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  • Julie Muller

Patience is a Virtue - Growing up - Week Five .......and Homework

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

Penny, the Yorkshire terrier, is very proud to have just graduated from Puppy training school
Penny - last day of puppy training

What a busy class! We had so much to do. All of us were so much better at walking by our humans on a loose lead. Today our humans had to greet each other, and we had to ignore their puppies – I couldn’t resist a nose nuzzle or two.

Our humans learnt how to get us to stand. This didn’t seem such a natural thing to do. I am happy lying down or sitting but when I am on my feet I want to keep moving. I guess that I need to learn to be more patient. However, this position is important for when I visit the vets so that he can examine me properly.

We had a bit of a competition to see how many different positions that we could do in 40 seconds, but Julie kept on forgetting to give me a treat, so I reminded her by refusing to cooperate. I still managed 7.

The most important exercise that we started to learn was to know when to ‘leave(it)’.

Again, lots and lots of treats were needed but we had to learn to ignore them before we could earn them. This simple exercise could actually save our lives because if we are trained to leave ‘something’ it could prevent us from chasing across a busy road and potentially being hit by a car. It could also stop us from chasing livestock – especially sheep. After all, a farmer is well within their rights to shoot any dog caught worrying sheep, and, even chasing sheep is considered to be worrying, especially if a sheep is ‘in lamb’.

One of the dogs that was on the course was a tiny Yorkshire Terrier called Penny and this was her last day on the course because she was going back to live in Ireland. Penny had very striking black and white markings because one of her parents had been a purebred Biewer Terrier. These rare dogs have unusual piebald colouring caused by the presence of two hidden(recessive ) genes inherited from each of their parents.

I loved having Penny on the course because she was always so happy and bouncy, and she made all of the humans smile at her antics.

I will really miss her next class!!

I didn’t have a class this week, but my homework was to learn to ‘leave’ things when told to do so. This is quite hard for me because I confess to being a bit of a ‘thief’ - but usually only when no one is looking!!!

It was quite a stressful week because, after puppy class, Julie had managed to spill two pints of milk in the footwell behind the driver’s seat and, although she thought she had cleaned it up, the car had begun to smell like a refuse lorry – Ugh!!! It was absolutely disgusting to the humans – we dogs took it in our stride.

Unfortunately, milk is a really difficult spillage to deal with, and Julie had to use all of her scientific knowhow to deal with the smell.

As a result, most of Shep and my walks this week have involved walking from home because nobody wanted to get into the car!

This was probably a good thing because it meant that I walked much more on the lead. It is important for puppies like me to build up our muscles and the best way to do this is by walking. Too much time spent running, jumping and chasing balls could damage our growth plates. These are the soft parts which are found at the end of our long bones, and they don’t harden until we are fully grown. If they get damaged it could cause all kinds of problems for us and maybe even, make us prone to arthritis when we get older.

Julie took me to see my vet this week for a check-up. This wasn’t because I was ill. It was because my half-brother Pumpkin had a problem with his hip- joint caused by his right femur (thigh bone) not being held tightly enough in its socket. As a result, this made him rather unstable on his hind legs. Despite me showing no sign of falling over in a similar fashion, Julie just wanted to be sure that I was okay – and I was!!!

I met Chester, one of my puppy classmates, on the Common today. He is bouncy golden Labrador. I would have loved to have a proper play with him but we were a bit too close to a main road – maybe next time!!

One of the most important things to remember about training puppies like me is that, just like learning to drive, it is the practise between the lessons that ensures success.

We puppies often don’t get things right – it is not because we are naughty – although we can be very mischievous, it is because we haven’t been taught the lessons.

Every day we gain more and more experience of life, and our behaviour is as much to do with how our humans react to new situations as it is to do with how we deal with them. We are only babies after all. I have learnt some good behaviours and some not so good ones.

For instance, I get very excited getting out of the car. Sometimes I can’t wait, and I jump through to the front. I bark and snap at my older companion, Shep, in excitement and I even do this when we are crossing the road. I yap at random joggers and cyclists ( I sound more like a chicken than a dog). There is a lot of work for my humans to do – and not just Julie. Everyone in my human family needs to help if I am to get the right messages.

There have been lots of positive things too – I have been to a children’s party where I played ball with Sophie, the birthday girl who was only one. I let her take my ball off me and throw it. Although she couldn’t throw it very far, I am very good at bringing it back. I have learnt to sit quietly whilst my humans have lo…….ng chats with fellow dog walkers. I rarely run too far away from my humans, and I always come back when I am called unless I am busy playing with another dog, that is!! However, I will always let my humans break up my game and allow them to put my lead on. I know that I need to learn to stop playing when I am called but it is so very hard. I just love to play. Shep and I have some amazing wrestling bouts and we love to chase each other but he is much better at stopping play than I am.

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