We were delighted to welcome Zip this week, an 8 week old working bearded collie.
Highly photogenic as you can see!
What has he done in his first week?
He has recovered from a 4 hour car journey, he’s learnt how to be without his litter mates – no small matter that. Although he sleeps in a crate next to my bed, he’s still on his own, having been used to sleeping in a heap of puppies. I always feel very sorry for puppies on their first night. As it was he was so exhausted that he slept without too many murmurs and my fingers in the crate seemed to reassure him.
The next and most important thing he learnt was that I am a safe place. Whenever something worries him, he bolts back to me and I bend down to reassure him, until he’s feeling brave enough to venture out and about again. This is the most vital thing to establish with a puppy, otherwise socialisation attempts often turn into flooding, causing stress and anxiety in a very young animal. To properly socialise, a puppy needs to go forward from a safe place. He needs to explore the world in his own time and at his own pace, safe in the knowledge that he can retreat, if it all gets a bit much.
Currently Zip is worried about the horses, which I’m happy about and also about the adult dogs defence barking, which I’m again happy about as a tiny puppy doesn’t need to be mixed up in that.
He has a very strong bond with me, he objects strongly if I leave the room and other people will no longer do to keep him company. I’m going to leave that one a little longer as it’s more important that he learns to relax in his crate, than it is to deal with any potential separation anxiety. This puppy finds the off switch hard, he’d be happy to keep going all day, which obviously isn’t good for a tiny puppy’s development. So he has play time and then down time, having made sure that he has emptied out first. His crate has food filled toys for him to chew on, along with an assortment of soft puppy toys. I make sure to walk in and out of the room on a regular basis.
As he’s settled and grown in confidence, we’ve started working on his name. At this point I generally advise people to have a call name, preferably distinct from every other dog’s name; a bad dog name and a smooching name. The call name is rewarded each and every time, with no exceptions. The bad dog name is in case you need to stop or interrupt behaviour. Zip grabs hold of my granddaughter’s clothes and I say “Oi!” and promptly move a toy to distract him. Never under any circumstances would I use his call name, as the association with his name needs to be a positive one. The final name is for when I don’t want my puppy to do anything at all and we’re cuddling up, I’m happy for him to tune it out as white noise as it’s not something he needs to pay attention to, I obviously don’t want Zip to tune out his call name.
People often ask me “what about other members of the family calling him”? Well, dogs don’t speak English, they form associations. My voice is distinct from my granddaughter’s, so it doesn’t matter how often she wonders around signing “Zipadee Zip” it doesn’t sound anything like my voice, so Zip happily tunes her out. Dogs and puppies are perfectly capable of learning different rules with different people, they’re highly adaptable.
Any question or comments? Feel free to comment or contact me.