Oz Working Dogs - Assistance & Working Dog Equipment

For assistance/service dog equipment, as well as guide, therapy, detection, search & rescue, police and dogs in training equipment check out my website http://www.ozworkingdogs.com.au - I make and sell vests, capes, belly bands, harnesses, handles and more... and will post to the world!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A change in sleeping arrangements, growing like a weed, food, our bond

Knightley in his crate in the living room, about to go to sleep
without us for the first time since we got him.
I'm such a cruel mummy.
14 weeks 4 days old

Well, our Mr Knightley sure is growing up. Tonight is his first night not sleeping in our bedroom with my husband and I. He's sleeping out in his wire crate in the living room. He seems to be doing fine, I can't hear any whining or anything. It is the crate he spends a fair bit of time in during the week when I am out at my volunteer job, and at various appointments and the like, so it's not like it is a new place for him. About a week ago it got to the point where he could easily sleep through the night without needing to do out to empty his bladder in the middle of the night. When we got him, he slept right beside me on the floor in a mini crate. When that become a touch small, we moved him a full sized adult fabric crate at the end of the bed. At first I was getting up 3-4 times a night to take him out, but over the weeks it slowly dwindled until as I said... at about the age of 13-14 weeks I found he could sleep 6-7 hours and not need to relieve himself. From then on his continued dwelling in our room was on borrowed time!! The only reason he stayed in our room for another week was due to my soft touch of a husband. Anyway, tonight is his first night into the cruel solitary world.
My husband holding Knightley at 7 weeks when we went up
to the Hunter Valley to temperament test his litter.
Knightley was the very last one we tested and I was
 beginning to give up hope!
Already only 9 days after the last photo you can see he
has really grown. He is a touch over 8 weeks here, my
husband holding him again. We've had him for two days and
we're wondering what we have got ourselves into!!
Physically I have really started to notice changes in him recently. He is showing the first signs of starting to get his adult coat by having what they call a 'racing stripe' down his back of differently textured fur. At the moment it is not darker in colour, although judging by the colour of his ears I do expect his adult coat to be darker than his puppy fluff. He has grown so tremendously but sometimes it is so hard to see - so today I took a photo of my hubby holding Knightley as we knew we had a couple of others of him holding him when he was really young. This one on the left was him holding him on the very first day we met him at the age of 7 weeks. He was so tiny then - the length of the hubby's forearm!!! Crazy, when you look at him now.

Today it also looks like he maaay have lost a tooth, although it would be a touch early. Either way, it should start happening in the next several weeks. His teeth look so funny in his mouth. His head has grown so much, but of course his teeth are the same size as they always have been, so it looks rather ridiculous. In a way, it will be just as silly having fully grown adult teeth in a little jaw. It's funny, I don't remember my last dog losing his teeth, although I was only 11 when we got him. They usually go through a stage when they only have a couple of teeth and eating anything much is painful, and they stop playing tug much etc. I really can't remember that with my Clipsy. Some kinda strange people out there have a bit of an obsession with puppy teeth and are rather overly keen to try to get every tooth that their dog looses as they grow up.... to the point of deliberately playing tug when there's a wobbly one, or just yanking them out, sorting through vacuum cleaner bags etc. I'm not fibbing! There's all sorts of weird stuff about people and their puppies teeth. I wouldn't mind Knightley's canines... but as for the little front ones, I don't care at all. Ugly little teeth!! I can't wait until he does get his adult teeth. I am sick of these ultra sharp puppy teeth.
What a huge difference. The hubby holding Knightley today
at 14 and a half weeks old. He has truly sprouted of late.
His adult coat is even showing signs of coming in and I
**think** he may have lost a tooth already.
So on the left is Knightley now, and wow when I compared the photos myself, especially the 7 weeks to now, it really showed me how fast he has grown. Weight wise he is not even half way to his projected adult weight. For someone who owned a small dog previously, the fact that a 14 week old puppy can be significantly bigger than that previous dog tends to be just a touch weird sometimes. It actually changes how I think about Knightley and what I expect from him. Sometimes I find myself getting annoyed with him, and expecting better behaviour - but the I have to tell myself that despite his size and despite how well he is progressing in our training together.... he is still a baby. Just one growing like a tropical weed on steroids!! The really scary thing is I have him on a slow growth plan, and he is actually **under** the average weight for the plan, although within the suggested weights. On another more extreme plans suggested weight he is over the average a little, although he came to me big and plump for his age and it would have been hard to be that extreme with slowing his growth. I try to keep him nice and lean to help with his joint development, without having him skinny. Sometimes it is hard to get it right, especially as dog treats never have the caloric content on the packages!! He came to us overly plump, but since then I have been happy with his weight, he has a nice 'tuck', and viewed from above he has a nice little waist.
When Knightley came to us, the breeder had been feeding him Supercoat, which in my opinion is a pretty horrible food, so I started the switch to a different food after a couple of days of settling in. Since then I have been feeding him Nutro's Natural Choice - both the dry and wet varieties. At first I added a little puppy milk to the food, simply because the breeder had been doing it, and I wanted to keep his diet relatively similar - plus, he loved it! I also sometimes gave him pumpkin when his movements where a little soft. Whilst Natural Choice (in my opinion) isn't exactly the greatest dog food around, it is much better than some of the absolute crap available, and I knew from the beginning that slow growth plans involve changing your pup over to an adult feed at a fairly young age to keep the growth slow, so I would have more opportunity to find a great quality dog food when that time came. Hence, I am planning to start a slow switch to Canidae's All Life Stages food, which is of a lot higher quality than Natural Choice!! Whilst it is called "All Life Stages" I wasn't happy feeding a food with typical 'adult dog food' protein percentage to a pup so young. So in maybe a month or so I'll start a very slow switch over to the Canidae ALS. It's quite an expensive feed here, as it's imported from the US. Not even my vet had heard of it... it's pretty new in Australia really, but very well known in North America for its quality.

The main problem with the 'bad' dog foods is what 'fillers' they put in to bulk it up, things that dogs largely can't digest well, or even at all. Sometimes dogs can be allergic to the ingredients, sometimes it contributes to tooth decay and so on. Corn is the worst culprit, so if you look at the ingredients list on your dog's food and see corn, especially more than once....... well, unless there is a very good reason to keep him on it, I'd be changing the food. The better foods are made of just one meat, whereas the dodgier foods often have a list like "Lamb, chicken, beef, turkey...". That is also something to steer clear of. Try for one meat, or two if you have to. Some dogs have a problem with wheat, some or ok. Canidae makes a range of grain free foods, as do quite a few other brands available in countries OTHER than Australia! If a food is good, your dog should be producing small droppings. I have considered feeding a raw diet (muscle meat, organ meat and bone in specific proportions, not as simple as chucking random meat at your dog), but decided that while my dog is still growing I would keep his nutritional requirements in the hands of the dog food companies. Maybe I will try it in the future.

Knightley half asleep in one of his normal sleeping positions.
He spends a lot of time sleeping around my feet when I am
sitting on the couch. The positions he gets into are absolutely
mad. I encourage him settling at my feet deliberately with treats,
because a defeat 'settle at my feet when I am sitting' could be
extremely useful if he does end up a working dog. It could work
 in a cafe, work place, visiting somewhere, medical appointments
.... anything really.
Training continues well. I have started trying to train a new trick, although so far it isn't going anywhere fast!! A lot of my time is training manners, things like training him not to eat brushes when I groom him, or to accept me brushing his teeth. Recently I have started training a positive interrupter noise, as I would definitely rather not use the 'ah-ah' I have been using. All the training and playing and just the time we spend together is really creating a close bond between us though. A friend who moved to Melbourne a while back came to meet Knightley a couple of nights ago after we all went out to dinner. After letting him out of his crate, instead of running to say hello to the new person, he ran to me to say hello, then to the new person, then back to me, then the new person, then to my husband, then the new person got most of the attention from then on. It is sweet how he follows me from the room if I move, how his eyes follow me. Recently I have been reading Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening our Relationship with Dogs by Suzanne Clothier and partly inspired by that I have been really concentrating on the relationship between Knightley and I. When he doesn't do something I want him to do, or he suddenly acts mopey and tired when I know very well two seconds ago he was chasing something madly I pause and try to put myself in his place as a dog, try to get into his thoughts, so that I don't react in a way that may harm our relationship in even a small way. I feel really close to him, and he has been teaching me things about myself. I am proud of our progress together and so far he is still looking like a viable assistance dog prospect, although I am completely aware I have done no more than the beginning of the puppy raising stage. However, what I see so far is great. Now.... if only he would be more interested in taking treats... especially outisde...! We are now doing training sessions in the backyard, instead of outside. As long as I really keep up the rate of reinforcement he does pretty well. It is when we go into the street that his brain virtually evaporates. We'll keep working on it, and I'll try to keep trying to think like a dog!

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