Pup Psychologist Anyone?

It’s been quite awhile since the dogs have made much of a blogging appearance, and now they’re back with a vengeance. Our brother and sister pups, Zac and Rosie, are now about 9 months old and let’s just say, have developed plenty of “personality”. Personality, which has had me searching the depths of Google for parenting support. While parenting courses for young humans are usually free with at least a yummy morning tea thrown in, training your pups is expensive and so we’re trying to muddle along on our own. I think the pups are onto this are expanding their horizons well beyond desired bounds and it’s time to ignore those puppy dog eyes and for nice cop to become tough cop. Put my foot down, even if a paw or two gets stepped on in the process (which happens quite a lot around her with twelve paws under foot.


Rather than offering any solutions to the difficulties of puppy training, I’m just going to let it all flow …a bit like a glass of red wine on a white carpet. Or, a pink fluoro highlighter pen which has been chewed into a puddle of pink with splashes of ink on the guilty party’s paws.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with our dogs, there are three of them. Lady, a border collie x cavalier is about 6 years old and we’ve had her since she was two. She’s a rather mellow dog and about the size of a Border Collie with the Cavalier’s floppy ears and facial appearance. She’s mostly black with a tip of white on her tail, chest and paws. Isaac “Zac” and Rosie are both 9 months old and are supposedly Border Collie x Kelpies but we suspect there could well be some greyhound in the mix. Zac has the long legs of a ballet dancer, and can look rather statuesque when he strikes a pose. Zac also happens to be our resident lap dog. He’s very snuggly and I had been thinking he had an innate sense of intuitive compassion, but I’m also wondering whether he just likes a warm lap in the cooler weather. Rosie has white legs and face with black spots, which are rather cute. She’s evolved into a feverish fetchaholic. Of course, we’ve all seen one of those in action, but rarely at rest.

Bilbo with ball

I had to honour a fallen hero. Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball.

So, I guess you could say like around here isn’t dull and that’s why we need a resident dog psychologist and in their absence, there’s me…and Google.

Firstly, there’s chewing. Of course, prevention is better than cure. So, most dog owners know that anything on the floor is fair game and that just like toddler proofing your home, you need to put things up if you don’t want the dogs chewing it up. However, not all dogs have read the manual, and Rosie has had no qualms about making choice selections from our kitchen table and exercising puppy power. I think perhaps her most impressive achievement to date, has been taking a pink highlighter pen out of the jar on the kitchen table and chewing it up until there was a pool of pink ink on the tiles and splashes of ink on her front legs. There was no denying that crime. She was caught in the act.


A scene of canine carnage in our lounge room.

Of course, providing your pups with a steady supply of bones is a good idea. As I said, prevention is better than cure. However, sometimes I’m flat out getting to the butcher for the humans. Moreover, when I have bought bones, they’re instantaneously gnawed out of existence. Don’t ask me how they do it. I didn’t know bones were a fast food. Indeed, I thought they were supposed to keep your dog occupied for hours. Silly me.To think I had the audacity to think of myself as a bit of an expert on dogs. Clearly, I know absolutely nothing about them at all.

However, clearly the same can’t be said about them, because they can read me like a book. Indeed, they can read my soul much better than most humans. They really are amazing.

This takes me onto their next issue… our in-house Fetchaholic.

If our experience is anything to go by, this addiction all starts out in a fairly understated way. Someone in the household can’t resist giving that adorable little pup a tennis ball. Before that one corrupting tennis ball appears across it’s radar, that pup was pre-programmed to chase sheep, rabbits, and rid the world of rats. However, now all of that’s changed. That very same pup has suddenly had all that genetically pre-determined brain circuitry re-wired, and if your dog is very particular like our Bilbo was, all they’ll see is a green sphere. In hindsight, that was a blessing because Rosie isn’t particular. Tennis ball, half a tennis ball, felt of tennis ball right down to the very last remnants of fur of tennis ball, she’s back. Or, she’s dropping a bit of stick over the top of my laptop. I guess she thinks I’m just as addicted to tapping away on this thing and need a diversion. Indeed, she probably thinks she’s doing me good and giving me exercise.

She’s wrong.

Her pestering is only annoying in the end, but just as I’m getting fed up and about to confiscate the ball, she gently taps me with just one paw pad  and it’s so much like she’s tapping me with a finger, and that she’s not a dog, that I can’t resist.

That said, I’ve just put the ball up and told her to sit. However, in true fetchaholic fashion, she’s returned with the remains of a toy mouse, which had a pull the string wind-up mechanism some time ago. After ignoring that, she’s returned with a bit of stick…a remnant of a bit of stick…and its offspring. We’re talking desperation on both sides. How do I get this dog to leave me alone?

I dropped the ball over onto my son’s lap, he just passed it back.

Humph. It’s definitely time to make myself a cup of tea and perhaps that will  break the cycle. Just had to rethink that. Zac is now sitting on my lap, and while you’d think that might provide a sort of barricade in between Rosie and I, she’s now dropping her paraphernalia on the top of him.

At this point, you’re not the only one asking why we adopted two pups and why we didn’t just stick with Lady. Apply the KISS Principle…Keep It Simple, Stupid. Well, I wouldn’t know how to keep it simple and I clearly don’t know how to say: “No”. I just keep going until I fall in a screaming heap.

This brings me to my next issue…a fear of other dogs.

Lady & Zac

Lady and Zac running along the beach in January.

Usually, our dogs socialise with other dogs as a pack and feel quite comfortable with each other’s support. If anything, they can intimidate a lone dog on the beach. However, yesterday, I took Zac to the beach by himself and while he initially loved running and really got some great exercise, it was quite a different story when he saw other dogs. He was cowering behind me like a young child hiding in their mother’s skirts. He even jumped up behind me putting his paws on my shoulders. He was terrified with his tail between his legs and then that fear turned to aggression and he really got narky and was snapping and snarling at the other dog, who retaliated and they both ended up back on their leads. It was time to go home, a time-honoured parenting trick.

Zac running at Ocean beach May 18

Zac running yesterday before we bumped into any dogs.

I have also taken Rosie walking on her own and she’s also quite cowardly in public and walks much of the way with her tail between her legs. It’s been quite a concern because you want your dog to be happy and have positive interactions with their own. Fortunately, Zac and Rosie are fine when they’re together.

I’m think the answer here could be taking them out more by themselves, so they can build those social skills. They are very much like twins and miss each other terribly  when they’re apart, even if it’s only for a short time.

Zac Seal

Zac swimming looking like a seal. You can see how this character wouldn’t go too well on a lead.

Just when I thought I had everything covered, my last gripe is tugging on the lead. We seem to be having some success with Rosie on this front, and it is Zac who turns into a racehorse as soon as the lead goes on. Indeed, “pulling on the lead” is an under-statement. We have tried a Halti collar and he’s somewhat getting used to it but he doesn’t like it. The funny thing is that he is so placid without the lead, and I can’t really understand what fires him up so much. Of course, he loves going for a walk but this is more extreme. This is like a canine Clark Kent going into a telephone booth and emerging as Thor.

Lady kids coffee

The funny thing is with all these canine antics, they provide us with endless entertainment way better than any television show and they’re our critters. They might not be our own flesh and blood, but perhaps that’s part of their appeal. Dogs live with us are part of our own families and so much like us and yet they’re not. Despite all our attempts to humanise them, they’re still dogs. And we love them, perhaps even because of their foibles or perhaps it’s us who have actually fallen under their spell and we might need to consider who is Master. Our dogs can be very proficient trainers. Indeed, my dogs have trained me.

Chewing, ball chasing and lead pulling, I wouldn’t be without them.

Do you have a dog and do you have any recent posts you’d like to share? Please leave them in the comments.

Best wishes,





14 thoughts on “Pup Psychologist Anyone?

  1. Tails Around the Ranch

    Sounds like the ‘Dynamic Duo’ need a lot more exercise, physical and exercise for their minds. Having dealt with a puller who has a passion for sniffing, I know that drill. My trainer suggested as soon as they pull, immediately switch directions while saying “No pull, no pull.” Also a sick pop of the lead with the same command is effective. As with any command you want them to learn, timing is everything. Socialize the pups in situations where they can interact and develop some self confidence. And a pocket full of high value treats. Whenever Elsa starts to wig out with another dog, I tell her “watch me” and when she makes eye contact, give her a nice treat. She knows if she doesn’t react, she’ll get a treat. And she’s very food motivated. There are lots of YouTube videos that will provide loads of tips and tricks. Loads of luck.

  2. maxwellthedog

    Great to see photos of Lady and the young ‘uns and of course any shot of Bilbo brings back grins. The final photo with the kids is terrific, a definite keeper. Max has no inter-dog social skills and simply refuses to accept that he is a dog. His socializing is strictly with two-legged folk. He’s learned that the good eats do not come from other dogs.

  3. pensitivity101

    Great photos, and Zac has a fabulous coat.
    Always been grateful Maggie’s not a chewer, and never has been. She’s clingy if anything but we put that down to her age and the possibility she’s may be going deaf and her eyesight is failing. She is 13 afterall and not doing too badly otherwise.

  4. Rowena Post author

    Maggie sounds like a fabulous dog and 13 is a good age. Bilbo was 12 when he passed away last year and I knew things weren’t good when I took him to the beach while waiting for the vet and he could barely chase the ball. I was pretty guttered.
    Zac and Rosie are both rescue dogs and I chose Zac from a photo of all the pups on a dog trailer on the way down. He really is rather handsome, as well as being very snuggly and close. He’s our main lap dog. Rosie keeps much more to herself and is currently so obsessed with chasing things, that she barely stops for a pat. I’m going to try to get her to the beach for a run today and see if that wears her out. It’s a lovely sunny day.

  5. Rowena Post author

    Tom, I’m glad you and Max found this post as I was thinking of you when I wrote it. There’s so much pressure on parents of humans and dogs for their offspring to be able to socialize well, especially when there are those who deserve a good growl or even a bite, but you didn’t read that here.
    I think Lady recently growled at a Guide Dog, which was rather embarrassing and clearly she hadn’t noticed any of the signs about respecting these hard working, heroic dogs.
    With the new pups, we haven’t been missing Bilbo so much in a conscious way these days, but then something will come along and revisiting that photo of him with another d og’s ball at the beach, brought him all back. What a great dog. In so many ways, Zac is very much like him and he’s such a cuddly dog. He is a great dog for aour son and he spent much of the afternoon with him after school but isn’t averse to lap hopping once everyone’s home. Not that I’d call him unfaithful. He just likes to spread his love around and a warm lap on a cold night is a good thing.
    Best wishes,

  6. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much, Monika. I like that ide4a of switching directions. That’s something I can do and is fairly simple. A few things I’ve read, have seemed a bit too complicated and I don’t know why I haven’t loaded up on training treats because they do work. I guess I’m probably just disorganized. Indeed, I’ve been very scattered during the past week or so. I have a violin concert tonight just at the studio but I could see myself foretting to go. Humph. I also need to watch the time and get in some practice and get organized. The weather is inbetween seasons so it’s also complicated choosing what to wear, which should be a minor detail but even though it’s only a small concert, a performance is a performance and every detail is important.
    Hope you and the pups have a great weekend. Hoping to wear Rosie out at the beach.
    Best wishes,

  7. Rowena Post author

    Thank you! I need to apply KISS to that too. It doesn’t read have a total panic attack and freak out, does it?!!

  8. pensitivity101

    It’s beautiful here too. Maggie and I walked along the prom this morning, and there are actually people swimming in the sea!
    Maggie’s doing OK, but showing her age. The spirit and heart are up to the chase, but sadly the legs don’t co-operate so well.

  9. New Journey

    Puppies, they can be so darned sweet and then in a blink of an eye they turn into, well my husband calls her the devil dog. LOL Our little one has quite the stubborn streak, smart as a whip but so head strong. her way or no way and she acts like we aren’t even talking. Reminds me raiding my kids, she waits to see if your going to get up or not before minding. LOL However mine is also extremely timid. We are only 4 months old, so I know we have a long way to go. We are training her ourselves, I know it would be easier to let someone else do it, however, I believe they respect you more if you are the one to do it. Patience of Job LOL But I do love me a border collie…xxxkat

  10. Pingback: Weekend Coffee Share – 21st May, 2018. | Beyond the Flow

  11. Rowena Post author

    Borders are amazing and make my heart melt. That said, I am a sucker for most dogs when I’m out. If I was a dog, I’d definitely be a labrador or Golden retriever. Hope you’re having a great start to the week.
    Two weeks ago, I saw my lung specialist and he was quite concerned as my lung capacity had dropped by 20% in the last six months. So, he was I’ll see you in two weeks and he was talking about going on a fairly heavy duty treatment called Rituximab. I had a big think about it and had pretty much decided I didn’t want to do that yet and I was well enough. That was how he was feeling too. So, that was good. Now, need to lose weight. get fitter. Do what I can to improve my lot. That said, good food is great medicine.
    It would be great to be able to meet up and get our dogs together, even if mine aren’t the most socially inclined. In so many ways, it is a small world, and in others, it’s extraordinarily large. Had a great day at the Art Gallery this afternoon. I feel like diving deep into a pool of brightly coloured paint that wasn’t actually paint if you no what I mean. Not as smelly. I zoomed into the paintings and photographed their brushstrokes and really found myself merging with the paint. It was extraordinary.
    Stay tuned.
    Best wishes,

  12. New Journey

    Oooh I like the idea of a pool of paint, go for it. My little pup is not social correct at all, aren’t fingers made for chewing on LOL my husband thought she had a leaky bladder, I just laughed, she is drooling, she is cutting teeth, just like a kid, he didn’t have any children so this is in reality his first baby. LOL he has had puppies before but his wife took care of them as he worked all the time. Week has started out pretty well, All my MD appointments have been good reports,, of course loose weight is always the mantra. Getting the house ready for sale is a huge undertaking all in its own. Nobody wants anything anymore, can’t hardly give it away. Keep on keeping on and a smile on your face! Life is what it is for all of us and all we can do is make sure that we have sunshine and laughter as part of it. XXkat

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