to Bragg Creek for a muddy walk down an old fire road, and he was a nightmare! I came back with paw prints up the back and front of my jacket. All the excitement and smells were a little much for him. I took him off leash for a short stretch (I’m not 100% confident in our recall if someone were to come running or biking down the trail) he had a blast, and is perfecting his full body slam!

He’s been about the same in the car. He’s a bit better to stay in the back seat now, still fairly vocal in his displeasure of being relegated to the back seat (not that he fits in the front anymore!). I’ve been working on having him get in the car more willingly, that’s one area I have seen some improvement. I think a big part is still his hind end awareness, he’s pretty willing to get the front feet on the bench seat in the back, but not sure enough in where his back feet are to hop in on his own. At least with the front feet in, I can lift the back end up. Seems silly, when he is more than capable of jumping that height when it’s his own choosing. But I don’t want to force him if he isn’t comfortable.

He’s still acting as my back up alarm clock in the mornings, making sure I don’t hit snooze when he hears it go off! No progress there.

He’s had a couple scratches and scabs on one of his elbows, so I’ve been treating that for a couple weeks. The first one is basically better now, but a few other spots have appeared. Initially I thought it was pressure sores, but they aren’t quite in the right spot for that. We popped into the vets this morning, so a new plan with a special shampoo and some topical cream. Hope that does the trick and he can quit wearing his t-shirt soon. I’ll be happy to quit the doctoring in the morning too!

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Back to School

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After some “time off” in the summer, it’s back to classes. I can’t believe we’ve already been through one session of classes. Tess is already in her second round of agility; she’s feeling much better and we’re getting some speed back in class. We have a different instructor this fall, and Tess it’s giving me some different things to work on, and really helping Tess with her motivation.

Riggs just wrapped up his Agility Level 1 class, after doing pre-agility earlier in the spring/summer. He did really well, is super confident, loves his hot dogs in class! And I really enjoyed the classes the instructor has put together. We’ve been using really low jumps and equipment to introduce the dogs, and working on some foundational work for front and rear crosses, etc. Last weekend was the last class for him. He’s still figuring out where his back feet are, so I don’t want to push him up into the next level yet. So we’re going to jump streams and join a disc dog class. We did a drop in class in June (I think) and he really seems to enjoy disk, so I’m really looking forward to this one. Hope we can enter a few trials once I remember what it’s all about!

Riggs also just finished his first Rally Obedience class (me too!). I was hoping to alternate dogs each week for this class, but the format worked out a little better to bring him, it was a little too many dogs working at the same time for Tess to thrive. I can’t believe how much I have enjoyed this class, and Riggs is super attentive when we’re working, he still thinks class time should be play time, so keeping focus in between exercises is still a challenge! I’m not sure we’re ready but I’ve signed both dogs up for a Rally trial in a couple weeks, so we’ll see how we do. We’ve signed up for the next level of classes, so I hope to alternate dogs for this one.

It sounds like there is also the possibility of continuing with our barn hunt classes, with an indoor venue. Hoping that that works out and we can keep playing with that as well. Tess has really been enjoying and excelling at it, it’s so great to see her having fun and working on her own. It’s been interesting seeing Riggs’ reaction, he’s doing really well with it, but with all the obedience and sport type classes he’s really looking for me to tell him what to do. With some more exposure to it, I’m sure we’ll see him start to work more on his own. For the other sports it’s a good thing and something I’ve really tried to reinforce since bringing him home, but it’s not working out great for barn hunt!

Barn Hunt Trial

No photos sadly, but the dogs and I attended our first barn hunt this year. We’ve been very fortunate to be able to practice at Crane Acres Dog Sports this summer and fall, and the dogs have both been doing awesome.

Riggs had only had two practices before the trial so I wasn’t expecting very much from him. Mostly I just wanted to get him out and about, but he did really well. He passed his Instinct class, with the 4th best time. Even did really well in his Novice class. He seems quite happy to do the tunnel on his own terms, but not when it is my suggestion. So we didn’t complete that test, but I couldn’t believe how close he came! Such a good boy!

Tess has really been having a ball with barn hunt lately. She’s always been pretty eager to hunt them, but less good to stop hunting and tell me when she’s found them. We’ve had a couple excellent practices the last few weeks and she did great at the trial. She received her first novice leg, and did just a great job! Couldn’t have been more pleased. She also placed fourth in her class, so a weekend of lucky #4!

7 Months Old

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Just thought I’d give a quick update on the “puppy problems” stuff and where he is today.

Potty Training – I would say done, no accidents in the house for many many weeks. Yay!

Chewing on things not allowed – good maybe 95% of the time, still having some trouble with garden things. But he has stopped trying to chew cupboard handles and the floor when he’s frustrated. So I’m pretty pleased with that. Also, hasn’t tried to chew the furniture for some time. Shoes still aren’t left out, anything valuable is still stowed away.

Rooms allowed in – All at various times, I still watch the bathroom door in case he thinks about getting into the garbage in there

Where does he sleep – Kennel at night and when I’m at work.

Leash Training – Still a work in progress, but pretty good on his own

Off-Leash Recall – Work in progress, pretty good with low level distraction

Basic Obedience – Good at normal / low level distraction

Impressed with:

While I don’t trust him out in the house (yet) when I’m not home, he is pretty good now. I don’t have to watch him 24/7 anymore. He does still do things that aren’t allowed, but they are much fewer and further between. Leash walking, paying attention to me, good to play with his toys, and will settle down and hang out for short periods.

Puppy Things Still In Progress:

Dealing with his frustration has probably been the biggest hurtle through his puppyhood, he’s getting better at dealing with it, but still gets frustrated when he doesn’t get what he wants as fast as he wants it. This has improved, but he’ll still jump on the counter when he thinks I’m taking too long to prepare his breakfast. Impulse control is another related one, he’ll get excited on a walk or when we are training and jump on me, visitors who come to the house, or Tess when I walk the together. It’s hard to remember how much he has improved, but it still needs some work & time to sink in.

After coming back from my holiday, he has been more vocal about going in his kennel. He’s gotten better this last week, but it’s taken him a bit to get back in the groove of things. One related (sort of funny) thing he does is whine / woof at my alarm in the morning. He doesn’t do it when I sleep in on the weekends, doesn’t make a peep. So it’s something to do with the alarm itself I think, I’m not quite sure what to do about this one, but it does help me get my butt out of bed in the morning!

He’s still not sure about getting into the car on his own, so we’re working on that. But he’s pretty good in the car itself.

Overall, if that’s all I have to complain about he’s doing great! I’m really impressed with his progress, and he seems more settled and better at controlling his excitement than Tess was at his age. I think having the second dog has really helped with that. As much as it might be frustrating for me to deal with trying to walk them both, with him tugging on Tess’ leash, or trying to entice her to play while we walk…getting all of us quite impressively tangled, he is learning to settle himself a little faster than Tess did at his age.

I’m so excited to see the lovely grown up dog he seems to be growing into!

Hazy Days

I just got back from a (dogless) long weekend visiting my parents out on Vancouver Island. I had such a great time enjoying their company, hiking, some books, and wonderfully hot beach weather!

It’s nice to come back and get a new perspective on things, Riggs put on some weight – and grew some more I think! He’s almost outgrown his harness. Tess seems to be feeling much better, she’s playing more again and has a lot more of her normal energy back. Yay!

Riggs was in dire need of a bath after having so much fun at the kennel and playing with all the other dogs. So I took him out to Barrier Lake to play, he swam a little bit, but mostly had fun catching his toys and running along the shore. Was he every filthy when we went home, but to make up for it he behaved himself at the dog wash for me!

The smoke from the nearby forest fires has been hanging around most of the summer, but was much worse yesterday than I was expecting, I could barely see across the lake.

Took Tess and Riggs out to Water Valley today for a romp, the smoke was much better than yesterday and they had a great time running around. Tess was really ripping it up, and being naughty running across the road. Riggs had a great time trying to keep up, those four legs still seem to be a lot to keep track of. He’s definitely taller than Tess now, and I suspect weighs more too. Can’t believe he’s seven months old already! He’s a bit of a raggamuffin right now, needs a haircut to tidy up a bit. He has a unique mohawk / Kramer hair style running down his back…and an interesting puff ball at the base of his tale! LOL!

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Creek tag

Handsome Boy

Clumsy Boy!

The stick dogs

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That’s all for now!

 

The Pupdate

It has been an interesting couple weeks with the pups. I was hoping to have a little more info on Tess before posting this, but it still hasn’t arrived so here we go anyway…all subject to change! Or more likely a better understanding on my part.

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Riggs

Riggs has had a pretty good couple weeks, I think he’s officially overtaken Tess in height. I weighed him at the vets a few weeks ago and he was 51.4 lbs, I’d be shocked if he hasn’t put on at least 5 more pounds since then. Judging by his knobbly knees he still has some growing to do. He’s a little skinnier than I would like, so I’m upping his food a bit.

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About 2-3 weeks ago he seemed to go into a bit of a fear period. I think that’s a little early for the normal fear period (about 6-14 months). So I’m not sure if that’s what it was or if I just pushed him out of his comfort zone. I scaled his trips back a bit in case it was the fear period, since I don’t want to create problems if that can be avoided. He’s done well the last week or so, so he might be out of that fear period now, or I’ve found his happy place. I’ll have to up the adventures a little bit to find out I guess. Overall he’s still doing very well; very happy to meet people and eager to meet other dogs. Still very little impulse control! So polite greetings are a work in progress. Luckily his puppy licence is still valid, but I think that’s going to expire shortly!

I’m still trying to incorporate something new for him every day, it’s often something simple like walking down a new street or taking him to a new location. As much as I feel like I haven’t done much with him since we finished our classes, looking at my notes I’m surprised how many places we have been. I took him to the Bowmont off-leash area a couple weeks ago. I kept him on leash since there can be a lot of bikers using these side trails and I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be (this was during his fear period stage). He’s been pretty good not to pull on leash when I walk him alone, but on this walk the smells and mental stimulation must have been too much because he pulled like crazy!!! So we had some work to do on that! He also seemed scared and fearful of the bikes that went by us – even once we were back on the wider paved paths. So we needed to work on some counter conditioning to bikes again. So lots of good info from our trip even if it wasn’t the most fun for me. I know I don’t have the patience to work on this on a one hour hike so I needed a place we could do it in short stretches. So I tried a little area in North Glenmore Park with him. It’s been a spot I’ve taken Tess a bunch this summer, there’s a nice wide mowed green space back through a more wilderness area, with short little dirt trails connecting these wide grassy areas. It worked perfect, my patience was still tested, but we did get to work on his pulling in short little 2-5 minute stints. I’m not convinced anything sunk in with him, but I tried! More practice to do!

I’ve been doing some short training sessions in the house with the puppy bumper. I’m trying to use shaping much like I have with Tess, but he isn’t quite catching on. He’s figured out that he needs to bite the dummy, but when I up the ante and don’t pay that behaviour he quits rather than try something new. So I’m trying to incorporate a little more interest by tugging and tossing the toy as well to see if he’ll pick it up just with the extra excitement. So far still no luck, though it is looking a little more promising.

I took him downtown for the first time about a week ago, it was actually a pretty quiet night which ended up being good. It pushed him a little outside his comfort zone a few times. There are a few tight sidewalks on the bridges across the river which made him a little nervous when bikes went by on the sidewalk, or busses on the road next to us. There were also a few skateboarders and bikes that he was concerned about. He does have to be exposed to these things, so I think it’s good to start encouraging a positive association now; but it did help that it wasn’t over the top busy like it can be. He got to see a lot of new things, and did very well. His recovery time was really good, and he continued to show interest in all the people and things to check out.

I also took him out to Forgetmenot Pond in Bragg Creek with my Grandmother. It was a beautiful Saturday so it was pretty busy out there. There were a few people with dogs, luckily most were on leash or well behaved. Lots of families out picnicking and just enjoying the nice weather. Luckily for us there were also a lot of people out floating on the pond in boats, kayaking, and paddle boarding. He got to check them out while we sat on a bench soaking up the sun, but mostly enjoyed destroying a nearby bush.

Health wise he’s been struggling a little bit, amongst other issues Tess caught circovirus somewhere in her travels. She’s been over it for some time, but Riggs must have caught it from her. I think he’s been over the virus for a few weeks now, but he’s been struggling with diarrhea since then. He’s on antibiotics now which hopefully will help reset his gut. So far he seems a little better, but the jury’s still out. I can’t help but be a little over paranoid since my trouble with Tess. So I’m just hoping this does the trick. Not that any of this has slowed him down at all, other than the diarrhea he’s not showing any signs of not feeling well.

Tess

Oh Tess! I love her to pieces but there’s always something!

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We did see the specialist, I’ve been waiting to receive their written report before writing a post. We covered so much I wanted to read what they sent to make sure I’m not missing, or misinterpreting something, but I still haven’t received it. They faxed it to my vet a few weeks ago but I haven’t seen it to read myself.

Tess’ July urinalysis showed a higher than normal SDMA level, which indicated some kidney issues, but her BUN test was within the normal range, so not kidney disease yet (the good news!). The urinalysis also seemed to indicate some pancreatic stress, but we wouldn’t really know until the ultrasound with the specialist. A few days after running the urinalysis she also seemed to display symptoms of bladder stones (mainly urinary incontinence), we have suspected she’s had bladder stones before but x-rays didn’t show anything previously. We tested her urine again and found a bacterial infection, so assumed that was the case and started a round of antibiotics for that, as well as a cranberry supplement.

So August 15th we had the ultrasound, the kidney looked normal as did the pancreas. Huge relief! The issue appeared to be with the bowel. So the current diagnosis is inflammatory bowel disease. A biopsy would be needed to confirm, however at this point I’m unsure if we’ll jump to that right away. I’d like to read the specialist’s report before deciding. We talked through the options, and I’m a little more comfortable starting with the food changes and elimination diet to start – before progressing to more invasive testing, especially when she’s been feeling so run down already. So that’s how we’ve decided to proceed for now. The ultrasound also explained to some extent why we’ve been having the bladder issues on and off, as her bladder is not the normal tear drop shape but more open. So we’re also trying to address that. She was started on phenylpropanolamine to help with that, however she seemed to have a reaction to that medication. So we’ve taken her off of that and are trying a Lignan supplement that my vet has had moderate success with before. I think we will need to adjust the dosage to know for sure, but so far I wouldn’t say that it has been truly successful for Tess. So that issue remains outstanding. The retest on the urinalysis for the bacterial infection came back clear though, so thankfully that part of the issue has been resolved.

The inflammatory bowel disease appears to be a little trickier to deal with. With Tess’ suspected food allergies we have done many elimination diets using unique proteins over the past number of years – which would normally be the recommended next step to attempt for the IBD. So we’ve basically started over again rather than jump into even more exotic (and expensive) protein sources. We decided to start at the beginning  and start with a simple cooked chicken and rice recipe. She’s also on antibiotics and probiotics for two months to try and reset her system. She’s still having some trouble with diarrhea but it has improved (both on the canned gastro food she was on before, and now the home cooked meal) but the jury is still out on that. So time will tell if we see more improvement and longer term success, or if we need to try something different protein wise.

The best news however is that she finally appears to be feeling a little better. She’s walking more at her normal pace, showing more interest in things, and has started to play with Riggs again. It’s been heartbreaking seeing how miserable she’s felt the last few months, so it’s such a relief to see her starting to come out of the pain and discomfort. She certainly isn’t 100%, but I’m excited to see the improvement. I’m not sure what this means for our training classes in the fall, I love doing classes with her, it forces me to practice for one thing! But mostly it’s just fun and helps build a strong bond between us; but I’m not sure how to proceed. She still has stress around other dogs so the normal class setting is always a challenge, and the dietary issues are likely going to make managing that more difficult. So at the moment I’m thinking we might just relax and enjoy walks, maybe throw in a few private lessons in when possible. I’m also hesitant to start up a 6 week course knowing we are likely to have health setbacks and need to miss classes. So that’s the big dilemma at the moment.

Anyway, that’s the pupdate for now. As always with dogs, subject to change!