Puppy Tails (3)

Puppy Tails (3)

So, this isn’t exactly how I hoped this third post would go – I was hoping I could focus more on updating you with Rollo’s training progress but things took a bit of a back-step after Rollo injured himself in July! Poor pup was running and playing with his friends, when we noticed red on his leg – he had a fairly sizable (although, thankfully, superficial) cut on his inner thigh, close to the upper bend in his leg. He was stitched up and confined to the house and garden – no walkies, no running, no jumping, etc. whilst he healed.

As you can imagine, for an active 6 month old lurcher like Rollo, this was tough! He spends most of his time being very active and playful! But for two weeks, he needed to try and be calm and rest, without getting too bored! He was, for the most part, very good – providing we were relaxing and not doing too much, he was happy enough to relax with us.

I’m not sure what was worse for him (aside from the injury itself) and the “cone of shame” – being restricted to on-lead toilet breaks in the garden only for the first few days after the stitches went in, or after his first follow-up appointment when he was allowed to go on very short walks (again restricted on-lead) for a week, which has meant no off-lead running and playing with his friends, or the post-stitches recovery week when he was allowed mostly back to normal but still couldn’t run off lead with his friends. Thankfully that’s all behind us and he’s fully recovered and back to his mischievous self!

His recovery, once the stitches were out, wasn’t too bad – he was confined for so long, then for a week after his stitches came out it was necessary to restrict him to lead walkies just to make sure he did t over-do it; to ensure we got him back to full health in the right way (no sense rushing things and ending up damaging the leg further).

Rollo being restricted to the lead for a while did however highlight some training areas which needed more focus – specifically his lead and heel training. Because he is more often than not taken somewhere for walkies where he can run off lead with us or with friends, it seems I’d neglected lead and heal training a bit.

With this brought to my attention, I decided now was a good a time as any to recap this training with Rollo. He was not happy about his restricted lead walks when he was healing, but had come to accept lead walkies as it is preferable to being restricted to the house and garden! So I took advantage of his new acceptance of being on lead more than he liked by doing more lead walks, focusing on heel work with the command “on heel”.

Early “on heel” lead training back in May

I started by giving him a run or a play somewhere to allow him to burn off some of that excitable energy! It’s a lot easier to train a dog who can focus on you than one who is distracted with all their pent up energy and looking for a way to release it! We would then walk with Rollo on lead; when he naturally walked at my heel I would give him the command “on heel” (with the corresponding hand signal I chose) then click my clicker (yes, the clicker came back out) and give him a small treat – this was so Rollo would associate the command with the action he was doing. Rollo picked this up very quickly whilst on-lead and we soon progressed to learning “on heel” being off-lead.

Rollo will (more often than not) come “on heel” on command whether on the lead, moseying around off-lead or from a distance off-lead (he’ll respond to my “come” whistle (yes I whistle differently for different commands) and the come “on heel” to the hand gesture and the command when I give it, when he’s within earshot.

He’s almost 9 months old now so still very much an adolescent, and by no means a perfect teenager haha! His progress has been brilliant and I’m proud of how far he’s come. Sometimes the commands he knows well, need reinforcing when he’s pushing boundaries but most of the time he’s “such a good boy!” and he knows it!

“such a good boy!”

Look out for more puppy tails – I’ll cover why August missed out on a website post and tell of some of Rollo’s recent adventures!

Puppy Tails (2)

Puppy Tails (2)

Further to my first “Puppy Tails” post where I introduced you all to my best ever birthday present, Rollo our lurcher pup, this post is a bit of an update as to how Rollo has progressed since that first post, and where he is now.

At just over 4 months old, Rollo has grown very fast (since the photos in the last post)! Getting taller and heavier with each passing week; leaner now he’s lost his puppy fat – meaning he’s also gotten faster!! Just look at the image collage below to see the difference in just a few weeks!

Rollo growing fast!

Rollo had been trained on the lead in the gardens before he was able to be walked out in the world. He got used to having on a collar and lead, and then to his harness also. As he was quite a jumpy pup, as he wanted to befriend everyone, I decided to opt for walking him on a harness as he’s less likely to do himself any damage if he gets himself too hyped up. I opted for a harness with a handle, to aid in restraining when necessary.

Whilst the lead training was on-going in the gardens, Rollo was coming on Tilly (of Titbit: Tilly…) walks in his puppy bag – this gave him the chance to, well… nap initially as he was so young, but also to take in new surroundings, people, dogs, etc. from the safety of the bag. He even was able to be carried by others to get used to other/ new people, and watch me with Tilly. I feel I owe a large part of his good socialising skills and walkies behaviour to this – as this made the transition from bag to floor easier, as he was in places he was familiar with, with dogs and people he was familiar with… Just from a different angle!

As Rollo did so well in his garden lead training, I was anxious to see how well that training translated into real world walks – with all the new places with new sights, sounds, smells, people, dogs, etc, etc. So many distractions to contend with! Our first outing with Rollo was a short trip around the block, where he (understandably) stayed pretty close to us, whilst he took everything in.

Since that first walk, he has gotten braver, bolder and a lot more curious – this has resulted in many a thing being hastily removed from his mouth as his curiosity leads him to explore (which for a puppy means with his mouth!) and taste everything… Thankfully we’re vigilant enough that he hasn’t come to any harm! Rollo loves making friends with people and dogs, he’s still unsure of cats (not having had the opportunity to be properly introduced to one), and is very curious of those feathered things that shoot up into a tree or the sky when he tries to say, “hello!”

We practised his recall in the gardens (on and off his long lead) and out in fields and parks (on his long lead) ever since he was first able to go out. His recall is very good, with or without a treat reward. Over the past couple of weeks, he has been so good with his recall that we have been letting him walk/ run around with his long lead trailing – he gets some freedom, and we have a 20ft lead to step on/ grab if we need to. He tends to stick pretty close, unless he’s chasing his ball or playing with other dogs. He will come back when called, which is a great sign as he grows and learns, and will be a necessity when he is allowed to walk/ run free completely off-lead.

It’s important that his on-lead training is kept up with too, as he can’t always be walked somewhere he’s allowed to run free (ish). His on-lead training is still being worked on as Rollo can be jumpy on the lead when he sees another dog, as all he wants to do is greet them and play! This past week has seen massive improvements in his on-lead training, after taking a dip a few weeks back when he started teething! It’s important to get his on-lead training pegged down as he’s only going to get bigger and stronger, and he needs to know how to behave during on-lead walkies.

Rollo walking nicely on-lead with Tilly

As always, this kind of training is always on-going; you have good days and bad ones, they have good ones and bad ones… Make note of the positive steps being taken with training your dog or puppy, and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it – a well trained dog is a happy dog!


All images are either open source, Google images, or my own (with pet owner permission/ parental permission) – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages…

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• Instagram (@alis.animal.answers)
• Twitter (@AlisAnswers)
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Puppy Tails (1)

Puppy Tails (1)

Introducing Rollo; active, happy, speedy puppy with bundles of energy and lots of love to give. He is a lurcher (greyhound mix) collie mix, and the best birthday gift a girl could hope for!

Rollo, when we first brought him home 殺

He is our newest addition to the family – at 11 weeks old now, he is having his second set of vaccinations (and microchip) this afternoon, meaning he will be able explore the big, wide world beyond the house and garden!

In this, the first puppy “tail”/ tale, we will look at some of the habituation training we’ve been doing with Rollo, to prepare him for the big, wide world out there!

Rollo at 8 weeks old.

Firstly, for those who are unfamiliar with habituation training, this is training that teaches a dog to be okay with a stimulus. Basically, you acclimatise the dog to the stimulus you’re exposing it to.

It is important, when habituating your dog to a stimulus, that you do not comfort your dog. If a dog acts fearfully or anxiously to something they need not fear, and comfort is given to that reaction it will reinforce the fear/ anxiety to that stimulus. By comforting your dog you are reinforcing to them that their reaction was correct.

Some of the main sound stimuli that dogs often show fear toward are:

• Thunder
• Fireworks
• Vacuum cleaner
• Loud vehicles

To habituate Rollo to these sounds, he first had to be exposed to the sounds and his reaction gauged, to know where to begin.

Let’s look at the first two; thunder and fireworks – not sound stimuli that you can schedule training around, as you often get little to no warning of when these sounds may come up in life (you can’t always rely on the weather forecast ).

We are fortunate to have a (modest) surround sound system in our living room, as well as a Chromecast device which allows us to play sounds and videos via the TV and the surround sound. So, to introduce Rollo to the stimuli of thunder and fireworks we found videos and sound clips online, and played them through the surround sound. Starting off at a very low volume (which we struggled to hear, but Rollo (having superior dog hearing) could hear just fine) we played several different videos – firstly of fireworks, then the same with thunder.

Rollo was unsure the first few times we played the fireworks – he sought comfort the first time, and whined a little in his uncertainty. We carried on as normal with what we were doing, and encouraged Rollo to continue playing with his toys. We did this several times over a couple of weeks – after a week he just didn’t react any more, but continued with whatever he was doing (playing, eating, napping, etc.) at the time.

After the first few times, when Rollo’s reaction was lessening, we increased the volume each time to continue habituating him to this noise. The volume increases didn’t seem to get much of a response from Rollo, other than that he seemed to acknowledge the sudden noise interrupting his day. During the second week, with the volume at a suitable level Rollo had completely given up on reacting in any kind of negative or anxious way to the fireworks stimulus.

We repeated this training method with playing thunder through the surround sound with Rollo, and his reaction was significantly less to the thunder than to the fireworks. This may be due to the firework habituation training having gone so well, or simply because Rollo is unaffected by the noise (my previous dog, Barney, used to love to bark at thunder and fireworks just to join in being noisy – not out of any fear or anxiety). After just over a week of doing this with thunder, Rollo was showing no negative or anxious reactions – success!

Rollo age 10 weeks, enjoying his teddy – giving no reaction to the noises from the surround sound system.

We still occasionally play thunder and fireworks, just to keep the habituation successful whilst he’s still young. The real test of this habituation training will be when he hears thunder and fireworks for real, for the first time!

Throughout the above, Rollo was also being habituated to the vacuum cleaner – let’s face it, I can’t not vacuum so he needs to gets used to that! We have a Henry Hoover, which Rollo was very suspicious of at first, as Henry was a lot bigger than him when we first brought Rollo home! Rollo pawed and mouthed at Henry with his strange nose and funny feet! He wasn’t too fussed on Henry until the noise came… That spooked Rollo the first time – he barked and whined and ran away from Henry. Rollo soon settled down as we didn’t react to Henry (or comfort Rollo) and he soon realised the noise was nothing to fear.

But then came the movement; a noisy Henry in the corner is one thing, but a noisy Henry moving around the house is another! Using Henry to actually vacuum (not just so Rollo could get used to the sound) sparked the barking and whining and retreating reaction again. Again, we didn’t react or comfort, and we (whoever wasn’t manning the vacuum) encouraged Rollo to continue what he was doing.

Whilst Rollo doesn’t react so extremely any more to Henry, he still usually stops what he’s doing and watches from a safe distance until Henry is quiet and back in his corner. This is a good reaction in my book, for the time being, as Rollo is not fearful or anxious, but we will continue to work on this as Rollo also isn’t completely comfortable around the noisy, moving Henry (he may never be, but dog training is an ongoing thing).

Rollo age 9 weeks, with his Nylabone chew, showing mild interest in Henry Hoover’s stationary noisiness.

Finally, when we’ve had Rollo on his various leads in the front and back gardens (lead training will be covered in a future “Puppy Tail”), we’ve used the opportunity to allow him to become habituated to the noises of the neighbours, the street and various vehicles.

Our back garden backs onto a train track, with fairly frequently running trains (at all hours of the day and night). Foxes often run around the neighborhood, and there are plenty of birds and squirrels around too! Cats roaming their territories, and dogs in neighbouring gardens or being walked down our street, are frequent sights. Cars, motorcycles, buses, lorries, cyclists and pedestrians are also frequent down our (relatively busy) little road. All of these things, and more, have caught Rollo’s attention and sparked a reaction in the beginning.

Trains and other vehicles, and the local wildlife, Rollo just takes in his stride now – they’re just part of the background noise to life. People and other dogs he so badly wants to interact with, which is only natural whilst he’s confined to the house and gardens – this training will continue on walks in the outside world. Cats, he doesn’t (at the moment) react to in any way as they stay well out of reach.

He does still enjoy watching the world go by from the driveway, now he’s used to the noises and activities going on, on our road. The main thing is that Rollo has been given the time and the training to acclimatise to these everyday stimuli, so these things are less of a worry when he is able to go for walks beyond the realm of his home and gardens.

Rollo age 10.5 weeks enjoying watching the world go by, from the safety of the driveway.

All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages…

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Another A-Z: Rabbit Breeds (2)

D, E, F

Welcome to the second post of the series, covering an A-Z of rabbit breeds. This post will cover breeds from D-F; including some basic titbits about the breed, and some interesting facts. As per my two previous A-Z series, for Dog breeds and Cat breeds, between 1-3 breeds will be covered per letter – accompanied by photo’s of the breed.
In the follow up posts, continuing down the alphabet, I will be writing posts covering breeds from, G-I, J-L, M-O, P-R, S-V, and W-Z. If you missed the first post covering A-C, click here.

D

Dutch (a.k.a. Hollander; a.k.a. Brabander)

Origin: Despite the name, the Dutch rabbit does not actually originate in the Netherlands, but in England!
Size: Small
Weight: 1.5-2.5 kg
Lifespan: 6-9 years
Colours: All Dutch rabbits have that distinct white blaze on the face, the ‘collar’ (neck), ‘saddle’ (front section of the body) and ‘stops’ (front section of the back feet). The rest of the animal can be the following seven colours: black, blue, steel, chinchilla, grey, chocolate or tortoise.

This breed came from imported rabbits, sent over to England for the meat market, during the 1830’s – the Dutch breed is said to have been developed in the 1860’s. Dutch rabbits are easy-going, intelligent and friendly; making lovely pets. However, they are quite energetic, and therefore can be unsuitable for younger children, but more suited to families with older children, or adult-only homes.

Dwarf Hotot

Origin: Germany
Size: Dwarf
Weight: 1-1.5 kg
Lifespan: 7-10 years
Colours: White with black rings or ‘spectacles’ around the eyes, only.

The Dwarf Hotot is not specifically a dwarf version of the Blanc De Hotot, but rather a breed that came about by crossing the Blanc De Hotot with other rabbit breeds (such as the Netherland Dwarf), which resulted in the Dwarf Hotot. This breed was developed in the 1970’s in Germany – by two independent breeders, on in East Germany and one in West Germany, who came together and bred their Dwarf Hotot rabbits to give us the Dwarf Hotot we have today.

E

Enderby (Island) Rabbit

Origin: Enderby Island, New Zealand
Size: Small
Weight: 1.3-1.8 kg
Lifespan: 5-8 years
Colours: Mainly slate (under-coat; dark blue, with silvering on body), Champagne (under-coat; light blue, with silvering on body) and Crème (under-coat; orange, with creamy-white body hairs tipped with silver).

The Enderby comes from stock introduced in 1865, to Enderby Island from Australia, as food for castaways. After 130 years of being left to their own devices, natural selection had produced a distinct variety – the Enderby Rabbit. In the 1990’s they were exterminated by wildlife management aside from just under 50 individuals who were rescued by New Zealand’s Rare Breeds Conservation Society – through breeders, this breed has been preserved through to today.

English Spot

Origin: England
Size: Medium
Weight: 2.5-3.5 kg
Lifespan: 5-9 years
Colours: White body with spots, ears, eye circles, cheek spots and nose ‘butterfly’ in the following colours – Black, Blue, Grey and Chocolate.

One of the very first breeds to be established for show purposes, the English Spot tends to be friendly, docile, and comfortable with handling. It is clear by their markings where this breed got its name, and why they’ve been a popular show rabbit since the 1850’s! The English Spot is also a popular pet rabbit, due to their friendliness and active/ playful natures – however their active nature can make them unsuitable for you children.

F

Flemish Giant

Origin: Belgium
Size: Giant
Weight: 6-7 kg
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Colours: Black, blue, light grey, steel grey, sandy, white, and fawn.

Originally bred for their meat and fur, the Flemish Giant rabbits have been around since the 16th century. On 2010, a Flemish Giant rabbit named Darius became the Guinness World Record holder as the longest rabbit ever, at 4ft 3 inches. However, in 2017, Darius’ son Jeff reached 3ft 8 inches and is thought to beat his dad’s record some day!


All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages…
. Facebook (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Twitter (@AlisAnswers)
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Here’s to a better 2021…

Here’s to a better 2021…

A belated Merry Christmas, and wishing you all a Happy New Year for 2021!

2020 has been a weird one, with a lot of problems… But also a lot of joy! The website posts, the social media posts and photo’s and shares, show snippets of some of the joy I’ve experienced this year! Especially with being able to help Tilly; spending time training and walking her.

I hope you all can reflect on the joys you’ve experienced this year despite everything else that’s gone on – here’s looking forward to more joy in 2021!

Dog photography

Dog photography

Just a brief post to share some photos of Tilly and her friends, now that she’s enjoying being with other dogs again (successful but still ongoing rehabilitation with Tilly)! It’s a thrill to see her socialising well still, for the most part, and getting excited to see her friends.

My dad always told me, when I needed to take photos of animals as part of coursework for my college diploma and my university degree, that to get the best photos of animals you need to get on their level! Now that was tricky when I had an assignment about giraffe’s!

You may not be an avid photographer, but we all take photos of our pets! I like candid photos as much as the next person, but I also love how my animal photos look when I follow my dad’s advice and get on their level. Just thought I’d share this little tip with you all! See for yourself below…


All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages…
. Facebook (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Twitter (@AlisAnswers)
. LinkedIn (Ali Lloyd)

Another A-Z: Rabbit Breeds (1)

Another A-Z: Rabbit Breeds (1)

Welcome to the first post of the series, covering an A-Z of rabbit breeds. This first post will cover breeds from A-C; including some basic titbits about the breed, and some interesting facts. As per my two previous A-Z series, for Dog breeds and Cat breeds, between 1-3 breeds will be covered per letter – accompanied by photo’s of the breed.
In the follow up posts, continuing down the alphabet, I will be writing posts covering breeds from D-F, G-I, J-L, M-O, P-R, S-V, and W-Z.

A

Alaska

Origin: Despite the name, the Alaska rabbit does not actually originate in Alaska, but in Germany!
Size: Medium
Weight: 3-4 kg
Lifespan: 7-10 years
Colours: Black only – however they can go slightly brown around the neck and shoulders in the summer.

Alaska rabbits are friendly, good tempered and make great family pets as they are not known to be aggressive but are quite docile. They are also generally gentle and affectionate, and lovely as pets.

Argenté

Origin: France
Size: Small, except the Champagne which is Medium
Weight: 2.7-3 kg, except the Champagne which is 4.4-5.6 kg
Lifespan: 5-8 years
Colours: Top colour is always silver, it is the undercoat colours that vary and therefore (alongside weight differences) define the breed variants.

– Argenté de Champagne (slate blue/ white undercoat)
– Argenté Crème  (orange/ cream undercoat)
– Argenté Brun (dark brown/ beige undercoat)
– Argenté Clair (blue/ silver)
– Argenté Bleu (lavender blue/ dark blue)
– Argenté St Hubert (blue/ chestnut)

Argenté rabbits are known to be quite easy going and placid, and enjoy attention – providing they’re properly socialised as kits (young rabbits). Some compare the temperament of these rabbits as like a “well mannered cat”.

B

Belgian Hare

(don’t let the name fool you, it IS a rabbit!)

Origin: Belgium
Size: Medium
Weight: 2.7-4 kg
Lifespan: 7-10 years
Colours: Black and Tan, Black, Chestnut, Tan, Red – with black ticking. Black and Tan being the breed standard.

Some describe this breed as “highly-strung” as they are very active and can be easily startled and skittish. They are friendly and enjoy petting, however they are not recommended for beginners as they require a fair bit of maintenance and need someone who can handle their nervousness.

British Giant

Origin: United Kingdom
Size: Giant
Weight: 5.5-7 kg
Lifespan: 4-6 years

Bred in the UK as a new breed, from varying colours of Flemish Giant stock from the US in the 1940’s, the British Giant is a friendly and calm rabbit; docile and laid back. They are not as active as smaller breeds of rabbit and are quite happy to chill and laze around. They are generally good-natured, and are good family pets.

Blanc de Hotot

Origin: France – Hotot en Auge (Normandy)
Size: Medium
Weight: 5.5-7 kg
Lifespan: 4-6 years
Colours: White with black rings or ‘spectacles’ around the eyes, only.

Originally raised for meat, but now kept as pets. A breed not known for being overly active, yet still enjoy exploring and spending time outside – they are friendly and make good pets.

C

Californian

Origin: California
Size: Medium
Weight: 3.4-5.8 kg
Lifespan: 5-10 years
Colours: In the US, the only accepted colour is white with black (only) points (ears, nose, tail and feet) and pink eyes. In the UK the points can be black, blue, chocolate or lilac.

Calm, friendly and playful! These good-natured rabbits make good family pets, and enjoy exploring – but can become skittish if not handled regularly.


All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages…
. Facebook (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Twitter (@AlisAnswers)
. LinkedIn (Ali Lloyd)

Happy International Dog Day

Happy International Dog Day

Also known as World Dog Day – a post under this title can be found on the website from a couple or so years ago!

Why not check out some of our doggy related posts in the spirit of International Dog Day?! Click the following links:

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Cape Town, South Africa