Ben at 12 weeks

I have had Ben for three and a half weeks now and thought it was time to write a little something about how things are going so far.

He is a little terror! But so much fun. He has been spending time in the laundry (with the baby gate as a barrier), and in his crate. When I can watch him he is allowed to roam around the house, and he gets in to everything. If I took my eyes off him, even for 30 seconds, I’m sure he would be doing something he is not supposed to. He picks up everything and carries it around in his mouth, my daughters’ teddies, textas, socks, jocks, papers, bags, the list could just go on. The wonderful part about having spaces where he is confined mean that when I can’t watch him he spends time in these spots. I think that I would go loco if I did not have somewhere safe to put him.

As for training him to be a functioning member of society, I have been taking him out everyday since I brought him home. I do this to develop his confidence, Ben is going through the socialisation period of development. This means, that he is quite accepting of new sights, sounds and experiences. The more I can expose him to during this time, the more temperamentally sound he will be in the future. He has not finished his course of vaccinations yet but this is a risk I am willing to take. Today, more dogs are euthanised for antisocial behaviour than die from contracting viruses.

Ben has met more dogs than I can count. However, I have been careful about the kinds of dogs I have him around. I make sure that I see the dogs from a distance interacting with other dogs appropriately, and I also, always, ask the owner of the dog if their dog is, ‘ok with puppies’. I have been seeking out older, calmer dogs for Ben to be around. While it is fun to watch young dogs play, this can often get out of control and one dog either gets hurt or learns to play too rough. Older dogs usually sniff, may have a bit of a run around with Ben but that’s about it. They also correct Ben’s over exuberance if necessary in a way that a human could never do. If I am unsure about a dog (this includes listening to my gut) I do not let Ben met the dog. This socialisation period is too critical of a time, if something were to go wrong now I could ruin Ben for life.

I have been walking Ben on lead and off lead since the day a got him. I take fresh raw meat to the park, which he loves, and call him to me regularly when I know he will listen. His recall is amazing already! I can call Ben away from most distractions. I am under no illusion that this may not last, particularly when Ben is around 10 months old. So, we will just keep practicing, and I will make sure that I am the most fun thing at the park. I take toys, I run crazy, I play, and frolic with him, sometimes we just sit and watch the world go by. I am building a bond with him. A bond that during those tricky months of adolescence I can fall back on.

Ben has been waking up at around 5.30am each day. I wake up, let him out of his crate, and put him in the yard with something to chew. From the yard, he has access to the dog door and laundry. I go back to sleep, and he is happy to come and go from the laundry. He loves it outside and in his laundry, so this has been working well for me. Last night I forgot to double peg the bed sheets on the washing line, and found them on the ground this morning! My fault entirely, next time I will remember.

Ben has also been attending Kintala puppy school where the pups get to play off lead, out in the open before their lesson. This has been a wonderful time not only for socialisation but to also practice skills with distractions around. I have two short videos of Ben at puppy school that you can see at…..

The last few weeks here in Melbourne have been so wet, it has also been thundering lots- perfect for Ben to get used to thunder and lightening, although having to go out in the pouring rain and wait for him to go to the toilet has been difficult. Ben now ‘goes’ when he hears the word ‘toilet’ which makes the process much quicker and less painful. Ben is not toilet trained yet, I see no sign of him walking to the door when he wakes, and I know he has a full bladder. We will just keep plugging away at that one.

Ben has taken an instant love to our Burmese cat, Spencer. It is not reciprocated! Spencer has been beating Ben up at any chance he gets which has been helpful, as Ben seems to back off after a quick bat from Spencer. I have trimmed Spencer’s claws just in case he makes contact. Ben is not obsessed and I can get him away from Spencer easily. He just wants to play, and Spencer is starting to come around, slowly. I suspect it will just take time, and Ben needs to mature a little to understand that he shouldn’t try and stand on Spencer.

In just a few short weeks, Ben has met countless adults, children, dogs and has experienced so much of life. He is a blast to be around and has a very out going nature, nothing much scares him, and when it does he ‘bounces back’ extremely fast- perfect. He is an active dog and requires so much attention. Irish Setters are usually referred to as dumb and untrainable. Ben is far from it, he is developing skills like heel, come, high-five, drop, stay, watch me. He is so switched on that if I were a lesser teacher he would be a handful.

I fell in love with Ben the moment I was in the car on the way home with him. He has spunk and a zest for life that is a joy to watch. But at the moment he is sitting on my office chair fast asleep and happy, and so am I.

Katarina

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