My name is Becky and I am a proud dog momma. Ever since I was a little girl I have always loved dogs. I’ve always wanted to work with them and I knew I’d be content with life as long as I had a nice house and a dog by my side. I got my first dog for my thirteenth birthday. I spent 5 years asking my Dad every day for a dog. He finally gave in and Alfie, the west highland terrier, was bought into my life
Alfie was the naughtiest, cheekiest and smartest pooch I have ever met. He literally ran my families life. He would demand when he wanted to go on a walk (right after Emmerdale), he would stalk my Dad for lamb chop bones and he would tell me when it was time for us to go to bed. Although hilarious, it was hard having your life dominated by a ball of fluff. Unfortunately, Alfie got really ill in 2013 and we had to have him put down just after he turned 10.
I was stricken with dog grief and I missed my little friend more than anything. I missed being greeted at the door after a rubbish day at work and snuggling up with him in bed at night. It took me a good 18 months to make the move and say I was finally ready for another piece of fluff in my life. I knew he had to be different and I knew I had to change as I didn’t want my life controlled by a dog again. I didn’t want him to look exactly like Alfie but I did want a sparkle of Alfie in him. After searching and searching, I came across this little guy.
Rufus is a Tibetan/west highland terrier cross. He’s 7 months old and he’s bought a sparkle back in my life. He is honestly one of the loveliest and brightest little dogs I’ve ever met. He’s super friendly; a flirt with the ladies especially! We bought Rufus home at the end of March and our hard work in the first few months has paid off to produce this gorgeous lad. It’s a long journey raising a puppy and here are my tips that really helped me with Rufus.
1. Patience – Gary Barlow said you need to have patience and he is right. This is the one thing I’d say to anyone; make sure you are patient. You need to prepare yourself to mop up wee constantly, have sharp little puppy teeth nip you and get up super early. That’s just the beginning! I’ve cried a fair few times when he’s been whining at the top of the stairs whilst I’ve been getting ready for work. You just need to remember that puppy doesn’t know what’s happening and they’ll only learn if you tell them and reinforce the positive.
2. Treats at every door – When we first got Rufus, we had jars full of treats at every door, every place we sit and all over the house. As soon as he did something good, we could praise him straight away and give him a treat. I found this especially useful with house training as I didn’t have to fumble about with the packets and before we both know it, he’s forgotten what he’s being praised for. Make sure you keep them out of pooch’s reach, otherwise, you’ll have a chunky monkey
3. Socialisation – One of the main things with Alfie is that he hated people. We rarely had anyone come round as he’d just go nuts and bark at them for around 3 hours straight. It was one thing I was adamant I wanted to change with Rufus. I wanted him to be friendly and accept people into his home without getting upset or scared. When we first had him, I made sure a lot of people came round to meet him and play with him. I think in his first weekend he met my parents, brother, best friend and her boyfriend and my grandparents. Safe to say – he was knackered!
It’s not only socialisation with people that’s a must – you would ideally want your dog to be friendly to other woofers too. When we first started taking Rufus out on his walks, I kept asking people if they wouldn’t mind him saying hello to their dogs. Most owners are willing to let Rufus have a sniff and it really helped.
4. Training – I think training classes are a fab idea for puppies. I enrolled Rufus in the Kennel Club Puppy Foundation class and it’s the best training centre I found. Our group has around 5 or 6 trainers to 8 puppies so it’s practically one on one. I did train Rufus to sit and lie down before we signed up but I think it’s worth paying out the money just for them to meet other dogs on a regular basis. It’s also nice to catch up with other dog owners with puppies the same age and not feel so alone in the puppy saga.
5. Take lots of photos – It’s no secret that my Instagram is 90% Rufus and 10% food. Puppies grow really quick and it’s nice to capture the moments when they were tiny. When we first bought Rufus home, he was literally a ball of fluff who I could pick up in one hand. There was nothing to him except fluff. Now, he’s doubled in size and I can’t quite carry him round as much as I used too. Still, it’s lovely to go back on those photos and see how tiny my little man was!
6. Summer time or winter time – I’ve had both a puppy in the summer and in the winter. Let me tell you, I would never ever get a woofer in the autumn/winter again. I had Alfie for my thirteenth birthday. My birthday is right at the end of October so Alfie joined the household at the end of November. My mum will tell you it was a nightmare and she wanted him to go back after 3 days. Unlike summer, you couldn’t keep the back door open, it was dark by 5pm so you didn’t know if they were going for a wee or not and the majority of his walks were in the rain. My mum practically lived in the kitchen for six months whilst she toilet trained him. I made the conscious effort to get Rufus in the spring and it’s definitely saved my sanity. We can keep the back door open, the majority of our walks have been dry so we can spend more time training him to walk properly rather than getting soaked and by the time the clocks go back in October, he’ll be more than halfway to becoming a well trained hound.
Rufus is coming on to be a smashing little dog and I love talking about him. I really am that crazy dog lady. Do you have any tips in dog training?