Man Down!! (everybody laugh)

On Saturday I was at work and so poor Amy found herself in charge of Atlas duty.

He is both of ours and so this usually isn’t a problem, we take turns in walking him, and this usually goes without any problems.

We both train him the same way and walk out daily with the most fabulous bum bag (also affectionately known and the fanny pack) which is stuffed with tasty treats to ensure we train at every possible opportunity.

If anyone ever tells you that teaching a dog to “heel” is easy … they are lying and absolutely not worth listening to. Its gruelling and awful and nine times out of ten doesn’t work! it is THE most frustrating task Amy and I have ever had to overcome, and I’m fairly certain that every other owner of a head strong pup will agree. Atlas is nearly 11 months old and we have been preaching the same old story since he was 8 weeks old. believe me when I tell you this that two seconds of sense after a “watch me” or “with me command” can really lull you into a false sense of “he’s finally cracked it and we will walk politely”, you’ve nailed I, you have a slack lead and your enjoying your walk, you finally relax and then BAM out of nowhere that pesky Autumn leaf floats past and its lost, your back to hanging onto a crazed dinosaur with all your might trying to gain some control so that every passer by doesn’t point and laugh at the huge German shepherd with a floppy ear playing with the leaves with the stressed out human attached.

So, I return from work to find Atlas in the kitchen and Amy in a deflated heap on the couch. She then proceeds to tell me that he’s been the devil on their walk and that he’s in the kitchen to calm down (I’m not convinced she used the word devil and possible had a few choice words to call him, I guess that made her feel better). she then proceeds to tell me the story.

They were walking in the park and all was going well until our delightful pup decided he wanted to go and play with another dog. He proceeded to drag poor Amy, who at this point was struggling to hold on as he was like an unexploded bomb on a lead, over to said dog through a wet patch of grass. She slipped and down she went. She’s now on the floor, in the mud with Atlas still desperate to play with the passing dog.

Well not really sure how to take in this information and obviously knowing how she felt as it wasn’t so long ago the great oaf ran after a pigeon at top speed and sent me flying across the field on the end of a lunge line, to which he did come back rather quickly but was so excited with the whole affair he lost his mind and tried to hump me whilst I was on the floor, luckily for me the local football team weren’t practicing that day,  I obviously didn’t laugh (in front of her) but asked if anyone had come to help her up …. the answer was a definitive no and that the people around just looked at her like the village idiot who has a dog she cant only stay upright when holding on to but cant control at all in public. We’ve all been there!

Poor Amy, I think she has now forgiven him and made friends with him but I’m going to guess it’ll be me on park duty for a little while until our angel can practice some self control, Its ok you can laugh now!

Subsequently I was intrigued as to how much he now weighs. At last count he was 34kgs and that wasn’t so long ago so off I trundled on Sunday with Atlas in tow to the local pets at home and asked to use the scales, on he sits proud as punch and I watch as the numbers go up and up.

Here’s where they finally stopped …

atlas

That’s 37.8kg, 83.3 lbs and 5.95 stone

No wonder he had her over, the massive tank, maybe we should do a pool at what weight we think hell finish on haha !!

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He’s finally learning to relax

Relaxation is not a strong point of Atlas’ actually come to think of it, relaxation doesn’t really mix very well in our house.

Atlas can usually be found bounding around our living room pretending the floor is lava or just generally being a goof. Yesterday he threw his toy with that much force across the room that it almost sent the television rocketing to the moon. As I’ve mentioned previously, his newest most favourite pastime is the dreaded digging, we, in our naivety had thought that has ceased. Boy were we wrong.

However recently he has learnt that whining and singing doesn’t get him any attention and he is learning that having the odd afternoon snooze is quite a nice hobby.

Here is Atlas this afternoon managing a five minute lie down whilst Amy ate her lunch in peace.

Atlas

 

He thinks he’s a fog horn

Atlas is now nearing the 11 months stage …. Amy and I are counting down the days to his very first birthday. Also a very big celebration that she and I actually made it through the first year of sharing our lives with Atlas without A. losing our minds or B. selling him on Ebay. Of course with the age that he is comes certain challenges as with all babies as they reach the teenage milestone.

  1. Atlas is stroppy, not aggressive or mean, just stroppy. We say no to him and he literally throws himself on the floor in defiance, yep .. he’s a super fun guy !
  2. He tests us every minute of every day. He whines, a lot, usually when he wants something he cant have, another delightful reminder that there’s a teenager in the house, if you cant see him, you can usually hear him.
  3. He humps. He’s nearing the 6 stone mark now so thank goodness he hasn’t mastered the balance to actually hump a humans leg because that would make for very awkward conversation and more than likely result in the poor un-expecting human being knocked flying, but usually his bed or favourite stuffed toy gets it.
  4. Zooming ! everyone who has had a puppy will be familiar with the late night zoomies. all very cute when your teeny tiny fluff monster is flying around the house at super sonic speed, however not so hot when your ten month old baby elephant comes hurtling towards your freshly made brew at 11pm at night with the “crazy eyes”.
  5. The digging has started. My flower beds currently look like they’re part of an archaeological dig.
  6. Goodbye skirting boards. for the past few weeks our very own Picasso has worked wonders with our kitchen skirting boards. apparently having to wait until 7:35 for his breakfast instead of the usual 7:30 is not good enough and so his little nasher’s go to work on stripping wood.
  7. He’s scared of the dark! He saw a fox once at the bottom of the garden … it terrified him. He now refuses to go for a wee at night unless Amy or I stand with him. All well and good if its a nice warm evening, but in the very cold October temperatures usually accompanied by torrential rain, I can assure standing outside in your dressing gown and slippers shouting “wee wees” really isn’t the most favoured task in our house!

Now all of the above put aside, he is starting to come on very well. He is listening to commands more and we have almost mastered the art of walking to heal without having to pull Amy or I to the next tree at great speed. I even managed to walk him with a baby in a pram last weekend after babysitting for a friend.

He has developed one issue that we are trying very hard to overcome.

He’s lead reactive towards dogs.

He’s always been fairly vocal, I mean I can remember taking him to his first training session in my arms at 8 weeks old and he brought the house down with his high pitched yapping. So it wasn’t a huge shock when this arrived however it really hasn’t been helped with my anticipation of the scenario.

He sees a dog and then all of a sudden turns into a raving lunatic. Barking, pulling, squealing etc. You can imagine drama. People automatically see German shepherd and have a predisposed idea that he’s a nightmare so that doesn’t help, plus my tensing and getting upset instead of nipping it in the bud and managing his emotions. So, the day of our weekly training after a little summer break when it was closed I was anxious all day so when it came to the actual session I was a dithering wreck and Atlas was on pins.

He was barking and not focused and stress and oh it was just terrible. I was an emotional wreck and cried twice and he was just in meltdown. The trainer explained that he was feeding off my emotions and I just needed to take a breath and calm down he’s just venting frustration and he’s over excited.

After that day we introduced a clicker … and what a difference. I am not saying that he has changed overnight, he still barks and we have not let him greet another dog yet because he hasn’t actually managed to calm down when near another dog but it has only been a couple of weeks. Once he starts to relax and focus on us when near other dogs then we will start introductions, the phrase adding fuel to the fire comes to mind.

He needs to learn some self control but I especially also need to learn how to manage the situation and to just enjoy his company rather than worrying. This happened last night and we only had one blip. it was a squeak rather than a bark and he soon went back to his normal self, we then went and sat at the main road for fifteen minutes to watch the traffic. Again very important with a reactive dog as Id rather he didn’t dart off after every motorbike, or car that splashes in a puddle. This time he didn’t flinch and just lay down to watch the world go by.

We are persevering … but it’ll take time. I keep having to be reminded that he is only a baby and he is trying so hard. Its just we as humans sometimes expect too much too quickly. They’re brains cope with so much and I think the human world just overloads things for them.

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