This week I finally filmed Nala’s six month update (slightly overdue as I think we are a little way over but… Maths.) In addition to a video I wanted to do a blog update too, complete with a few pictures from one of her walks this week. When we picked Nala up I was so excited for Josh and I to finally have a little something of our own (after eight years together it felt like a very natural step), but I never imagined just how much I would love the little brown furr ball who was no bigger than my hand.
Aside from being the sweetest and most gentle dog I’ve ever met, she’s a total princess (they say you project some of yourself in to your dog – clearly it’s true) and gives the best side eye and awkward seal face I’ve ever seen. I don’t think working from home would be the same without her wedged between my chest and the keyboard, head on my left arm (as is currently the case, again. or curled up on my lap whilst I film.
In celebration of us keeping a living creature alive for this long, I thought I’d scribble down some little tips, in case you’re thinking of getting a little fuzzy of your own. There are the obvious things like make sure you have enough time to dedicate to them and brace yourself for sleepless nights. But these are a few things that you aren’t always told, but can make your life so much easier.
POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT. ALWAYS: I’ve hear awful things about how people have chosen to train their dogs, but Josh and I decided from the beginning that we would only train Nala via positive reinforcement. We didn’t shout at her if she did her business in the wrong place (this can mean they just go out of your sight) and gave her lots of praise for doing the right thing. We did the same with everything we taught her, and she learnt so quickly!
THE FEAR: That stage in development no one tells you about! I was doing some research on development timelines one day and came across a stage that kicks in any time up to six months. Puppies suddenly seem to forget everything you’ve taught them for a short period. This made total sense when Nala went through a naughty stage (and I mean naughty – at one point she wee’d on the bed right in front of me) and helped us to keep calm and not worry that we were doing things wrong. We continued to praise her for doing the right thing and suddenly one day she started doing everything exactly as we’d taught her again. We didn’t say anything out loud as not to jinx it, but were secretly high five-ing each other the entire time.
YOUR TOYS VS. THEIR TOYS: When Nala was very small we bought her toys that she would be able to easily recognise as her own toys. We never bought her toy boots (that’s just asking your dog to chew your shoes really) and made sure that most toys were in primary colours (there are so few that dogs can see in comparison to us), in a hopeful attempt that she wouldn’t chew our neutral toned items. It could be coincidence but it seems to have worked. She’s never chewed a shoe (although it could just mean she’s not a chew-er) and very rarely chews something thats not her toys/bones. HOWEVER. She has a soft spot for makeup brushes. RIP MAC 217’s.
SHORT & SWEET: Keep instructions short and sweet. I cringe when I see people getting frustrated with their dog whilst giving instructions in full sentences. One word commands work best – the most we use is two for tricks like high five – however this trick is more associated with a hand movement. Dont give up on training either. No matter how small the dog is. It makes your life so much easier just for them to understand the following:
SIT – Great for photos (obviously)… and standing at crossings, clipping their lead, training them further – distracting them from noises/other things that might be going on. It’s just a good skill for a dog to learn in general as it makes them appear better behaved.
STAY – This one is not only useful for developing a puppies object permanence (understanding that you will come back and that you haven’t run off the second they can’t see you), but is useful when you’re setting down food, cleaning… and taking photos of them.
PAW – This is an optional one that I thought I’d mention for those who have young family members. Paw is a lovely one as it makes puppies appear far more friendly to young children who might be scared of even the smallest dogs. It’s like they’re saying hello with a handshake!
HEALTHY HABITS: Without sounding like an all natural, all organic, over protective kid of mum, I always try to feed Nala the best food. The original puppy food she was fed by her breeder had either wheat or rice (something along those lines) as the first ingredient, with meat appearing WAYYYY further down the list. Nala doesn’t have the understanding or choice on what goes in to her body, so I made the decision early on that it was our responsibility to feed her the best quality food for our budget. We did our research and found a brand we liked from a local independent pet shot with meat as the first ingredient. We noticed a change in Nala’s fur after the change in diet and it now looks so much glossier. Fingers crossed her insides are happy too.
aah she is the cutest little dog and i love the tips you've shared, definitely going to save these for the day i decide to get a dog 🙂
Rachel // Style Soup
She is so unbelievably cute! The sweetest face I've ever seen. You're a lucky lady 🙂 x
Such an adorable face!! 🙂 great video of little Nala
Aw she's such an adorable wee thing!
Maeve // Thrift O'Clock
She's adorable! I have a pomeranian and he's also really smart and easy to train 🙂 Did you mention that you run with her? I just have to tell you that it's not recommended for young dogs (under 12 -16 months) to go running/jogging or train agility. As for her being scared of things: you could try to create the scary situation yourselves in a controlled and safe environment like your garden, and praise her and give her treats for looking at them(if she's too scared to even eat the treats then wait until she has focus on you and the treats, before you bring in the scary object). Just an idea 🙂 that is what I did with my pom, he was scared of everything when I got him. You could give her treats thats just air-dried meat – it's much healthier than regular processed treats – and more exiting for her than her normal food 🙂
I love your blog I'm looking into getting a bearded collie pup! I struggled reading the writing at the bottom though had to zoom in but none the less great post, makes me excited for a puppy they add so much to your life!
She is unbelievably cute! I just want to cuddle her
CharlotteSamantha // www.charlottesamantha.co.uk
Nala is so freakin' cute! I can't wait to get a dog with my girlfriend. We talk about what kind of dog it should be all the time. These are great tips for the future!
Theatricality by Mariah
How cute! I want a dog soooo bad, might have to use this as a persuasion technique!
Such a little cutie! I have two dogs and they're are little rascals but they are the loves of my life. My dog is practically my little baby. I cannot express how much you love those little creatures and in such a short space of time. It's such an unconditional love and what shocked me most was how much they love us.
I can certainly see how much joy Nala brings to you and she will continue to do so. I've had my dogs for 3 years and they're my little buddies.
~ Kazzie | Kazzie Athena.
The font on this post is very small, making it difficult to read 🙁
Nala is adorable. Thank you for choosing to use positive training methods.
Oh my god I love her!! She's so cute some great tips I have never even thought of too thanks! Xx
How adorable! It's nice to see different methods of how people look after their pets, I've always been scared of getting one as I'm pretty awful at taking care of myself let alone another living thing! Maybe one day.
Love, Hira | http://www.theartofexisting.co.uk/ xx
Love her so much xxx
She is absolutely adorable! Love how chilled out she is, I have a jack russell chihuahua cross called Luna who is 2 years old and she's tiny but absolutely crazy ha!
www.saltandchic.com // UK Fashion Blog
Nala is such a cute puppy!
She's a lovely little addition to your family!
Laura // laurakathren.blogspot.co.uk
So cute! I really want a dog as well x http://www.justsavxnnah.com
I'm desperate to get a dog of my own but financially it's not viable at the moment. Nala is super cute. I didn't know about the 'naughty stage' definitely going to remember that
Reinventing Neesha ♥
Nala is just adorable. Seems like you're doing everything really seriously, which is great!
xx Mimmi, Muted Mornings
Lovely post as always Suzie! 🙂
I agree with you on what to feed. It's always best to feed a dog less filler. Our food is a lamb and rice food. Corn and wheat are the biggest problems for dogs. This is what we feed http://www.nutro.com/natural-dog-food/natural-choice-dog-food/dry/lid-adult-lamb-and-rice.aspx I'm not sure if it's available in the UK.
She is adorable! Lovely post and video 🙂
Nala is adorable! It's wonderful that you're training her so well she's going to grow up to be even lovelier than she already is I'm sure! She's such a perfect size as well.
oh god, ive wanted one for ages and now i want a puppy even more! so beautiful, those eyes!!!
Frankie Boo Blog
Aww she's such a sweetie 🙂 http://akamidge.blogspot.co.uk/
She is such a little cutie! I'm glad you're getting on so well with her, and it's really nice to see that you've embraced the positive reinforcement method of training. It's so much nicer than getting cross with them when the do something wrong xo
LJLV | UK Personal Style
nice pictures 🙂
Aw! She's so cute x
She is so cute!!!
She is such a sweet puppy, and you have done a great job being a first time Mumma! x
So cute! My dog also likes to sit on my lap and put his head on my arm. Not very easy when I'm studying but I can't say no, it's just so cute!
Awww I love Nala she's so adorable! I have a 'teacup' chihuahua called Bentley and he's my baby. Always seeing Nala makes me want a new puppy like her!
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Ahh. She is the cutest thing. You are so very lucky. What type of dog is she? My boyfriend and I want to get a dog. After his training he will be working from home. But at the moment we are saving up for a house. So not just yet. The trick with the primary colour toys sounds really useful. I will keep that in mind for when we do finally get a dog. xx Dandy I www.dandelionblue.co.uk
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