Last week Facebook kindly reminded me that Zippy has been with us for one year.
In that time our carpets have been ruined, countless shoes have been chewed and we’ve had to get used to living with a stair gate again.
I must admit it has been tough. Tougher than I expected. Getting a puppy is a huge responsibility and it doesn’t stop once they get older.
Zippy is now 15 months old, 26kg and more obstinate than ever. Despite hours of 1-2-1 training he still pulls on the lead, chases cats and jumps up when he’s given any fuss.
Everyone keeps telling me it’s just his teenage phase but I suspect it’s his personality.
Yet in spite of all this, he has managed to win the family over and his loving, curious nature is infectious.
Now the sleeping is sorted (see previous posts) the current dilemma of the month is walks. Zippy needs about two hours a day being an active young Foxhound – Trailhound.
The idea was that I would run with him when he was old enough because I can rack up 50+ miles a week. This would be more than enough to tire him out even if he only joined me for shorter runs. But I currently have a broken toe which means running is not an option.
Zippy therefore needs lots of long walks and if he can run around he burns off more energy. After an hour’s mooch around the field he will then snooze happily for five or more hours before needing another walk.
Up until recently he was really good off the lead and although he would run across a field to meet another dog he would come back when called. He still does this, the problem is his scent drive. Once he gets on a scent he will not come back for love nor money. I could dangle an entire cooked chicken in front of him and he wouldn’t even look up. I have tried an endless variety of treats and recall techniques and although they may work for the first 20 minutes or so, they never seem to last an entire walk.
If we go to the park and there are other dogs around he will play with them and his recall is good. But when he is on his own once he spots a gap in the fence or hedgerow he’s gone!
This means we have been trying a variety of leads to prevent him from running off. The problem with this is that he pulls like mad and again lead training with treats only works for a few minutes. We now have a 20 metre training lead for letting him wonder off and have a sniffy explore, which appears to be a good compromise. For walks around town we use the Ruff and Tumble slip lead which is lovely and soft and makes him easier to control when he pulls. For longer walks my husband prefers the Ruffwear Knot-a-Leashlead which has more length to it giving Zippy some sniffing room (I suspect he also likes this because it is a lead inspired by climbing rope and my husband is a climber). This one is the best if we need to tie him up (in the pub for example) because it is very strong. Zippy has already snapped two standard leads because he is so strong and his stubborn streak means he won’t stop until he has broken free.
This strength will become a real asset when I start canicrossing with Zippy because he will be able to pull me at speed. He is desperate to run (he whines at parkrunners because he wants to join in) and from the little testers we have done I know he will have loads of endurance. For this type of activity we have yet another lead which is a bungee lead specifically designed for canincrossing.
When he runs around with other dogs in the park he is the fastest by far and keeps going and going until he is literally the last dog standing.
But until I can run again I will continue with the 60 to 90 minute dawn walks using my wide selection of leads.