life’s a bitch

Having spent £150 on a dog behaviourist session, I am now another £50 lighter having bought special ‘non hyper’ dog food and a collar that gives off a special type of pheromone normally reserved for lactating bitches (milky mums). This is supposed to have a calming affect on a tense or nervous dog. I have bought it on the advice of the behaviourist and in the hope that it will calm the daughter Jack Russell so that she doesnt pick any fights with her Mum.

Naturally when purchasing the collar, I wondered if there was something similar on the market for us humans – no doubt it will be turned into some kind of calming ‘loom band’ but maybe with more of a lavender pong than breastmilk……..nice!

The clicker training distraction technique is also working, with my daughter and I taking it in turns to train the daughter Jack Russell. Only problem is we are now fighting over methods of training etc.

They say in the dog world it would not be normal for two mature bitches to be living in such close quarters and this is what causes ”bitch fights’ in domestic situations. The remedy is either to re-home one of the bitches or deploy a lot of distraction and calming techniques (in other words behave as if she is Mariah Carey or Naomi Campbell).

Methinks there are many similarities between the dog world and ours…….

This blog is for Unicef.

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Who let the dogs out?

It is quarter past 11 and I have just completed my first dog behaviourist consultation, which started much earlier this evening. The session led by two ladies with a whole host of experiences with doggy behaviour and misbehaviour just a whisker short of them having enough knowledge to run with a pack of wolves themselves.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I have two Jack Russell bitches (mum and daughter) who fight a lot. It has been getting worse to the point where they cant go a day without a fight and a couple of times they have had to go to the vet with their injuries. Add to the mix a  3 year old toddler who they would never deliberately harm, but could get caught in the crossfire and you have a serious issue.

So, these ladies have now equipped me with an arsenal of things to try and get my two bitches to get along and enjoy life together. They are:

– Diet – turns out the reason why my girls love the current stuff they are on is because it has tons of additives in it which = irritability

– Distraction – getting the daughter bitch to think of other things rather than have a go at Mum – enter the concept of clicker training. We had a practice session tonight and she was loving it – I just need to make time to fit it all in(which is half the problem in that the daughter bitch isnt getting enough attention

– Corrector spray – no more complex than can of air but spray it during a fight and the fight tends to stop

– drugs and homeopathy – special room diffusers and collars infused with the smell of a lactating bitch (I have been assured humans cant smell it so we will see)

– Time out – Separation in the house and car (the main warzone areas) to diffuse tension between them.

– Getting Mummy dog spayed – then she will no longer give off the hormones that she would in a pack situation where nature dictates the bitches should be apart

So fingers and paws crossed all or one of these solutions works!

This blog is for Unicef.

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Putting a paw down

I am no dog behaviourist, but I think my once straight-laced, best in class, best in show little Jack Russell is staging a protest for she has become a rebel.

I don’t tolerate bad behaviour in dogs. I confess I frown at people who think it is ok for a dog to snatch food out of children’s hands, jump on furniture and loo on the path. As much as I enjoyed the film Marley and me, I believe Marley could have been better behaved if his owners had been firmer with him.

Our JR is now in her 10th year, but when she was a puppy, I recall turning up for the first training class in our local village hall and being told by the teacher, ‘you can’t teach a Jack Russell to be obedient, they are too free-spirited and strong-willed’. In saying this she had thrown down the gauntlet and I was determined to prove that my JR could be obedient and even be the most obedient. I had tough competition, particularly from the collie who had herself so firmly wrapped around her owners left leg in heel work that she looked like some kind of trouser accessory. In the command for ‘down stay’ a spaniel laid so flat and remained down for so long that she became the dog to beat. The majority of the owners could traipse around the perimeter of the hall with their backs nice and straight as their hounds bobbed up and down in unison against their legs. Meanwhile I was almost bent double trying to ensure the treat used for bribery was close enough to my JR’s nose to keep her motivated. There are cats that are bigger than my JR so I did develop back pain.

She was a tease. In down-stay, she would remain down until you had reached the other side of the hall and then she would decide to lift her bottom up, for no apparent reason. But in sit stay she was the quickest to get her bum down,mainly because she was closer to the ground than the rest of the dogs. It was this skill that secured her bonio prize at the Christmas party during a ‘sit stay’ version of musical statues.

The titbits to motivate her had to be pure meat, dog food versions just wouldn’t cut the mustard, they would be sniffed at and then ignored. But this method did work and she managed to come third in the class at the end of term (of course the collie won).

But no sooner had the ink dried on her certificate, she started to develop selective hearing, almost as if she would weigh up the pros and cons of obeying each command and only chose o obey when it suited her. For example, she will only obey the ‘sit stay’ command if she is in the village hall where we did the training. She certainly won’t do it if the ground is too wet or muddy.

She has tolerated the arrival of children and has had to increase her tolerance levels since baby boy arrived, as he has a tendency to cuddle her a little too vigorously. So I think this recent lapse in behaviour is something to do with demanding attention in a crowded house. Today was particularly bad. This morning I found her surrounded by chocolate wrappers that she had extracted from my handbag. This was chocolate leftover from a girly night at the cinema yesterday and she polished off the lot. As she sat looking at me on the dog bed she was wearing an expression that mixed sheepish with satisfaction. Later on in the dog walk she rolled in fox mess and then found baby boy’s sultana box in my bag (which was deep in the recesses so she must have really rooted around for it) and guzzled the whole lot. Even though I had reprimanded her in the morning she looked at me defiantly. If she was human she would be a teenage girl with a hoodie chewing gum and lighting up a fag while telling me what her next ‘tat’ was going to look like.

To add to the day of doggy issues, both her and her daughter became fascinated with the engine compartment of my husband’s transit van suspecting some rodent had nested there. They were so keen to flush it out that they jumped into the engine from underneath. My husband popped the hood to see what was going on and found two jack Russells staring at him near the dipstick. He ill-advisedly encouraged them to do some further investigation resulting in the daughter JR getting stuck. In order to release her he had to undo some of the engine parts.

My vet once said that JR’s are a magnet for trouble and that is true, it is also what makes them so endearing (although sometimes I say this through gritted teeth).

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Funny side up

Its difficult to start this blog post without moaning. I am sat less than a foot away from the woodburner because I am cold either through a fever or because of the climate. I have cleared up piles of dog sick and baby boy sick today, I hear you say eurrgghh in unison. I have been told that I have colour in my skin since the holiday but I feel pasty white.

My daughter has a friend over for a sleepover tonight and they are struggling to sleep without having lullabies played on a repetitive loop on my husbands tablet. They have had a nice time playing at being dog trainers for a children’s tv show called ‘who let the dogs out’. My dogs weren’t as enamoured with the game, apart from the bit when they got fed. My daughter is now eight and i am very much enjoying this age already. I overheard a discussion between them earlier when they were brushing their teeth. They were talking about electric toothbrushes and the friend said, ‘its strange that you (my daughter) don’t have one, I suppose it is because my family are richer than yours.’ I chuckled to myself thinking this would make a good Harry Enfield sketch. I like the idea that a judgement can be made on a household’s finances based on the dental hygiene equipment they use – its probably quite an accurate indicator.

Baby boy has started crying again so i better cut this post short. Remember this post is for Unicef so click here to support the charity if you like what you read.

Thanks for reading.