We had a chat with Georgia Christley a few weeks ago about her life with dogs. She now owns two fabulous little pups, Archie (Border Terrier) and Angel (French Bulldog). Georgia shares with us her insight into being a dog owner as Archie and Angel are put in the Puplight.
I have always been a huge dog person and have grown up with four legged friends around me my entire life.
As a child, I had the most beautiful rescue dog named Shan who was a Collie/ Shelty cross and was literally the most amazing dog I have ever met in my life. She had been rescued from a bin by the bin men as she was being tipped into the back of a lorry. How anyone was ever able to treat this beautiful dog in this way is beyond me.
Shan really gave the definition ‘a man’s best friend’ – true meaning to me, she was loyal, fun, a joy to be with and my companion. She was sociable with other dogs and we never had any problems with her! She knew when we needed a hug and would sit next to us and gently touch her nose on our hands to let us know she was there.
She never needed a lead and would just walk alongside me on every walk, even seeing other dogs didn’t encourage her to stray. As long as she was by us, she was happy. She would sit outside my local village shop patiently waiting, again untied and never a problem. She lived until the amazing age of 21 and sadly developed dementia in her later life. Shan was where my true love of dogs began and how my views on how special a dog friend really is.
Coming from a large family of four daughters and lots of animals was amazing and I soon missed all the madness and noise when I moved into my very first home with my now husband. It became apparent I was in need of a furry friend. After much research into breeds and breeders, we decided on a little boy Border Terrier who we named Archie.
Archie was the smallest and cutest little puppy but also so intelligent and easy to train. He is able to sit, stand, speak, stay, crawl, roll over, be gentle, stand up… the list is endless, he is a very clever boy!
Unfortunately for Archie, when he was about 6 months old he was attacked by two Jack Russell’s whilst we were out on a walk. This triggered a change in his confidence and to this day he still can get uneasy when out on walks. Some dogs he is absolutely fine with, others he will bark and show signs of anxiety. We are never able to identify which dogs he will be ok with and which ones he won’t but by using the skills I have picked up over the years and from friends who also have dogs, we have managed to help Archie feel more confident and now, in turn, a happier boy!
We have also extended our fur family this year throughout lockdown, we wanted a companion for Archie and have always loved French Bulldogs so decided to get little Angel who has been rather different to Archie, she isn’t as quick to learn new tricks and is much more easily distracted…. However, she is MORE food focused so with lots of patience, treats and persistence we have finally cracked the toilet training and Angel can now Sit/ Stay and give high fives! 😊
To anyone else who is thinking of extending their fur family, I say do it!
Here are my top tips on making sure you nurture your puppy properly but also know how to get the best out of your dog as they grow.
Research, Research, Research!
Always be sure the breed of dog you buy will suit your lifestyle. Do you have children? Do you live somewhere you can walk your dog often or are walks limited due to work commitments/ locations etc? Do you want a calm dog who wants nothing more than to be in your company or do you want a dog that can go out walking for miles? Making sure you get the dog breed that fits your lifestyle is KEY to a happy relationship between dogs/ people!
Establish A Routine (Like A Newborn Baby)
Puppies need regular naps, somewhere they feel is a space for them where they feel safe/ secure and where they can go for a breather if they need to. Angel has always had a crate which I put a blanket over the top of. It is rather snug and cosy, and she loves going in there. I don’t lock her in though, I let her go to it whenever she wants some quiet time. She will use this when she is nervous (firework night) etc.
Every dog needs to be socialised. Regular walks are required for socialisation of dogs from a young age, ideally puppy classes from a young age again to socialise (Not been possible for Angel due to COVID restrictions) but thankful Angel has had Archie to help her a little along the way.
Walking from a young age helps the dogs get used to sounds around us such as loud lorries/ traffic/ people etc
Feed Them At The Same Time, Every Day
I always feed my doggies at the same time every day- breakfast and dinner. It also helps regulate their toilet needs so I often know on clockwork when they will need a number 1 or 2.
Diet is extremely important for a healthy tummy. I have gradually introduced little changes in diets slowly. When Angel first arrived, she was eating Royal Canin biscuits only as that was what she was fed with her brothers and sisters, we wanted to introduce meat into her diet so would add a little chicken on a Sunday. Weird as it sounds, we would keep an eye on her stools to make sure they were still firm, and she was ok with the changes and then gradually we were able to introduce other foods. My advice is to keep their food the same and gradually make changes if needed.
Trust Goes Both Ways
When out on walks, it is really important that your doggy friend feels they can trust you but also will listen when they need to.
I find that the dog can read your energy through tone and volume of voice but also through the way in which you hold the lead, if you pull on the lead and make them feel restricted you may be making them feel uneasy and stressed. Try relaxing and giving your pooch some trust, speak softly and calmly and make sure to have lots of treats on hand. If they recognise a stressful situation as a time, they will get treats, they will soon put these together hands in hand, and it will be a pleasant experience.
A Few Extra Quick Tips
- Make sure you show your dog the attention it needs, lots of cuddles and play are needed to have a happy doggy!
- Not letting a puppy sleep with you from a young age. We have kept our dogs downstairs in the kitchen and although it was hard at first listening to them whimper, they both sleep perfectly quietly downstairs together now. They need to know who the top dog in the pack is and where they rank.
- Puppy training. I personally didn’t use puppy pads, I always picked the puppies up and popped them straight outside and repeated ‘go toilets’, lots of praise and attention when they go outside and persevered with this technique.