Duke has been with us for 4 weeks now. He’s brilliant, if a little cheeky and I won’t lie I’m totally in love with him! A 9 month old Rhodesian ridgeback cross mastiff he is pretty big, pretty smart and pretty sweet. Because he hadn’t experienced much in his life he is also a bit fearful. He’s come on a long way since we took him home and I couldn’t be prouder.He hasn’t grown out of a lot of puppy habits so sometimes he is a little over excited and can misbehave. There were two issues we were having that needed addressing swiftly: being a pickle on the lead and jumping up. He has been so difficult on the lead that I’ve dropped it not just once or twice but three times!! When you’re battling a 5 stone dog it makes a walk feel like a gym session and the constant arm ache was becoming annoying. Because of this I contacted a dog trainer and today Duke had puppy school!
The trainer was brilliant. The lady came to see us at home and even went out on a walk with us. 3 hours of chatting and some well needed training and Duke can walk on the lead!!! After she left we took him out again and applied her training techniques and poof! Like magic the lead was slack and Duke was walking beautifully. She gave us a different style of lead: a gun dog lead or slip, which seems to be a lot more effective and he isn’t hurting himself buy pulling as it sits at the top of the neck rather than the bottom. This simple miracle lead is also the new secret weapon to stop him jumping up as we put it on him when anyone comes in the house and it can be used to stop him pouncing on people to try and play.
The dog lady pointed out the importance of getting his attention and for him to make eye contact once you say his name before trying more complex tricks. He is getting the hang of it pretty quick and of course enjoyed the reward of chicken.
We were worried about his habit of disembowelling soft toys… I wasn’t too fussed until people suggested it may encourage destructive behaviour. Thankfully I was reassured that it’s okay to wreck his toys. Although she did give us some wonderful advice when it come to the toys that we play with together: he only gets to play with them when we are playing together otherwise they go away. This not only stops them getting destroyed but also keeps them exciting and fun.
Duke no longer sleeps in his cage too, but he has a big bed which he likes a lot more. So we decided to put his cage in the shed for when we travel… at first Duke was panicked by this. I think he thought we were taking him away when he watched the cage leave and this incited whimpering, crying and peeing on my kitchen floor. But once he realised neither he nor we were going anywhere he settled and spent the night in his nice big bed!
Duke also had his first trip to the pub. He was very good. He sat in the corner while we ate lunch and after had lots of fuss from pub goers and staff alike! It’s nice to know we will be able to take him for lunch and to the pub without too much hassle.
The wind had caused some fear during the week as our little house rattles when the wind picks up and every walk meant we were battered by the wind and the odd noises made him very jumpy. This did result in a nervous dog for two nights in a row and he did chew up my shoe rack on one of the windier nights ( but at least it was only a shoe rack!).
Duke has had a brilliant week and is such a wonderful addition to our family. Every week I love him more and more (I’m soft I know). We are very lucky that he also goes from strength to strength each week with his behaviour improving every day. I’m very excited for tomorrow’s walk and to start some run training!!