Flyball Session No. 2 and Flyball Help!

OK, so actually last night we did Flyball session no. 3 at a different club again however I have not posted about our second experience so I thought I would …

I was sad after our first Flyball experience that Kubo couldn’t make the training again for at least a month so we found another local group and went along to one of their training sessions.

We had a completely different experience to the first group we were in. First and foremost, the training was outside. This was quite nice as it was a pleasant morning, though I could imagine that in the cold and wet it wouldn’t be as great! Since I suffer with Raynaud’s, I can really struggle in cold, outdoor situations. This club had been running for a shorter time so had less people (although I understand it just happened to be a quiet week anyway) and only one run set up. We were the first to arrive which was really nice as I had some time to chat to the Captain. She had a van and as we pulled up in the car (we weren’t in our big yellow van this time!) we were greeted with lots of barking – this seems to be becoming the norm! She had a lot of dogs with her, from memory about sixteen – and to think I still struggle to live with one – but they did all wait in the vehicle.

border collie in t5 transporter
Kubo likes the driver’s seat

The people were equally as nice and potentially because the group was smaller, or maybe just because it was a new group so the members hadn’t been there too long, I found it easier to talk to people. It may have even been, I suppose, that I had already been to a Flyball session before, so I was not a totally ignorant newbie!

Rather than the runs being on mats, the jumps were set out over grass with fencing around to keep the starters on track. I really thought Kubo wouldn’t like this at first but he had no issue at all. As we had done at the previous class, we practised Kubo running back to me (but without me running alongside) and he was perfectly happy to do so. He still hates being held though, apparently!

Very soon we moved on to me letting him go to get the ball and coming back to me which he did really well. We started one jump away and then moved back bit by bit. Each time he stayed pretty focussed (apart from once when he went tearing off out of the fence to find his Dad!) and always dropped the ball for me. Admittedly, I did remember his tuggy rope and he loved the play reward since he was so psyched up from the fun he was having. I did struggle to get him to let go of the tug a few times, which is actually unusual for him.

When we had a break, he was allowed to socialise a bit which was really nice for him and something we didn’t really get a chance to do before. Since we were in a large field, we could stand near enough to the run for us to be able to watch but without Kubo disturbing the training dogs. We did put him in the car a couple of times so I could watch a bit closer and Dave learnt how to load the box. It was nice for him to get some hands on experience and to be able to understand a bit more about what was going on, especially as I always handle Kubo and he tends to have to watch. Although it probably sounds really stupid, I didn’t know how the box worked and it was nice to see the ‘real’ Flyball dogs in action!

border collie laying in grass

On Kubo’s next turn, he had to work quite a bit harder. The box was involved. We had established that he was left pawed which sounds about right; he often put his left foot forward first. I’m pretty sure I have heard somewhere that male cats tend to be left pawed and female ones right? I could be totally wrong and I don’t know if this even applies to dogs, but it may do. We learnt to teach him box turns (I think that’s what it’s called) and he is slowly starting to get it.

Now, after joining another Flyball training session, I have even more questions than before. If anyone can help, please do:

  1. What does competing entail? Do I pay? Are there prizes? I have looked around but it all seems so unclear to me!
  2. Why are there two Flyball clubs in the UK? Is one better? Should I join both?
  3. Can I train with more than one group? If not, how do I choose?
  4. Can I compete with more than one team? If not, how do I choose?
  5. Do I have to keep my dog in a crate/car when not running?
  6. What is a good speed?
  7. What happens if a dog knocks a jump?
  8. Are competitions done on mats or other surface?
  9. Should I teach my dog to turn both ways?
  10. Where can I get a decent fleece tug? I have looked online but I can’t tell the quality.

There are so many other things I am unsure or nervous of! I know I could ask one of the Captains but I don’t feel I can ask them about joining multiple clubs. What if that’s a big no-no taboo and super rude? – I don’t want to offend anyone straightaway! Or maybe it’s perfectly fine to train with different groups and lots of people do it.

At the end of the session, once we had all helped pack up, all the dogs in the van were let loose and it was so much fun watching border collies, lurchers and other breeds tearing across the field and playing together. Kubo was put in his place by a male who continuously tried to hump him and so keep seeking help and hiding by any human he could. I must admit, I really don’t like it when other dogs do this to him but I suppose there’s nothing really that can be done. This was the point we felt it was probably time to leave and save him the embarrassment!

Happy Birthday, Kubo!

dog birthday cake

Yesterday was Kubo’s first birthday and like any member of the family, he was a little spoiled on his day …

I’m pretty sure he had a wonderful time with long visits to the park with both me and Dave and agility in the evening. We had a cake from Twinky’s Pet Bakery which he adored – it was quite funny watching him trying to figure out how to eat cake though! He did lots of licking it before finally getting his teeth involved. We didn’t go mad with toys as he has so many already but a new Frisbee and ball was part of his stash.

Although he was clearly in no way impressed by it, I also commissioned local artist Queen of h’Arts who painting a gorgeous portrait of both Kubo and the cats. Do check her out on Facebook and Instagram – I highly recommend her and she does work internationally.

So many happy returns to our troublesome monster and we are looking forward to all the fun and adventures the next year is sure to hold! Including a road trip to France with him … what could possibly go wrong …

PS: visit my discounts page for some deals and freebies on Twinky’s Pet Bakery

border collie portrait
Clearly excited by this gift!

Cat Attack

We took a trip away this weekend to the Peak District where we stayed in a caravan in someone’s garden (I love the things you find on AirBnB!). We were so lucky to have gorgeous weather as you never know what it will be like in Britain this time of year. The owner of the caravan did falconry and we were able to handle the amazing birds of prey and we enjoyed some beautiful walks over the long weekend.

We visited Bolsover Castle and many other stately homes and historical buildings, or at least the outsides of them. As much as we love having Kubo around, it does somewhat limit what we can do. Unless we leave him in the car we are normally restrained to the grounds only; it is completely understandable although with one, we weren’t even allowed to go onto the grounds. Often it is not suitable to leave him in the vehicle: this weekend it was just way too. He is part of the family anyway so we wouldn’t want to leave him really. Luckily, with two of us, we tend to have one person manage the dog whilst the other goes inside to ave a nose and learn.

a girl and her border collie
Enjoying the views from Bolsover Castle

We found a cavern in Castleton which allowed dogs inside. This was a pleasant surprise – we are getting used to not being able to do as much due to having the dog with us but it was lovely to be able to do this! Kubo was very well behaved, despite being pretty bored. He made up for the boredom by trying to eat all the sheep poo he could once we were out whilst we desperately tried to stop him doing so.

Dog friendly cavern in Castleton
The Blue John Cavern in Castleton

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about was what happened near Chatsworth House on Sunday morning. The sun was up and it was set to be a beautiful day. We’d had a lovely weekend so far so we decided before our falconry experience in the afternoon, we would visit Chatsworth and have a walk around. To allow Kubo some time off the lead we decided to walk in the non-livestock fields behind the garden centre. The entrance to the fields was up a single track road with farm houses on either side. Kubo found huge sticks (branches) to run around in in the fields with as well as many mucky puddles but we didn’t mind – after all, a muddy dog is a happy dog. It was a perfect start to the morning, walking alongside the river with lambs prancing around on the opposite bank and we planned to visit the café for a well earned breakfast.

As we came back through the gate to the road we noticed that the last house had their dogs out in the lane. Kubo was back on his retractable lead and greeted the two Labradors nicely. I saw a fluffy black and white cat sat a little way off watching but thought nothing more of it as Kubo was occupied with the dogs and hadn’t even noticed the cat, much less caused it any bother.

We were about to start walking away when before I knew it, this cat launched itself at Kubo, taking him completely by surprise. Claws were extended as it jumped onto his face, hissing.  He just rolled over onto his back, submitting to his attacker and was yelping whilst the feline screeched and clawed at him. He managed to get up and ran to hide behind me but this cat followed and kept advancing with its attack. I unblocked his lead so he could get further away (it has an 8 metre range) and he did run away from this house but the cat chased him down, jumping on him and all the while making horrible screaming sounds and yowling. Kubo fell down again crying and yelping. It was heart breaking. The cat was going straight for his face while he was down. I screamed and presumably the cat’s owner began calling it. The noise of the animals was horrendous and I was nearly in tears. I had no idea what to do and the only thing I could think of was to kick this cat to get it away from my dog who was clearly very afraid and sounded like he was in pain. All I could think of doing was trying to save him.

I ran towards the commotion and in the meantime Kubo managed to get up and start running away again with the cat still in pursuit. He managed to get enough of a lead and the chase stopped before I had to intervene. Thankfully.

It really was a horrible ordeal and as soon as we were round the corner and sure of our safety, we checked Kubo over for any signs of damage – I was mostly worried about scratches to the eyes as I have heard horror stories of dogs who have lost their eye sight due to cat swipes. Other than a few scratches to his nose and understandable nervousness, he seemed OK.

Border collie in field
Kubo enjoying the fields

I have been left with mixed emotions after the incident and although it was only a small cat, it was so vicious and the whole thing was rather scary and seemed to go on for such a long time. I guess I am glad that Kubo is not an aggressive dog and did not fight back as if he had decided to retaliate he could have easily injured the cat quite badly, if not killed it. I know it’s much harder to control a cat; it’s not like it can be muzzled or kept on a lead. I feel if this had been a canine however it would be reported and I imagine either it would have to be put down, or kept under control in some manner. Kubo was lucky the cat did no real damage as it could have been considerably worse. Of course, I do also feel sorry for the cat to some extent as you don’t know what has happened to it in its past for it to react that way to a strange dog. Maybe it is just collies and it has had a bad experience with the breed specifically?

Kubo was on edge the rest of that day, barking and growling at shadows and even a bronze deer, generally keeping near to us: I can’t blame him! I just hope this doesn’t affect him long term as he isn’t the most confident dog anyway and I really don’t want him to become aggressive towards cats or particularly fearful. I am so glad that when we got home later that evening he didn’t take it out on Cally or Soda and still seems fine with them. Let’s see what happens next time he meets an unknown cat.

Kubo tries Flyball

Now that Kubo is nearly a year old, we are able to do a little bit more with him and we had always known that as a Border Collie, something to focus him would him be a good idea. We have been considering Flyball and Agility as potential sports for him and last week went to our first Flyball session.

I had been talking to the captain of the team beforehand via Facebook who asked what his recall was like … this made me worry straightaway. His recall is OK … most of the time … assuming there is nothing else he would rather be doing! I was honest about this and expressed my concerns. My main worry was that he would decide going to say hello to all the other dogs which would be an awful lot more fun. Thankfully, he is good at dropping the ball so that’s something. Little did I know at the time that he wouldn’t actually be going near a ball.

I was very nervous going in with no idea what to expect. The car park was full of 4x4s, vans and estates: when we got Kubo out of the car, they all erupted in loud barking. We were warmly greeted by the captain and told that we would be running according to the schedule stuck on the board. She then continued her duties and I stood with Kubo, unsure of what to do next. As someone who does get shy and nervous I panicked a little. How would I know when we were due up? I didn’t know any of the other dogs so I couldn’t use them to figure it out. What did I do when we weren’t training? Most people didn’t actually have their dogs on them and they were all discussing races and shows with lingo that I barely understood. I did get talking to a couple of nice people, obviously about their dogs, although I never actually got their names (I do know the dogs’ names).

The club was indoors at a sports hall and I learnt that when we weren’t running or involved we were sat on plastic chairs in the corridors, watching through the long glass window. It reminded me of when my Dad used to take me to swimming lessons when I was a child and he would sit in the spectator seating (probably falling asleep!) with all the other parents.

We were called in within the first half hour which I was grateful for but I really had no idea what to expect. I was told Kubo would be held, I would run next to the lane calling him and he would be released to run towards me and the finish line, getting a treat at the end. Simple enough but I would have to run?! I was not expecting this. Sure, I’ve seen Flyball before on the odd video but I’m not sure I ever paid that much attention to what the handlers were doing. Suddenly, the women in workout gear made sense and my jeans and Converse felt even more out of place. Before we could even get started I had to empty all my pockets for fear of my mobile, hair clips, assorted change, dog treats, poo bags and anything else lurking in the depths, flying out. The next challenge was getting Kubo to be held. He did not like a strange person holding him around the back legs (I’m sure there’s a term for where they hold the dogs…) which was totally new to him and he thrashed and fidgeted. Once I started running away though, his focus kicked in and after ‘Ready, Set, Go!‘ he was off!

flyball run training
One of his first runs … blurry due to epic speed!

He did come to me and had his treat (a little piece of beef) but the next minute he was gone! He didn’t go, as I expected, to greet another dog but instead had spied a tennis ball on the floor and being all exited, zoomed off to grab it and play. Once I’d managed to get him back with me and the floor was cleaned up of rogue balls, we tried again. It is no surprise that he is a much faster runner than me so I had to start further forward and run quicker to ensure I was past the start line but the time he got to me so he learnt to run past the gates.

A few more runs and I was knackered! He was actually really good and after the first ball incident he didn’t run off again. He was never keen on going back to be held but he clearly enjoyed the running after. I unfortunately forgot his rope as a play reward but luckily with such a food focused beast he was content with my excitement and treats as a reward.

We were then done for a while and sat back in the waiting area, watching through the glass. Kubo did not go back in the car even though almost everyone else put their dogs away. Interestingly, a lot of the dogs didn’t interact. Considering how many were there, Kubo only met a handful. I really thought it would be a bit of a social for the dogs but actually a lot of them I found didn’t mix well with others.

We waited a really long time before he got to go in again. We learnt a few more of the dogs names (no idea on their peoples’) and we overheard many conversations full of jargon I didn’t understand. Kubo fidgeted while I tried to keep him entertained and calm and I mostly played with my phone once I ran out of contributions about the common topic we were there for. I did say something to someone about trying Kubo on agility too to find which he prefers. They queried why I wouldn’t let him do both to which I replied ‘I need a life too!’… I was laughed at. Apparently I am quite naïve.

I spoke to one family who had multiple dogs in the household and I don’t mean two or three but six or seven! They had a really impressive van which inside was fashioned in a way that reminded me of bunk beds for multi-level dog housing.

The second time we went in, we continued running up and down the mat, but this time with another dog running the opposite way at the other end of the hall. Each time we brought the dogs closer together until they were running on lanes next to each other. Kubo held his focus and watched me, in fact, his biggest issue was by far going back to the scary lady who would hold him by the back hips – I was actually really proud of him!  After this exercise that was us done. The training was still ongoing but we had been there for several hours already and I wasn’t sure how I could contribute so I managed to slink off.

Due to holidays, their shows and other generic life events, it looks like we won’t be able to go back to the club for at least a month which is a shame as despite all the sitting around, when he was working, Kubo really enjoyed Flyball.

The experience has left me with lots of questions though such as what is the etiquette in joining multiple clubs (since Kubo would have to wait so long before going back to this one)? If we go regularly will I really end up with no spare time for myself? I expected this with children but I don’t have them yet! Do dogs always go back into crates or cars when not working? Will I be expected to do the same? Why do people run other people’s dogs? How do people live with 7+ dogs? Will I ever understand the lingo? How long does it take a dog to get used to the hold?

It was a very strange feeling to be proud of a dog for essentially running up and down a mat but I was just really nervous that he would go off and do his own thing, maybe even be asked not to come back if he was a real troublemaker, so maybe a lot of it was relief!

We will be back and see how he gets on as there is a lot more to learn. In a couple of weeks I will also take him to agility to see how he gets on there. I kind of hope he really doesn’t get on at either one of the two as having to choose may be difficult and I do still want a life …

furry dog border collie moulting
Because one dog is not enough!

 

 

Shadow hunting and evil strawberries

We have been a bit quiet lately over here. As so often happens, life can get busy and stressful and things just pile on! I have been finding it difficult to have any down time and the stresses have built up a little.

Over the last month or so things with Kubo have been hard, also. Firstly, he got ill. I was so worried and as much as his relentless energy can be a huge pain in the backside, when he just wanted to lay around and sleep all day it was totally heartbreaking. For 4 days he would hardly eat anything: he would have one or two pieces of kibble and then go and lie down. We tried other foods and soaking his kibble but he always just took a small amount and then gave up, walking away dejectedly. He didn’t want to go out or go for walks and was stuck by my side, wanting to just lay down near me. I cried a fair amount as it was so sad to see and I can be a worrier. It turned out to be nothing in the end (thankfully) – we took him to the vet who said she couldn’t find anything much wrong. His temperature was normal, stools were fine and there was no vomiting. After another couple of days he thankfully starting eating again and his energy picked up. Before long he was totally normal and back to himself. I guess the vet was right, puppies do just pick up things, or eat something that doesn’t agree with them and have a few ‘off’ days but when it’s your pup it is so scary! I don’t think you realise how much you love your dog until there is a possibility that there is something wrong.

The other thing that has happened with him which has now started taking up a lot of time is a fixation on chasing (or looking for) lights and shadows. We are aware of how this can turn into a bad OCD, especially for collies, and so are putting in a lot of work to distract and redirect him but it is really hard. It zaps your energy. Our kitchen lights cast lots of shadows so the evenings I am on my own consist of desperately trying to cook by the under counter kitchen lights whilst simultaneously doing my best to distract him from shadow hunting. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried cooking in semi-darkness but it is not fun. He stopped laying calmly at my feet when the attention was not on him and instead busied himself with this behaviour. After a long day at work it is exhausting as you cannot sit down for 5 minutes. He is getting lots of walks and runs (as much as he should have considering he is not yet a year old) and we are still training him and teaching him new things every week. It just takes time but we will crack this. I can completely see why this develops into a serious problem for dogs if left to continue.

This weekend we are taking him to a local Fly ball team’s training to see how he gets on. We are hoping that it is something he enjoys and takes to as it would be good to get him focused on something. I am nervous as I don’t doubt he’ll run to get a ball but the likelihood of him then running around to show every other dog the ball and ignoring me is quite high! A new environment and new dogs? I feel I have no chance! I will report back how his first session goes – you never know!

The only other vaguely interesting dog-related news is that I have found a food Kubo does not like! Considering he is the most food focused beast I’ve met who will try to eat anything (including t-shirts and  his own fur he finds on the floor) this was a bit of a surprise to me. The offending food? Strawberries. He will take a piece if offered, spit it out, and look all hurt about it! ‘Why didn’t you give me something tasty?’ he look says, dreaming instead of beef, kibble, cucumber or literally anything else.

strawberries

Well, that summarises our last month or so. I look forward to sharing Kubo’s first Flyball experience and as always, if there is any advice on the shadow obsession I will gladly take it on board!

Arianna x

 

 

What do you feed your dog? Raw? Cold Pressed? Wet?

It’s a question other dog owners asked us; the vets asked us; our family and friends asked us. Of course everyone also has an opinion on the matter! ‘You need to feed him a raw food diet’; ‘He should be on leftovers’; ‘You must feed him grain-free’; ‘You need to feed him xyz brand’. The choices were exhaustive. It felt like there was so much pressure to do the right thing. I am a great believer in that there is no set solution, no one size fits all, both for humans and our animals and you should do what is best for your individual dog.

Me being ever the bargain hunter, when Kubo came home with us I nabbed sample packs and trial packs, I wrote to companies we were interested in and asked to try their food, all in a bid to find out what we should feed our boy and what he preferred.

The vet advised us on several large brands and to always go with a food which has a calorie amount on the bag. I was originally all for feeding him Royal Canin as this is what the cats have always been on, it is recommended by vets and I have never had any issues with it however, Dave became a lot more involved in researching different types of food.

border collie puppy
A younger Kubo

Kubo was hyperactive (isn’t every puppy?!) and Dave had read somewhere that a high carbohydrate diet can cause excess energy. So he began researching foods with a high protein content which is a lot better and we ended up trying a cold pressed food. When we switched to cold pressed Kubo took to it really well. His stools we less frequent, he generally just enjoyed his dinner even more, seemed happy and healthy. His energy levels did also seem to settle though I accept this could have coincided with him just getting a bit older!

What is cold pressed dog food though? I had no idea! It’s something I had never heard of before. It turns out that cold pressing is a relatively recent new method of creating dog food; ingredients are ground, mixed together and then cooked very quickly at a low temperature (normally 40-75 °C) which keeps more of the essential nutrients and creates a more ‘natural’ product. Cold pressed food also releases the nutrients slower, dissolving from the outside which can help to avoid bloating.

We were happy with the food he was on (Orijen) until December last year when we got our Christmas Barky Box. I wrote about it in an earlier post here: Kubo was desperate to get into the box in a way he had never been before and it was all for a Trip Bone by the dog food company Guru. I have never seen him so desperate for  a particular treat before even though he is very food orientated.

I began researching the company and instantly fell in love with Guru, their people and their ethos. Kubo’s next delivery of food was 2 big bags of their Surf & Turf food, not to mention some more Trip Bones and their Venison Sausages. First and foremost I must say that the Venison Sausages are the absolute best treat ever according to Kubo. He will listen to us more than he ever had for even one of these and I am happy in the knowledge that they have the best ingredients in them, not like some of the treats on the market – I am surprised by how much junk can be in some things!

Guru cold pressed dog food
Well this Surf & Turf smells good, mum!

Kubo’s love of Trip Bones had not diminished either! He loves them just as much as the first one he had and will try to sneak into the cupboard if we let our guard down to pinch one! It is a great treat for him when he gets one and they certainly keep him quiet for 10 minutes.

But what about the food? Kubo seemed slightly unimpressed at first as according to the feeding instructions, he had less than he would have of other kinds of dry food. Not that this made him hesitate much – he wolfed down his first bowl very happily! I am sure that he was fuller for longer and when I gave him a choice of foods for his next meal, his nose went straight into the Guru bowl! 

cold pressed bone, guru trip bone
Kubo’s first Trip bone

Ultimately, the food we buy is driven by our dog but I will always have a soft spot for start-up companies and specifically local or UK-based ones. I like to connect with a company and really highly value great customer service, interaction with customers, a friendly tone and values that I align with – all of which I have found in Guru.  

I will be honest and say that I like the convenience of dry dog food – wet food smells and is messy and raw food takes so much preparation – but there was always a worry it wouldn’t be the best thing for our dog so I was willing to feed him whatever would be best. I can certainly say that since switching to cold pressed food both us and the dog are happier; Kubo’s stools have smelt less and are better formed which is a huge win for the humans as the picker-uppers! His breath also has been much better and he really is more focussed with his energy – it is not so ‘mad’! One of the big pluses for me is that we can feed him less whilst knowing that he is still getting the right amount so there is a financial saving for us although all this means is that he ends up having more money spent on treats and toys! Despite all of the positives that we have found with cold pressed food, for us my number one favourite thing is how much Kubo loves it. Above all the happiness, welfare and wagging tail of our dog is what matters and Guru ticks all of the boxes – we are proud to be ‘Geeksters’!

Guru cold pressed bone
Winner for us!

 

 

Car/Bird/Squirrel Chasing (or ‘herding’)

Border Collie in the park at sunrise

I was told that Border Collies have a very strong ‘herding instinct’ by numerous people before we got our pup. What I later discovered was that everyone actually meant a ‘chasing instinct’! I really wish someone had actually explained that to me as I would have been more prepared and done more reading before a problem started to develop.

His chasing instinct seems very strong to me, but the reality is that I have never have a dog before, so it is probably just the same as any other young dog or Border Collie. He is now 9 months old and when he locks onto something I cannot do anything at all to distract him. I have tried very hard but it is something that we still struggle with daily and is a great cause of frustration to me for several reasons:

  1. I lose control of my dog – this is both embarrassing and frustrating
  2. It has begun to cause damage to our property
  3. I’m afraid of him getting injured/lost

When we first got Kubo we followed advice and walked around the streets with him (in our arms) before he could walk on the floor to get him used to the sights, souBorder Collie fixated starnds and smells. By the time he was able to walk on his own he seemed OK however at some point he began to notice cars and from then on would go bonkers trying to chase them. We followed the advice of a trainer and found a path offset from the road, walked him up and done focussed on us and gradually brought him closer until he could walk alongside the cars and pay attention to us (with the help of some chicken or sausage!). This works on the residential 30mph roads and we continue to do this daily but near quicker roads we do still lose his attention. I must admit I find this kind of training on bigger roads very hard to do as it is stressful, to be honest. We need to go slightly further afield so need more time, it also is not a nice fun walk or training session and it is very draining so it is way too easy to just avoid walking him next to busier roads, or take him out at unsociable hours when the roads are quiet, even though I know we need to keep the practise up.

He also never seemed to have any real interest in chasing other animals outside of the house and when we started letting him off the lead he was good as gold. We wouldn’t let him off anywhere near a road as I just don’t trust him with cars and we will only let him off when we are both present due to how nervous we are. About the 4th time we ever let him off lead I was on my own and out of the blue for some reason he noticed a bird. He had never paid them any real attention before. He took off after it and no amount of me calling him, running the other way or trying to lure him with toys and treats helped. He was fixated on this bird who by this point was flying (circling) with Kubo trotting underneath. The bird tried to land a few times but with the dog chasing, it kept flying back up and Kubo kept at his chase. Eventually, after what seemed like hours but was only minutes of course, the bird found a tree, leaving Kubo jumping up the trunk underneath it. I was in tears of worry as I knew wherever that bird went, my dog would have followed – what if it had gone towards the woods? Or the other way to the road? I was so relieved to be able to approach and get his lead back on and naturally when I eventually got his attention away from the bird I was super excited with him and gave him treats and toys but clearly he enjoyed the bird chase as he then spent every walk looking up at the sky, hunting for more birds. We have never been able to shake this bird (and also now squirrel) habit. Sometimes he will give up the chase and come back when we call but other times he will not. We tend to try and walk him round our local reservoir as there are no roads he can access and he can’t really go anywhere but we find this a huge restriction as there are many other places we would love to go. We have taken him to woods and parks and he does always eventually come back after a chase but the time he spends away, fixated, is nerve-racking and I am concerned he will lose his way, or worse, find himself in the path of a car, and I’ll be one of those people putting up missing dog posters. It breaks my heart to think of losing him.

Another relatively new development of his in trying to ‘catch’ other cars whilst we are driving. We finally managed to get him happy in the car on the backseat on his own however he spends the entire time snapping at cars that pass on the other side of the road. The bigger and faster the better! I have had to stop opening the rear window for him as he has begun trying to launch himself at the cars he wants to catch but this just means he scratches his teeth up against the glass window instead which is now causing damage to the glass. I have again tried to distract him with treats and attention but he just locks in on them and we lose his attention completely. He just becomes so task orientated. His seatbelt cannot be tightened enough that he can’t reach the window.

Dog funny face border collie car

I find Kubo to be a very stubborn dog. When the cats are upstairs he is relentless at jumping up and making lots of noise. My banisters are full of scratches and flaked paintwork. If you can get him to change his attention focus he will only do it momentarily before running back to the stairs. We cannot seem to switch his focus at all, only distract him for very short periods.

The advice we have been giving is to keep practising recall training around birds, which we do. If the cats are making noise upstairs I try to sit with him and reward him for being calm and quiet. Is it a case to carry on with this and eventually it’ll just get better? What else can I do? It is so frustrating, especially when I need to cook or do something other than be tied to him and he is just going crazy. I try to shut him in the room with me but this doesn’t help, he just has a go at the door instead.

As always I welcome any questions on anything we have done or tried and any advice is greatly received. I don’t want my dog to be in danger and I’d rather not have any more damaged caused to our house or car!

Kubo meets a puppy

Kubo has always been a submissive creature and even sometimes slightly nervous, but he is super friendly and playful and so when my friend got a puppy this week we thought Kubo would be one of the best dogs for him to meet.

He will almost always roll onto his back when greeting another dog unless it’s a Labrador … for some reason he is nervous of them and whenever a Labrador approaches our boy he hides behind our legs (no, he has never had a bad experience!). We had never seen him meet a pup before though so had no idea how he was going to react.

He bounded into my friends’ house with all of the energy and then sees this tiny 8-week old puppy and his whole demeanour changed; he became cautious and acted scared. He sniffed it and ran away and when the puppy got too close he hid behind us! I had not expected this behaviour at all. We thought he would be excited and playful rather than fearful.

It didn’t take him long to come out of his sborder collie and puppy boxerhell again but he did not want to interact with the puppy – all he wanted to do was steal the pup’s toys and run around with them, playing with the humans and avoiding this small creature at all costs. I was devastated! I had gone on about how playful Kubo was but he wanted to do anything but play with this unknown beast! The pup was desperately trying to get involved but clearly didn’t know what to do. It was so super cute watching his little tail wag furiously whenever Kubo walked past him.

Once we took them out into the garden however everything changed. The puppy had gotten braver by this point and Kubo was finally happy to interact as long as it involved chasing! He grabbed and stick and tried to get everyone to chase him.

It was so nice to see him finally relax and behave like the dog we know.

Back inside he then did the cutest thing I have ever seen our dog do: he laid down on his back and let the small puppy climb all over his face, play-biting and swiping, all the while being as good as gold and letting him do it (with the occasional gentle push).

It melted our hearts to see him being so gentle and playing so nicely with such a tiny creature!

I still don’t know why he was so afraid initially. I have read that older dogs may be fearful of puppies due to them getting more attention, intruding in their house or v27747269_10156112019476350_226570463_oying for status but due none of these seemed to relate. I guess it was just being in a new place with a new dog who had never met anyone but his siblings before. He was probably behaving strangely and I can only imagine Kubo, not being the most dominant dog, didn’t know how to react to this. If anyone has any insights into why he was so nervous I’d love to hear them!

They will keep socialising and hopefully grow up being friends as Kubo will not be the bigger dog for long!

(it was impossible to get a decent picture of these two once they had started playing!)

Barky Box: a review

Why a subscription box for pets?

smells good

It’s a good question and to be honest I don’t really know. I stumbled across this article by the Independent and thought I’d give it a go. I used to (many years ago) get a beauty box subscription for myself and I really enjoyed it: it was like getting a random present every month. I’m past the years of treating myself to such things (I know the products I like and am not into experimenting!) but as Kubo is my first dog I thought it may be a good way to explore what offerings there are. I joined Barky Box back in October for a 3 month subscription.

Initial Impressions

I started the subscription in October and I was excited as my three boxes were themed; Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night and Christmas. I was a little disappointed that my first 2 boxes arrived so late in the month (I actually got my November one on 1st December) so I contacted Barky Box via Facebook and they promised they would do their best to get the December box to us before Christmas – they did indeed– top marks for responding and following through! 🙂

I really love the way their boxes are hand written and personalised. I likehalloween dog biscuits their social media presence and friendly tone – sharing pictures and commenting on various platforms made me feel like part of a family. I don’t know how big a company they are but it felt like a start-up – in a good way – I wanted to support them and be a part of their journey! The toys have been high quality and the treats have been really interesting: I adored the Hallowe’en themed ones!

Kong Bear
Kong Knots Bear (and the bandana) – November

I was a tiny bit disappointed with the November box: we received a bandana with ice creams on it (in Winter?) and a bag of coconut treats that I had already received in the October box. I was worried that I was going to get the same things repeatedly in my Barky Box. On the flip side we did get a Kong Knots bear which I was really happy with and some great biscuits.

 

December Box

december barky box by benji dog treats
Box of goodies minus the Guru bone Kubo already nabbed – December

Kubo was desperate to get inside this box and it was all for a bone by Guru! I now need to buy more of these as he loved them so much. (Thanks Barky Box!!)

We also received a durable toy made from recycled plastic bottles which I really liked as a concept, Kubo enjoyed it too – he has torn out almost all of the stuffing and ripped off all limbs but still plays with it and I don’t know that there is a dog toy on Earth that would survive him!

bybenji biltong
ByBenji Biltong – too good for dogs?!

The biscuits in the box were great and we also got some biltong by ByBenji which smelt too good – I actually checked it wasn’t for humans!

Perhaps the most interesting thing we received was the bake-your-own doggy peanut butter muffins. I have never considered doing such a thing but what a good idea!

I was chuffed with this box, especially after my concerns from the one before, it was full of variety and high quality products.

Conclusion

In my three months of being a subscriber I have really enjoyed getting the boxes and actually discovered several brands that I will now be looking into buying from.

I would never buy premium treats normally and there are so many choices out there for things that it’s actually quite nice to have someone make a decision for you and just send a selection of nice things.

I don’t know if they actually take dog size into account (I hope they do!) and I would like to hope that they don’t often repeat the same treats (I’m willing to forgive that once) because I actually really like this company. I do not however have any experience of other dog boxes.

My subscription has actually expired: I did contact Barky Box to continue it but I needed to sign up again on the website and I hadn’t bothered … however since writing this I remember why I enjoyed it so much and although I don’t want to spoil him too much, Kubo is one of my babies and why shouldn’t he get a little gift box every month?

I love my Barky Box
‘Thanks Barky Box!’

 

Dog Photographer

We had the pleasure of having some action shots taken of Kubo on Sunday by the awesome Steve Feeney. He is a very talented photographer and we are very grateful for the wonderful photos.

Because Kubo insists on running sideways he can look a little odd sometimes and like he has a big bum …

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