Friday, 29 November 2013

2 days until launch....

We're very excited about the launch of the Saving Caesar Rescue Advent Calendar 2013.  Not only because it means we're approaching the countdown to the big 'C' but also because we can't wait for you to meet the wonderful dogs that have taken part!

Before the rescue calendar begins, I would like to say a huge thank you to all of those who have taken the time to submit their dogs.  We adored all of them and couldn't believe the wonderful response that we had!  Making the calendar has been an emotional roller coaster and I've laughed, cried and been totally amazed at every step.  There are some amazing dogs out there but, equally, some wonderful people!

Please let me know what you think of the advent calendar and I'll hopefully see you back her December 1st!

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

It takes two to Tango...

I don't feel like a particularly patient person.  I have been told in the past that I am.  However, I feel that these comments are not based on an accurate account of 100% of my personality.  At work I'm patient - that's a skill I need for my job.  However, once I get home, I hardly have the time to be continuing with my patience.  When asked if I am a patient person, Damien's response was "....I don't know."  I think this confirms it.

I try to be patient with Caesar.  Sometimes I manage for bursts of time - like in dog training or when doing our 15 minute flash training sessions.  However, at other times, particularly on walks, my patience with him begins to run very dry.  So, when Emma called at 8:30 on Monday night and asked if I'd like to try walking with her and Tango (something which Caesar has got used to) as well as Sian and Dexter (something Caesar refuses to get used to) I was a little concerned - I'd already used my share of today's patience.

The last meeting with Dexter had gone something like this - I wondered if we were ever going to crack this relationship!

My theory has always been that Caesar can and will get used to almost any dog if given time and maximum exposure.  This is how we got him used to Tango and, later, Gemma.  With Caesar, love at first sight is not an option.  Things take time and....well, patience.

Hastily, after walking a few metres from the house I offered Emma Caesar's lead.  "Can you take him?" I asked, looking pleadingly at her.  Emma has always been a saint with Caesar.  She saw the good in him even perhaps before I did and without a shadow of a doubt has had more belief in him than I ever have.  She knows that he is capable of impeccable behaviour and expects nothing less.  I, on the other hand, cannot help but embark upon each walk with a feeling of impending doom.
Not the view I'm used to seeing on a walk - but much easier on the arms!

The idea of Emma holding Caesar was two-fold.  First, I considered that my bad vibes might be projecting onto him.  And second, I wondered if Emma would combat his weird behaviour in a different way.

Firstly, and perhaps with slight relief, I noticed that Caesar was behaving in much the same way while Emma was holding him.  She wrested to get him to walk next to her and was holding onto the lead with both hands trying to stop him from lunging/running towards Dexter.  Sian kept a safe distance as Dexter too was barking and excited about the walk.  For a while, we walked metres apart from each other.  Emma in the lead with the squawking, squealing nervous wreck that was Caesar.  Myself in the middle holding the very sensible and well behaved Tango, who trotted along nicely.  And Sian at the back with Dexter who was barking with excitement.  Again....I'm sure my neighbours love me....
Thirty minutes into the walk and we had made a little progress.  Caesar was walking alongside Emma with small bouts of noiselessness.  When he did make noise, Emma held back with him thus removing him from me and Tango which is ideally where he wanted to be.  When he had a few seconds of quiet, she sped up to allow him to catch up with me.

Emma walking with Caesar.

This continued for almost an hour.  By which time, the gap had began to close.  Dexter was now walking sensibly beside Sian and Tango continued to be pretty much unfazed by anything.  Caesar was still squawking occasionally but was clearly trying hard to manage this by snorting instead.

By the end of the walk, the three of us were holding an easy conversation and, if only for five to ten minutes, Dexter and Caesar were walking alongside each other...

Caesar and Dexter walking alongside each other!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Caesar - King of the Head Collar

They're not cheap.  In fact, I nearly fainted when I realised how much a medium sized head collar could set you back.  But, is there such a thing as value for money in the head collar world or do you simply get what you pay for?  Here's the low down on the four head collars that we've tried:
  • Halti
  • Dogmatic
  • Gentle lead - Full Halter
  • Canny Collar
Caesar came with a Halti.  It's a shame I didn't know this as I bought one before I even got him.  The reason for this was that I knew he needed a head collar.  Possibly 2 was a little excessive.  I knew that he needed a head collar because I'd once attempted to walk him on a collar and lead - never again.

In all, the Halti fit snugly on his face and didn't look to be in any danger of falling off.  It had the extra safety precaution of the clip onto the collar.  This meant that, should he manage to free himself of the head collar, he was still attached to the lead (a bonus point that not all head collars offer).  Although this has never been too much of an issue with Caesar, I do have a friend whose dog has a larger neck than head and this means that He can slip move things over his head.  The Halti would not prevent this entirely, but would make it more difficult should he attempt to do this.
Being the sensitive soul that he is (in more ways that one), Caesar becomes very sore on his neck from wearing a collar.  One strength of the Halti was that it had a padded nose band so that it did not irritate the skin on his nose.

Halti's, unlike many other head collars are available from major retailers such as Pets At Home so it is sometimes possible to try before you buy.  This means no expensive return postage problems.  

Another bonus for larger dog breed owners, like myself, is that Halti do not charge extra for larger sized dogs.  This differs from some of the other head collars that can add up to £4 extra onto larger dog head collars.

The fact that the Halti simply slips over the nose means that there aren't a lot of points to hold the collar in place.  Therefore, when Caesar decided to ignore it's existence and pull anyway, it slipped up into his eye. Caesar learned to walk reasonably well on the Halti.  However, when seeing another dog, he would ignore it and pull hard causing the band to move into his eyes.  This caused higher levels of stress on walks.  

The Halti, like many other head collars does require you to have an idea of the size of your dogs head.  However, these sizes are defined by breed.  The problem occurs when, like many of us, your dog cannot be defined by one breed.  It's hard for me to decide whether Caesar's head is larger than a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and if his face could be described as 'Labrador sized'.  Every time I have had to buy a head collar for Caesar that requires sizing by breed, I have always got it wrong and had to return it.

Also from a picky dog walker point of view, I was never keen on the look of the Halti, despite the option of buying it in 4 different colours.  For me, it didn't look particularly friendly and I felt the black band and halter looked somewhat unfriendly.

Dog biscuit sized review:  Cheaply priced and widely available but not well fixed to the dogs face.  Could fix low level pulling problems but for persistent pullers (such as Caesar) it rides up into the eyes causing stress.

The Dogmatic
Attending dog classes saw the end of the Halti era.  And, my new dog trainer recommended something a little more sturdy.  She gave the choice of two: Canny collars and Dogmatics.  Seeing the colourful and friendly looking Dogmatic, I decided to buy it despite it being the most expensive head collar on the list.  At almost £20, it wasn't exactly a bargain but I was immediately drawn to it.  The Dogmatic comes in several different colours and some of these come with fun puppy designs.  I decided it was exactly what I needed to make my oversized squealing, lunging Staffy cross look a little more friendly!

Let's get my own obsession with Caesar looking friendly out of the way first.  In my humble opinion, you can't get a friendlier looking head collar.  Not only are Dogmatics colourful, they are decorated with small friendly looking puppy faces.  You can also get a range of leather dogmatic collars which come in plain different colours.  Pretty nifty really.
The entire head collar is bulkier than the others and has metal fastenings which allow it to be maneuverable in some ways, but this also stops it from moving about on Caesar's face.  It works in a simple but effective way and, besides the Halti which was introduced at the rescue centre, I have seen the most dramatic affect after the introduction of this collar.  

Overall it feels more robust but has padding to ensure the comfort of the dog.  It feels secure and well fitted to the dog's face and somewhat adjustable for the size of your dogs head.  Caesar has tried in every way possible to remove his Dogmatic but never one has he succeeded.  The head collar seems to stay firmly in place once fitted correctly and offers a sense of security for the owner.  And, having owned one for a year, it has proved fairly resilient to Caesar's constant attempts to yank at it and pull it off his face.  It's true the Dogmatic has been through a lot.  Namely; sea water, claggy mud piles and sand.  It has been scratched, bashed off the floor and bitten but still stands strong.

Perhaps most importantly for me, the Dogmatic gives me a sense of control.  With the lead fixing point under the chin, I can turn Caesar's face away when necessary.  This has proved useful when walking past another dog as it can help me ensure that Caesar cannot lunge in their direction.
Although probably my favourite of the head collars, I have to admit that the Dogmatic is Caesar's least favoured headwear.  And, having owned and worn it during walks for over a year, he still has to be chased around the house in order to get it on and, once it's in place, he spends a great deal of his time trying to get it back off again.

To be fair on the head collar, Caesar has worn it for the majority of walks for over a year and it has remained fairly in tact. As you can probably tell, he's not particularly well behaved while walking on the lead so he does require something quite resilient.  After almost eighteen months of constant wear, it is beginning to show some signs of fraying around the chin.

A minor point but one that has got me into trouble before now is the lead fixing position of this head collar.  Because the lead is fixed under the chin, the front most part of the dogs body, an excitable dog (like Caesar) can swing their back end around freely.  This is not a huge problem for most people but I have had unhappy grandparent related coffee table, tea spilling incidents and also knee bumping incidents when trying to control Caesar on the head collar.  At one point, I adopted a double ended lead/body harness approach to try to counter this but found it not to be too much of a problem for most of the time.  The lead fixing point can also mean that, if Caesar stops and I continue to walk, the bottom band of the head collar and metal fixing ring can get stuck in his mouth as they rise up in front of his face.

The final drawback of this head collar is not my own but feedback from another dog owner.  I happily recommended this head collar in the early days of buying it for Caesar and another owner bought one accordingly.  However, she found it impossible to find a size for her dog that fit properly.  One size was too large around her face and another was too small.  There was no happy medium.  Because of the way the head collar fits, I can see how this could be the case.  And, admittedly, when I bought Caesar's, I had to send it back (and pay for packaging to do so) in order to get the next size down.

Dog biscuit sized review:  Good for me but Caesar hates it.  Sizing can be difficult and this can incur additional return postage costs which add to this already pricey head collar.  However, I feel in control of Caesar at all times which is important with a reactive dog.

Gentle Lead - Full Halter
I have a tiny bit of a confession with this one.  I bought it by accident!  My friend was telling me how well her Gentle Leader was working so I decided to investigate.  Unfortunately, I cut off the word "leader" and simply used the word 'lead'.  This brings about completely different results.  And turns a Halti like lead into something that looks more like a piece of rope with some fastenings.  

I have to be honest and say that, of all of the head collars, this is by far my least favourite.  However, the Gentle Lead does come in nice bright colours and only one size.  This means that you cannot possibly get the sizing for your dog wrong (a bonus for someone who always does this)!  It is also, by far, the cheapest of the head collars.  Coming in at under £7.  Perhaps I should have seen this as a clue when buying it!  I can't deny, however, it does look quite nice when it's on.  Caesar seems the least phased by this head collar, probably because of it's lightweight look and feel.

Out of all of the head collars, I feel as if I have the least control with this one.  Fitting it was difficult and the instructions was a complicated diagram with a list of parts which was extremely hard to understand.  I managed to fit it by process of elimination in the end.  I don't feel particularly in control of Caesar having used this head collar and the rope feels flimsy and insufficient for larger breeds.  In addition, the thin rope hurt my hands when Caesar pulled continuously.

Dog biscuit sized review:  It's a nice colour and doesn't require sizing.  However, personally, I don't trust this head collar and ceased using it within a week of buying. I have to admit that this wasn't due to any particular incident; I just did not feel that it was robust enough for Caesar.

Canny Collar

The Canny Collar is the latest addition to Caesar's head collar collection.  After I could see the Dogmatic head collar coming to the end of it's life, I decided to experiment with a different type.  Being a fan of the Dogmatic, I thought the Canny Collar, which works differently, might be a useful tool in aiding me to mix and match.  Perhaps, I mused, this might help me to train Caesar to walk on the lead better - he wouldn't get too used to one type and find ways to pull.

The Canny Collar looks smart and does not make too much of an impact on the dogs face.  It is a simple band that fastens over the nose which makes it easy to put on (once you get the hang of it).  At the time that I purchased mine, black was cheaper and so I chose black, not wanting to pay more for a different colour.  I've since noticed that you can choose any colour on the Canny Collar website without paying the extra.  In addition, the website itself has a measuring guide for dogs to help you choose the right size, rather than referring to specific breeds.

I like the Canny Collar as it works in a completely different way to the other collars.  It fastens at the back of the dogs head with two small rings and is built into a collar for extra reassurance.  If, unlike Caesar, your dog can come off the lead, the nose loop can simply be removed and fastened onto the collar using two clips which come with the Canny Collar.

Caesar doesn't mind this collar too much and it isn't very difficult to get him to put it on.  He also doesn't seem too distressed by wearing it during a walk.  The positive side of having a head collar that fastens behind the head, is that the head does not jerk to the side if you or the dog tugs on the lead.  And this works hugely in the favour of this head collar.  On one walk, using a front fastening head collar, Caesar stepped onto the road when a car was coming.  Panicking, I jerked the lead back instinctively and he gave a yelp as it jerked his neck to one side.  This could not happen with Canny Collar as the mechanism pulls the dogs head downwards and not sideways.

I found fitting the Canny Collar very difficult and, having had it for around a month, I still think there's a possibility that it could be a size too big - Caesar keeps slipping the band off his nose.  At first this was fine but, when done at the crucial moment, for example when holding 2 dogs and a 3 bags of shopping, it can be a real problem.

Out of all the head collars, I feel that this has the least impact in terms of pulling.  While it feels sturdy and I'm sure that it will stay on in some form, preventing Caesar from running away, he finds it fairly easy to resist and can pull with some force when on it.  In it's defense, I have to say that it is still a great improvement on lead and collar walking as it does not allow him to pull with as much force.  However, when he is determined to get somewhere, he can get a good pull on this head collar without causing himself too much discomfort.  

Dog biscuit sized review: Well thought out design means that the dogs head is not jerked - this is possibly why it is one of Caesar's favoured head collars.  The other reason, of course, could be that it allows him to pull more than most of the other collars.  

As I hope you have seen, each head collar has benefits and draw backs and it's up to you to decide what the most important factors are for you.  Each of the head collars described, has both good and bad reviews on it's website and this is largely down to individual preferences by both dogs and owners.  I hope the review helps you to select one that suits both yourself and your dog.

Have you tried one of these head collars or perhaps a different kind again?  I'd love to hear your comments.

Rescue Advent Calendar
There's still time to enter your rescue dogs into the Saving Caesar rescue advent calendar.  If you would like to see your own rescue dog and their story appear behind one of the windows of the online advent calendar, fill out the form and send it back.  You can write as much or as little as you like about your rescue.  There is no charge for entering and no personal details are collected (first name only required).

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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Bedroom Break-ins

It's a well known fact that Caesar can break into our bedroom.  I sort of turn a blind eye to it.  Admittedly, this is partly because I don't really know what to do about it.  He breaks in during the day and curls up on our bed.  Although this is a little irritating, at least it means that he isn't demolishing the rest of the house - well most of the time anyway.

Caesar's favourite place to be - under the covers in our bed!

So, with great guilt, I have to admit that I haven't done much in the way of stopping this behaviour.  I don't love the fact that my bed is being slept on all day by an often sweaty and sometimes muddy/sandy villain in the shape of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.  However, I've learnt to choose my battles with Caesar and decided that this wasn't one worth fighting.  Partly because the rest of the house was more likely going to suffer if he wasn't lazily lying about on the bed.

This, in my opinion, was all very well and good...until a few weeks ago.  It was a school night and I'd gone to bed as usual, Caesar by my side.  I'd drifted off into my usual sleep and being abruptly woken by Damien, as usual, taking Caesar to the toilet and then putting him downstairs for the night.  It didn't take me long to drift off again and I was having the most interesting dream about buying a new mirror for the bedroom when....'BANG!'

Big baby having teddy cuddles!

I woke up with such a jump that I felt dizzy.  Then another 'BANG' and then a squeak as the door opened.  Then a scuttling of claws on laminated floor and a sudden impact to the legs.  "Ouch!"

I sleep on the side of the bed that is not next to the door and so, for no other reason aside from this (honestly), I decided to wake Damien up.  Grumpily, he dragged himself out of bed and took Caesar outside again.  This happened another twice during the night.

After a night of disrupted sleep, I realised that I am never going to make a good or patient mother.  "GET OUT!" I screeched at him as he broke in for the third time.  The next few weeks only got worse!

Now, at the first sign of noise, I have taught myself to respond with a quick and loud "NO!" I'm sure that sometimes I even do this before I wake up!  I often find myself yelling at all times of night and morning as Caesar can strike at just about any time.  Last night, there were 3 separate night time raids followed by a huge amount of outside bedroom wailing!

I'm sure our neighbour absolutely loves us....and our delinquent dog....

There's still a few slots available in the Rescue Dogs Advent Calendar.  If you would like to submit your dog, follow the link at the top of the page "2013 Advent Calendar".  

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Friday, 15 November 2013

Christmas present defense...

People talk often about love-hate relationships.  Where half of the time you love someone and the other half you hate them.  I sort of feel like this about Caesar, except for all of the time I hate him and all of the time I love him.

'Hate' is a strong word, I hear you think.  Well, I suppose your right.  But, then again, five-hundred pounds is a lot to pay for a wardrobe only to find it destroyed.  Why?  Because you hid the Christmas presents in it.

Caesar is like a spoilt child at Christmas.  He makes it his soul mission to locate the Christmas presents.  Locate and destroy - that is his winter mission.  Last year, luckily, he managed to break and enter into the room containing the Christmas presents a week too late, thus destroying the presents that I had received from other people and guzzling my boxes of Christmas choccies and despite upsetting me hugely, also saving me hundreds of pounds.  Oddly enough, Caesar is not the first pet I have had that has attempted this.  When I was 10, I had a gerbil that, after attempting to hibernate, came back to life whilst in the front room by the fire, escaped from it's cage and promptly gnawed it's way through the presents under the tree.  Maybe it's just me and my bad luck with animals.  Perhaps I induce some kind of Christmas mania on pets!

Did somebody mention Christmas?

Anyhow, I cannot describe the feeling when I walked through the front door to find my dining room security system had been breached and a very sick looking Caesar was sitting amongst piles of packaging.  This is bad enough, but then you have to endure the people who tell you how you shouldn't have left it somewhere where he could get it.  I kindly remind them that I didn't think he would be able to get it there...hence the reason I left it there.  I will now proceed to move it to somewhere else I don't think he can get it and see if that works.  Chances are that, eventually, it won't.  Then, I'll be reminded of how this has happened before and I shouldn't have put it somewhere where he could get it.  And so continues the circle of destruction.  Caesar is like the housework; just when you think you've got on top of it, someone comes in with muddy boots on and everything is a mess again.  Except for at least people don't say "I told you you shouldn't have cleaned that floor..."  (I'm assuming this as it's not a problem I'm likely to come up against).

He might look like a perfect gentleman but wait until he gets near those presents!

For now, the Christmas presents remain safe.  Behind a partly destroyed but as yet unopened wardrobe door.

Here is the 5 point Christmas present security plan:

1.  Presents in a chest of drawers.  Drawers are weighted so difficult to open and shut automatically if opened a short way.
2.  Chest of drawers is inside a wardrobe which has two paneled doors.
3.  Doors are tied shut by scarf/belt.
4.  Wardrobes are in bedroom behind closed door.
5.  Bedroom is upstairs.  Stairs are guarded by a child gate.

As you can see, for Caesar to have caused damage to said wardrobe doors, which he has, he would have had to have already overcome points 4 and 5 of the security plan.  This is true.  However, as yet, points 1, 2 and 3 still remain strong enough to withstand his constant attempts to breech them....

Will it last until Christmas?  Only time will tell...

There's still time to enter your rescue dog's details into Caesar's Rescue Advent Calendar.  Follow the link to submit your dog, then look out for them appearing on the calendar in the lead up to Christmas! 
 Christmas Calendar Entry Form

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Saturday, 9 November 2013

Caesar's Rescue Advent Calendar

Over the last few weeks, something has occurred to me.  It's taken a little time but I keep having snippets of ideas that flicker into my mind at odd times like when I'm lying in bed or eating my lunch or when I'm walking Caesar.  Then, as quickly as they came, they go again.

You see, when I started the 'Saving Caesar' blog and indeed the book, my main aim was always to reach out to other dog owners, particularly those who were having a difficult time with their dogs.  Caesar is our first dog.  We had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for when we rescued him and, to be fair, neither did the rescue.  Rescue's can't know how a dog will behave when they live in a house - unless they are a foster dog - it's not possible.  During the first months in particular, I felt fairly down about everything.  I felt like I hadn't done something right or that I just wasn't the right person to help Caesar through his issues.  I tried really hard but every failure was a huge knock and soon I felt hopeless.

It was during these particular difficult times that I really began to believe that I wasn't a suitable owner.  Every day at work, I would worry about it.  Caesar should have been with someone who didn't work, I would think because he can't cope with being left.  I would also worry that I didn't have a big enough house and garden for a dog who needs to be constantly on the lead.  Perhaps he should have gone to a farm where he would have space to run about and be off his lead and he didn't have to be cooped up in a house and get so frantic that he destroyed things.

Then, one day, I met Emma.  She also had a rescue dog and she told me of some of the issues she had come across over the years she'd had him.  I apologised throughout our meeting for the noise that Caesar was making towards her dog but she was completely unaffected.  "It's fine."  For once, I felt like it might be.

I immediately went home and told Damien all about the girl I had met with the dog that slipped it's harness and ran off after another dog.  She, like me, had been mortified by his actions.  She was also willing to try walking our dogs together.  'What have I got to lose?'  I thought.

Over the next few weeks, my attitude to Caesar changed entirely.  Here was someone who was happy to walk her dog with him, despite the noise he was making and the fact that he was lunging about on his lead.  She smiled at him affectionately and didn't seem to care that he kept jumping around like a maniac.  She'd seen it before, I realised.

I took this photo because Caesar was actually sitting on a step next to another dog which he wasn't trying to jump on!  He'd met Tango only a handful of times...

Meeting Emma made a huge difference to me - it showed me that I wasn't alone.  And, after that breakthrough, I began to notice lots of other people who had dogs that broke into rooms, ate furniture, barked at other dogs, couldn't cope with being left alone and I had to admit that some of them were MUCH worse than Caesar.  It was then that I knew what I had to do....somehow I had to get the message to other dog owners that no matter how bad things get, you are not alone!  And so the idea for Saving Caesar was born.

Now to the advent calendar
Now to the idea itself.  As I said, glimmers of ideas had been flickering in my mind for a little while.  Somehow, I wanted to connect other rescue stories to the blog....  I chose specifically rescue stories because I wanted people to see the different issues that rescue dogs can have.  Each day, from December 1st, a window will open to a rescue dog and you will be able to read each one's different story.  In the spirit of Christmas we're going for lighthearted and fun with a few anecdotes and the reasons that we love our dogs.

How to enter
Just fill in the form with details of your rescue dog(s).  And, before December 1st, I will pick 25 to put on the calendar.
Click this link to access the form:

Caesar's Rescue Advent Calendar 2014 Entry Form

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Bangwhizzing popfizzers...the stairs are exploding!

I aplogoise in advance of this post.  It's 22:40 and I still need a shower before bed.  So, it will need to be short and sweet which is not at all my style!  This is the first night where I've actually had my eyes still open by the time I've finished work so I guessed, after not posting for four days (sorry), that it was a good time for a quick blog update.

The last few days have been stressful to say the least.  The fireworks have made Caesar very jumpy and shaky and nothing seems to be easing this.  Unfortunately, the usual tricks (crate, Thundershirt, ear defenders) were just not enough this time to counter the people behind us who decided to have their own fireworks display in a back yard that can't be more than 10 square metres.  I have to admit that even I was a little jumpy at some of the bangers that went up last night!

Caesar was past himself and, to begin with, stuck himself to me like glue.  However, this soon stopped when, taking a step onto the stairs, a huge bang went off outside of the window!  Poor Caesar leapt up like he had been shot and clearly associated the noise with the fact that he'd put his paw onto the stairs.  After that, he was very unnerved by the stairs and it took ages to get him to come down.

As a result of all of the fear that went on in our house last night, Caesar refused to go to the toilet before bed, despite the fireworks having stopped by this point and left me a lovely present to tidy at the end of the spare bed!  Thanks Caesar!

Caesar not looking very happy about the fireworks - this was at about 5 o'clock!!!

Thanks for reading everyone!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Fun on the furniture...

Good intentions.  It's what we all have when we adopt any dog or puppy.  But how many of your rules have stuck?  How many of your rules did you yourself truly believe in?

When we got Caesar, we had a short (we thought) list of rules that were going to form the foundation of our relationship.  They were as follows:

1.  No going upstairs
2.  Must sleep in a crate
3.  To be contained to dining room when left alone.
4.  No going on the furniture

I can quite honestly say that none of these rules are now in place.  But, hopefully, I can justify the reason for the majority of them being scrapped.  Let's break these down.

1.  No going upstairs
We spent the first few days of Caesar's adoption chasing him back downstairs.  He would insist on investigating the top of the stairs and rooms surrounding.  It consumed a great deal of our time stopping this and, having fitted a baby gate, he proceeded to jump over it.  The problem was, Caesar wanted to be wherever I was and if that place was upstairs, then it was upstairs that he wanted to be.  Eventually, I got him to stay downstairs.  Then, one day while I was alone in the house and in the shower, I heard a lot of noise coming from downstairs.  I couldn't get down to find out what he was doing and by the time I did he had pulled things off shelves and torn pieces of paper to shreds.  He had also gone to the toilet on the floor.  I realised how uncomfortable he was being left and it hit me that, by extending that time to times when I was upstairs as well as times when I was out of the house, I extended his anxiety.  I decided that I was fighting a losing battle by banishing him to the downstairs of the house and so, eventually, taught him how to follow me up and down the stairs carefully.  Now, he sits in the bathroom while I have a shower or even go to the toilet.  He gets ready with me for nights out and watches me while I do my hair on a morning before work.  Never again has he destroyed anything in the house while I have been there...

Now I've broken this rule, I can't even go to the toilet in peace!

2.  Must sleep in a crate
The point of this rule was to make Caesar feel safe but also to stop him from destroying anything while we were in bed.  He hated his crate from the word go, despite our trying everything in the book.  We fed him in there, we left treats and toys in there and, when all that didn't work, we eventually tried sitting in there with him.  Caesar's in-crate behaviour was not only naughty but downright dangerous.  He would screech and cry for some time and then we would hear a lot of clattering and crashing.  On going downstairs, we would find thin trails of blood everywhere, usually coming from his tail.  Caesar had learnt to force the crate door by crashing into it so hard that he hurt himself.  When he was trapped inside, he would bite his tail until it bled.  After a few nights, we realised that he was less likely to hurt himself by being left out of his crate within the confines of the dining room; even if the dining room suffered as a result.

Much happier in his own comfy bed

3.  Be contained to the dining room
The dining room in our house is a good size and had toys, bowls of food and drink as well as a comfortable bed and crate for Caesar.  However, none of these proved enough to satisfy him.  And, on returning from work, I would take a pause before opening the door.  Caesar had usually, at the very least, messed on the floor but usually, had skidded around on the dining table, pulled books off the shelves and bitten his tail some more.  Eventually, my dog trainer suggested giving him the run of the house...

The second week that we had Caesar - exhausted from playing with his Kong all around the house!

4.  No going on the furniture
After a few months of developing an unbreakable bond with Caesar, I realised that I wanted to take him for a cuddle on a night or sit him on my knee on an evening.  So, selfishly, he is now allowed on the furniture.

I'll admit it was a mistake telling him that he was 'allowed on the furniture'...

So there you are, all 4 rules broken in the first 18 months.

What rules have you broken?  Leave a comment and let us know.