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The First Walk! - (Pictures)

As promised, I've included some images from Oscar's first walk. Can't believe it was 10 days ago now! Since then, we've been out 3 times a day - every day, and I must say I'm feeling fitter than I have in a long time.

Oscar has definitley got the routine down now. About an hour after he eats, he sits and stares at me until we ask him 'what do you want?' to which he starts screaming! We then get his lead and he screams some more whilst jumping in circles.

He is extremely obediant off the lead, and his recall skills are impeccable, although we have learnt today that a leaf blowing in the wind is far too distracting...even for him!

We've taught him another trick this week, but I think I'll leave the details of that until the next blog posting, along with how we did it.

Our Dog Loves Disney!

Okay..bit of a quick (random) blog entry, but I happened to have Oscar lying on my desk this morning as I was on my computer, and was looking up the video of Cinderella singing 'A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes' (Don't ask).

Well..Oscar immidiately pricked his ears up and started watching intently, tipping his head from side to side, before lying down to continue watching! See the video for yourself!

'Puppy Party' #4 (The Last Puppy Party)

Today was met with both excitement and a little sadness as Oscar attended his...*sniff* Puppy Party at the Vets.

Getting him in the car was an easy job, as he has now connected car rides to fun at the vets / travelling to my parents for attention and treats. As soon as I parked up he was crying to be let out so we could go inside.

It's worth noting at this point that I received a phonecall on Monday from the Vets asking us if we could switch Oscar's class from Wednesday (small dogs only) to Thursday (bigger dogs only) due to his....*coughs*....excessive energy last week.

My heart almost skipped a beat, as I thought she was ringing to say he was going to be expelled for pinning down the Chihuahua! Luckily he wasn't.

We were surrounded by an Alsation, a Goldendoodle, a Black Labrador, Nero The Labradoodle (who is now Oscar's friend) and a Chocolate Lab called Pepsi. Holding onto Oscar was even more difficult this week, as the excitement was too much for him. He was wriggling all over the place.

This week's talk was on Dog behaviour and handling, and we were all asked to see how our pet reacts to us checking their teeth / eyes / ears and paws. Oscar seemed quite happy with this, but then we were told to pass our puppies to the left and swap with the person on our right!

I, of course got the biggest dog in the room...The Alsation! Let's just say he wasn't as easy to pick up as Oscar. I must confess a little anxiety when it came to checking his teeth, but he was well behaved, and I lived to tell the story - which is always a bonus.

After a lengthy play with the other dogs, whom, despite their size, he was still able to chase around and pin down [pictured], we said our goodbyes and Oscar and I were given a Puppy pack, complete with toys, information leaflets and a Certificate marking his completion of the 4-week Puppy Party [pictured].

Whatever will we do with our Thursday Lunchtimes now?...

The First Walk!

Brief blog entry to say that we have finally just returned from our first dog walk with Oscar!

Amry, Oscar and I went out over our local recreation ground and then through into a woodland area for a short(ish) 20 minute walk. We also bumped into Nero and his owner (from the Puppy Party), who was walking her other dog (a West Highland Terrier).

Earlier on today, I drove to 'Pets at Home' to purchase an extendable lead [pictured] so that Oscar could have a bit of a free run, whilst still maintaining some control over him.

About 10 minutes into the walk, when we were away from any cars, and safely int he woodland, I let Oscar off the lead alltogether, and was surprised to see him staying by my side all the way home - despite encouragement to 'go play'.

Theres a point in the walk, where we reach a road, and I felt confident enough to keep him off the lead by side, and he stayed there all the time. I think we got extremely lucky with this dog because he seems to pick things up so quickly and naturally. Will try and get some pictures from the walk next time we go.


The day has arrived! Finally, after 3 weeks, Oscar has had his last set of injections before he can go out for walks.

The whole process went really smoothly as I had a treat to avert his attention while the Vet gave him the shot.

In exactly one week from today, we will be able to take Oscar out on his first walk!

About an hour before we left to go to the vets, we found Oscar on the sofa (despite several attempts to let him know he is not allowed up there) wih his paw on the TV remote! [pictured] I'm sure it was pure conincidence, but I just know I'm going to catch him watching The Dog Whisperer one of these days!

'Puppy Party' #3

Puppy Party #3 is now over, and I have never seen Oscar having so much fun! Somehow, he even managed to bring the usually timid / petrified Chihuahua (Tallulah) out of her shell. By some miracle, I was able to get a quick shot of Oscar and Tallulah squaring up in what can only be described as a Wild West shoot-em-out [pictured] - (although what the Carrot is doing in shot, I have no idea).

This weeks topic was on Grooming and Insurance. I know the two topics don't exactly go hand in hand, but it was informative all the same.

For those of you looking to use brushes on your dogs, the advice learnt today was to start off with a rubber brush (Kong make one I believe) and gradually introduce the wire brush.

We wee also told the importance of finding a good Dog Groomer, as you don't have to legally be trained in the profession, and there are apparantly some bad eggs out there.

I was told to bring in Oscars injection card detailing when he has his first lot of shots, in order to book him in for his last set. I was quite pleased to hear that we can in fact get them this Friday, so in a week and 2 days, he should be able to go on his first walk.

Separation Anxiety - How to deal with it!

Dogs, and puppies in particular, can suffer from separation anxiety when you leave them for periods of time. This can be from as little as a few minutes, to a few hours.

Although I work from home, there are inevitably moments where I have to go out to run some errands, or go out for a Pizza at Pizza Express with my wife. So, from the beginning, I wanted to make sure that we could try and avoid this problem.

I did some reading both online and with the helpful 'first year with your puppy' book from Eukanuba, and found the solution to be relatively easy.

It involves the owner introducing the puppy to the fact that he/she will not always be there, but that it isnt a problem, and that the owner will return.

It is reccommended to leave the puppy alone for short periods of time, beginning with the owner being in one room and leaving the puppy in the other. I tried this with Oscar, and although for the first couple of minutes he cried, he soon gave up and I returned after 5 minutes.

I gradually increased the time periods, and am currently at a 4 hour 'alone time' period with him. He can (just about) sleep through the night without crying for us to come down.

The tricky part is leaving him alone at home while you go out. Although its easy in regards to not giving into the crying, the worst part is thinking 'what is he up to?'. I've often returned from an hour away to find his training pad in another place in the room, with little chew marks on the corner.

He has sinc stopped doing this, naturally it seems, and both Amry and I were able to go out and see the latest Harry Potter movie, returning 4 hours later to a well-behaved puppy and....wait for intact house!

I guess its all about building up your puppies confidence that you will return, and once you do this, you should have no problem. I myself am quite happy to leave Oscar for up to 4 hours now, knowing he will be ok.

** If you leave your dog for periods longer than 2 hours, remember to leave a bowl of water, as they can get dehydrated very quickly - especially if you feed them dry food.

Meal Times

We're coming up to our third week with Oscar now and it looks like he is getting used to his meal times.

It's quite tempting when you put food down, and a dog turns his nose up, to leave it there until he finishes it, but a 20 minute limit will be more than enough time for him to take what he needs. If he fails to eat anything within this time period, save the food until his next meal, and add whatever he needs to make up for any food already consumed.

We feed Oscar three times a day, on a strict timescale; 8am / 1pm / 6pm. He now seems to know what time he should be fed as he sits by the cupboard that his food is in. He's now taken to jumping in circles as we place his food bowl down in front of him, so food is obviously something that gives him great pleasure. He must get it from me!

Upstairs, Downstairs!

It seems Oscar has now discovered the stairs, as well as finding ingenious ways to overcome the various obstacles we put in the way to prevent him climbing up!

In the past week we have noticed a definite increase in his size, and no doubt this has given him the extra leg length needed to climb up the stairs.

The only problem is that once he is up, he loses all confidence coming back down again, and just sits there looking down at you. When you ask 'What's wrong' (like he's gonna reply), he starts whimpering. We got a great shot of him looking down at us (see top of this entry).

As of today, he will come down, but only with verbal encouragement, and after every step he successfully navigates, he lets out an excited cry.

I did double chek with the vet to see if this is 'allowed' to which she said yes, but not to let him do it too much.

But how do we stop him coming up when we don't want him to? Here are just a few of the combinations we have tried:

Training Crate = FAIL
Training Crate, Kitchen Stool = FAIL
Training Crate, Kitchen Stool, Cardboard Box = FAIL
Training Crate, Kitchen Stool, Cardboard Box, Washing bag = RESULTS INCONCLUSIVE

Of course, we could just invest in a stairgate, but where would the fun be in that?

'Puppy Party' #2

Oscar and I have just got back from Puppy Party #2 - can't believe we only have two more left!

Today's discussion was about Dog Food, and what is the best sort to feed them. The adivce from the vets was to give them dry food such as Eukanuba or Science Plan. Which is just as well, as we have been giving Oscar Eukanuba.

The dry food is preffered by vets as it contains all the nutrients a dog needs to grow healthy and strong, whereas compared to wet food, there can be some ingrediants that dont agree with your dog.

It's important to note that when you feed your dog dry food, they will naturally drink more, so dont be alarmed if they spend up to a minute lapping up water!

When it came round to allowing the puppies to play on the floor, Oscar seemed to take it upon himself to assert his position as top dog - Tallulah the Chihuahua stood no chance and was pawed over within 30 seconds.

This weeks party went by really quickly, as most of the session was given to the dogs being able to play with each other. I couldnt help but notice that all of us 'owners' tend to zone out staring at our puppy. It would hav made a great picture..but...well...I was zoned out!

Home again

Well, we're back home from our weekend in Christchurch. The drive down was a pleasure, not only because of traffic (or lack thereof) but because Oscar slept all the way. I thnk it is safe to put a big stamp of approval on crate training, as it really is working for us.

As predicted, Oscar got afew treats, not to mention his first squeaky toys, which its safe to say, definitley amuse him, and us (for about 5 minutes).

Oh..the puppy party #2 has been moved to Wednesday now, as bigger dogs now have their own day, leaving the smaller dogs to have more fun with others of similar size.

Toilet Training and other tales

Well its been overa week we have had Oscar now, and I have rather conviniently glossed over the whole Toilet Training issue.

Actually, Oscar has been very good with it all, with only a couple of accidents on my wife's prized Rug.

We have been using Training pads, that we place near the door, so as to familiarise Oscar with the location of nearly being outside. The pads apparantly have a chemical in them to attract puppies to 'eliminate' on them. I love that word by the way, its so subtle and kind on the ears - especially for a prude like me.

In the past week, both my wife and I have developed a sixth sense for knowing when Oscar is about to eliminate, and how to protect our indoor furnishings. We are happy to share these with you now:

Sign #1
If your puppy starts sniffing around - pick him up and place him on the pad.

Sign #2
If your puppy runs out of the room suddenly - pick him up and place him on the pad.

Sign #3
If your puppy starts circling - pick him up and place him on the pad, or check with your vet that he doesn't have four left paws.

Sign #4
If you puppy starts whining / crying - pick him up and place him on the pad.

New puppy owners will instantly have two new best friends; Puppy Training Pads and Kitchen Roll. So those of you who like a flutter on the stock markets, I highly emplore you to invest in both - as sales will always be strong as long as there are puppies!

We are heading down to my parents house in Christchurch; Dorset; UK, tonight to celebrate my birthday early / show off the puppy. No doubt that Oscar will be spoilt with attention / more toys.

It will be a real test to see how comfortable he is in the car in his crate. I've been getting him used to the car by bringing him with me for the past few days to pick up my wife from work. 30 minutes is fine, so hopefully 2 hours will be ok - fingers crossed!

'Puppy Party' - #1

Well, it's Thursday, and Oscar has just attended his first 'Puppy Party' at the Vets. I must admit, I was a little nervous, as I didn't think dogs could interact with each other until they had their last set of injections at week 12. The Vet reassured me over the phone, however, that it is perfectly safe as long as they have had their first set of shots, which Oscar had on 20th July 2009.

We got there before anyone else, which showed a little eagerness on my part, and we both patiently waited on the benches for the others to arrive. First to enter was a Collie called 'Issy'. Oscar's ears immidiately pricked up and one-by-one the other five dogs entered. A German Shepherd Dog called 'Teemo', A Chihuahua called 'Tallulah', a King Charles Cavalier called 'Cookie', A Labradoodle called 'Nero' and a Huskey called 'Rocksie'.

Keeping hold of Oscar was extremely difficult as he was terribly excited and wriggling all over my lap, desperately seeking an opportunity to leap onto the floor and play with the other dogs.

We were split up into two groups - Big Dogs and Small Dogs. Oscar of course fell into the latter - this didn't stop him fearlessly bounding up to the German Shepherd Dog that was four times his size though!

There then followed a talk from the Veterinary Nurse, who discussed parasites that owners need to protect their puppies from. This then concluded with the puppies (in their groups) being allowed to play on the floor.

The session ended with us showing what commands our pets had learned, and I couldn't help but smile, knowing what we had learned in day three! The nurse came round and asked if Oscar could show us what he had learned, and right on cue, he sat, gave his paw, and lay down.

The party ended and left us both with excitement for next week's Puppy Party #2.

It has just occured to me that we have now had Oscar for a week! Time to have our own puppy party at home, I think!

He's Smart....No really!

Ok.. So we've now had Oscar for nearly 3 days, and he has already learnt to Sit, give his paw and lie down. Im truly blown away by his ability to pick things up so quickly.

Before Oscar, I had two English Short-Haired Pointers (named Humphrey and Bogart), and alhough I pretty much grew up with them, I failed to teach them more than how to sit and give their paws.

If any of you reading this blog are struggling with any of these commands, below is a breakdown of what worked for me. Please note that I am by no means a professional dog trainer, but have found the following methods to work:

Have a treat in your hand and call the Dog to you by his name, followed by the command 'Come'. When the dog is about an arms length away from you, raise your hand with the treat exposed, so the Dog's head rises up, and say the 'Sit' command. The angle of your hand should naturally put the dog in a position to sit. Repeat a few times.

Have a treat in your hand and call the Dog to you by his name, followed by the command 'Come'. Use the Sit command you have just learned and praise the dog when he obeys. Then (with treat still in hand), say the 'Paw' command whilst picking up and shaking his left paw. Repeat the command, but let him try on his own. If he fails to remember, keep picking up his paw and repeating the command so he is familiar. Once he obeys, release the treat and praise him.

Lie Down
Have a treat in your hand and call the Dog to you by his name, followed by the command 'Come'. Use the Sit command you have just learned and praise the dog when he obeys. Then (with treat still in hand), lower your hand to the floor just in front of his paws and say the 'Lie Down' command. The dog will sniff / lick your hand for a while but should eventually and naturally lie down. The moment he lies down, release the treat and praise him.

Let me know how any of you get on with this, or if you have your own methods that have worked for you.

Toys, Insurance and Vets - oh my!

Well we have had Oscar for a little under 24 hours now, and although a little shy at first, he has definitley come out of his shell today.

We've decided to crate train him, which means that he basically lives in a large travel crate which has been lavished with a comfy bed, together with a carpeted flooring. (See picture above).

It's great, as we should (in theory) be able to take him in the car with us without yapping or crying, as he will, in effect, be in his bed.

Now although, I splashed out on a few choice toys before we got Oscar (Kong and Ragger), it has become clear that we need a few more. So Im off to our local pet store later to get some Tennis Balls and a Rubber Bone to put treats in - also a 'Kong' product.

I also got Oscar's pet insurance sorted out today. It is definitley worth shopping around online, and it's imperative you get a plan that covers any illness your pet may get, for his / her life. This may work out a bit more each month, but will be more than worth it if they ever get sick. Petplan offer this for around £30 a month, but we compared online and found More Than to offer more for just £13+ a month.

Finally, I also registered Oscar with a local vets today, so I can relax a little now knowing that he is covered on all bases. A little bonus from registering him, was that for the next 4 weeks, he is invited to a 'Puppy Party' at the vets, where he can socialise with other puppies of the same age.

Our first party is next Thursday, so no doubt, Ill report how it went.

He's Home!

Well, after several weeks of patient (or rather impatient) waiting, I am delighted to report that our new Border Terrier puppy, Oscar, is home!

And so begins this first chapter in The Dog's Tale Blog, and indeed my first ever 'proper' blog, as it happens.

This will grow to document Oscar's life, how it has affected our lives, together with some of the things we have all done together (or not) as a result.

A bit about Oscar...

Oscar is currently (as of writing this) 8 weeks old, having been born on 31st May 2009. He is a Red Grizzle, Border Terrier dog, who bears the rather amuzing kennel name of 'Horizontoll Google'

A quick look at the dog registration certificate reveals the name of his (real) parents. His father is none other than 'Minty O Meopham' and his mother is 'Horizontoll Miss Molly'. Must admit, we had a little chuckle over those names.

A bit about me...

My name is Sebastian Brook, Im an Actor / Website Designer, and I guess now...Dog owner! My real name is David Brook, but due to Equity (The Actors Union), there was already a David Brook, so I had to pick another name, and...well...Sebastian felt a bit more Showbizzy than 'Dave'.

Im 29 years old, and live with my wife, Amry, in Sevenoaks; Kent; UK. We both met at Drama School in 2001, while I was in my last year, and she started her first. We got married in Salt Lake City; Utah; USA in 2005.

Just before this blog entry comes to a close, I will publish our first pictur of Oscar - enjoy!