This blog is to tell the story about the search for and the upbringing of our new German Shepard. We live in Sydney a pretty dog friendly city so we are looking forward to many outdoor adventures!

Friday, 11 July 2014

6Months on the Button!

Murphy is 6months today and for his half-year birthday present we got him neutered! The poor bugger. The vets tell us it all went well which is good. He has a giant cone on his head and he is pretty grumpy but apart from that he is eating well and resting which is good. He’s missing being about to lick his groin and scratch his ears but he will be back to doing that in a week so I hope he can hold out. Something that I didn’t know but I suppose it makes sense is that neutering costs are based around the weight of your animal. So I was guessing Murphy weighed about 17KG but when he was popped onto the scale he was a massive 25KG. I couldn’t believe that. On a booklet the breeder gave us there is a sizing chart you can have a look at how he is progressing for his age and weight; he is off the chart… aiming to be bigger than 36KG for a full adult :-O. He is not overweight or anything close to it so we will see what size of a monster we end up with a good few months down the line.

Even though he sounds to be getting really big he is still such a playful puppy and he loves all people, kids, other dogs and birds. He is walking better on the lead, still pulls gently, I’m confident that after a few more months of work and he should be walking perfectly on the lead. Mark brings him to big dog training in Leichhardt Dog Park every Sunday morning and he is doing so well. They base what class he is in based on how good a handler you are with him. So you graduate through the classes not him. So I brought him one week Mark wasn’t able and we graduated to 2nd class but Mark still had to show up the next week and do Class 1 and then at lunch time go to be tested for class 2. It’s a really good way of doing it as dogs behave differently with different people. So we are a level playing field again but I had my week of gloating J

Murphy is still going to doggy day care it’s really great for him and us. He gets out of the house while we are at work and gets to socialise with loads of others dogs. I’ve been told he finds his favourite girl dog of the day and he just follows her around. At least he is having fun. I wonder will that change now that he has been given the snip. He can’t go this week but we will find out the following week. We’ve had a few friends’ in-between new jobs and back from fly in fly out who come by and walk Murphy on non-day care day, which has been great for him. He has such a lovely temperament that everyone loves taking him out.

Other trainings have been going well. He knows sit, drop and stay like the back of his hand. Now I am working on his reaction times to doing them once we say it and the distance I can be from him to get him to do them. It’s challenging but it will be worth it.

Murphy’s first holiday is coming up. We were very surprised we were going to be able to take him but it has all worked out so well. He is coming to Mudgee with us, which is wine country about 4 hours from Sydney. Our friend Lorraine has orgainsed it and went to the trouble of finding dog friendly accommodation for ~13 people. Which is fantastic but not only did she do that she also asked the bus driver of our wine tour if Murphy can come on the bus and he can! It’s amazing. It means he will be able to be with us the whole time! It’s going to be great. So I am trying to teach him a special trick for the bus driver for letting him on. I’ll get a video of it if I manage it and post it soon.

Our back garden still has seen better days. With it now being winter the grass isn’t getting any sunlight practically so the areas where Murphy has dug and peed on are looking pretty sorry for themselves. I’ve covered the main bad areas with chicken wire to prevent Murphy from digging there anymore and he only tore it up 3 times :-/. I gave him a good tellin’ off and some sticks to rip apart instead so he has left it alone since which is good. Murphy destroyed his lovely foam bedding for his crate a good while ago so with the cold weather coming in Mark was very nice a bought him a new one. We were only putting in at nighttime so he didn’t tear it during the day when we were out. It was going really well until he didn’t want to go to bed one night and after eventually coaxing him in he settled down and went to sleep. Well that is what I thought. The next morning I come out to wake him up and I discover that he has done a number on the bedding. Ripped it all to shreds again! It was so ANNOYING. Another lovely bed destroyed. Because it is still very cold through the night here and he was getting neutered we needed to replace it… I headed down to the local Hot Dollar store and got him the cheapest bed I could fine. It’s pretty ugly but it keeps him off the cols plastic base of the crate and it’s not full of foam that he can rip apart. So he has that now. Maybe one day he can get a nice one again but it’s not on the agenda anytime soon.

His coat has changed colour a lot over the last few months. I am still not sure how he is going to look when his full adult coat has come in. His legs and chest are all tan. When he is sitting facing you it appears like he has a gold v-neck chain on, it’s very cute. The top of his head is also tan and apart from a strip of tan across his shoulders the rest of his back is black. So he is a bit of a mixture at the moment. He doesn’t appear to shed too much and then I sweep up and these little balls of fluff are everywhere. I suppose I am thankful for now he doesn’t leave anything on our clothing or hands when we pet him.

House rules still haven’t changed. He is not allowed on the couch, upstairs or passed the kitchen bench into the hallway. He shows interest in the stairs when one of us goes up there but apart from that he never tries to go up there. The couch he is generally good at. When we are playing with him he sometimes puts a paw up on it but he hasn’t jumped up at all and I hope he never does. The kitchen bench is always a hard one. Some days he very well behaved and others he is half way down the hall after you! He is a good puppy otherwise. Completely toilet trained for the car, house and crate. He doesn’t bark or make a noise when we are not here. In general he doesn’t bark anyway only when he is excited and in the dog park. We were watching a TV show one evening and there was a search on for a man and they were using dogs and of course the dogs started barking chasing the guy and Murphy jumps up and starts barking at the TV as well. First time we heard his proper dog bark it’s quite impressive.

Well I think that is it for me today. Apologies for the long delay in posting, I’ve been working crazy hours and the thoughts of looking at a computer screen again in the evening are painful. Until next time, I will leave you with more insights around neutering.

Neutering in my opinion:
Why do it?:
There are two mains reason in my head, 
1. To prevent testicular cancer in males.
2. If you are not going to breed a male it is unfair to have him fully sex and not being able to procreate. If you have a full sex male, females in heat with seek him out to mate and so you will have a dog wanting to chase any female and wanting to get out of the back garden at all costs. So it wouldn’t be a fun time each month going through that. For females it’s good to neuter because like human femlaes they also get a periods each month so to avoid that it’s a good idea.

Steps I took/followed:
  • No food after 10pm the night before the Op. Access to water is fine.
  • It’s a day surgery so in the morning and out in the evening once it all went smoothly.
  • In our Vets they offered us blood test and a drip for after the procedure. Of course these cost extra but the blood tests are to check how much anesthesia he needs and the drip is to get more fluids into his system to speed up recovery afterwards. In our eyes it was worth it.
  • Murphy’s stitches are dissolvable so they can’t be licked or get wet or dirty so we asked for a cone to be put on. The vet said that he hadn’t tried to go for that area at all but as soon as I had him and the vet went off to get the cone he went straight for the stitches. In my opinion do not leave your vets without a cone. I know my dog loves cleaning himself, especially in the groin area so if yours is similar get the cone. If you don’t get one and the dog pulls out the stitches you have to rush him back to an animal hospital, put him under again and pay approximately $800 more for the whole thing. A cone is annoying but a much better solution than that.
  • He was very dopey when he got home last night. The Vet said that he may not eat but I gave him his normal portion and he gobbled it straight up and he kept it down. If your dog doesn’t eat it can be a couple of things, he just isn’t hungry, his throat is sore from the tube being down there or he is a bit woozy from everything and just needs to sleep. Either way don’t get worried about the first meal after bringing him home; he most likely will eat the next morning.
  • It’s now the day after the op and I’ve fed him breakfast and gave him his pain meds, he ate his normal amount and I brought him for a walk. You can only bring him for lead walks for the next week. It’s really annoying! Right now he is passed out beside me and still looks pretty dopey. I’m not sure if the pain meds do that too him or it’s still from yesterday but he appears to be fine. He gives the odd whimper but then I scratch his ear for him and he is all good.
  • You need to raise his food and water bowl off the ground so he can get to the bottom of them. If left on the floor his cones will prevent him from being able to get the food/water.
  • A dog running into your leg with a cone on hurts so much…watch out!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Murphy @ 13 weeks

Well time has flown by and Murphy has grown even more. He is pushing the boundaries a bit but we are having fun watching him learn new things. He got his vaccinations on the Thursday before puppy pre-school, as Friday didn’t suit Mark to take him. He took them like a champ and he met another new Vet. He doesn’t seem to mind going to the vet, which is great. We had a 2-week wait before we were able to bring him out to a park and that date was today!! I was bold and we took him out last night as I couldn’t wait and he loved it. He has learnt to play fetch but you have to be careful on how far you throw the item because at one point he just stops playing and you have to go and retrieve it. It’s great to see him being able to run around at his own pace and tire himself out. It’s a lot easier than walking around in circles.

Mark and his mam who was visiting took Murphy to his first puppy pre-school. He loved it. He was by far the biggest in the class but absolutely loved meeting other dogs. The training for the first week was to teach Murphy to sit. This is something we have been working on already so Murphy got to demo it for everyone and he was very good. He even did it on a hand command and no voice command, top of the class for that one. Everyone was then shown how to do a simple vet check that we must do regularly at home so he gets used to being handled which will make visits to the vets a lot less stressful. We were given a good few handouts and helpful tips for over the next week.

The following week Mark was away in Melbourne with his mam so I took a friend along with me to puppy-preschool. This week we had to take someone else’s dog and get them to sit. I got one of the small fluff balls and he did it really well. Everyone passed…eventually. The lessons for today were about nail clipping and what your dog shouldn’t eat. It was all very informative and helpful. The training for the week is to get your dog to sit, stay and you take 3 steps back, wait for 10 seconds then have him come to you. This is a lot easier at home in a quiet space but add in crazy puppies running about everywhere and it is really hard. As we have two weeks to master this. We also have to master walking on the lead. We want him to walk beside us and not pull at all. Generally again out on the walk he is very good but if another dog/small child/jogger/bird comes near us he pulls in that direction. He will get there eventually but I am not sure how long this one will take. He loved catching up with his little buddies. It was very cute to see.

Murphy is discovering that since he is bigger now he can reach more things if he jumps up onto something. Particularly leaning on tables and the outside BBQ area. It’s something we have to keep an eye on and tell him he is not allowed to do because if he eventually tries to jump up he might hurt himself when we are not around or he might get out of the garden, which would be worse. It is mad to see how tall he is when he does stand up. With the increased height he has become a little boisterous as well and started to jump up on me when I was bringing out his food so I have made him wait calmly for his food or else he doesn’t get it. He has learnt this pretty quickly and it makes feeding times a lot more pleasant.

He has continued to dig in the garden in some areas. I am trying to look for some doggy day care places that Murphy could go to so he is not so destructive at home and for him to make more dog friends. Hopefully my next post will be more successful with that.

Some more Murphy points:
  • Murphy didn't like this plant or he likes it alot:

  • His bed was getting wet so we bought him a new tarp to sort him out and it seems to have done the trick
  • He still prefers squeaky fluffy toys to rubber rings
  • He loves tearing ropes apart
  • He is still trying to fit into his bed even though he is just a bit to big for it now.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Late March Hare

Murphy is growing fast and is doing very well. He had a small case of diarrhea last weekend but he has gotten over that. We brought into the vet for a quick check to make sure it wasn’t anything untoward and he said to feed him some rice with his dinner to settle his small intestine and it worked well. He is pooping like normal again.  J

After watching the DVDs supplied to us by the breeder I’ve learnt a few more training techniques such as, always use a hand command with a verbal command like sit or stay. It will enable the dog to learn to respond to both. The idea being that if he has strayed too far away from you and he is in danger of running out onto a busy road you can signal to him to sit or ly down from a distance that your voice may not carry to. There was also a mention of how to do a correction on the lead while walking. The point being; always do the correction at the shoulder height of the dog so if the dog is small you need to bend down to do it. This has helped and Murphy is responding to us better and paying more attention to us. As he is a puppy and most things he is seeing for the first time are very exciting to him it is very hard to keep his attention on the walks. As things become more familiar to him I hope he calms down and listens to us more. Overall he is doing well on the lead.

There has been no peeing in the house lately, which is great. In Sydney the past week we have had a lot of rain. Murphy doesn’t like going out in the rain so when we are at work he got bored and tore up his bedding. That wasn’t too great. It was also soaking wet so it is up in the bathtub drying off :-/ I left him a rawhide bone to keep him entertained but clearly it wasn’t enough and he found it before I left so it didn’t have the desired effect. The following day I put out 2 kongs and a bone and he behaved much better. It’s all a game. Since being sick he hadn’t dug any more holes but today when I came back from training there were 2 news ones starting so I am not sure what next week is going to entail.

He gets his next set of vaccinations on Friday and then starts his puppy pre-school on Saturday. I am really looking forward to it. I am scheduled to be away that weekend and Mark is to bring him but I think my plans may be cancelled so I can attend which would be great. He will also be able to go into dog parks after Friday as well. I can’t wait to see what he does off the leash.

New bits and bobs:
  • Murphy doesn’t like the wet grass or the rain
  • He now pees on the stones if the grass is wet…such a princess!
  • He gets hiccups like the rest of us
  • He really likes socks and he also got hold of one of my bras… I caught him in time
  • Murphy thinks birds are amazing
  • We have started to master stay and drop commands hope to post a video soon
  • My selfies are getting better!!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Progressing through March

Well thankfully Murphy passed the vet checkup with flying colours. They all thought he was adorable. He also got to meet a few other dogs while there and the vet showed him how to meet them so Mark said it all went very well which is great to hear. He is in perfect health and he has a few more fans in the clinic too. Other good news is that we can start bringing Murphy out on very small walks but we are to keep him away from dog parks until he is fully vaccinated. Murphy and Mark had a great boys weekend. They went down to the local café for breakfast in the morning and got a ton of attention from passers-by and patrons.

So now the exciting times of lead training begins. We’ve had the lead on him around the house so he can drag it around and get used to it. Every so often he grabs it and starts chewing. I try to stop him quickly but it must feel great to chew because as soon as I do he is back to it again. We have had a few successful walks and a few half successes. He instinctively knows when we turn to head home. I must be giving off some signal that he knows we’re close. He then starts to pull and race ahead. I’ve combatted it by turning and immediately walking the back the other way, this is to teach him that I dictate where we go not him and it seems to be working. It takes a very long time to walk about 30metres and in the evenings I definitely have a lot more time to work with him on it. We had a very good walk today so it’s an improvement but who knows what tomorrow brings.

I was just going to comment on well his toilet training has been going and he has peed on the kitchen floor behind me. I guess we can’t cross that one off the list just yet. The annoying this is I had just walked outside with him to see if he needed to go as well. Very annoying… house privileges for this evening revoked!!

We are trying to alternate his toys as well so he is kept entertained. Clearly this wasn’t enough for him yesterday as he dug a lovely big hole in the garden. If I was to guess he wanted to get into the dog next door. Thankfully our fences go quiet deep and our grass is quiet hard so he didn’t get through. To stop him going any further I brought down a plastic storage box and filled it with water, no chance of him being able to move that. I also gave him a small chew bone and a tennis ball. He has never had a tennis ball before so he had loads of fun with that which is good. I came home to no new holes and no attempts to getting into the one already dug. I’m chalking it up to a success.

Now for some snippets:
  • Murphy loves sitting down on walks
  • He doesn’t chew on the lead that much anymore
  • His ears are starting to stand up… it’s very cute
  • Crate training is the best thing in the world he sleeps like a baby every night
  • I am very grateful to have tiled floors
  • He doesn’t like the broom handy to keep him from charging in the door. Just its presence is enough to persuade him to stay back.
  • He still hasn’t discovered there is an upstairs in the house I pray he never does
  • Murphy discovered his tail yesterday and ran in circles, gave us a good chuckle
  • If someone has a smacko (dried beef strips) Murphy is your best friend

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The First Week Continues

As days have all rolled into one at the moment this next post will combine most of this week and the trials and battles we have had J

I’ll start off with the good parts because that’s always nice. Murphy has started to eat more for breakfast and he is still keeping his bedding nice and dry. I am really happy for those small things. I have booked him in for his next round of vaccinations and puppy pre-school. I am really looking forward to being able to take him out for walks as his energy levels are growing and the amount we can burn off in the garden isn’t enough.

The downsides of this week are small but frustrating. He has reverted to charging at the back door again and is not going back into his bed when we want to go back into the house. I believe this is natural behavior for pups to act up and not listen to you but I was foolishly hoping that he would learn it and keep doing it.

He is coping well with being at home most of the day without us. There has been no terrible destructive behavior. He chewed a wire on something we don’t use and most likely never will. He has chewed up parts of a foam mat I have put out for him. Mainly though he has concentrated all his time on chewing his toys which is great.

This morning I decided that I would try to introduce his lead to him again. I would just attach it to him and let him drag it along with him. I needed him to get used to it again, as last time I put it on he wouldn’t stop chewing it and it drove me a bit mad Haha.

Mark is taking him to the vet this evening to get a mini checkup and it would be handy for him to not be going mad with having the lead on him. Murphy has been scratching a lot around his hind legs and his private parts. It’s either down to mozzie bites, our grass irritating him or worse, fleas. As his skin is grey and his fur is so dark I can’t tell the exact reason, so I thought it was best to go to the experts and ask them. Also it is a good time to see how Murphy will do surrounded by other animals and noises. I would like to be there but I’m away this weekend so Mark and Murphy get some boy’s time. Good luck Mark!

Back to work for us

First Week we all go to Work and Murphy stays at home

Monday rolled around quite quickly and it was time for us to see how Murphy would be left at home for the day alone. Mark gets up way too early these days so I got up at 6am to make Murphy’s breakfast and to wake him up. It was about 6.30 when I was ready to go out and wake the beast.
He was quiet until I start moving the sheets off his crate. I waited until he had calmed down before opening his crate and then walked straight over to the grass to encourage him to relieve himself. A check of his crate and it was dry which is great.

I took his toys away, put his breakfast into the crate and closed the door behind him. I left him so I could go have my breakfast. When I head back into the house he gets a little fussy and whines a bit but after a couple of minutes goes back to eating. This was the first morning he had eaten pretty much all of his breakfast. I have reduced the portion size and it seems to suit him better.

After my breakfast and his, back out I went to have some playtime with him. Took away his bowl and walked around on the grass again to see if he needed to go to the bathroom again.

We played some tug of war and then it was time for me to leave. I left him with a kong with some of his breakfast in it to keep him entertained during the day. I gave myself 10mins to get back into the house as I want him to learn that he can’t come in with me every time. I ask him to go into his “bed” and “stay”. I walk towards the door slowly repeating the word “stay” every step. If he gets up and comes to follow me I simple ignore him walk back to his crate and say “bed” pointing to it. Sometimes he puts up a little bit of a fight but he goes in eventually on his own accord. Eventually I get him to stay in his crate while I open the door and most of the time I get inside the house before he moves. Recently he has let me open the door and then he starts to walk towards it. It’s better than his previously dashing to the door J

I am working in the city so I can get home pretty quickly this week, nonetheless when time came to get off the bus I did almost break into a run. I got in and there was silence. Dropped off my bags and went to the back door. He was there chewing on his toy but came dashing up when he saw me. Opening the door slowly wasn’t really an option. He started peeing from excitement, so I didn’t pet him I walked over to the grass and gave him the command to go to the toilet and he peed on the grass so then I gave him a lot of praise. I had a look around the garden to look for damage didn’t get up to too much mischief.

Side note: To encourage him more into his bed I have put his toys into the crate. As before he used to just run over to them and start playing and ignore me, which was not ideal. The end goal is to not need the toys at all… I have managed this once but it took a long time. That’s alright though it’s all progress.

Monday, 10 March 2014

First Weekend at Home - Sunday

I was out again in the morning. Mark was a little sensitive from a night out on Saturday night so I fed and played with Murphy in the morning and calmed him down before leaving so he would be happy being left alone for a little while. The plan worked which was great.

We had a nice morning playing and just chilling. At one point I was in the house alone with Murphy and decided I would give him a little test… I ran to the toilet quickly and when I came out sure enough he was in my bedroom… test failed. Although what I hadn’t noticed until Mark came home a good bit later was that he had peed in the bedroom. First mistake in the house but I blame myself more; it was too big of a test J.

The rest of the day went by with no issues.