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.
- 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 !
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- The digging has started. My flower beds currently look like they’re part of an archaeological dig.
- 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.
- 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.